Hisano Takei

Hisano Takei

0908_ZOM_08.jpg

Hisano Takei, Entangle, 2007

In 2004 Hisano Takei was pursuing an M.F.A. in metals and jewelry at the State University of New York at New Paltz when she was assigned her first graduate school project-to make 10 related objects in 10 days. Takei panicked. She knew it was impossible to complete 10 pieces of jewelry out of metal in that time frame. So she turned to wool, and 10 days later she completed the project.

A native of Japan who moved to Los Angeles with her family in 1984, Takei first began making jewelry as a child. She loved to draw and paint but preferred making jewelry. "The sweet reward of being able to wear the work was enthralling," she explains. She followed this passion in high school, where she learned to cut, enamel and etch metal, and then into college and graduate study.

But even before graduate school, Takei had been interested in wool, and especially felting, for a long time but had never fully investigated the material. By exploring traditional techniques like wet and needle felting and nontraditional ones such as molding and starching, Takei discovered that wool and metal were surprisingly similar. The two materials share a demanding creation process, yet both are very forgiving.

Takei also found that wool lends itself well to creating jewelry that is more than adornment. "I am attracted to the idea of jewelry taking roles other than simply ornamentation," she says. "The shift in scale and use of nontraditional material in jewelry making allows me to challenge these ideas." To do this, Takei plays with texture, color and composition, creating soft and sensuous curves that are impossible to achieve with metal. Pieces like her striking oversize necklaces, which include her three Stackable pieces and Entangle, do more than catch the viewer's eye; they create a desire to reach out and touch the work. "They have to feel it," Takei says.

This strong response is exactly what Takei hopes for. She wants people to feel something, whether positive or negative. "Jewelry can be attractive, repulsive, provocative, protective, grotesque, odd, comfortable, uncomfortable, inviting and confining," Takei says. "I strive to create jewelry that evokes many emotions and is not just about beauty. It is up to the wearer what role jewelry should take."