Meet Playground Crochet Artist Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam

If you ever get a chance to go to the children’s area of the Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park in Sapporo, Japan then you’ll immediately notice a very cool, colorful landscape of crochet netting that kids can play on. This is the most famous work of textile artist Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam, the Rainbow Net.

Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam: About the Artist

Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Tama Art University in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. She then moved to the United States, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art.

She began her textile career in 1966 as a designer at Boris Kroll Fabric Company in New York. From there she went on to jobs in design as well as instruction in both fabric design and weaving.

Throughout this time, Horiuchi-MacAdam continued her own art. Her first major exhibition was an art wall hanging in 1968 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

In 1979 she made her first knotted and crocheted children’s sculptural playground piece for the Marine Expo Memorial Park in Okinawa. She has since created numerous interactive children’s sculptures for various parks throughout Japan and worldwide and has become widely known for this aspect of her art. She is currently based in Canada.

Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam: About Her Crochet

This crochet artist crochets colorful yarn into large-scale nets that can be installed on playgrounds for children to climb upon. They are also visually stimulating, changing the landscape with their bold design.

Horiuchi-MacAdam starts the design process by creating a wooden scaled model of the public space in which she plans to place her net. She then crochets the piece in a fine cotton thread to the appropriate scale to match the wooden model.

This then has to be adapted into a large-scale piece using yarn and of course, there are sometimes changes that must be made since yarn and thread can behave differently from one another.

Playscapes, which is a fun blog all about playground design, recently had an article on this artist through which I learned the fun story of how she got started doing her large-scale crochet playground pieces.

As the story goes, Horiuchi-MacAdam had her work in a gallery and a couple of kids came and started playing on her piece because they didn’t know any better. She loved the way that the sculpture came to life as these kids played on it and thus was born her desire to move her art into the public space where it could be used.

Horiuchi-MacAdam’s crocheted playgrounds can be found all over the world, including locations in Japan, Singapore, Spain, UAE, The United States, New Zealand, and more. Her work is completed almost completely by hand, with some mechanically tied knots in some elements.

More Stunning Examples

Rainbow Net (2000)

Castle of Nets (1981)

Toshiko Horiuchi - Castle of Nets, 1981

Fibre Columns / Romanesque Church (1970s):

The Whammock! (2019)

Fun Facts

Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam originally used a Japanese product called Vinylon for these projects, but has since transitioned to the use of nylon. She uses tons of nylon for each project!

In the end stages of actually making the pieces, Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam may crochet for up to ten hours per day.

Her major piece, the Rainbow Net, took three years to complete and was worked on in collaboration with landscape designers and architects.

Kelsey Mlnarik

Kelsey has been a crafter since childhood and enjoys crochet, sewing, and any craft she can make with her children. She loves learning new techniques and sharing what she learns along the way. Kelsey someday hopes to be someone's crafty grandmother, crocheting afghans and drinking entire pots of coffee.

17 thoughts on “Meet Playground Crochet Artist Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam”

    • Thanks @Auntiebeckys … This one was so much fun to research and share. Since you mentioned coffee table books, I thought I’d share that another crochet artist, Mandy Greer, recently put out a stunning coffee table book of her ten year retrospective of works. It’s a different style that what Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam is doing but definitely beautiful in its own right.

    • I would love it if there were a job that were available to do this. Not only would I apply for it but I’d be sure to mention it in my daily crochet job leads since I know many people would consider this a dream job!

  1. Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam,


    My name is Janet Figueroa Ugarte. I am a Chilean artist, I create knitted wall murals.
    I have researched your work and I was very impressed by your reputation and career.
    I am deeply Interested in replicating your work in my country, by making a project for children
    I present this letter to you, to find out about copyright and intellectual property in your work.
    My goal is to conduct this project in my country entitled by you, relying on your authorization and
    approval. And considering all legal and formal aspects related to this.

    Looking forward to your response,

    Yourse sincerely,
    Janet Figueroa Ugarte

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