QUEENS PLAZA — An ear of corn with eyes and a tiny orange octopus hang from walls at the Japanese cultural center Resobox in Long Island City, while a dragon and a unicorn dangle from the ceiling.
Each are examples of amigurumi, the making of crocheted or knitted toys — a craft which originated in Japan but has become popular around the world, according to Resobox owner Takashi Ikezawa.
The art is the focus of the latest exhibit at the gallery, which has filled the space with 4,000 pieces — all for sale — made by more than 100 artists from 32 different countries. The show, "World Amigurumi," explores how the craft is being pursued in other nations.
"That culture is now spreading out to the world," Ikezawa said. "I want to know how the Japanese culture, the crochet culture, evolves in each country."
He said amigurumi often personifies animals or objects, giving food or other non-human things characteristics like eyes and legs — which, in his opinion, is to honor the item.
"To respect as co-existing partners for our lives," Ikezawa said.
Pieces in the exhibit include a plethora of animals, a mushroom with eyes, a mermaid, a hot dog and several crocheted pieces of sushi. They range from tiny to a few feet in length and can cost anywhere from $1 to $1,000 for the most elaborate.
Ikezawa said the average piece runs between $15 and $30, and the gallery will be selling the amigurumi as gifts for the holidays and through Valentine's Day.
Resobox plans to hold the exhibit annually, he said.
The center will also host a pop-up amigurumi booth at Vogue Knitting LIVE at the New York Marriott Marquis in Manhattan in January, and Ikezawa will be giving a lecture on the exhibit at the event on Jan. 18 at 11:15 a.m.
The "World Amigurumi" exhibit will be on display at Resobox through the end of February. The gallery is located at 41-26 27th St. in Long Island City. Current gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The gallery is closed on Tuesdays.