Monday, 21 April 2014

Florally Challenged

Toho Challenge 2013
Last year I was invited to participate in the Toho Challenge. We were each given this delicious mix of beads and asked to simply, 'Go play!'. It's no secret that I love green, especially the sour limes and olive shades, so look who was a happy bunny when the beads were handed over!
The pack include seed beads in various shapes and sizes, CzechMate two hole tiles and daggers and some plump oversized drop beads. The idea is to incorporate as many of the beads as possible.

Not all the designs are featured on the website, as many designers join in to participate over a year long period, but you can see lots of amazing and beautiful pieces here.

The first little bits and pieces
The bead pack also contained a lot of beads. One of my default rules is that I tell myself, 'I don't do big, I do dainty', so I decided to challenge myself to do 'big'... with so many beads... how could I not!
The colour palette was organic, so floral themes seemed a natural starting point. I approached making a statement size piece by starting small. I also opted for familiar shapes and began with an Albion stitch tropical flower. This gave me a simple way to keep on adding small pieces.
love the two hole CzechMate Dagger beads!
The plan was shaping up, but the next big challenge was the newer territory of engineering; to create an underlying structure that would sit well, support the elements, but still move easily.

Next, I adapted stitches to include as many of the beads in the pack as possible, which was a fun challenge and taught me heaps about ripping out and doing over, until I 'got' how to use beads with two holes instead of the usual one.
mannequin test run
The finished necklace

All the different sections were pinned and re-pinned until I settled on an arrangement, it's amazing how hard asymmetry can be to balance.
Finally, it was all stitched together and the whole piece road tested to make sure it was comfortable to wear and behaved how a necklace should.
The necklace was posted off to the USA, arrived safely and will now be displayed along side the other entrants at shows and events.

I loved every minute of the process and I'm so happy! because now I've been invited to participate again this year... the beads have just arrived. I can't wait to start playing, they are an enticing new challenge.