Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Toho'd again

Toho 2014 Design Challenge
Last year was my first entry into the Toho Challenge and I ended my post about it with high hopes for the next challenge.
Here are the challenge beads that arrived...  
I found myself staring lovingly at the delicious array of bead shapes, tempered with anxiety, as they were in my, probably, least favourite colour mix ever. So I did a terrible thing... I ignored the box of beads,  telling myself the muse would strike...

Toho's photo of my Prom Queen Corsage
As the weeks ticked by, it was time for the bracing talk to self about being professional, stepping up, rolling up the sleeves... I love colour, I revel in it, I play subtle games with colour. Even so, my fingers twitched to separate the colours into two groups, the pink and purple with maybe the orange: The iris blue and browns with maybe the orange, but all together? still not 'me'! The challenge is to use as many of the beads as possible so culling fifty percent wasn't an option.

I looked at many pink and purple things with hints of orange and cold dark blue... drew out designs... started and stopped... and if anybody is hoping for a magical recipe for how to overcome personal challenges, be warned, this so isn't it... buckle up for a bumpy ride!

With the deadline fast approaching and an agreement to hand the finished bead work over to Team Toho at the Bead and Button show, my hugely elaborate collar of imagined loveliness seemed less and less achievable. Windows of beading opportunity got filled up with pre-show preparations and as I boarded the flight to the USA I snuck on crochet hook and thread with the hopes of beading a rope while I hurtled through the sky.
Which as it grew, I liked less and less.

One side of the corsage has a flower
So in the end, I was beading in my room, after classes, through most of the last possible night, to finish what became a corsage for a prom queen.

Toho beads are truly great to work with and I managed to include some of each size and shape, promising myself to purchase some of the gorgeous colour lined and metallic finishes to add to my stash. I'm already a fan of the CzechMates beads that make up the shaped beads in the challenge pack; love the two hole triangles, possibly my favourite among the many new beads that have appeared recently; tried petal beads for the first time and added them to the shopping list too. When beading under extreme pressure, sometimes the ideas flowed thick and fast.
I wished I'd started sooner, but truthfully, some of those seat of the pants ideas are morphing into new designs which never would have existed without the stress.

The other side has leaves
On deadline morning, there was just enough time for a quick photo session in my room. Who knew a toothbrush glass and hotel duvet would be such nice props...
As I handed over the finished piece, with the creative doubt and insecurity record of 'What were you thinking! this is not great! what have you done!' running in my head... a very well known designer who's work I admire greatly was passing by, grabbed my piece, tried it on, gave a twirl and whispered... 'ooh I LOVE it!'...
and suddenly... it wasn't so bad.

Treat yourself to some gorgeous eye candy and see how the other designers interpreted the challenge, completely inspiring. In each piece the colour mix looks truly lovely.
Thank you Toho for the gorgeous beads, the challenge, the opportunity... and the personal bead lessons learned.
I'm deeply honoured that my prom corsage is now on display in Japan, and profoundly hopeful that I'll be included again in next year's challenge. What ever the colour mix, bring it on and I'll definitely be starting as soon as the beads arrive!

Curtain call on the wrist corsage