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Toho Challenge 2020: Tropical Fantasy by Katie Dean

Toho Challenge 2020, Tropical Fantasy by Katie Dean

Well, the Tucson bead show has just started, which can mean only one thing… I can now reveal what I was making back in November 2019. My Toho Challenge 2020 piece, which I entitled ‘Tropical Fantasy’. Why? And what is the challenge? Read on to find out…

Toho Challenge 2020

This is the second time I have been privileged to be invited to take part in the Toho Challenge. (If you want to see what I made in 2019, you can find out all the details here).

So, what is the Toho Challenge? Basically, Team TOHO select a range of beads and challenge designers to make something with them. The majority of the beads are seed beads and AIKO Cylinder beads. But we also get a few shaped beads to play with.

The designers are all asked to take inspiration from the beads and the colour palette. We did get some ideas – suggestions of floral gardens – but we are free to interpret as we wish.

So, what did I do with this year’s beautiful colour scheme?

I’ll keep you hanging a little longer as I tell you about how you can get involved. Team TOHO also runs a mini challenge, inviting anyone to purchase beads from the challenge pack and make something. You have until August 2020 to submit your entries. So, if you fancy a little competition or challenge yourself, you can use this link to find all the details. (It will also list the exact beads and colours that I used in my challenge, if you’re interested).

Tropical Fantasy

So, time for my big reveal. Well, actually, if you are lucky enough to be able to attend the Tucson bead show, you can see my piece – and all the other TOHO Challenge 2020 pieces – on display at the TOHO stand.

If, like me, you’re not able to get to Tucson, here is my piece in photos.

For reasons that I can’t quite explain, these beads made me think of the tropics. Which led me to think back to a wonderful vacation in Hawaii. So, my ‘Tropical Fantasy’ has taken inspiration from a photo I dug out from that vacation. It was of an offering to the Gods left at a kind of altar on one of Hawaii’s volcanoes.

The offering featured a Pineapple in the centre, surrounded by the gorgeous tropical flowers and Leis of Hawaii. Somehow that image stuck with me. So, this was my attempt to recreate it!

The Pineapple

Basically, I began by making the Pineapple. I had ideas of making a beaded box. However, I was working with seed beads, rather than Cylinder beads for this. So, I wasn’t able to achieve quite the regularity of design I would have liked. (In case you’re wondering why I didn’t use the AIKO beads – there weren’t enough in the Pineapple colours!)

However, I did end up with a sort of compromise. I thought of stitching my Pineapple to the base of the display. But in the end, I decided to create a little open box for the centre of the display. This fits the Pineapple on the top. So, it does give some storage space – just not a conventional box!

The Pineapple, in spite of the beads and irregularity, is free standing and holds its shape without needing stuffing.

It has prompted me to think about adapting the design to make the Pineapple beaded box I originally had in mind. So, when I get a minute, I will take out my Delicas and continue my experiments to create a ‘proper’ Pineapple beaded box. If you would like to know when I have a pattern ready, please leave your details below:


The Flowers

After completing the Pineapple, I debated about how to add the flowers around it. In the end, I decided to create a stand, covered with the kind of backing you would normally use for bead embroidery. I then made individual flowers and leaves and stitched them on to cover the stand.

For anyone who is interested, my stand is actually a stack of two old Fireline reels. I glued them together, covered the structure with card to even out the indents in the sides of the reels, then stitched a circle of backing top and bottom and around the sides.

I actually created the flowers and added them to the backing before stitching it all onto the stand.

Rather than designing flowers from scratch, I chose to use patterns that I already have.

Links to flower patterns

So, how many can you spot?

I’ll help you out here… The focal flower in the left-hand image above, actually comes from my Cellini Spiral Superduo flower necklace pattern. I simply made use of some of the shaped seed beads to create an interesting focal centre.

In the other two images, you can see flowers based upon two other tutorials. My rose netted necklace is a really fun project to do, but seems to have been a little neglected. So, if you haven’t tried it yet, you can find it here.

Then, the flowers with long, ‘spiky’ petals come from the Gerbera necklace online class. So, if you’re interested, here is the link.

I also adapted my Peyote flower pattern to add some flowers there. Again, this is a technique that I have used for a couple of different tutorials. It’s lovely to do – just a repetitive series of diamond Peyote petals.

So, if you fancy giving that a go, you can get the Peyote flower pattern here.

…or try the Dahlia beaded beads pattern here.

You might also have spotted a few smaller flowers and leaves in amongst the arrangement. Well, those actually came from another older design of mine: the summer flowers necklace. That’s formed from mix and match flower and leaf components that are great for decorating anything. So, if that sounds good, click here to get the tutorial.

Having fun…

I had a lot of fun trying out different colour combinations with all these patterns. On a more practical note, this is also a great way to discover new colour schemes. So, maybe something you can try out for yourself!

If you fancy creating your own tropical fantasy, I invite you to grab a few of my flower patterns and get creative.

You can also look out for the TOHO challenge 2020 display at the Bead and Button show in June. And, as I said above, why not have a go at your own mini challenge this year?

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