2023 Will be my fourth time entering the Annual TOHO Challenge by Japanese Seed Bead Manufacturer TOHO BEADS. Every year, I look forward to seeing the beautiful colors and styles TOHO has selected to inspire us beaders to jump out of our proverbial comfort zones and try to create something truly unique and interesting. Beaders from all around the world participate in this annual event which is usually announced in the 1st quarter of the year on TEAM TOHO BEADS Facebook page and their website and submit some of the most stunning and creative pieces you can imagine!
The Challenge starts off with a curated collection of the year’s most interesting color palette, which is always available in a variety of seed bead shapes and sizes and includes a handful of other products from Starman beads that are a great accompaniment adding more dimension, texture, and shine with a variety of Czech Glass shapes, 2-hole beads, and finishes.
Creators are encouraged to use all – or as many as they can work in – the colors in the palette and stretch their beading skills to include not only jewelry, but other wearables, wall hangings, sculptures, functional pieces, ornaments – well, just about anything they can think of – that feature the beads. Makers can only include 1 item that is not on the list! This can be just about anything too, as long as it does not steal the focus of the beadwork. Sound interesting?!
Other than color, the TOHO group also selects an encouraging theme to help get you started on the journey. This year’s theme was based on a poem by Robert Frost called “Nothing Gold Can Stay” – a short description of how nature, and time, is non-stop progression that turns young vibrant green (new and invigorating) to shades of yellow and gold (classic and memorable) as we move through life. Things are never the same, always changing, and the things we hold dearest today will soon be past memories and often forgotten the further we move away from them.
Considering the last few years where the world seems to have been stuck on “pause” this is a very reflective and, to me – even somber – type of feeling. I wanted to create something that was a little different than I have made in years past. I wanted to create a wearable figure that evoked a childhood love for fantasy and fairy-tales to today’s desire to still find the mystery and whimsical in everyday events. Alas, as we grow-older we lose sight of the fun and silliness life has to offer and get weighed down by normalcy. I always laugh about getting older because I may look a little more (cough) mature, but I am certainly still a kid at heart. I refuse to grow-up.
Here is a quick video about this years creation and the challenges I faced making it. I hope it will inspire you to take the challenge in an upcoming year and push yourself to try something new and outside your comfort zone, too! And remember to always stay young at heart. Find the funny, laugh out loud, and put a touch of art in everything you do! Will you accept the challenge?!
Check out more Challenge entries on the TEAM TOHO photo album