For those following my Facebook activity, you may have seen that the past few months have been taken up with secret beading for the annual Stitchncraft Challenge and today the winners were unveiled.
I travelled down to the lovely shop in Shaftesbury with my dear friend Jan for a day of bead-related fun and to find out the results. Situated in a truly beautiful location, the sun was shining and the marquees were up ready for hoards of beaders. All of the challenge entries were on display, and in addition there were demos from talented artists including Gary Taylor, Hilary Hale and Heather Kingsley-Heath. Oh and not to mention some truly epic edibles from the Wonky Cake Co.
Challenged by Swarovski
The Fairy Tale themed challenge was launch last year and is sponsored by Swarovski. Over the past year we have received four challenge packs filled with sparking crystals, all of which had to be incorporated into our project. We were challenged to create a necklace or collar, which had to have a clasp, and a box or bag for the piece to be stored in.
With four categories; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Professional, the standard of entries in all of them was incredible. I was blown away by one entry in particular in my category; Professional. Created by Joan Fisher. Her box and necklace worked together impeccably and I can only dream of the hours of work that went into it. A truly worthy winner. Hopefully pictures will be available on the Stitchncraft Facebook page soon.
After months and months of hardwork and secrecy it’s wonderful to be able to share photos and details of my own entry. The Emerald City, complete with its Grimmerie Box is based on one of my favourite stories; The Wizard of Oz. A massive fan of the Wicked novel series by Gregory Maguire and of course the musical, my entry aimed to draw on all of these for inspiration.
The Emerald City necklace
In the necklace, the skyline of the Emerald City features at the front of necklace; where the central pendant forms the top of the clasp. The whole front section comes apart to allow the necklace to be easily put on, and joins back together thanks to hidden magnets. Oh and not forgetting the teeny bottle of ‘green elixir’ hanging from the bottom.
The steampunk feel of the piece, complete with cogs showed the inner, slightly darker workings of the shining city. The necklace gets darker and less glamorous as it works around the neck, with more cogs on show at the back. This is easily the largest piece of beadwork I have ever created and I had a blast making it.
The Grimmerie box
The book box – or ‘Grimmerie’ I was less pleased with, but if I’m honest, I completely ran out of time! There are still elements of it which I’m pleased with. I really enjoyed creating the pattern for the Wicked inspired panel, and stitching it on the loom. This panel is removable, revealing a hidden compartment behind with a hidden key – the key to the Emerald City! This little bead was one of the challenge beads which we had to include on the box – very tricky! This clips on to the box clasp and can be stored there too.
The inside of the box reveals a map of Oz, as well as some wise words from Glinda the good witch. I would love to have had time to bead the second panel I had planned (and had started), which featured the iconic ruby slippers and yellow brick road – this would have made the front panel reversible; hence the riddle ‘There’s two sides to every story’.
Whenever you finish a piece, especially a project of this length, there is always more that could be done, sometimes you just have to know when to stop and walk away. This was my first competition and I’ve certainly learned a lot. I really challenged myself with my entry; I learnt new techniques, gained a few injuries, cried a little (!), but definitely got my creative juices flowing. I have even come up with a few new patterns off the back of it, so look out for some steampunk inspired workshop dates coming soon!