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Designer in the Spotlight Toika Bridges
Web Site  -  View Patterns  -  View Biography  -  e-mail
 
Toika's death on April 15, 2009, was a shock. Our hearts and prayers are with her family. We've been told that Toika's body has been cremated. Toika, we miss you. Love Rita

 
Toika Bridges
by Sigrid Wynne-Evans     © July 2004

 
Toika Bridges has some incredibly beautiful designs on bead-patterns.com. Her beaded kimonos are rich and elegant. They would make a wonderful addition to your home decor. She also has some beautiful earring designs.
 
Sampling of Toika's Designs:
Click on an image to view the pattern.
Item 6894   Item 6966   Item 6990

Sometimes, I donít know all too much about my fellow designers until I get the chance to pull together a bio for them. Toika and I have emailed each other a few times about certain topics. I think Toika is a wonderfully warm person. Her response to my questions for her bio was so candid and reflected her personality so well; I thought I would leave it as is.
 
I'm supposed to be sitting in an office somewhere behind a desk . . . . . .
It was very important to my father that my brother and I go to college, and we both assumed we would follow him into the business world. According to plan, we went, and then I worked in an office for about 7 years doing mostly bookkeeping, but I also got to do software demonstrations and design some company literature. During that time migraines and a couple of other health irritations were becoming a big problem. I was seriously thinking of quitting, when the owner sold the company, and the new owners were not going to need me, one of them was a genuine CPA. This could have been a major upset in my life, but I was relieved. I still needed something I could do out of my house, where I could have more control over my environment, and have a simpler life.
 
Arts and crafts had always been an important part of my personal life. I've probably tried most of them, starting more earnestly at about 10 years old.
 
In my mid twenties (while I was still working in an office) a friend took me to a craft show, and she looked at me, and said, we can do this! Without her, I never would have had the courage. I never thought anyone would be interested in the things I made. By my twenties I had narrowed my most intense loves down to Glass, metal, stone, and hey - as it turned out a few years later, you can use all these in beadwork! Crafts were my personal core, I had never thought of going public with them. After all, I was supposed to make a career in the office world.
 
We did a few shows over the next 4 years. But with the job, headaches, etc., I just physically could not do it anymore. Crafts went back to being something just for my personal time. I enjoy working on the challenge of making something I envision in my head into a reality. Then after the business I worked for was sold, fortunately, I was able to mostly just rest and try to improve my health for the next 2 years. Then I got a part time office job doing the same thing as before. It has dwindled down over the years to just some occasional work while I started to focus on beads. I learned some html via free internet tutorials, and started a small Internet-based mail order business selling bead related project parts.
 
I needed more money, so I did something that was a total flyer for me Ė I decided I would write a how to article and try to get it in a magazine. I had never been good at writing, and it remains a struggle for me. It just isn't in my genes. But, it was something that fit my criteria - love of creating, and it could be done at home, with items I already had. Because writing was always so hard for me, I thought only 'born writers' got into magazines. While investigating how to get published, I read a number of bio's of craft writers. I realized they all had diverse backgrounds, not what I expected. Some had experiences similar to mine, and most had never meant to be a writer. They did one thing that I had not - they actually wrote that first article, and actually mailed it in.
 
Now, I've had 6 articles published in Jewelry Crafts, Rock & Gem, Arts & Crafts, and a couple of internet-based magazines. No, I haven't taken off with it, probably won't, but it's something I never thought I would do, and it's a really nifty feeling to see your name on an article.
 
I've been beading for just over 4 years. I learned, by far and wide, through people on the internet - those in the news groups and all the wonderful tutorials people have spent their time and talent contributing.
 
How did I get to bead-patterns.com? - Two things - I was inspired (compelled would be a better word) by Madelyn Ricks work to do a beaded kimono, but with money the way it is, I knew I would somehow have to try and make back the cost of the project. Before that, I had made very small, simple patterns, only for the project parts I sell. Thanks to Rita and her family at Bead-patterns.com, I did make back the money and some more. This was fabulous; it fit into my criteria - something I can do from right here at home.
 
 
Great Dreams Kimono:
Click on an image to view the pattern.
Item 4585

As of this writing a few people have asked me how I came up with that idea for Beaded Vessel One. As with some of my past, it wasn't the original plan.
 
Beaded Vessel One:
Click on an image to view the pattern.
Item 7999

It was one of those moments when I didn't have a household or business task that absolutely had to be done, so I decided to try 5 sided flat round peyote stitch. I'd already done 6 and 7 sided for the tops of the mirrors I sell.
 
I tried it according to the general flat round peyote instructions on Anne Hawley's wonderful web page, and adapted it for 5 sided. But I was doing something wrong; it kept forming upward, not flat, like it was supposed to be. I started over several times, but still it wasn't cooperating. I thought - Well, I guess it's one of those stitches that you have to do against a flat form to keep your tension correct.
 
I got back on the internet looking for more instructions on flat round peyote to see what I was doing wrong. I couldn't find anything that helped or that confirmed I should be doing the stitch on a form. During this time, I kept looking at the piece I was working on. I decided - forget looking for how I'm supposed to do it, the more I look at this, the more I like the shape. I knew it was the start of my next pattern project. I then spent hours experimenting/refining.
 
I live in a small place. There is no wall between my kitchen and my living room, so my whole life, including beads, is all over these two rooms. I like it that way. I think I would be very lonely in a studio. My work and my life go together. Nothing formal, a couple of small tables and a computer in the kitchen, a couple of TV trays in the living room, and lots of things on the floor.
 
Where do my ideas come from? A mixture of themes that I love - Asian design, Victorian design, vessels, wings, and absolutely everything I see around me, everywhere I go. FYI - From my name, and my absolute captivation with Asian designs, a lot of people assume I'm Asian, but the name Toika is from Finland. It means Hope. No, I'm not from a Finnish heritage either; it was a name my father heard in a movie. Our heritage is standard American melting pot.
 
Sampling of Toika's Designs:
Click on an image to view the pattern.
Item 8020   Item 7168   Item 7113

My immediate family members are my parents, bother & sister-in-law, and 3 smart and adorable nephews and niece. I'm not married, but I do have my baby - my cat that is.
 
I would love to learn more about ceramics, glass slumping and enameling. Monetarily, I'm not near ready to start, but if anyone is giving away a small kiln, I'm taking. If I don't make some step in that direction, I'll never get there. And again, each of these disciplines can be used in beadwork!
 

 
Toika Bridges
Web Site  -  View Patterns  -  View Biography  -  e-mail

 
 
 

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