In late August, a dozen traveling kumistas made their way to the AKS Gathering with their very special kumihimo creations to enter the 2023 Lanyard Challenge. The Challenge is a mainstay of the AKS Gathering and gives participants an opportunity to show off his or her skills, creativity and inspiration. This year the challenge offered contestants three areas for competition – traditional braids, beaded braids and whimsical braids. The entries did not disappoint, and three AKS Members left the event with bragging rights for leading in one of the categories.

Beth Hardy, Winner Whimsical Braids

Beth’s entry centered on the fantasy and whimsy of Japan. Her focal point was a replica of “Oni”, a Japanese troll believed to live in caves in the deep forest of Japanese folklore. The braid structure, made from Japanese metallic, is Uneri Kaku Gumi that splits into a combination Anda Gumi and Sasanami complex braid.

Randy Spicocchi, Winner Beaded Braids

Randy’s beaded entry is reminiscent of a beautiful Hawaiian Lei. A 16 strand continuous beads Oimatsu braid with 11/0 seed beads morphs into Kongo Gumi with magatmas and back again to Oimatsu. For the center of the Oimatsu braid, Randy used 8 strands of tech 135 as a core.

Laurel Kubby, Winner Traditional Braids

Laurel is a two time winner of the Lanyard Challenge. This time she produced an elegant necklace using silk, rayon, gimp and ribbon using three traditional braid structures – Kongo Gumi, Maru Yatsu and Edo Yatsu.  The multi-strand structure also include polymer clay abstract shapes to finish the lovely convertible badge holder and necklace.

Adrienne Gaskell, Makiko Tada and Rosalie Nielson were the judges for the event and used functionality, drape, technique, workmanship and overall presence as the criteria for success.

Additional Lanyard Photos

Marlene Golden’s Lanyard

Akiko Kimura’s Lanyard