Karen Beningfield and Sarah Toussaint

Karen Beningfield and Sarah Toussaint
Contemporary Geometric Beadwork
Karen Beningfield is a physician and artist from Cape Town, South Africa, and is a core member of the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork research team. Karen has also done the technical illustrations for the books the team has published.

Her interest in fashion is long-standing, and her work is inspired by the patterns of nature, and the delight of colour.

Sarah Toussaint is from Belgium, and her interest in the natural world comes out in every piece that she makes. Her craftsmanship is exquisite, and like Karen she has a very soft touch which renders her beaded fabric smooth and silky.

Both Sarah and Karen have participated in discovery sessions with the CGB team under stipend, and these pieces reflect several of our recent discoveries.
Photograph by Kate McKinnon
Poppy Cycle Neckpiece and Bangle
Glass beads and thread
The Poppy Cycle is a piece designed by Karen Beningfield using a Contemporary Geometric Beadwork technique of Geometric Capture.

These pieces are created by adding coloured caps to small geometric HyperLoops (created with a stepped increase cycle) and then attaching the resulting barbell-like sets of flowers created into a turning cycle by hinging the edges of the flower caps together at a twist.

This form can be turned and twisted for a variety of presentations, including one that hides the flower caps entirely.

Sarah Toussaint, an artist on our team who lives in Belgium, is creating the necklace-sized version of the bangle, with huge flower caps.

The inspiration for this piece was a vase of flowers; Karen wanted to capture the way that they moved together as well as their sharp, clear colours.
Cascading Overdress of Flowers and Pollinators
glass beads and thread
in progress
This overdress is proposed to be worn over a simple sheath, and uses one of our Live Lines techniques to create a series of long, curling Casting Spines that will have many hundreds of tiny flowers, bees, butterflies and dragonflies attached to it.

The beauty of this piece is twofold; both the exquisite look of the Spines and tiny elements, and the fact that hundreds of people from all over the world stand ready to create it for the Linz show.

The technique of the Casting Spine is new to our team. We have long been looking for the simplest, cleanest and easiest to use topological edge for casting, but never considered a single line of beads, as there is no such stable form. In peyote stitch, which is how most of our architectural work is created, the smallest possible stable line is three strips of sewn work. This is not a useful line for birthing new work.

The Casting Spine was innovated by Joy Davidson (one of our team researchers) in 2018. By adding one more line of beads stitched to the middle row of the three rows the Casting Spine is created - an energized form with three lines of beads ready to hold new peyote beadwork.