The Beadworkers Guild Annual Challenge

The Beadworkers Guild’s Annual Challenge is designed to encourage our members to stretch themselves creatively. Each year there is a different theme to inspire them. Individual members submit their work in one of five categories based primarily on their experience in the craft. Groups of beaders may also submit work on the same theme.

The submitted beadwork is assessed by a panel of judges which gives an award to the best in each of the categories, including the groups. There are also two ‘Members’ Choice’ awards, in which members attending the Guild’s main event in May vote for their favourite of the individual and group entries.

Prizes are given to the successful members (see below) and so the Challenge is, without a doubt, a competition. But we urge members to concentrate on the personal challenge - to be as good as they can, rather than pitting themselves against others.

We understand that entering the Challenge can be daunting, particularly if you are doing so for the first time. So, we offer a mentoring scheme in which we put members in touch with an experienced beader who can advise them. A mentor can act as a sounding board for ideas and problems but will not give direct instructions on the beading itself. For example, if you are finding it difficult to decide what to represent and how to make it, your mentor would encourage you to explore the brief and what it means to you. Once you have decided what theme you are going to work on, your mentor would encourage you to consider the stitches you are familiar with and perhaps to experiment with those you are not so comfortable with to see what can be achieved.

If you would like to be put in contact with a mentor, please contact Stephney Hornblow. Email: or Tel: 01283 713050 or 07922 698309.


Individual winners will receive Beadworkers Guild vouchers, redeemable from a selection of traders, to the value of: Challenge in a Matchbox £15; Previous Winners and Experienced/professional categories £50 each; Intermediate category £30; Beginner category £20. These winners will also receive a certificate.

There will be an additional Founder’s Award for the individual entry which the Judges select for the quality and imaginative use of beading stitches to enhance the design of the piece. The winner of the Award will be presented with a glass trophy, which will be retained by them for a year. They will also receive a certificate. The trophy is sponsored by the Guild's founder, Jill Devon. Winners of the Award will also be recorded in an 'Honours book'.

The winning group will be presented with a Trophy which they will retain for a year and each member of the group will receive a certificate. The winning group will be featured in an article in the Journal and will also be recorded in the 'Honours book'.

There are two Members’ Choice awards, voted for by members attending the AGM. The Members’ Choice prizes for the selected individual and group entries are Beadworkers Guild vouchers, redeemable from a selection of traders, to the value of £30 each.

All winning entries will be retained by the Beadworkers Guild for twelve months to promote beadwork around the UK and will be viewed by many hundreds of people.


Any competition has to have rules and here are ours. Please read them carefully.
To be fair to all, we cannot make any allowances for members who do not abide by them and their entries will be disqualified.


Entry categories

Anybody taking part in the Challenge must be a member of the Beadworkers Guild on the date of the deadline for entries. This includes all those participating in a group entry.

Entrants must opt to enter the category which they feel most applies to them (but see notes on categories, below):

1. Challenge in a Matchbox, open to all beaders of every level.
The brief is to make a piece of beadwork that will fit into a standard size matchbox (ie Ship brand; size 7cm long, 5cm wide, 1.5cm high)

2. Novice/Beginner: up to two years’ experience.
3. Intermediate: more than two and less than five years’ experience.

4. Experienced/Professional: more than five years’ experience and all who receive payment for teaching and all who sell their work commercially, regardless of length of experience.

5. Previous winners of the Experienced/Professional category.

6. Groups. This may include groups of beadworkers who meet ‘virtually’ by email or phone. A group may have as few as two members.

Notes on categories:
Previous winners of categories 2, 3 and 4 must enter at the next level, eg previous winners at beginner status must now enter as intermediate. They are also very welcome to enter the Challenge in a Matchbox.
The Beadworkers Guild reserves the right to challenge the member’s declaration of status on the entry form.



Qualifying beadwork

Any stitched beadwork technique or combination of beadwork techniques may be used.
All entries must be new pieces of work designed by the entrant. They must be made for the Challenge and must not have been previously entered into any other competition or publication. There are no restrictions on the type of item which can be submitted. Members may, for example, consider making an item of jewellery, an accessory, a three dimensional or sculptural piece, a wall hanging or a framed piece.

Entrants’ descriptions

Entrants must include a short explanation of what inspired their piece and how they interpreted the Challenge theme. This should be a brief statement of up to 100 words and it must not include anything which would identify the artist. For example: “the piece explores the use of different sized beads to create a ‘perspective’. This would normally be shown with the vanishing point in the distance. Here, however, the opposite is the case and the perspective is coming towards you so justifying the description of a ‘fishy’ point of view.”

Identification of work

Every entry must be accompanied by the entry form which gives information about the member/group and the work. No labels may be attached to the work and there should be nothing in the piece which would enable the member/group to be identified.

Size restrictions and packaging
• Challenge in a Matchbox: 7cm long, 5cm wide, 1.5cm high (ie Ship Brand)

• Other individual entries: the work and packaging must fit into a parcel no larger than
275 x 190 x 100mm (Royal Mail PostPak Small). However, the parcel may contain elements of a piece which, once assembled, is larger than the parcel in which it is delivered.

• Group entries: The work and packaging must fit into a parcel no larger than
450 x 350 x 160mm. (Royal Mail PostPak Large). The overall display size of the work should not be more than 60 cms high x 60 cms wide x 45 cms deep.

All entries: The work should be packaged in such a way that it is fully protected against the rough handling it is likely to receive whilst in transit.

Entry Fee

Every entry must be accompanied by the entry fee as shown on the entry form and return postage if appropriate.

Number of entries

There may be only one entry per individual member or per group. A member submitting an individual entry may also participate in a group entry.

Presentation/assembly of work

Entrants may include supporting ‘props’ or bases for their work if they wish. However, this is not required. For example, an acrylic base might be integral to a 3-D item, while a necklace can stand alone. If the work needs to be assembled by us for presentation to the judges, detailed instructions for doing so must be included, with photographs of the completed item.


Electrical content

The work should contain no electrical content unless powered by batteries, in which case suitable batteries must be included.

Delivery of entries

Entries must be sent to the address on the entry form. However, pieces may also be delivered, by prior arrangement only, at a show or to a Trustee. An entry will only be accepted in such cases if the Trustee or Guild representative is satisfied that there is sufficient time for it to be transferred to the Challenge Administrator and to be professionally photographed without additional cost to the Guild.

Return of entries

Members wishing to collect their work personally may do so from 2 pm on the Sunday of our May event. Or they may nominate a friend to collect the work for them: only the person named on the entry form may take the work, unless the Guild is advised of a change prior to the event. Winning entries will be retained for twelve months and arrangements for the return of their work will be discussed with those concerned at the appropriate time.

Display of work

All entries will be displayed at the Guild’s event held in May.


All entries will be professionally photographed before judging and the images may be used, fully credited, for promotional purposes by the Beadworkers Guild. Photography will not be allowed during the event in May. However, members of the public may photograph the winning entries when they are on display at shows subsequently.


All work submitted is assessed by a group of three judges who are experienced beadworkers. They do not know the identities of the makers of any of the pieces. The judges take into account the following considerations:

  • Technical competence - quality of the work, including tension, and the stitches used.

  • Interpretation of the theme - originality of the design ideas.

  • Presentation - pleasing use of materials/colour etc.

  • Suitability for purpose - for example, an item of jewellery must lie well; a bag must be

    practical to use.

    For group entries, the judges also look for evidence that the design would enable members with a wide range of beading abilities to take part in the project.

    The judges’ decisions are final and are announced at the Beadworkers Guild’s AGM in May.



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