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HomeArt“This is my legacy piece.”

“This is my legacy piece.”

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Artist creates masterpiece wedding dress for her daughter-in-law

In the life of every artist, lies a masterpiece. For lifelong crocheter Mary Toth of Brooksville, the pinnacle of her artistic journey is highly personal in nature. Handmade from her own pattern, Toth’s crocheted masterwork, titled “Moonlit Garden,” takes the form of a flawless, 59-inch long A-line dress made from 62 crocheted flowers. This dress is made of 8500 yards of delicate fabric thread (which lends the illusion of silk in veneer), glittery lines of pearlesque glass beads, with an I-cord stitch and flowing panels. This lush ivory-hued frock, which consumed two and a half years of Toth’s life in its divine creation, was worn only once before being placed on display at Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe, located at 100 S Main St. in Brooksville. Toth’s new daughter-in-law, Jesse, wore the grand frock for her wedding to Toth’s son, Erik. Toth stated, “This dress is a special part of my life, this is my legacy piece.”

Toth’s legacy was born early in childhood, when her grandmother taught her to crochet at the tender age of 11. To this day she makes sweaters and blankets for family members; so it makes sense that her legacy piece also would be created for the sake of a family member. “I always wanted to create a wedding dress,” said Toth. “And when Jessie told me she was marrying my son, I asked her, ‘Can I make your dress?’”

So began a journey that consumed as much as 40 hours per week. “My husband made food while I was closed off in my room,” she said. Her sister Pamela Merrill, an established Brooksville artist, also put in a great deal of work toward the painting of a 13x7x4 floral decorative gift box for the dress. The floral portrait was completed in acrylics, and matched the design of the bride’s wedding invitation. The work was worth it. “Jessie put on the dress, looked in the mirror and started to twirl the skirts,” Toth said. “She said, ‘I love it.’ She was crying and so was I.”

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Keeping with the spirit of friends and family, and following the wedding in Vero Beach, Toth chose to display her gown at Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe. This is a business owned and operated by a group of friends that evolved from a creative group known as Fiber Arts Under the Pavilion into a community center that offers supplies such as yarns, soaps, notions, knitting needles, along with courses in knitting, crocheting and related skills. All of this takes place beneath a ceiling lined with sparkling chandeliers and filled wall to wall with exquisite antique furnishings.

Co-owner of Panbanged Knits & Fiber Shoppe Christen Brandl stated, “We are building a community that uplifts people of all ages, ethnicities, men, women and children. We’re best friends who love the fiber arts,” said Christen Brandl. Peggy Johnson is the other co-owner who manages the shoppe with help from friends Donna Anderson and Susan Head. Brandl says she is honored to present Toth’s legacy piece to the public.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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