Trollbeads Design Lesson: The Nitty Gritty

rackStep 1:  approach the rack…

starting-pointRecently I’ve had a few messages from readers, asking for more insight into the process by which we compose a bracelet here at Tartooful…. We don’t keep to any kind of a strict system by any means, we simply play with colours until they “feel” right to us, but we thought we’d try to share a little more about our approach.

choose-rodsToday I was inspired by this retired and pretty “Aquarium Pastel”.  I like to pair this bead with light blue and apricot, rather than the usual expected chestnut browns.  This results in a lighter than air and very unusual palette.  I started by pulling some rods of beads that had possible candidates for the bracelet, and placing them altogether on a play tray.

first-groupPlacing  the inspiration bead in the center, I worked outward, adding beads one by one.

At this point I felt like it needed to feel a bit more Autumnal, so I added a few beads with soft grey and even black elements to deepen the palette a little.


“Traces” does a good job of combining the blue and grey, and Kathy Perras’ artisan “Siberian Tiger” adds a little “va va voom”. (purr!)

final-groupingNow it’s time to add a little silver…

traces-closeA few more beads here and there to fill out the bracelet… a few silvers that are roughly balanced for style and size… and a rearranging of order and we are at the final bracelet design.  I chose the retired “Zodiac Star” first..

siberian-tiger-closeI picked it for the perfectly coral coloured carnelian stone at it’s heart.  “Endless” is graphically punchy and interesting, and matches it well for size.  I chose “Three Siblings” for it’s abstract shape that complements “Endless” so well.  Finally I added “Bead of Fortune” as it matches “Three Siblings” so well with its long narrow shape.


light-blue-gold-closeWhen choosing the order of the glass I work outwards from the center of the bracelet.  I do this because I like to try to make sure that the few beads at the center are able to set the tone and palette for the bracelet as a whole.  I find that when I am wearing the bracelet those are the beads that I tend to notice the most, so I want to get those  just right.

pick-a-lockAfter the center beads are sorted I add beads in the two main colour families, trying to alternate the colours so that each bead is able to complement its neighbour.  I don’t match the beads on each side perfectly, but I do try to make sure that they are balanced in visual “weight”.  Imagine the design on an old-fashioned scale.  The larger or darker beads are “heavier”.  I also tend to have the largest beads at the middle of the bracelet and work downwards in size towards the ends of the chain.  Finally I choose a clasp that I think suits the overall theme of the silvers or the season.  In this case I wanted to be sure to set an appropriately Autumnal tone, so I added the “Trolltree” lock.


There you have it… the “nitty gritty” of playing together a new bracelet design at Tartoooful!



3 thoughts on “Trollbeads Design Lesson: The Nitty Gritty

  1. It was lovely to meet you when we visited Canada from England in August. The traces bead and silver mountain bead have been a wonderful addition to my bracelet . Can you pass on any tips on how you manage to photograph your bracelets in such a detailed way. They appear as true works of art and bear up to close scrutiny unlike other variants on a theme.

    1. Hello Shirley,
      it was a pleasure to meet you, and such a lovely compliment that you took the time to drop in for a visit while you were in our part of the world. I’m so glad that you are enjoying your Tartooful beads… and I hope that you think of our North Shore mountains every time you look at your “Silver Mountain”!
      For our photography I am currently using a Canon s110. It’s a humble little camera but it has a decent macro setting and a large light sensor. However, the most important element for us is the light. We use natural light whenever possible on a pure white, clean background. Artificial light tends to throw shadows and glare, as well as change the colour balance to yellow or blue. Of course, with glass Trollbeads colour is everything. If the day’s light is not cooperating with me then I use a simple light box which may be purchased at any photography shop, which gives me a controlled light environment in which to place the beads. Other than that, there’s really no tricks to it, just lots of patience and practice.
      Have fun with your collection, and do keep in touch and let us know how it grows!
      Thank you again,

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