Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 30 Finale


It is hard to believe but here we are at day 30 of the 2014 design challenge.  For the last month we have created a new composition each day, to be worn and enjoyed for only a few hours.  The next morning, the design was taken apart and we began to compose again.

IMG_6070Why take it apart each day?  It freed us to create pieces that we never would have made if we were committed to them for a longer length of time.  Through the process we pushed down mental walls that restricted our designs… Experimented with new colour

IMG_6069 combinations… Changed the balance of silver to glass… Combined the chain components in unexpected ways…

Over the last days I dug deep and tried to think about the last few mental

IMG_6068blocks that I was holding onto, and tried to tackle them.  I also thought about what I had learned this year, and shared some of my insights and small victories.  Today for the final design, I was torn between creating something divinely simple, or something fabulously over the top.  You can see what I chose!  As Melanie says:  “More is More”….


IMG_6066Today’s opera length, chatelaine necklace is composed of four bracelet chains, five basic double lobster clasp bracelets, an emerald fantasy necklace and of course, a schwack of beads.  I began by choosing some key beads to design

IMG_6065the tail of the chatelaine portion, right at the bottom of the necklace.  They set the tone for the entire composition, so they had to be just right.  I took care to set aside some nicely matched pairs of beads, and leave them for when I was

designing the arms of the necklace.  Rather, at this point I used dramatic beads that stood rather more alone, and were harder to balance perfectly.  These were strung onto the bottom of the Emerald Fantasy Necklace.


When I was satisfied with the tail portion I folded the remaining chain in half horizontally to “split” the chain.  I don’t own a splitter bead for my personal collection, so I simply added a nicely matched pair of silver “Bee on Hive” and started designing up the arms of the chain.  I’ve found that as long as the arms are loaded right up, the weight of the beads keeps a “split” in place.  I added a bead first to one side and then the other, taking care to keep the balance.  This was the time to start using those beads that were nicely matched in pairs.


The first time I designed this necklace I used all my beads in my collection, creating a riot of colour and design.  I loved it, but I knew I wouldn’t really wear it… so I took it apart and started again, editing out a whopping total of 24 of the beads that created the carnival look and strictly restricting myself to colours that sang together.  This second incarnation has more bare silver chain, but I like it much better.  (This was one of the big lessons of this year’s Challenge:  sometimes the best way to improve a design is to take a bead – or a bunch of beads – off.  Don’t be afraid of bare chain!)


To lengthen the chain beyond that of the normal fantasy necklace I capped the rounded ends of the chain with my clasps, and then attached a pair of bracelets to the other side of the clasps.  I put just three beads on each bracelet, and then repeated that pattern again on the next pair of bracelets.  This made a total of four bracelets, forming the sides of the necklace.  Finally, I added one last clasp at the back of the neck.  In total the necklace is a true opera length, reaching past my waistline.  However, the length of such a design would depend on the sizes of bracelets and fantasy necklace used.  If you didn’t have four silver bracelets and wanted to create the same look, you could substitute a leather necklace or a leather bracelet for two of the bracelets and it would work out to roughly the right length.


This was a very fun design challenge and a great way to integrate all the little lessons of the past month into one piece.  Best of all, I think I’ll wear this design for some time!  It’s very satisfying on… heavy, bold and very dramatic.  Think black tank dress, or skinny jeans with a black tee and a pair of simple black boots, or pumps – and this necklace.  It’s a “power” piece that makes one feel a little taller, a little sexier, just by putting it on.

IMG_6064So here we are at the end of the month… hopefully with a new appreciation for the potential of our collections, and a bead bag full of fresh ideas, just waiting to be enjoyed.  I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each one of you who participated in some way with me – by jumping right in, making up new bracelets each day… emailing me with occasional pieces to be shared with our online Trollies, dropping by the gallery to show me a new design, taking the time to follow along and encourage those who were on the journey… or even something as simple as writing a note to say you were inspired by the posts.  It all adds up to a tremendous feeling of a wonderfully creative and inspiring Global Trollbeads Family, and it means so much.  Thank you.  Over the next couple of days we’ll be tallying all the commentary online, and finding the ladies who were outstanding in their field – whether it be as a designer or as a supporter – and we’ll let you know who our challenge heroes are!  Stay tuned to find out the names of these “SuperTrollies”…

…and whatever you do, don’t stop creating just because the challenge is over!  Take your passion, and new skills and enjoy your collection like never before…






5 thoughts on “Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 30 Finale

  1. Just discovered your blog yesterday, so had the pleasure of indulging in all of the designs over a short period. I am in awe of your commitment to the daily practice of impermanence and discovery. My compliments too on your writing which is exceptional in style and content. So many deep and valuable insights combined with practical suggestions and delightful inspiration. I’ve read every word studied every top quality photo. (Maybe you would consider making it into a booklet.)

    I would happily wear any of your creations. Your collection is so well-chosen! It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but your pinks have opened a new vista for me.

    Well done! This is the best thing I’ve seen in the TB blogosphere.

  2. This may be your most spectacular design yet! Just extraordinary! You are such an inspiration Cathy! Thank you for sharing all your design ideas and strategies with us!

  3. Wow!! What a finale, Cathy! This necklace is a masterpiece…. Love the way you’ve paired the beads on each side. Even though the beads are different, they balance the composition beautifully. Thank you for another month of great photos and inspiration! I’ve looked forward to each and every post! ;-))

  4. Quite the TB challenge, Cathy! 30 days of different configurations & combinations to show how you can create a new bracelet everyday if you want to and to write a story. You are very creative and talented with
    your artistic eye. Love your Attention to detail and Certainly Queen of
    Trollbeads…What a treat to see! Thanks for sharing your passion!
    Love your Exceptional Customer Service !!!

  5. Stunning!! What a way to wrap! Your designs, your photos, your essays…all are so inspiring Cathy. Thank you!

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