30 Day Challenge: Day 15

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IMG_9539Today I was playing about with my Trollbeads blue sapphire… I was Experimenting with various other tones, and exploring to see what sorts of colour companions were possible.  It’s a very soft grey-blue, a shade with which I play all the time – but in the 30 day challenge, there’s always the possibility of one more fresh idea!

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I had never placed these three beads together, and I quite liked it!  It was the kernel of an idea.

IMG_9540I pulled all my inky blues and all my lilacs and purples, and began to play.  This was a super easy design to compose and balance… Some bracelets are so natural that afterwards one sort of shakes one’s head and think… “Well, DUH”.  This was one of those bracelets.  I had ample beads in each colour family, and truly, it “built itself”.

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Entirely wearable… how can I never have made this bracelet?

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IMG_9537I love the way the pale shimmering blues in the Aurora beads are accentuated and enhanced by these slate blues – but absolutely not overwhelmed.  I find this colour combination easy and natural, but not boring or expected.  I’m delighted with it, and am sure I will play with this pair of colour families again.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Dichroic lower Clasp”, “Unique Glass”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Neither Fish nor Bird” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Rolling Troll”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Sapphire”, “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Clown” (retired), “Limited Edition Faceted Aurora”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Unique Glass”, “Sparrow” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”.

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30 Day Challenge – Day 14

IMG_9583I’m all about that amber… (no glass!)

IMG_9581I was so pleased with yesterday’s bracelet, I’ve let it go to my head!  I decided to dive in and give it another whirl, this time playing only with my amber beads… which to my surprise, now number enough beads for an entire bracelet.  (That is becoming sort of the theme of this year’s challenge – “Whaaat?  I have this many of these?”)

IMG_9582Pattern Building

IMG_9578In order to create a bracelet that satisfied my need for pattern and balance, I sorted my ambers more or less into pairs by colour, size and clarity.  Then I centred a favorite, barrel shaped alabaster amber and worked my way out, trying to make a pattern and maintain balance as I went.  The completely random bracelet is still beyond me – perhaps this year that should be the ultimate challenge for me!

IMG_9580I find the warm and natural tones of the amber to be very calm and soothing – so I thought I would indulge in some more richly patterned silvers whose busier designs could sing in contrast and harmony.  I placed the Anniversary Bracelet “Two Trolls” and the “2014 Trollbeads Day Trolls” opposite each other for additional emphasis.

IMG_9576Finally, it’s worth mentioning that I am once again surprised by how much I like the tactile feel of this bracelet – it’s shockingly light!  It feels completely different from my usual, much heavier compositions of glass and silver, with only the occasional amber.  Now I think I would love to work towards a full necklace of these beauties…

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), All beads amber!  Silvers as follows:  “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Limited Edition Two Trolls”,  “Zanzibar”, “Zanzibar”, “Trollbeads Day 2014”, “Bee on Hive”.

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30 Day Challenge – Day 13

IMG_9592“…and now for something completely different…”

IMG_9591Today I decided it was time to kick myself a little out of my comfort zone, and try to design from a different approach.  Usually I am very much colour based in my compositions.  The silvers basically offer me a framework around which I hang all my chunks of colour.  Today I decided to be much more flexible about colour.

IMG_9590Instead, today I sorted out my beads into size categories, and committed to work only with my very tiniest silver and glass beads.  Of course, in the wake of the “Small and Beautiful” series, we all have some smaller beads bouncing around in our bead boxes.  I usually try to use their smaller size to advantage, and place them

IMG_9588close to the end of the bracelet for an attractive tapered effect.  They can also be quite handy to ensure that certain silvers are not obscured.  For instance, “Happy Fish” is even happier when placed next to a Small & Beautiful, so that all its glorious detail can be seen.  However, I don’t think that I’ve ever built an entire bracelet of

IMG_9589“mini beads”, and I have to say I’m surprised and delighted with the result.  Firstly, I am shocked at just how many minis there are, hiding in my collection!  I guess that one on each end of seven or eight bracelets does really add up to about a whole bracelet’s worth.  The next thing I noticed was how amazing this bracelet *feels*. 

IMG_9593Teeny Tiny “Sandi” feels like a giant…

Rolling this bracelet around in the palm of my hand, it feels wonderful.  It’s so soft, so fluid and so unexpectedly petite… it’s a treat!  If you have never tried this approach, do give it a whirl it is so much fun.

IMG_9587This Armadillo never gets the coveted center spot…

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Dichroic Flower Clasp” (retired), “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”, “Art Deco” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Grey Armadillo” (retired), “Cells” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Plait” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Van Gogh” (World Tour Series Netherlands), “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Family of Mushrooms” (World Tour Series Lithuania), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Sandi” (retired), “Rosa Pearl”.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 12

IMG_9455A cooler shade of blue…

IMG_9453Today’s bracelet is a re-imagining of one of my semi permanent designs… I say “semi” because if there is one thing this Challenge has taught me, it’s that no design in my bead box is entirely sacred.  However, my deep teal blues and golden amber and stones have drifted back together countless times, and it’s one of the palettes that I like to be able to reach for several times a week – so it’s definitely a fixture.

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Today I decided to rework that design and take inspiration from the navy glitter and white longevity symbol bead shown above.  It’s a favorite bead, and one that I feel is a little lost on the teal and gold design.

IMG_9450I centred the Longevity, and then worked my way out, focusing on teal, deep blue and white.  I used the same array of silvers as before, as they are satisfyingly heavy and subtstantial, without taking up too much length of the bracelet chain.  I was pleased to see how much more prominent my blue and white Kimono beads are in this revised design…

IMG_9454Navy Glitter is almost copper!

IMG_9451The deep dark navy “Blue Desert” shown above is so very glittery that it almost reads as copper!  I couldn’t resist its charms, so I thought I’d better put one other deep blue and warm toned bead on the opposite side, just to provide balance and make sure it didn’t look mismatched with the other cooler beads.  I used this Azure Bubbles – which I

IMG_9452normally “read” as purple and vicuna – but somehow I think it works in this application.  Finally, I tapered both the glass and silvers, trying to place the larger beads closer to the middle of the design, and popping the tiniest “Small & Beautiful” glass right at the very end.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”,  “Limited Edition Auspicious” (World Tour Series Hong Kong), “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Jugend”, “Sapphire”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Azure Bubbles”, “paradise Birds”, “Labradorite”, “Unique Glass”, “Artisan Labradorite”, “Rolling Troll”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Labradorite”, “Carved Flowers”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Chinese Zodiac – Rooster”, “Unique Glass”.  Artisan Labradorite Tassel by Melanie Matthews.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 11

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Today’s bracelet is another twist on my Pomegranates & copper colour combination – but this time instead of going light, I’ve gone dark!  Today is decadent Raspberry and rich Chocolate for a delicious bracelet.  The saturated clarets, berries and reds of this bracelet

IMG_9443could be overwhelming for me – I usually lean towards the West Coast water colour tones.  However, when I teased this combination together I was delighted to find that the addition of the deep natural browns seems to soften the impact of the cherry tones, making it much more wearable for me!  This will very definitely be back together again after the end of the challenge…

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IMG_9442It all began, of course, with a Ruby.  (as so many happy Troll Tales do…) I placed it right in the middle, where it could hog the spotlight the way Rubies like to.  I framed it with a couple of interesting, muddled up browns for texture and shimmer… Hard to believe that the bead at right is an Azure Bubbles – and then just took it from there!

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IMG_9441Funny thing… I like to try to imagine the artisans who make our beads… and I have an imaginary scenario that I play with in my strange brain, where some artist is slightly disgruntled about the retirement of “Brown Desert”.  After that lovely bead was retired I noticed quite a few ultra-dark examples of “Blue Desert”, as if somewhere there was a glass artist who just wouldn’t let go of the brown!  Continuing in my silly fantasy story:  perhaps after he was told to stop making deserts he decided to start making “Brown Bubbles”, and the above bead is the happy result!  Silly, I know, but it makes me happy.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Red-Pink Prism” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), Scott Bouwens Artisan Glass Bead, “Unique Glass”, “Tigers Eye”, “Shortcut” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Ruby with Silver Core”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Spot” (retired), “Smoky Quartz”, “Unique Glass”, “Brown Desert” (retired), “Bee on Hive” (retired), Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”.

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30 day Challenge: Happy Mothers Day!

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IMG_9504Today I tried to pick beads as if they were flowers, and turn them into a bouquet that I can wear on my arm!  I tried to hold images of my Mother in my head as I was playing this together, and take my cue from her exquisite taste… I often pick beads more for their aesthetic than their meaning, but for today’s bracelet I really wanted to think hard about each addition, and to include both elements for greater meaning.

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IMG_9503I knew there must be flowers, for my Mother’s amazing garden.  “Van Gogh” brings blossoms into the design.  The Sparrow is for the bird feeders in Mum’s garden, and their flocks of feathery visitors.  Mum used to love sitting at her kitchen table, watching the birds enjoy her beautiful garden – and she waged a quiet war against the fat

IMG_9507squirrels who grew even fatter on her luxurious bird seed.  The “Bee on Hive” is for the bumblebees who loved her garden so well, buzzing amongst the tea roses, clematis, bergamot and honeysuckle.  All these silver designs seemed perfectly “Mum” to me… but the “Sweater” and “Ball of Yarn” are perhaps the most meaningful of all.

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IMG_9502My Mother could make incredibly perfect things with her hands… she spun, wove, knit, embroidered, quilted, and crocheted with love, creativity and passion, creating textiles that truly were art.  I’m very lucky to still have and enjoy many of the beautiful pieces she made.  On a previous Mothers Day I wrote about a very special Sweater of hers… If you’d like to see her work, take a peek.  The “Ball of Yarn” and “Sweater” beads are an homage to my Mother’s skilled hands.

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IMG_9501Finally, after taking care over the selection of very special silvers… it was time to pick a palette of colours that would be equally meaningful.  I toyed with several possibilities, but in the end I found that a subtle, soft array of apricots, blues and greens felt right.  It brings to mind the natural colours of the flowers and foliage in her garden, as well as the timeless Liberty prints that she favoured for Summer dresses and scarves.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Dichroic Flower Lock” (retired), “PInk Prism”, “Bee on Hive”, (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Heart”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Unique Glass”, “Aurora Flower”, “Unique Glass”, “Sweater” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Sparrow” (retired), “Light Blue Shadow” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Van Gogh” (World Tour Netherlands Series), “Rosa Pearl”.

To all of our very special ladies… those of you who are Mothers and Grandmothers, caring for your families – as well as those of you who quietly mother so many others, taking care of loved ones as if they were your own – thank you for all you do.  We see how hard you work, and how much you care.  You are appreciated, cherished and loved.

Happy Mothers Day!

C.

30 Day Challenge: Day 9

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IMG_9431Today I played with all the purples that usually I pair with teal… and gave them a fresh, soft treatment with my gentlest greens!  This is another color combination that has been knocking about in the back of my mind for a while now, and I’m happy to finally be able to give it a try.  Isn’t it funny – when paired with teal these purples feel so much stronger… now that their companions are misty greens they feel quite subtle.

IMG_9430I think the bead that really made me want to try this combination is the “Azure Bubbles” that I have placed in the center position.  I’m very taken with the way this particular example exhibits so many shades of olive to lilac, and I’ve often felt that it wasn’t really been showcased on a bracelet with bolder colours.  Here I’ve custom built a design around it!

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IMG_9434This Azure holds other fascinating colours as well – note how its hints of icy blue are echoed in the uniques, as well as in the dichroic dots among the silvers.  The repetition of the colour gives a nice rhythm to the design.  This sort of pattern helps to give a sense of calm to the bracelet, as it seems planned and in control.

IMG_9435more dichroic shimmer…

IMG_9433This little unique is one of my favorite “Small & Beautiful” design.  I’m fascinated by the miniscule array of glittering gold suspended in its depths.  It supposedly is playing the same role on this bracelet as it usually does on my teal and purple combination… but with it’s small size and subtle colour, it’s much more noticeable now that the brighter colours have been replaced with softer ones.

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I’m so pleased to be able to pair two of my Limited Edition Jades… they have a distinctive shape and texture, so it’s satisfying to be able to use them to balance each other.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Dichroic Flower Lock” (retired) “Unique Glass”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Elfbead”, “Neither Fish nor Bird, Large” (retired), “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Aurora Flowers”, “Blue Desert”, “trinity”, “Unique Glass”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique Glass”, “King & Queen” (retired), “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Limited Edition Faceted Aurora”, “Unique Glass”, “Frogs” (retired), “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Unique Glass”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Deep Bubbles” (retired), “Pink Prism” (retired format).

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30 Day Challenge: Day 8

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IMG_9422Today’s bracelet is just pure, exuberant joy, isn’t it?  Impossible to feel dull in the face of such brilliant colour.  I first saw a bracelet with a similar colour combination many years ago, in the amazing collection of RT… (You may remember her necklace full of unique armadillos?)  She had a pink – to yellow combination that was anchored by a budded

IMG_9424python that had the perfect array of hues.  That design had since been taken apart, but it lives on in my memory bank of bracelet designs, and there’s no question I was channeling it when I put this together this morning.

I began the design as I always do – right in the middle.  I use a rod to build

IMG_9421the bracelet, so I have the luxury of building from the middle outwards, making sure that the design is balanced as I go.  I tend to cluster my glass, amber and stone in odd numbers, like flower arrangements, and space them with silvers that are chosen by theme and size.  I’ll use a bigger silver to fill in a bracelet that feels a bit sparse, and conversely

IMG_9423can switch out to smaller silvers if I am squeezed for space.   I also generally try to put the showstopping, extra large and dramatic pieces closer to the middle, tapering to my “small and beautifuls” as I get closer to the lock.  In today’s design, I was delighted to be able to use a recent acquisition – the cherry pink with yellow buds – so perfect on this design!

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Isn’t it interesting how context is everything with beads?  The golden yellows on today’s bracelet look caramel brown in another design!

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling double Lobster Lock” (retired format), “Unique Amber”, “Unique Amber”, “Linited Edition Van Gogh” (Netherlands World Tour), “Issey” (retired),  “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Golden Quartz”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”

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30 Day Challenge: Day 7

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Today I was in a light sort of a mood… wanting something natural, simple and clean.  A fantasy necklace with a few spring greens was just the thing.

IMG_9459I picked this lovely sage green and gold stripe from my palette first and decided to work from there.  I added some golden ambers to play up the glitter, but added the buttery amber as well, so that it didn’t feel too terribly formal.  The clear golden yellow glass with stylized green flower is one of my favorite beads… it is absolutely at home here among other greens and golds.

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The translucent Chinese Jade lays a nice wide foundation for this composisition – I like my fantasy necklaces to be stacked in a pyramid shape!  The sage and white scallops help to bring in just a touch of white, so that the necklace’s pearl drop feels like it’s part of the overall design.

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From top to bottom:  “Unique Amber”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”.  Design composed on a 90cm sterling silver Fantasy Necklace with Pearl.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 6

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IMG_9414Today I played with one of my bracelet wardrobe staples – my “Copper and Pomegranates” design.  I usually include quite a few darker red and raspberry tones, to make the overall bracelet very rich in feel.  My Ruby is usually right in the center!  However, as we approach Summer I felt like trying out a lighter form of that familiar palette.

IMG_9413 I always say that the fastest way to change a bracelet’s appearance is to edit and selectively remove a couple of beads – and in this case it’s certainly true!  I kept only the coppery and pink tones, removing all traces of claret and raspberry – and what a change!  When selecting shades of pink I took care to only include ones with a very warm cast

IMG_9412to them… much more peach or apricot, rather than rose.  I wanted to play up two beads in particular:  The Pink Kimono Bead, named “Sakura” and a beautiful, artisan Champagne Quartz faceted stone.  I adore both of these warm pink beauties, but find that they can be overpowered by the deep claret of my Ruby.  This is their chance to shine.

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IMG_9415Here’s the other bead that inspired this bracelet… it’s an artisan glass Armadillo that was made for me by Trollbeads glass artist, Georgina Black on one of her visits to Tartooful.  Any Trollie worth her salt knows that pale pink armadillos are a treasure – and I wanted to give this one the very center of the bracelet.  As it is a shade more rose than the other more warm pinks on the bracelet, I surrounded it with a pair of “Golden Cave” that help to keep the overall balance warm and golden.  Finally, I pulled all my cognac coloured ambers and scattered them evenly around the bracelet for lots of spice!

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Rosa Pearl”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Pink Desert”, “Anniversary Bracelet Two Trolls”, (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Series Sakura”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Trollbeads Day 2014”, “Golden Cave”, “Artisan Glass by Georgina Black”, “Golden Cave”, “Bead of Fortune”, “Unique Glass”, “Goldstone” (retired), “Artisan Champagne Quartz”, “Tupilak Mouth”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Pink Prism”, “Unique Amber”.

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