30 Day Challenge: Day 7


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.


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.


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.


30 Day Challenge: Day 6


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.


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!


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”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Graphic Silver


Today I thought I’d play with some of the fresh new silver designs that are intriguing so many of our collectors.


IMG_8385Three new designs of considerable size and unusual shape were released as part of the Spring 2015 collection.  “Flying Free”, “Wisest of Souls” and “Guardian of Sea” all have a flared, tubular form that feels clean, modern and yet somehow tribal.  At an accessible CAD$59 price point, these pieces may easily be combined to create a fresh composition with a strong silver element.

IMG_8386In this design I’ve selected “Flying Free” and “Guardian of Sea” for their complementary, flowing patterning.  I added two of our favorite silvers from the Autumn collection for a pleasing rhythm of spherical and tubular forms.  When playing the bracelet together I was happy to note that the round silvers fit beautifully into the flared ends of the tubular designs, and it would be very simple to build an all silver design that was based purely on that combination.


IMG_8383For colour I reached for some delightful uniques that recently arrived, and took the cue for my palette from them.  The result is a pleasing combination of slate blue, grey, oxblood, butterscotch and deep coral.  I so often find fabulous new colour combinations that I never would have imagined just by looking closely at a fantastic unique.  Even after years of composing bracelets, they still have surprises to offer me.

IMG_8384For grey elements I picked “Neptune’s Promise”, a lovely “Sapphire”, “Blue Desert” and a very colour saturated “Khaki Stripe”.

In the end, to create this design only took a few, well-chosen glass, so my only real challenge in creating this bracelet was winnowing down the possible choices and picking the beads that would create the most pleasing palette.


Clockwise from Clasp:  “Fish Lock”, “Lotus Top”, “Unique Amber”, “Blue Desert”, “Golden Cave”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Sapphire”, “Flying Free”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Guardian of Sea”, “Neptune’s Promise”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “red Tigers Eye”, “Khaki Stripe”, “Golden Cave”, “Lotus Top”.





Trollbeads Inspiration: Like Honey for the Eyes


IMG_8151I fell in love with a grouping of ooey gooey caramel sweet beads today… they were lit up in a shaft of sunshine, and cast little pools of golden light on the table.

IMG_8153Although there is a blend of amber, clear, metallic and even opaque glass,

somehow it all feels cohesive.  The repetition of the “Luminous” bead helps to give a pleasing rhythm to the design, and it’s so interesting to see the variation from one example to another.  With honey amber, cherry red glass, cinnamon sparkle and rich butterscotch, this is an utterly delicious bracelet!


IMG_8151I wanted the attention to stay on the gorgeous blend of golden colour, so I kept the silvers very bold yet simple.  The lovely new “Path of Life” and “Large Berry” balance each other on either side of the bracelet design, and a pair of “Giant Lotus” frame the central grouping of beads.

IMG_8163I have found these big beautiful silvers most useful on bracelets, for framing centerpiece beads.  If the beads are very large one can put even just one bead between the silvers.  In a case such as this, where the beads are a more standard size, I spread the silvers a little wider, so one doesn’t drown the focal point beads.  I always prefer to cradle very clear beads in the “Giant Lotus”, to allow the light to go in and reflect back out again in a wonderfully glowing sort of a way…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Swan Lock”, “Luminous”, “Golden Cave”, “Large Berry”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Golden Hemanite”, “Giant Lotus”, “Unique Amber”, “Luminous”, “Unique Amber”, “Luminous”, “Unique Amber”, “Giant Lotus”, “Goldstone” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Path of Life”, “Golden Cave”, “Luminous”.




Trollbeads Bangle Inspiration: The Art of Packing Light


“We all traveled light, taking with us only what we considered to be the bare essentials of life.  When we opened out luggage for Customs inspection, the contents of our bags were a fair indication of character and interests.


Thus Margo’s luggage contained a multitude of diaphanous garments, three books on slimming, and a regiment of small bottles each containing some elixir guaranteed to cure acne.  Leslie’s case held a couple of roll-top pullovers and a pair of trousers which were wrapped around two revolvers, an air-pistol, a book called “Be Your Own Gunsmith”, and a large bottle of oil that leaked.  Larry was accompanied by two trunks of books and a brief-case containing his clothes.  Mother’s luggage was sensibly divided between clothes and various volumes on cooking and gardening.


I traveled with only those items that I thought necessary to relieve the tedium of a long journey:  four books on natural history, a butterfly net, a dog and a jam-jar full of caterpillars all in imminent danger of turning into chrysalids.  Thus, by our standards fully equipped, we left the clammy shores of England.”

– From My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Beautiful Words

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 4.09.39 PM

IMG_6977Every day it seems as though our kids are a little taller, a little bigger, a little bit more grown up.  It’s hard to see them leaving childhood behind, and acquiring adult problems and responsibilities… (My eldest is taller than me, now!)  On the other hand it makes me proud and happy to know them as the lovely people they are becoming.

IMG_6979One of the wonderful parts of having older children is sharing favorite films and books as they are ready for them… For example I had a most enjoyable evening recently watching “the Life Aquatic” with a couple of the kids.  I saw it and was enchanted by it years ago, but experienced it with fresh eyes as they saw it for the first time.


IMG_6973Another recent pleasure was re-reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.  This beautifully written, charming and hilarious book was a favorite of mine when I was around ten.  Now it’s a title I can share with the children, and I am experiencing it with a completely different perspective.  For those of you who have not enjoyed

IMG_6974this author’s works, he was a British naturalist and author with a gift for humorous narrative, and the ability to paint exquisite images with his words.  The following is an excerpt from My Family and Other Animals.  This passage is early in the book, and it describes Mr Durrel’s first impression of Corfu, Greece, as he arrived there as a small child.

IMG_6976“The sea lifted smooth blue muscles of wave as it stirred in the dawn-light, and the foam of our wake spread gently behind us like a white peacock’s tail, glinting with bubbles.  The sky was pale and stained with yellow at the

IMG_6975eastern horizon.  Ahead lay a chocolate-brown smudge of land, huddled in mist, with a frill of foam at its base.  This was Corfu, and we strained our eyes to make out the exact shapes of the mountains, to discover valleys. peaks, ravines, and beaches, but it remained a silhouette.  Then suddenly the sun shifted over the horizon, and the sky turned the smooth enameled blue of a jay’s eye.”


Breathtaking, isn’t it?  It draws such a clear and compelling picture for my mind’s eye – even though my little Trollbeads shop in North Vancouver is a long way from Corfu, this passage take me right there, to the deck of that ship at dawn.  I feel lucky to have read beautiful words like these at an impressionable age.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Spiritual Temple Lock”, “Unique”, “Magical Lamp”, “Nomad”, “Traces”, “Milan”, “Unique”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Silver Mountain”, “Smoky Quartz”, “Silver Mountain”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Unique”, “Khaki Stripe”, “Ancient Palace”, “Royal”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Golden Light

IMG_6813IMG_6812Have you seen the change? 

As we lazily drift towards the end of the Summer, the light is subtly changing.  The shadows stretch a little longer as the sun dips lower in the sky.  Perhaps you are reading this from a point further South, where the change of season is not as noticeable – but here in Vancouver, Canada we enjoy long Summer evenings that remain light until late… often the sun is still tinting the sky at 10:30pm.  As the Autumn approaches our sun disappears into the Pacific much earlier, and we are now lighting the lanterns in our gardens and on our patio tables as early as 8:00pm.  Despite the languid heat of the days, the sun is just a little less blindingly clear and has taken on a hazy, golden hue that is unique to this season of transition.  The gilding that this Autumnal light gives my surroundings made me think of the cognac, toffee and honey colours of amber!



IMG_6806The diversity in Trollbeads’ amber is always inspiring to me, so it never takes a lot of prompting for me play together fresh amber compositions.  I find them to be the most adaptable and useful of all the Trollbeads categories.  I place the buttery alabaster ones with whites, pastels and natural stone textures.  The cherry ambers are the jewels of my pomegranate and copper bracelet, and the cognac and honey tones ones light up every kind of green and blue.  Their glowing golden tones can offer the perfect complementary note to practically any colour, it’s just a matter of selecting the right one for the job. 

In today’s bracelet I selected a range of mossy greens and slate blues that are inspired by the natural beauty of the woods and beaches in my part of the world.  These are the colours of our ocean, our lakes, our mountain streams, our lush forests and our sky. 


IMG_6814IMG_6816Just as the late Summer sun gilds our trees and mountaintops, these familiar colours come to life with the addition of warm, golden amber.  What could have been a coolly blue and green bracelet now simply glows.  I love the way that the greens now seem more brilliant, and the blues more intense.  Note how rich the “Organic Bubbles” is… Always a beautiful and fascinating bead, the contrast with the neighbouring golden peach amber makes the blue undertones in the green come rushing out!  I set the natural tone for the bracelet with a trio of faceted stones in the center position:  “Labradorite”, “Golden Quartz” and “Sapphire” make a powerful starting point.  I wanted the attention to be on the colour range in this composition, so I selected a series of silvers that all share a knotwork theme… “Three Siblings, “Lucky Knot”, “Trefoil Knot” and even “The Midgaard Serpent” have a simple and elegant aesthetic that allow the eye to focus on the palette.



Clockwise from clasp:  “Freya Lock”, “Unique Amber”, “Magical Lamp”, “Three in One”, “Organic Bubbles”, “Unique Amber”, “Aqua Edge Pumpkin”, “Three Siblings”, “Blue Desert”, “Trefoil Knot”, “Labradorite”, “Golden Quartz”, “Sapphire”, “Trefoil Knot”, “Blue Desert”, “The Midgaard Serpent”, “Aqua Edge Petals”, “Unique Amber”, “Organic Bubbles”, “Lucky Knot”, “Dewdrops”, “Golden Cave”.





Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 19


IMG_5808This is a bracelet that I’m giddy to wear!  I love the blend of warm amber and rich turquoise, and there’s just enough pattern to keep it interesting – but not so much that it competes with the brilliant colour.  However, the thing I like best about this bracelet is that I am able to make it with my collection of beads.

Allow me to explain…

Last year when I tackled this challenge I found out a few things about myself, my

IMG_5809taste in colour, and my strengths and weaknesses as a Trollie.  I also learned a little about the shortcomings of my own collection!  We’ve all been there… we’re seduced by a gorgeous glass unique, and knowing that we will never, ever, in a billion years ever find another like it… we snap it up, even though we might know that what we

IMG_5807 really need to round things out is a new silver or two, or perhaps a neutral that gives our drama queen uniques a little space to breathe.  Last year I discovered that I golden ambers as a neutral, complementary note on tons of great colour

IMG_5810combinations… and that I really needed to add a few more in order to be able to make those combinations work.  I also discovered that I liked working with round, well matched silvers, especially on bracelets with a higher proportion of silver to glass, and felt I wanted to acquire a few more of those as well.   This bracelet is a perfect example.  I have a

IMG_5811bright, turquoise and teal beads – but not so many.  When dropped strategically around the bracelet, and mixed in with a generous dollop of silver and amber,  this bracelet works perfectly.  Last year at this time I wouldn’t have been able to create this full composition. Thanks to my acquisitions over the past year I’m finding it much

easier this year to create some very fun new designs for myself… and lots more designs that I am sure I will want to create again!




My Trollbeads Today

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Usually my bracelet compositions last a few days or a couple of weeks at most… but I have been in love with this combination for months.  Even with the change in seasons, this bracelet still is on my arm several days a week.  I’ve added one here, edited another there, but the basic theme of slate blue and honey gold continues to delight me.

photo 1

Clockwise from clasp:  “Peacock Pearl” (Limited Edition), “Family of Mushrooms” (World Tour Lithuania), “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique Amber”, “Blue Desert”, “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Jugend”, “Unique Amber”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Golden Quartz”, “Auspicious” (World Tour Hong Kong), “Labelled Labradorite – suspected Sapphire…”, “Brown Desert (retired), “Chinese Zodiac Rooster” (Limited Edition), “Azure Bubbles”, “New Unique 2014 – Blue Galaxy”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Russian Pink Amber” (limited Edition).

The whole thing was inspired by the pair of richly ribboned, pale blue and toffee coloured “Azure Bubbles”.  (These days it always seems to start with an Azure…) Then I purchased the darker Azure that is in the center of the bracelet when I was in New York in September.  During the Autumn the navy “Blue Desert” appeared in a shipment at Tartooful… two of the Ambers were timely gifts from beloved Tartooful clients…. and so it goes, a new bracelet came together.

I have kept the silvers understated and slender, to allow the focus to stay on the beautiful range of colour in the glass, stone and amber beads.  I like the repeated shape of the silvers, as it gives a little rhythm to the bracelet.  As always, I have given the center of the bracelet to larger beads that set the tone, and have gently tapered the size of the beads to the tiny amber unique and the “peacock Pearl” at either end.

What are your Trollbeads today?



Trollbeads Inspiration: Pink Moss


pink-fernWhen on a recent dayhike we spotted these unusual mosses growing in a lush spot on the coastline… The photo doesn’t begin to fully capture the amazing range of colour!  Olive green, oxblood, vicuna, parchment and softest pink all combined to give an overall feathery, rosy haze.  Stunning!  I had to stop, take out the camera and try

pink-fern7to share it with you.

I am always playing with colour pairings for pink.  I love pink, but tend to wear it with neutrals such as olive or grey… or unexpected combinations such as acid green… so that it’s not so “little girl” and predictable.  Even in the garden I like to plant Lady’s Mantle underneath traditional,

pink-fern-clusterfeminine plants such as roses.  Its acid green flowers help to “cut” the sweetness of rosy pinks or purples, and give a little edge to the feel of the flower bed.  Here, the fascinating moss gives us a natural and soft palette, of palest pink, olive, copper and parchment.


pink-fern-scurvePink Moss


Clockwise from clasp:  “Lace Lock”, “Pink Prism”, “Blue Desert”, “Cherry Blossom”, “Golden Cave”, “Unique Amber”, “Desert Rose”, “Silver Whorl”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Rose Quartz”, “Kaleidoscope”, “Labradorite”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Large Berry”, “Magical Lamp”, “Unique Amber”, “Golden Cave”, “Flowers”, “Desert Rose”, “Grey Prism”.