Trollbeads Inspiration: Spiced Lilac

IMG_0963Today’s bracelet was inspired by a couple of fun uniques in a distinctive palette of lilac, buttercream and coral.

IMG_0960They’re not unusual patterns, but today their cheerful colour combination caught my eye.  Perhaps it’s because now we’re starting to look forward to Spring, and those pretty colours are just the tonic for the dark months of the year… (don’t they make you think of purple crocus?)  Perhaps it’s because I’m a little sad to see “Coral Bubbles” out of the collection, and these two lovelies are such perfect companions for that design… or perhaps it’s just because I was in a purple mood.  Troll is so easy to toss together on a whim!


IMG_0961This bracelet really was so simple to tease together.  Funny, isn’t it – some bracelets are a struggle from beginning to end, and others practically design themselves.  This one was very cooperative, with beads just jumping out at me from the racks, begging to be added.  I was particularly delighted with the addition of the unique flower shown above, as it included both the oxblood and the lilac found in the “Small & Beautiful” unique at left.  The clear glass overlay in the above unique is lilac, making it a good companion for “Golden Cave” as well.


IMG_0962How serendipitous that the Aurora Flowers that we have in stock at the moment have such a strong garnet colour in the base!  I just love how these look in the light, particularly with the very light, lemon-y “Golden Quartz”…. Just perfect for this spiced lilac combination.  The thing I like best about this palette is how simple it is to create with a wide variety of bead designs…. Most of us have collected some golden hued beads and some aurora glass.  Perhaps your purples were in play with other jewel tones through the Autumn and Winter, but they can be rearranged into this palette for early Spring in a snap.


Clockwise from Clasp:  “Stories of You” limited edition clasp, “Unique Glass”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Coral Bubbles” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Cherry Blossom”, “Goldstone” (retired), “Spiritual Ornament”, “Aurora Flower”, “Golden Quartz”, “Aurora Flower”, “Swarm of Butterflies”, “Limited Edition Carnelian”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Starry Night”, “Unique Glass”.





Trollbeads Inspiration: Icelandic Poppies


IMG_0524Have you ever come across Icelandic Poppies?  They are charming little flowers, a subtle and delicate variety of the Papaver family.  They grow best in sub polar, boral regions and originally grew in Asia and Europe – but not Iceland.  They naturally occur in shades of white and buttery yellow, but varieties have been developed in a gorgeous, juicy array of

IMG_0523colours that include every shade of orange, pink and coral.  Despite the tropical feel of they colours available, they have no taste for heat, preferring gentle climates with cool winters and mild Summers.  They are a short lived perennial which will last longest in the garden if your Summers are cool.  Some people simply grown them as biennals, making the assumption that they will last about that long.


IMG_0522I’ve always loved these delicate little flowers, and in past years, when I have had them in the garden, I’ve often picked them to enjoy in vases.  They are such paper thin, transparent flowers that one would think that they’d wilt immediately – but unlike most poppies they do quite well, happily lasting several days.


Today’s confection of delicate, transparent colours such as coral, buttery yellow and pink is inspired by these lovely flowers…


“Dragon Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Baltic Gold”, “Unique Glass”, “Moroccan Cushion”, “Pebbles”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Orange Agate”, “Scarab”, “Limited Edition Carnelian”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Carnelian”, “Scarab”, “Limited Edition Orange Agate”, “Unique Glass”, “Coral Bubbles”(retired), “Art Deco” (retired), “Golden Cave”, “Unique Glass”, “Copper Bead”.

All beads taken from current Tartooful stock.


Trollbeads Inspiration: The Softer Side of Coral

IMG_0497Sigh… this just says “Summer” to me…

IMG_0500Is there any colour that sings “Summer” more clearly than a rich, vibrant coral?  This delicious colour, poised neatly between red, orange and pink, is warm, exotic and downright tropical.  I’ve always adored the colour, and have often blended it with warm soft pinks for a sugary confection with just an edge of sexy.


IMG_0501Today I mulled how to tone down this rambunctious colour to make it more wearable every day.  Choosing all beads from within Tartooful’s current stock, I found the unique glass at left, with its unusual combination of espresso, softest grey blue and dots of hot coral.  It’s the perfect inspiration for an everyday coral composition!


IMG_0496First I found a group of glorious corals to play with… the Summer Stones 2015 series offers Matte Orange Agate, as well as polished Carnelian. The contrasting textures and range of natural, spicy tones make these designs a pleasure to work with.  Next, I tried various neutral and softer toned beads as companions…

IMG_0495The inspiration unique has a generous dose of espresso brown, so it would have been easy to select various chocolate and walnut brown elements and blend them with the corals.  Perhaps the addition of some clear or ivory beads for some punch?  I tried this approach, and it resulted in a gorgeous combination – but it felt much dressier

IMG_0499than I envisioned.  My goal was a bracelet that would be super easy to wear on a daily basis, with sun dresses, shorts and even jeans.  I started again, and this time I emphasized the soft grey blue that was also found on the unique.  “traces”, “Silver Mountain”, “Sandstone” and “Aquarium Pastel” all have that sublime, subtle blue, combined with a touch of earthy texture that make them perfect for this bracelet.

IMG_0493  Clockwise from clasp:  “Freya Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Carnelian”, “Lucky Knot”, “Golden Cave”, “Sandstone”, “Royal”, “Orange Agate”, “Three Siblings”, “Orange Agate”, “Traces”, “Orange Agate”, “Path of Life”, “Carnelian”, “Three in one”, “Coral Bubbles” (retired), “Aquarium Pastel” (retired), “Art Deco” (retired), “Carnelian”, “Silver Mountain”.

After a bit of play, I found a balance of coral and blue, silver and glass that make my eyes happy… I would happily slip this bracelet on everyday this Summer!



30 Day Challenge: Day 4


IMG_9395Today is a bracelet that feels very comfortable to me… I am sure that I have made up bracelets nearly the same as this on many occasions, but it’s a colour combination that continues to draw me in, and I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you.  There’s something magical about the combination of apricot and periwinkle.  I find the cool and warm tones to be complementary, and make each other even more beautiful when combined.  It’s the same thing with aqua and lilac….

IMG_9392This bead is always the center of this colour combination for me.  It’s rare these days to find a unique glass Trollbead that is utterly, completely unique – but I think I just might have that elusive creature here.  I’ve scoured all of the online shops, blogs, forums and groups and have never been able to spot another bead quite like this one.

IMG_9396When playing together this combination I wanted to focus on a feeling of soft, glowing light… so I selected as many opalescent, translucent Azure Bubbles as possible, added smooth, luminous chalcedony and a healthy helping of coral toned uniques with lots of clarity and light play.   The bubbles in glass uniques always feel to me like pearls.


IMG_9394Creating a strong framework of beads that are very translucent allows me to add a few select designs that are opaque, without it changing to overall feeling of lightness.  Here “Takma” settles in comfortably among the periwinkles and corals, giving every appearance of being super easy to play with… (Don’t believe it – this can be a tricky bead!)

IMG_9393 Finally, one of our favorite beads with chameleon tendencies:  Blue Desert.  This one has a broad area that feels distinctly golden and coral, with only a little edge of blue on either side.  The glitter makes it feel even more golden, and gives a nice contrast in texture between the other translucent and patterned glass.

IMG_9397This palette is so forgiving, with lots of scope within each colour family, so playing together a bracelet like this is a relaxed and easy process for me.  With such gentle colours, and so many subtle tone on tone transitions, perfect balance becomes less important.  It’s really just about finding beads that fit the dreamy mood.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Limited Edition Chess Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Glass”, “Cells”, “Blue Desert”, “Takma”, “Round Chalcedony” (retired), “Petanque” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique Glass”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique Glass”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Round Chalcedony”, “Chocolate Parrot” (retired), “Light Blue Shadow” (retired), “Limited Edition Family of Mushrooms” (World Tour Lithuania Series), “Unique Glass”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique Glass”.

Do you have a colour palette that is your “comfort zone”?  Do share!  Don’t forget to post your creations on @tartooful Instagram #30daychallenge or on Tartooful’s Facebook Page!


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 9


IMG_5637Today we are into the hard stuff!  I was so far outside by comfort zone when I built this, it was making me laugh out loud.  Chatting with one of the participants of the challenge, she commented that she tended always to design subtle, tone on tone bracelets… and that for the challenge she wanted to push herself, and create bracelets that she

IMG_5632wouldn’t usually consider.  I totally agree with her approach.  For me, the holy grail of the challenge is to create something outrageous, and then discover that I actually love it.  Realistically there aren’t going to be many design moments like that.  However, this might be one.  I would never usually attempt this combination,

IMG_5633but I am enjoying this colour palette so much!  Isn’t it fun to see the “Faceted Aurora” playing with these “Hawaiian Shirt” colours?  Totally takes the stuffing right out of it.  The chartreuse green and juicy corals are perfectly complementary to each other, giving the combination an edge and a high level of energy.


IMG_5634This has been a great way to break out of my subtle colour palette!  I don’t imagine for a moment that I will wear colours like this all the time, but the green and orange/coral combination was definitely satisfying to me, and I will work with them again much more often.  Perhaps next time I’ll try it without the purple – on a leather?


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Bee on Hive”, “Chalcedony” (retired), “Limited Edition Green and Purple Armadillo”, “Carved Flowers” (retired), “Unique”, “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Heart”, “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Orange Armadillo” (retired), “Unique”, “Deck of Cards”, “Limited Edition Chinese Lavender Jade”, “Unique”,  “King & Queen” (retired), “Green Armadillo” (retired), “Faceted Aurora”, “Unique”, “Bee on Hive” (retired).






Trollbeads Inspiration: Tangerine


What to do with Tangerine?  Inspired by a fabulous new group of uniques that just arrived at Tartooful, I set out to answer that very timely question.

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The first, and simplest answer is, of course, to pair it with neutrals… simple greys, black and white work perfectly.  Take care not to go too black, or one runs the risk of looking a little too “Halloween”.  However, grey is sophisticated and a wonderfully calming influence on tangerine.  Here we’ve shown the bracelet with lots of different tones of tangerine.  The way I’d be most likely to wear this combination is with lots of grey, and perhaps four orange accents, for a little punch in a neutral canvas.

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Here I’ve made the greys darker, edging more into black – and you can see that with the addition of seasonal silvers this would make a perfect Halloween composition!  I love the little flame patterned uniques, which remind me of airbrushing on a “hot wheels” car!

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This composition is a wonderful way to feature the new green and tangerine uniques with the tree pattern.  I can’t decide if the coral dots are autumn leaves or fruit… but as I discovered a long time ago – when it comes to Trollbeads I don’t have to know what it is to love it!  The bark texture is so detailed and perfect, and the colour contrast between the emerald green and the juicy tangerine is a perfect complementary hit.  Love, Love Love…


Orange and pink is a great way to keep pink high energy and drop dead sexy.  Here a bubblegum pink tie dye pattern takes center stage, and acts as a foil for a supporting cast of various reds, oranges, tangerines and corals.  Think pink lipstick and candy red convertible.  Oh my.

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Finally, I played together a tropically inspired turquoise, teal and tangerine composition.  This one is all about the tangerine bikini on the beach with teal surf and turquoise sky.  Greece?  French Riviera?  Mustique?  Yes.

Now… go find those tangerines and take them out to play…




Trollbeads Inspiration: Vermilion



berries4What a wonderful word “Vermilion” is… doesn’t it conjure up rich, illuminated medieval paintings and incense scented Chinese import shops?  It summons frescoes of Pompeii, shimmering icons in their complicated frames, and stacks of red carved snuff boxes tucked among lanterns and bamboo baskets.

berries3It’s not a commonly used word today, and not many people know that it originates from the Latin word, “Vermiculus”, meaning “little worm”.  Very odd, I know!  Long ago this mineral based pigment reminded people of a natural dye that was derived from an insect, the Kermes Vermilio, and somehow the name stuck.


Many years ago I had a Latin teacher (yes, I’m that old…) who loved to uncover the Latin roots of lesser known English words and expressions.  She’d pounce on each one like a long lost treasure, and pronouncing each syllable with care would exclaim, “Good Word, girls… Good word!”… My old Magistra would have approved of this word…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Large Berries”, “Saffron Facet”, “Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Leopard”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Three Siblings”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Peach Flower”.


Inspiration from Trollbeads: A Stroll in the June Garden

june-inspiration“Lovely scents are in the air and beauty is all around you. We present the June Inspiration bracelet, Garden Stroll.”

I always enjoy the monthly inspiration bracelets from Trollbeads, but this bracelet is particularly delightful!  I’m inspired by its deft handling of coral toned beads; blending them with lilac and a touch or rich purple in an unexpected palette that sings.  It includes favorite silvers such as “Forget Me Not”, “Lotus” and “Ladybug”, but also lesser used treasures such as 18k Gold Bouquet.  “Three Flowers, Gold” is one of the gold beads that we most admire, with its gorgeous shimmering dichroic glass jewels.  It looks particularly lovely next to the Rosa pearl, where it reflects the pearls’s soft peach blush. The addition of rich gold beads such as these is like a ray of sunshine in the garden.


Interesting to note that Trollbeads has employed a fresh design strategy… In the linear photo above it’s clear to see that they have created smaller colour groupings that balance each other on either side of a central Amethyst.  However, they have not blended the two colour elements of coral and lilac together – each is separated into it’s own area of the bracelet.  They also have not attempted perfect balance of gold and silver, or adhered to the rigid rule of larger silvers in the middle, tapering to smaller at the outside.  The bracelet is stunning, and so a good reminder to us to keep our guidelines loose and enjoy the overall impact of the bracelet, rather than obsessing over every internal detail.

Next up:  The 30 day bracelet design challenge….



Trollbeads Inspiration: Tulips


DSCN7386Tulips are one of my very favorite flowers, and always a welcome sight in the garden this time of year.  Here on the West Coast we are blessed with fantastic tulip conditions, with a winter that is cold enough to induce the flower to re bloom, and summers that are warm enough to satisfy the bulb’s need to keep its feet dry for a time.


DSCN7389Species, or wild Tulips are native to Turkey and are the understated distant cousins to today’s highly bred descendents.  First hybridized during the Ottoman empire, tulips were introduced to Europe by an ambassador who sent bulbs and seeds home to Vienna in the 1500s.  It didn’t take long for this dramatically different

DSCN7384flower to capture the imagination of the passionate gardeners of the time, and by the 1590’s it was unbelievably fashionable in the Netherlands to collect these gorgeous plants.  You can imagine why the newly wealthy merchant class was entranced by these beauties – no one had ever seen such saturated colour and drama.

DSCN7380During the heat of the “Tulip Mania” that followed, intense cross-breeding created a vast multitude of appearances and colours of the plant, and fortunes were made and lost by selling, investing and speculating on these plants.  At the height of the mania, a desirable bulb could sell for many times the wage of a talented artisan.

DSCN7385It was the original economic bubble.  However, the lasting effect of this time is a thriving business that to this day is a significant element of The Netherlands’ culture, and of course, an ever growing vast variety of tulips for us to enjoy.  Plant them in the Autumn before first frost, and enjoy them in April – or simply pick up a pretty bunch and savour their fleeting beauty in a vase….

DSCN7376  C.

Trollbeads Inspiration: Seduced by Reds…

We’re settling into the new collection… we’ve spent so many hours, playing with countless combinations and after a bit more time together some of the new reds are definitely beginning to seduce…

Scarlet Bud and Peach Flower are beginning to surprise me – they simply glow in the light, and are a truly gorgeous, almost iridescent tone of coral.  They weren’t the first beads to draw my eye, but they are singing to me now.  I like to play with them in combination with other shades of red, pink and orange.  These work well when contrasted with a deep, subtle grey.  We’ve made up a few satisfying combinations that include “Black Silk”, “Triple Pearl Black” and “Snowflake Obsidian”.

Here’s one favorite composition with the new “Black Onyx” Fantasy necklace, with a delicious combination of new corals, Malawi Uniques, Uniques, the “Large Berry” and of course a stunning “Triple Pearl Black”…