Trollbeads Inspiration: Ombre Raspberry


Ombre beadplay is always a fun little design project…

9Casting an eye over our selection of uniques today I noticed that we have an absolutely marvelous collection of raspberry pinks in stock at the moment.  I decided to have a bit of a play with them, but thought I’d give the design a little twist and try my hand at a crimson-to-pale pink ombre composition….

This collection of beads are wonderful, rich shades of soft blush pink through raspberry and down into a deep, satisfying crimson.  Add an absolutely dazzling array of pattern and texture, and no matter how this composition came

5together it was bound to be a fantastic bracelet.  I really think that with these beads it would be impossible to make the bracelet look anything but gorgeous.

The most essential tool when designing this sort of bracelet is definitely a play tray… I string the beads onto the rod to find just the right placement for each bead.  Often I’ll think I know just where a bead “belongs” in the ombre gradation – and then when I slot it in, it becomes apparent that it really looks better a little to the right or left.


8At the two extreme ends of this bracelet design you’ll find some of the opaque unique beads that are such a delight to true collectors.  The rich red and glittery one shown above has actually been tempting me for my own collection!  So luxe and utterly delicious.  At the other end of the bracelet be sure to note the beads that have elegantly formed flowers traced on milk glass backgrounds.  These have been such a lovely fresh addition to the design oeuvre of glass Trollbeads uniques.  I’d love to see an entire bracelet made up of these delicate beauties.



I knew that I wouldn’t allow many silvers to find their way onto this bracelet design…. partly because the fun of an ombre is to see how the colours relate to each other, gently transitioning from one shade to the next.  It was also in large part because there were simply too many gorgeous beads that I wished to include in the composition!  However, the overall effect is much more effective with a little silver to break up the colour blocks and allow the eye a spot to pause and rest.  In the end I selected a few highly ornate silvers that were up to the task of matching the drama of their glass companions.


Both the silver and the glass elements in this composition are like a confection for the eye…

1Clockwise from clasp:  “Lace Lock”, All Glass beads uniques.  Silvers:  “Spiritual Ornament”, “Elderflowers”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Wine Harvest”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Spring Whispers


It’s a grey and drizzly day on the wet West coast where we make our home, and on a day like today it’s hard to believe that Spring really is just around the corner.  However, the subtle signs are everywhere, whispering that the season is just about to change.


IMG_0969To begin, the hours of daylight are very slightly different.  For those of you who live closer to the waist of the earth, that may not sound like headline news, but for those of us who are farther North, light, or more properly, the lack of it, is a daily conversation.  Through the darkest weeks of the year, the sun doesn’t rise until eight in the morning, and has disappeared again by four-thirty in the afternoon.  Here it is, only a month past the Winter solstice and already the sun has relented just enough to light the way to school for the kids.  It’s a happy thing!


IMG_0968We’re not the only ones that have noticed that the light is starting to come back to our side of the Earth… It’ll sound funny, but the squirrels about the neighborhood are showing the first signs of Spring Fever!  I watched out the kitchen window last weekend, laughing out loud, as what seemed like wild herds of Squirrels scurried back and forth across the front veranda.  I’m not sure what they were doing, (what happens in the front yard, stays in the front yard) … but whatever it was, it involved a lot of frantic chasing, fluffing of tails and chattering.

IMG_0970Meanwhile, Our elderly cat, Cookie was keeping a close eye on their dodgy proceedings, hustling determinedly along behind them each time they crossed the porch.  I would be concerned for the squirrels safety, but fortunately Cookie no longer poses any real threat to the garden creatures.

Of course, there are other signs about the garden of the coming change in seasons… The Willows are blooming long acid green trailing blossoms… the hazels are, too – some of them very tidy, like newborn pinecones, others more

IMG_0973showy, looking for all the world like microscopic displays of fireworks.  Everywhere that I look I see the promise of flowers to come.  In the case of the snowdrops, promise is perhaps the wrong word – they are already up, out and in full bloom.  The Crocus won’t be far behind, though they seem to pop out of the ground already in bloom, as if they think they’re running late.  The Tulips are pushing their lush green leaves out the soil, as are the daffodils, hyacinths and even daylilies!  I expected to see the Spring bulbs up and around, but I was surprised to see the Summer ones too.


The Troll Anemone Pendant, in full bloom here on a Sterling Foxtail Bracelet


Clockwise from clasp:  “Heaven Crane Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Birds of a Feather, Small”, “Pink Gold”, “Wise Bamboo”, “Ornamental Flower Bead”, “Floral Wishes Bead”, “Crown Chakra”, “Healing Heart”, “Troll With Big Feet”, “Blossom Shade”, “Diamond Bead with Gold Core”, “Meditation Bead”, “Soft Wind of Change Orb Bead”, “Fragile Purity”, “Silver Trace, Gold”, “Rainbow Bridge”, “Trinity”, “Engraved Romance”, “Light Blue Gold”, “Fan of Kindness”, “Rosa Pearl”.

I know that in other parts of the continent, people are still cleaning up after the recent snowstorm, but here, after our grey months, I’m so grateful to be looking forward to the first days of Spring!






30 day Challenge: Happy Mothers Day!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Trollbeads Inspiration: Lily of the Valley… and Cookie.


IMG_9480I’d like to transport you to my morning garden, where just a short time ago I went walking, camera in hand, in search of Trollbeads design inspiration.  It had rained overnight, so fat pearls of water dotted the leaves.  A glittering chandelier of raindrops hung precariously from the tree banches above and occasionally scattered to the ground when the

IMG_9475moved by a breath of air.  The comfortable perfume of warm cedar surrounded me, rising up from the mossy path with every step.  A banquet of potential images before me… but what to photograph to share on the blog this morning?  The blush of the Rhododendron?  The last velvety blooms of the Primula Auricula?


IMG_9462No… those aren’t quite right for today… Suddenly I spotted the first, perfect Lily of the Valley, blooming in pristine white on rich green foliage and was stopped in my tracks.  In some ways the lily of the valley is rather like a Trollbead… Best enjoyed in intimate quarters, the closer one looks the more one is rewarded.  It’s subtle perfume can only be enjoyed when very near, and its tiny blossoms are quite magical in their intricate detail.  Crouching down, I cradled my camera and focused… and THEN:


“Hello, furry one… ”

IMG_9465Meet Cookie.  Not what you’d call the brains of the operation, but very social, very gregarious and very soft.  She has limpid green eyes, absolutely excessively large whiskers and a determination to enjoy as much human attention as possible.  There was no way that a lousy flower was going to get more attention this morning than her.


IMG_9473Dodging and weaving around this single minded and surprisingly nimble cat, I managed to get one good shot of the flower, and quite a few of the cat.  (Surprising in her nimbleness because of an old war injury – note the carefully carried paw…)  I decided to pick my battles… go with the flow… and take this opportunity to shamelessly post the cat.

IMG_9478When I arrived at the gallery this morning to review the photos I found myself smiling at the laptop screen… the Cookie photos are such fun – and the one and only shot I ended up getting of the flower is just right for a bracelet design.  It took no time to play

IMG_9479together a crisp white and emerald green design from current Tartooful stock that feels to me like my walk in the garden this morning.  The two “World Tour Denmark Anemones” beads are a perfect colour match, and almost feel as though they glow from within.  I added a few touches of gold for the rays of sunlight, and a few glistening, transparent glass elements for water drops.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Golden Flower Lock” (retired form), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Christmas 2012”, “Unique Glass”, “Dandelions”, “Unique Glass”, “White Stripe”, “Strawberries”, “Limited Edition Anemones” (World tour Denmark), “Milky Quartz”, “Limited Edition Anemones” (World Tour Denmark”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “The Diamond Bead, White”, “Unique Glass”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Limited Edition Christmas 2012”, “Unique Glass”, “Dichroic Ice”, “Green Prism”.

Really, the only thing that is missing… is the cat.

Don’t forget that Tartooful is now offering a special, Mothers Day gift with purchase of a Trollbeads Umbrella… but only while supplies last!


Trollbeads Inspiration: Watercolour Pink & Green


IMG_8568Often I find inspiration for a bracelet in the colours locked inside one tiny glass bead.  Today I was mesmerized by an exquisite, aqua and peach, water coloured unique.  The colours are so delicious, the and the shimmer of the light on the patterns simply magical.  The rest of the bracelet design came together in a flash!


IMG_8569It used to be quite tricky to find warm toned pink glass in the Trollbeads collection, but over the past year there have been a number of lovely new additions to the production collection.  The new warm pinks, such as “Desert Flower”, “Pink Petals” and “Engraved Romance”make it easier than ever to create a pink design that glows.

IMG_8567I also utilized some of the designs that have long been favorites… “Pink Gold” and both faceted and round “Rose Quartz” help to complete this design.  To complement the aqua green tones in our unique inspiration bead, I placed a beautiful “Amazonite” at the heart of the design.  Other touches of spring green are dotted about the bracelet…


IMG_8570I reached for one of the stars of the new Spring Collection, “Seabed”, and balanced it with “Desert Rose”,  another sparkling murano glass design on the opposite side of the bracelet.  A wonderfully budded unique gives textural interest, and seems to be echoed by the “Spiritual Adornment” nearby.  I found a delicate little iris patterned unique to balance the original inspiration unique, and completed the bracelet with a pair of prisms in perfect shades of pink and green.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “Green Prism”, “Unique Glass”, “Desert Rose”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Engraved Romance”, “Seabed”, “Rose Quartz, round”, “Narcissus of December”, “Amazonite”, “Pink Petals”, “Spring Wave”, “Violet of February”, “Pink Gold”, “Unique”, Rose Quartz”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Seabed”, “unique”, “Pink Prism”.



Trollbeads inspiration: Periwinkle blossoms


flax7I love, love love the colour periwinkle… it’s a distinct shade of blue that falls somewhere between cool lavender and cerulean blue.  Like all hard-to-describe shades, it’s endlessly satisfying, and provides a wonderfully inspiring palette for a Trollbeads bracelet design.  The new Spring collection of Trollbeads for 2014 has

flax3several beads that showcase this gorgeous blue:  “Fountain of Life” and “Engraved Poetic” come to mind right away.  Together they make a clear statement on this bracelet composition.  I’ve placed a “Faceted Aurora” in the heart of this design, as it makes a dramatic and sparkling centerpiece.  The periwinkle beads that are its

flax2companions on this bracelet help to draw out and enhance the shimmering blue that swirls in its depths.

flax4I was delighted to find this unique that nicely echoed the overall palette and colour mood of the bracelet… the rippling patterns in lilac, mint green and rich blue remind me of fabulous, Venetian end papers from antique, leather bound and gilded books…. It’s so impossibly elegant and perfectly Italian, I love it.


flax9Finally, I should mention the pair of new, “Small & Beautiful” uniques that frame the central “Faceted Aurora”… These little lovelies feel like art deco styled iris, so fluid and stylized.  The turquoise, lilac and olive is wonderfully flexible combination, and I can imagine these designs inspiring many new bracelets…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Stories of You Clasp”, “Purple Prism”, “Unique”, “Daffodil of March”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Engraved Poetic”, “Chrysanthemum of November”, Unique”, “Faceted Aurora”, “Unique”, “Chrysanthemum of November”, “Fountain of Life”, “Unique”, “White Petals”, “Waterlily”, “Unique”, “Denim Prism”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: The Swan Bracelet


swan6This bracelet combines soft and misty lavenders, lilacs and blues for a gentle ode to Spring… I was inspired by the new Swan silver, and wanted to pair it with the lock of the same name.  The palette had to match the quiet elegance of a swan, so I began with some delicately patterned new classic core uniques with white, lilac and gold.


swan4It was easy to add a grouping of floral silvers, to give the swans a lovely home…. “Forget me not”, “Mom’s Bouquet”, and “Cherry Blossom” make the bracelet feel like a garden.  I am quite fond of the new “Kaleidoscope” silver, and can see using it on many different types of bracelets… With its narrow silhouette, it will beautifully balance “Dream Catcher”, “Troll coin” and even “Happy Fish”.  Here its little bit of extra height allows me to sneak a Dromedary into the garden.  As one does.  (“Dromedary? What Dromedary? Absurd”.)


I couldn’t resist playing with the quirky camel.  I have a soft spot for them, and besides, it’s a handsome animal, gazing nobly off into the distance…. Furthermore, the sparkling glass ball that this one is perched on matches the cool lilac tones so perfectly.  Oddly enough, both the pink and the blue deserts that we are receiving at the moment have a distinct lilac cast to them, so they play beautifully together.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Swan Lock”, “Purple Prism”, “Kaleidoscope”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Cozy”, “Blue Desert”, “Mom’s Bouquet”, “White Petals”, “Silver Mountain”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Swan”, “Golden Cave”, “Cherry Blossom”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Chalcedony”, “Blue Desert”, “Forget Me not”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Purple Rippling Bubbles”, “Dromedary”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Rosa Pearl”.




Trollbeads Inspiration: Sweet


IMG_4744How sweet is this?!  I don’t know why it never occurred to me to put a silver in the middle of the new “In Your Heart”, but now that I’ve seen this, it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities!  Imagine it with “Large Berry”, “The Chrysanthemum of November”, “Zucchini Flower”, “Cherry Blossom”, “Smiling Cylinder”…



Trollbeads Inspiration: Crocus


new-4Despite several days of steady snow here in Vancouver, the flowers are stubbornly pressing on towards Spring.  Earlier in the winter a cold snap sent all the leaves into retreat, but this late in the winter the plants simply won’t be discouraged.  Everywhere I look, peeking through the snow are little green shoots that are defying the weather

new5and just growing anyhow!  One of the cheeriest plants of early spring is the crocus… they come in waves of colour, with different varieties blooming at slightly different times.   Generally speaking the smaller and simpler the blossom, the more likely the plant is to bloom on the early side, and to naturalize easily in the garden.


new3The larger blossoms are usually hybrids that bloom a little later.  (It takes longer to finish making the big flowers!)   There’s even a warm lilac one, Crocus Sativus that blooms in the Autumn, and gives us delicately delicious Saffron.  When I moved into one of my past gardens I had forgotten completely about this variety.

new6All Spring and Summer I couldn’t imagine what these lush tufts of green, swordlike leaves were, and why they didn’t set any kind of bloom.  Finally, the first Autumn the leaves died down and the cool pink blossoms burst forth, solving the mystery with panache.  The flowers truly do crash out of the earth, practically overnight.

new7A perennial grown from corms, Crocus come in all the colours of this bracelet- from creamy, buttery tones to rich yolk yellows and all sorts of purples… and they are such a delight – so I thought I’d name today’s bracelet for them to give me an excuse to chat about them here.  If you’ve missed the chance to plant ahead, pick up a pot in bloom and just pop them in the garden after they finish blooming.  They’ll come back and happily bloom for you again next year.


Today’s bracelet is made up entirely from Tartooful current stock, and all the uniques are now individually photographed in our online shop, Tartoofultoo.  (Don’t miss our very last Glowing Pansy!).  I’ll be adding more items over the next couple of days, so do stay tuned.


Clockwise from Clasp:  “Swan Lock”, “Classic Core Unique”, “White Petals”, “Ladybug”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Blue Desert”, “Mothers Bouquet”, “Amber Flowers”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Limited Edition Glowing Pansy”, “Flowers” (retired), “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Classic Core Unique”, “Sakura”, “Limited Edition Armadillo”, “Purple Prism”.

Trollbeads “Share Your Story” Design Competition: LC’s Secret Garden


lc-secret-garden-catHave you ever seen a more lovingly and patiently created design than this one?  This beautiful bracelet immediately impresses with its rich and vibrant colour palette, featuring blues that range from turquoise to teal and verdant greens that are straight out of the garden.  Don’t mistake this for a tropical confection, however – the deeper greens and

lc-secret-garden-autumntouches of brown and black help to ground this palette and keep it in a cooler, more temperate region.    After the initial delight of this bracelet’s brilliant colour… one can begin to look more closely and observe the meticulous care that has gone into its’ creation.


lc-secret-garden-crowningtouchEvery single glass is thoughtfully chosen to help to establish the palette, set up a rhythm of colour and create a balanced composition.  A series of budded caterpillars set a high standard for the rest of the beads to follow… with tiny floral motifs, and swirls, dots and ‘dillos of rich tones.

lc-secret-garden-unladybugThis shy ladybug unique glass is not so very ladylike.  It’s the “antibug”, perfectly camouflaged and barely noticeable among the other greens and blues.    It’s the only way I could imagine LC placing a “critter” bead on her bracelet, and suits her taste & personality to a tee.


lc-secret-garden-cat2Note how all the silvers are carefully chosen to further enhance the garden theme… with lotus flowers, bees, waterlilies, silkworm, cherry blossoms, narcissus, snake and even a little spider lurking in the corner.  Not all the inhabitants of this garden are sweet and cute – just as a garden has a variety of characters, charming and otherwise…


This garden has taken a long time to grow… this collector has taken her time and selected carefully and patiently – and it shows.  What a beautiful result!

Thank you to LC for sharing her bracelet with the readers of our blog.. If you think she’s done a great job be sure to take the time to “like” it on our facebook page, as it will be entered in our “Share Your Story” Trollbeads design competition.  By encouraging her and the other entrants in the contest you’re increasing your own chances of bringing home a prize, too – as we’re awarding prizes for both the most favoured design and the most supportive fan!  (Win-Win!)