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: A Perfect Tableau


IMG_8179Inspiration for new Trollbeads designs may be found absolutely anywhere… a flower bed, a photo spread in a magazine, a shop window… or in film or television.

Many of my favorite films have cinematography and set design that is colour drenched and utterly delicious to the eye.

omg colour.

IMG_8181Recently I was watching one of my little vices, “Mr Selfridge” on Netflix, and was transfixed by a tableau in the background of one of the scenes.  This television series is a feast for the eyes, with huge, dramatic scenes that could inspire endless combinations.  This scene is not one of those huge moments, it’s a very humble moment and is over in an instant.

IMG_8180I don’t know why this particular scene caught my imagination so much, but it truly did.  I paused the show on my computer screen, and quickly obtained an image of the gorgeous colour combination.  Sitting down at the work table at Tartooful, I set about harnessing that inspiration to create a new bracelet design.


IMG_8189I usually find two-colour bracelets the simplest to compose, and so easy to balance… so this palette, with not two, not three, but *five* colours was a bit of a challenge for me!  Each of the colours in the photo is subtle, and just a little complex, so the first thing I did was browse the display for beads that echoed one hue of the inspiration piece.

IMG_8182After I had a neat little stack of beads I began to play and see how I could arrange and balance them to create a similar feel to the original inspiration photograph.  Once I had the beads on a playtray, I found that the seemingly unrelated colours of slate blue, celadon grey, soft teal, lilac, coral and grey meshed together surprisingly easily.

IMG_8187“Angel feathers”, a wonderfully detailed silver design…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Unique Glass”, “Golden Cave”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Blossom Bead”, “Blue Green Feather” (retired), “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Sapphire with silver core”, “White Petals”, “Organic Bubbles”, “Path of Life”, “Silver Mountain”, “Golden Cave”, “Purple Bud” (retired), “Angels’ Feathers”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Glass”.

Trollbeads Inspiration: Gorgeous Plum


IMG_7937Here’s an interesting thing…

there are some colours that I think I was born already loving: warm peachy pinks, soft aqua blue, butter yellow, periwinkle, slate grey… they are all shades that are so easy for me to combine and wear, and they always have been.  Let’s call them my “Love at First Sight” colours.

IMG_7933Then there’s those tones that for years I overlooked… This warm Plum is a perfect example of a colour that I had to get to know a little to appreciate.  For many years I regarded this shade of plum as a little too dull for my taste… but the transparent, opalescent glow of Trollbeads glass is too seductive to resist for long.

IMG_7938The release of the gorgeous Aurora series was the last straw – how could anyone resist those designs?!  As I played with the Auroras it all fell into place… “Ruby Rock” is the ideal centerpiece for a plum bracelet, and its neutral undertones suggest the complementary palette of warm grey.  Here I’ve framed the central stone with a pair of “Lotus Top” for extra emphasis.


IMG_7935I’ve scattered in a few appropriate uniques, and used production beads such as “Retired Lilac Bud” and “White Petals” to repeat the warm plum colour through the length of the bracelet.  I was fortunate to find a “Trinity” that has a dichroic glass accent of a warm golden plum tone as well!  Finally I dotted neutral greys such as “Black Silk”, “Grey Prism” and “Blue Desert” throughout the design, to give a more sophisticated, urban finish to the design.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “grey Prism”, “Unique”, “Blue Desert”, “Trinity”, Unique”, “Black Silk”, “Lilac Bud” (retired), “Trefoil Knot”, “White Petals”, “Lotus Top”, “Ruby Rock”, “Lotus Top”, “Unique”, “Jugend”, “Moonlight Bubbles”, “Unique”, “Purple Rippling Bubbles”, “Moroccan Cushion”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique”, “Black Silk”.



Trollbeads Inspiration: Everyday Beautiful


I adore this bracelet… everything about it appeals to me, from the soft and wearable palette, to the seductive glass and stones… to the rare, retired silvers that give it its rhythm.  it’s wonderful!

IMG_5492This remarkable “Labradorite” feels to me like a keystone element of the bracelet.  The brilliant, aqua flash in the stone is just stunning and perfectly sets the tone for the entire bracelet design.  Tartooful customer RC has artfully picked up the colour refrain across the entire bracelet, but also utilized muted neutrals to maintain a calm, subtle and sophisticated palette.  “Labradorite” is a perennial favorite for us at Tartooful and this design displays just how breathtaking this natural stone can be.

IMG_5489RC’s collection boasts some gorgeous, elusive designs… as this “Tourmalated Quartz” can testify.  This stone was acquired by many serious collectors with a black & white design theme in mind.  However, we’ve

IMG_5483found over time that it is most successfully deployed as a grey bead, in softer palettes, where its unique texture can stand out and be appreciated.  In stark black and white designs it feels unsatisfyingly muddy, as it’s simply too organic.  Here it shines among other greys, oysters, taupes, plums and delicate, celadon blue.

IMG_5484RC has chosen a few, perfectly on palette uniques to help gel the overall colour theme.  The unique above features what we call “Beautiful blue” – not quite Tiffany, Turquoise or Bird’s Egg – as well as the most subtle imaginable plum.  It beautifully ties together all the key colours.  The unique at right nicely draws in the more olive tones that are found in the Labradorite and the glitters…

IMG_5491I love how RC’s plums are so understated and natural.  This is not a purple bracelet.  Note the iridescent haze of plum that shines on this Limited edition “Peacock Pearl”… the plum undertone in its neighbouring unique,  and the hint of plum in her unusual specimen of “Blue Desert”.

IMG_5487It’s a wonderful reminder that fabulous beads can come from all parts of the Trollbeads collection – regular stock items often offer fascinating diversity of appearance.  Each glass truly does show the hand of its artist maker.


Everyday design… but far from boring!


All beads from RC’s private collection.

IMG_5485I can’t sign off on this entry without mentioning the Limited Edition, Mint Jasper Stone bead.  It’s a lovely creamy colour of celadon green, and, of course, very rare, desirable and elusive.  Here RC places it near the center of the bracelet, where it can shine in the spotlight.  The very green “Urchin” next to it basks in its glow!








Trollbeads Inspiration: Coastal Hues

kidsSkookumchuk Narrows

emeraldwaterA recent weekend away with the children reminded me of the rich inspiration to be found here on our West Coast… The way the beams of sunshine illuminate the emerald waters of the bay at left… the acid contrast of the new growth on the trees… The soft grey of the granite, dappled with shadows and every kind of moss and lichen imaginable… Oh, the moss!  I LOVE the moss.  I just had to indulge in a series of photos, just to capture a fraction of the colours and textures of the moss.

moss1Moss Joy

lichen1Over the years I’ve cultivated satisfying carpets of mosses in the front garden, but I’m gobsmacked by the carpets of moss to be found on the arid rocks of the Sunshine Coast.  I’m particularly delighted with the aqua green-grey specimen above, which I’ve only seen in a very few spots in BC.  Isn’t it the most beautiful colour?  It’s like “Silver Mountain” Moss.  I’m almost as entranced by the delicate aqua of lichens that hug the seaside rocks… again, a most wonderful shade, and so inspiring.

play10Inspiration Found

play8Freshly recharged and newly inspired, it was easy to toss together this bracelet using the lush colours that filled my head.  Perennial Tartooful favorites such as “Labradorite”, “Traces”, “Magical Lamp”, “Blue Desert”, and “Silver Mountain” all help to set the natural, West Coast tone.  Note how the band that circles “Traces” feels like the

play5stones on the beach, or perhaps the rough bark of the trees… The tapestry of pebbles on the beach is captured in “Fossils”, with its wet look and gently rounded accents.  It looks the way pebbles appear in shallow tidepools, with their shapes softened through the water.  Recently we’ve been ordering this bead very frequently, as there seems

play6to be a fantastic color variety being produced.  Individual examples range dramatically from plum, to slate blue, to silvery green, down into grey and of course, lots of warm coppery rusts.  Newcomer “Ancient Palace” gives a hit of rich blue to help balance “Traces”, and captures the blue of a clear sunny sky on the Sunshine Coast.


play4“Silver Whorl” makes a wonderful nod to one of the natural wonders that we saw on this trip: the changing of the tide at Skookumchuck Narrows.  There, one can see the wild eddys and whirlpools that form when the tide rises and rushes to balance a two meter difference in height between the ocean and the inlet.

play9… You knew I couldn’t resist “Azure Bubbles” for this design, didn’t you?  Nope.  In fact, I selected two of these beauties for this bracelet design, and placed them right at the heart of the bracelet.  I always try to place the beads that I want to set the tone right in the middle of the bracelet.  Whether it’s to create a certain theme, or to really

play12savor a favorite bead, I find that the center grouping ends up being the most prominent.  Sigh… love the way that the light glows amber through these “Azure Bubbles”, I had to share two images of them!


play7Clockwise from clasp:  “Freya Lock”, “grey Prism”, “Chalcedony”, “Rolling Waves”, “Ancient Palace”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “Jugend”, “Moon Ocean”, “labradorite”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Silver Whorl”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Traces”, “Paradise Birds”, “Fossils”, “Silver Mountain”, “Three in One”, “Blue Desert”, “Purple Rippling Bubbles”, “Unique”.  (Handmade Tassels of Green Jade, Labradorite and Chalcedony by Tartooful’s own, the very talented Melanie).




Trollbeads Inspiration: Sakura


sakura4This whole bracelet was inspired by an unlikely little bead.  See the white china style bead above and at left?  It is a long-retired “Christmas in Australia” Limited Edition.  Despite being retired, it has managed to stay humble, and a little “Under the Wire”.  However, looking at it closely, one appreciates the subtle lavender tone

sakura2hidden in its grey details, and it just begged to be placed on a blushing pink bracelet design.  I began with a powerful trio for the heart of the bracelet, placing the venerable “Diamond Bead Black” right in the middle and a pair of sparkling “Rose Quartz” to frame it.  I find that the center grouping of beads sets the tone for the whole

sakura7composition, so I try to take particular care in the choice of those beads.  Working out from the middle, I placed a pair of “Soft Heart” silvers to give the eye a spot to pause before moving on to the next groupings of beads on the bracelet.  Each

sakura3of the next sets of beads is composed of three beads – two pink and one grey and white.  looking across the circle they balance each other perfectly, and the overall impact is very harmonious.  Note that this “Grey Wolf” has a hint of plum or pink hiding among its stripes… it’s the same colour as in the “Christmas in Australia” limited edition.

sakura6This repetition of subtle colour gives me great satisfaction!  I’ve missed “Grey Wolf” since it retired, and have had fun playing with this one while it is in the gallery.  Finally, a playfil little floral design close to one end of the bracelet stops this pink and frothy design from feeling too terribly grownup and serious.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Small Flower Clasp”, “Rosa Pearl”, “Unique”, “Desert Rose”, “Sakura”, “Christmas in Australia Limited Edition”, “Unique”, “Snowflake Obsidian”, “Soft Heart”, “Rose Quartz”, “Diamond Bead, Black”, “Rose Quartz”, “Soft Heart”, “Grey Wolf”, “Rose Quartz, Round”, “The Eye Bead”, “Cherry Blossoms”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique”, “Unique”.




Trollbeads Inspiration: Willow


willow5This bracelet’s light as air palette makes me think of Willow trees in early Spring.  As the light returns to us in the North a soft haze of green steals across the grey strands of the trees branches, giving it the illusion of a verdant glow.  As I write this, the day outside is clear and brilliant, and not only the willows are aglow, but all the other trees

willow2as well.  In trying to capture this mood… of white Spring light and tentative green growth… I reached for an array of whites and soft, sage green and grey neutrals that are calm and lovely together.


willow6This limited edition, “Christmas in Australia” bead hails from a few years ago, but is in pristine condition and looks as fresh in design as the moment it was launched.  The celadon green and oxblood accents are idea for this composition, and the little black dots in the center of each flower give the bracelet a little punch.

willow7“Magical Lamp”, from the Spring 2014 collection is one of our favorite new designs, as it blends effortlessly with our West Coast slates, silvers and greys.  Here the aqua highlights and olive background are just right among the other sage greens, and the rose gold shimmer gives a nice warmth to the design.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Freya Lock”, “grey Prism”, “Unique”, “White Paper Fold”, “Snake”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “White Stripe”, “Labradorite”, “Three Siblings”, “Magical Lamp”, “Diamond Bead, White”, “Magical Lamp”, “Smiling Cylinder”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “Spirit Light”, “Inner Glow”, “Three in One”, “Christmas in Australia Limited Edition”, “Cozy”, “Unique”.

willow4You may have noticed the delicious little tassels on the clasp of a number of our bracelets recently… these are made by Tartooful’s own Melanie, from high quality semiprecious stones and sterling wire.  They easily attach to the Trollbracelet, clasp, or any other jewelry chain you might want to enhance.  She just dropped off an amazing new selection of these sparkling treats, so if you are in the neighborhood, be sure to drop by and take a peek!



Trollbeads Inspiration: A Bracelet of Calm.


paddy5Today’s bracelet is a blend of beads that belong to one of our clients and beads from Tartooful’s stock… the challenge today was to create a design that utilized her collection of pale blue beads in a fresh new way.  She previously had these beads blended with aurora series pinks, but was in the mood for a change.  With a busy life and many balls to

paddy4keep in the air, I thought this lady could use something calm, beautiful, and meditative.  A dose of serene greys and meaningful silvers seemed just the thing to lend a peaceful air to her cerulean blues.  I knew right away I wanted to include “This too

paddy-tortoiseShall Pass”… a wonderful reminder to cherish the moment we are in.  The new “African Tortoise” is to encourage patience – both with daily frustrations, and with ourselves.  I love the detailing on this new, classic series of silver designs.  Just look at the texture on the shell, the sleepy eyes, and  his little toes…

paddy6I selected the Swan for a few reasons… firstly, it is a lovely balance for the size and weight of the Tortoise.  I also liked the idea that it seems so feminine, serene and yet powerful.  It’s a state of being to which I aspire.  Lastly, I can

paddy3imagine the swan carelessly shaking drops of water off its broad, white feathers… and I’m going to channel that image to aid in managing stress gracefully.  With light blue and cool grey this bracelet might have felt cold – but I wanted a comforting mood – so I added a couple of touches of warm gold, adding a glint of sunshine to the design.


paddy2The hint of gold comes from “Honey Dawn” and “Scirocco”… not a lot – not enough to change the whole palette –  just enough to hint at warmth.  The “keystone” bead on this design, however, is this stunning example of a “Fossils”.  This particular one is a warm greenish grey with lots of lilac purple and silver, accented with points of black.  It almost singlehandedly transforms this bracelet into a sophisticated and serene composition.  Isn’t it amazing the difference that just one bead can make?


“Freya Lock”, “Turquoise Prism”, “Small & Beautiful Unique”, “This too”, “Unique”, “Honey Dawn”, “Blue desert”, “Traces”, “Swan”, “Blue Moonstone”, “Fossils”, “Unique”, “African Tortoise”, “Chalcedony”, “Blue Desert”, “Scirocco”, “unique”, “Three in One”, “Unique”, “Grey Prism”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: “Honey Dawn” and Friends.


Three days of continuous sunshine in Vancouver must have gone to my head, because just look what I was inspired to build today at the gallery…

honey-dawn2I began with this beautiful example of “Honey Dawn”… It’s an easy bead to love, with a buttery yellow heart, covered with layers of iridescent clear glass that shimmer in the light.  Little hits of pink, blue and green are subtly visible, and it changes dramatically with the light.  With this bead in the middle of the bracelet, I worked my way out,

honey-dawn3reaching for lots of warm whites and a few sweet yellows to be friends for the “Honey Dawn”.  Some of our favorite warm whites are shown here – “Conch”, with its generous texture and oyster undertone is always useful.  “Cozy” finds its way onto many Tartooful bracelet designs as its organic texture  is so compatible with natural

honey-dawn6stones and another of our favorite beads, “Silver Mountain”.  The “Diamond Bead, White” brings a hit of crisp white and huge sparkle to the design.  Normally this bead could be a scene stealer, but on this design the scattering of yellow keeps it from hogging the spotlight.  The different tones of white are brought together by another

honey-dawn10useful bead, “White Paper Fold”.  This design incorporates many different shades of white, from pure, crisp, icy white to ivory and even oyster.  The shadows cast by the inside structures create this fascinating array of tones, which allows this bead to blend different whites together into a cohesive palette.  Very useful.

honey-dawn11The new design, “Scirocco” ties the golden yellows and whites together perfectly, so it was a natural choice.  Next, to find some friends for the “Honey Dawn”… some new “Small and Beautiful” uniques arrived on Monday that turned out to be just the thing… This one at left is the colour of a rich custard, blended with cream.  Delicious.

honey-dawn4The other little one I added has a very subtle set of colours… definitely yellow, but a range of shades from very soft to quite deep – and then overlaid with a sea glass green top coat of clear glass.  The overall effect is unique and beautiful.   To help this little stunner blend in on the design I added two honeydew coloured, clear ambers that are of similar lemon-yellow tones.

honey-dawn9Simply Scrumptious.


Clockwise from clasp:  “freya Lock”, “Pearl”, “Unique Amber”, “Diamond Bead, White”, “Nomad”, “Unique”, “Spirit Light”, “Soft Heart”, “Cozy”, “Honey Dawn”, “Scirocco”, “Transformation”, “Conch”, “Unique”, “Whote Stripe”, “Soft Heart”, “Unique Amber”, “White Paper Fold”, “Flowers” (Retired), “Unique”, “Unique”, “Pearl”.



Trollbeads Inspiration: Mossy Blues


blues5If there’s one thing that North Vancouver does well… it’s growing moss.  We do moss like nobody else… thick, fabulous sheets of it that invite barefoot walks and afternoon naps.  I think it’s odd that some of my gardening friends treat it as a weed, grumbling as it grows madly all over their shade gardens, and working busily to keep it at bay.

blues6Personally I love the stuff, and actively cultivate it.  It protects the ground and helps to keep it moist over the super dry summer months, keeps the weeds to a minimum, and is green all year round.  Love it.  It’s the lowest maintenance ground cover ever, and uncomplainingly shares its space with all the other shade loving plants.


blues8So when I designed this “Beautiful blue” bracelet, with its mossy accent tones it brought to mind my favorite bed of moss in my garden.  I couldn’t resist a little “al fresco” photo shoot, to share it with you.  The moss is ridiculously lush at the moment, thick and sproingy, and glowing emerald green in the Spring sunshine.

blues1It still bears the tiny forest of oxblood seeds from last Autumn.  Don’t they look just like the little stripes in the “Parasol” patterned unique shown above?  Many of the beads on today’s bracelet are from the newest wave of classic core uniques for Spring of 2014.  These glass are, for the most part, quite tiny and very intricately detailed.

blues2I’ve had questions from readers wondering how to integrate these tiny beads into their existing collection of regular sized production beads… I can understand the hesitation, but for me they simply offer another way to play with size in a design.  I like a bracelet to taper at the ends, so that’s an easy spot to fit them in.  In addition, I prefer a mix of sizes through the main part of the bracelet, to allow the eye a spot to pause and rest.  Think of it as punctuation for the composition – it lets the eye know where there’s something especially lovely over which it should linger.  In this case, I have chosen silvers that I think are really beautiful.  I wanted the viewer to fully appreciate their form, so I tapered down to each one with a smaller glass.  Each little grouping of glass is made up of a larger central bead, framed by two slightly smaller ones.  It gives the overall bracelet a pleasant rhythm.












Clockwise from clasp:  “Fish Lock”, “Unique”, “Ladybug”, “Unique”, “Silver Mountain”, “Unique”, “Forget me not”, “Ancient Palace”, “Labradorite”, “Unique”, “Chrysanthemum of November”, “Unique”, “Dendritic Agate”, “Unique”, “Troll with big feet”, “Unique”, “Purple Rippling Bubbles”, “Unique”, “Mom’s Bouquet”, “Unique”.