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.

C.

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”.

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).

C.

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”

C.

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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”.

C.

30 Day Challenge: Day 4

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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.

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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.

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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!

C.

Tartooful 30 Day Challenge: Day 1

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Day one of the 30 Day Design Challenge… and I am starting off with a colour combination that has been tickling the back of my brain for a little while…

day1-close2I’ve always loved colours in the aqua to teal to olive colour family… so there have always been a bunch of beads in my kit that featured those tones.  However, over the past year my little collection of olive beads seems to have expanded a little, (as does seem to happen…)… so I decided to try a whole composition!

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day1-close4Of course – nothing but Olive beads all lined up in a row isn’t very interesting – no matter how pretty they each are!  These lovely warm spicy browns caught my eye, and seemed to be just dying to come out and play… so I popped them onto the play tray, too – and this bracelet came together so easily that it practically built itself.

day1-closeOne of the intriguing things about arranging all one’s beads on a tray as a colour palette is that it truly shows the colour of each of your beads.  For example, I might think of my Labradorites as teal, because their flash makes them play nicely with my warm blue-greens.  However, when arranged in neat rows by colour it becomes apparent that they really are more of an earthy green, and can easily be used as such in a design.

day1-close3It’s only day one, and already I’m a little surprised by what I see when I lay out my beads on the play tray… I always thought I had more soft pink?  Do I really have this many cinnamon browns?  Have I managed to add some good neutrals since last year?  So much to learn, and so many creative days to come!

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp – retired format”, “Small & Beautiful Unique”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”,  “Smoky Quartz”, “Petanque” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Tigers Eye”, “Paradise Birds”, “Brown Desert”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Blue Desert”, “Jugend”, “Deep Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Artisan Bead by Scot Bouwens”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “unique”, “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”.

Have you decided to have a play too?  if so, please share them on our Facebook page, or email them to me at Tartooful@gmail.com for posting so that we can all be inspired!  Tune in tomorrow for day 2….

C.

30 Days – 30 Designs: Tartooful Design Challenge 2015

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It’s almost May – and dedicated Tartoofulers know that means that it’s almost time for the Tartooful 30 Days Design Challenge!  Will you take the challenge with us this year?

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What if you started fresh… free from preconceptions about how your bracelets should look.  What could you create with your beautiful beads?

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So here’s how it works:

1.  Photograph your current bracelets, so you can always put them back exactly the way they are if you want them back.

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2.  Take everything apart and arrange it on a play tray or similar tool, so you can clearly see your design kit.  In effect, you will create an artist’s palette for yourself, using your beads and jewelry components.

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3.  Play!  Create a new bracelet every day for 30 days.  The next morning, take it apart, place all the beads back on the play tray to create again with a fresh eye.  (Don’t forget to take a daily photo so you can always rebuild a certain arrangement again in the future.)

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May 1 – 30th will be the third year of the 30 Day Design Challenge…

…and every year I find I come to know my collection, and myself, just a little better through this simple creative process.  I can’t wait to get going, and see what evolves this year.

Finally, this isn’t just about me – I would LOVE to have as many of you as possible to take the challenge with me this year!  Let’s share the results of your wild design experiments on our Instagram feed (@tartooful #30daychallenge) or Facebook page so that we can all enjoy them and be inspired.  If you don’t “do” social media, simply email them to me at tartooful@gmail.com and I would be delighted to post the photos on your behalf.

Get ready, get set… go play!

C.

Trollbeads Inspiration: Little Frog and the Night Sky

IMG_9050Five frogs call this necklace home…

IMG_9054Once upon a time there were five frogs, who all lived together in a round pond in the deep and leafy woods.  They swam in the green coloured sunshine all day, eating mosquitos and playing “pass the bubble” together.  At night they found a cosy spot and curled up together in a circle.  They would whisper froggy stories to each to each other as they drifted off to sleep.  It was a happy way for a frog to be, and a sweet life.

IMG_9056 Green Jasper is subtly rich…

IMG_9055One evening, as the frogs went to settle into a leafy nook to get sleepy, they realized that the smallest frog of all wasn’t tucked into the story circle.  Where could he be?  They called to him.. “Little Frog?”… but no answer.  They were curious frogs, and just a little concerned, so they popped out into the dusky light to find their friend.

IMG_9058It didn’t take long to find him.  There he was, just above their sleepy hiding spot, sitting on a leaf and gazing in rapture at the darkening sky.  “Little Frog”, they cried, “what are you doing?  It’s time to be sleepy and we missed you!”.  The little frog turned to his friends in amazement, and said “I was a little late, chasing one last mosquito… but look – have you seen this?  Just look at the sky.  There is the most beautiful thing there, sparkling in the dark…”

IMG_9052Looking towards the sky, the little group of frogs saw, for the very first time, a star.  They became very quiet, and sat together with their friend, watching with wide round eyes.  The first star of the evening glowed brightly, and over the next few minutes the sky darkened from grey to pale and then sapphire blue.  Finally, the sky was velvety black and sparkled with the infinite host of stars that can only be seen deep in the leafy woods and far away from human places.  The beauty of the night sky gave the little frogs so much joy that deep in their green and slightly clammy breasts, their hearts seemed too full.  Little Frog’s amphibian heart could bear no more, so he started to sing softly, just to let out some of the joy.  One by one his friends joined in, and together they sang the happiness of the beauty of the stars.

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Nowadays, if the evening is clear and fine, the five frog friends always sit out for just a little while to sing joyfully with the stars before curling up in their sleepy hiding spot.  On rainy nights they still enjoy a cosy, froggy story, but nothing makes them happier than to sing goodnight with the stars.  In fact, if you go very quietly to the round pond in the deep and leafy woods just at dusk, you too might hear the frogs’ star song…

C.

Trollbeads Inspiration: Like Honey for the Eyes

IMG_8149Delicious!

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!

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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…

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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”.

C.