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.


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…


Trollbeads Inspiration: Wing Man


IMG_8780Lately it seems to me that Grey is the ultimate “Wing Man” for brilliant colour…

While I savour colour drenched jewel tones, I find them almost too much for me to wear every day.  Their brilliance delights me, but I tend to reach for the more subtle colour

IMG_8782combinations to wear on a daily basis.

This is where grey comes to the rescue!  Acting as a subtle foil to the brighter jewel tones, this neutral allows jewel tones such as turquoise, cobalt, red, fuschia, emerald or purple to shine without overwhelming.  The strategic use of grey as a “wing man” neutral allows me to introduce those colours to my bead wardrobe.


Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.28.21 PMThere are, of course, other neutrals that work beautifully in a number of colour blends… Black is a classic foil for all the same colours, but the result is a  slightly different mood.  The addition of black to most jewel tones gives a look that is more formal, more cosmopolitan and perhaps even a bit sultry.  Grey maintains the

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.29.53 PMsophistication, without the boudoir undertones.  It’s a comfortable look, contemporary yet warm and soft.

The addition of a number of new grey designs has been an exciting part of the Trollbeads Spring releases.  Traditional options remain:  “Snowflake Obsidian, Labradorite, “Grey Prism” and Dendritic Agate all offer their own version of the colour.  Now newcomers “Neptune’s Promise” and Tropical Conch” add new choices for the collector, and recently we have received a number of gorgeous grey “Ruby Rock”, with just a whisper of raspberry for interest.  As always, it is the exceptional beads, such as these Ruby Rocks, that particularly delight me.


Clockwise from Clasp:  “Freya Knot Lock”, “Grey Prism”, “Unique”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Endless”, “Sea Anemone”, “Ruby Rock”, “Aurora Flower”, “Transformation”, “Tropical Conch”, “Amethyst”, “Neptune’s Promise”, “Trefoil Knot”, “Sea Anemone”, “Ruby Rock”, “Moonlight Bubbles”, “Three Siblings”, “unique”, “Tropical Conch”, “Purple Prism”.


PS.  Today is that last day for the Spring Bracelet Event –  purchase a decorative lock and receive the sterling foxtail chain at no charge!  Purchase your lock online at Tartoofultoo Online Shop and simply let us know in the notes which length of chain you prefer, or Email us at or ring us at 604-924-0122 for a personal touch.



Trollbeads Inspiration: Bracelet Envy


IMG_8553It’s happened to all of us… there are so many beautiful bracelets out there, it’s inevitable that one see a bracelet that belongs to another Trollie, and and fall  head over heels in lust with it!  Online there is a feast of images available to view for design ideas, and the key is to run with the inspiration, and create something that is uniquely yours.

IMG_8581My Refreshed Purples

IMG_8554The topic arose this week as I decided to refresh my teal and purple bracelet for Spring, lightening and softening to a lilac and mossy aqua combination.  I had it with me at the gallery and more than a couple of our ladies lamented that they would love a bracelet like that – and what a shame that the beads were from my private reserve…

IMG_8559but the truth is, a similar combination can easily be created using an array of current production and unique pieces.  Most ladies have a number of beads already in their collections that they could use as the base of the composition, and would only have to tweak the design with a few new additions to create a very similar look!

IMG_8555To build a soft lilac and cool green bracelet for Spring I reached for a nice soft Labradorite and a starting point.  Like eveyone, I do love the Labs that show a big diva flash, but even understated ones are a gorgeous shade of greyed blue green that works into nearly everything that I design.  Two labs firmly set this design’s mood.

IMG_8560I placed one of the newest designs in the collection right in the middle of this bracelet… I love the new Mother’s Garden pendant, and think it’s fabulous either on a necklace or on a bracelet such as this one!  With a soft oval shape and an appealing vine pattern, it’s a beautiful centerpiece for this design.  I cradled a “White Petals” (Which isn’t white at all, but a misty lilac…) in the new pendant, and I do like the effect the petal shapes give, allowing lots of light to come through and show off the silverwork.  Working my way out from that beginning, I blended and handful of soft lilac uniques with beloved production beads such as “Purple Flower Mosiac”, “Purple Prism”, “Grey Prism” and “Magical Lamp”.  It took no time at all to build a doppelganger for my own bracelet that has its own distinct personality.


Clockwise from Clasp:  “Large Flower Clasp”, “Purple Prism”, (such a pale, water colour version – isn’t it pretty?) “Unique”, “Hearts Galore”, Unique”, “Limited Edition Kimono”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Dandelions”, “Labradorite”, “Limited Edition”, “Mothers Garden + White Petals”, “Unique”, (LOVE this one…) “Labradorite”, “Mothers Bouquet”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Magical Lamp”, “Unique”, “First Signs”, “Unique”, “Grey Prism”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Candy Heart


Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_8347I thought long and hard about what kind of bracelet to feature today, as our little Valentine’s treat to you… After all, there are so many fabulous design options for Valentines.  Hot pink and rich chestnut brown for raspberries and chocolate… Classic red, with gold, white, pink, black or even grey as an accent…. Pink and white… pink and gold… Diamond, heart or all sorts of “love” images…. really the choices are endless!

candy-heartsIn the end I decided to take a happy, joyful colour approach and take inspiration from classic Valentine’s candy hearts.

IMG_8348Tiny, sweet, with adorable messages and a quintessential Spring palette of purple, pink, white, green and orange… these little sugary treats only appear this time of year and are instantly recognizable icons of a childhood Valentine’s day.  They may not be sophisticated, but they are utterly charming.

IMG_8350In the newest waves of uniques to appear at Tartooful there have been so many very fun and fresh designs with lots of hearts, florals and just the right colours to built this sweet and flirty bracelet.  It’s packed with creamsicle orange hearts,  minty fresh flowers, buttercup yellow petals, pink polka dots and and plum perfect patterns.



IMG_8351In my bag of Troll Tricks this might be a bracelet that only came together for a few weeks over the Spring – but wouldn’t it be the perfect thing then?  I would rearrange all the beads for other times of the year and recycle them into Summer, Fall and Christmas compositions.  The Love themed silvers are easy to play with all year round!

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Cherry Blossom Lock, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Organic Hearts”, “Valentine’s 2015 Ltd Edition”, “Unique”, “Valentine’s 2015 Ltd Edition”, “Heart Conch”, “Valentine’s 2015 Ltd Edition”, “Unique”, “Forget me not”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Heart”, “Valentine’s 2015 Ltd Edition”, “Unique”, “Valentine’s 2015 Ltd Edition”, “Neverending”, “Unique”, “Unique”.

I hope you have all had a sweet and lovely Valentine’s Day!





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: Fading Hydrangeas

photo-6 copyThe Grand Dames of the Fall Garden in Vancouver

IMG_6950Some flowers just seem to have the gift of aging gracefully.  They don’t stay eerily frozen time throughout their life span, but as time passes their metamophosis is beautiful in its own way.  One example of this may be found in our local hydrangeas, which are still heavy with now-fading blooms.


IMG_6944In many cases the clusters of these showstopping flowers are the size of soccer balls – one family friend for many years lovingly tended his incredible white flowers each August, carefully supporting each massive blossom with stilt-like, delicate bamboo stakes.  The local hydrangeas can be found in a huge range of colour, from pure white, to

IMG_6951sky blue, sugary pink,  lilac, deep pink and even palest green.  When they first emerge their colours are clean and bright, and perfect in a youthful sort of a way.  As the blooms fade in the sun and gently age, they become tinged with complementary colours.  The white becomes more transparent and ivory – like vellum.

IMG_6948Sky blue petals darken imperfectly to violet, the sweet pink is iced with olive green, and the deep pink clouds over to a fascinating and rich shade of cranberry.  I would be hard pressed to find a favorite colour of these gorgeous plants…


However, if I really had to pick,  the pale green do offer an unexpectedly lovely surprise, as they slowly, charmingly, become blushed with lilac and apricot.

IMG_6954At Summer’s end the garden feels chaotic, filled with battered blooms that tip at erratic angles.  Every day I pop out into the garden to see what plants need to be trimmed back, tied up or hauled out altogether.  The hostas are particularly sad, as the glorious leaves that gave structure to the Summer beds are now riddled with holes and slowly disappearing back into the ground.  In the midst of all the withering leaves and browning petals it’s such a joy to encounter a flush of hydrangea blossoms, gracefully weathering the change.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Lace Lock”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Tears of Shiva”, “Antique Flower”, “Blue Desert”, “Labradorite”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Unique”, “Ruby Rock’, “Pastel Flower”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Inner Glow”, White Petals”, “Dandelion”, “Organic Bubble”, “Unique”.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 21


IMG_5852Today I am in the mood for one of my favorite colour combinations… I love playing my rich ruby together with my soft greyed blues.  It’s an unlikely palette, but one that I find fresh and pleasing to the eye.  The Ruby can play as a warm and toasty red when combined with chestnut or golden ambers, smoky

IMG_5851quartz and earth toned glass.  However, here in the company of these hazy blues it feels more like a blackberry-stained claret.  As always, it is helpful to have a couple of beads that pull the palette together nicely in one package… here I have used the older unique shown above, with its distinctive pale portion and perfect combination of

IMG_5853burgundy and pale blue.  I also added this very unusual form of “Aurora Flower”, which is very light and transparent, showing only a hint of the fuschia tone that is usually found in this design.  What is left is a soft, warm amber-y pink with palest blue flowers.  I used my “Silver Bead with Garnet” and “Red-Pink” prism” (retired) to echo the colour of the centerpiece ruby.


IMG_5854In today’s bracelet I also wished to reduce the proportion of glass, and alternate evenly with silver.  As everyone knows, I usually gorge on glass…   Here I’ve used my favorite, very round silvers to pace the glass in the middle, and have balanced the form of the “Silver Bead with Garnets” with the simililarly shaped “Auspicious”.  I’ve even finished this one with a matched pair of  silver “Bee on Hive”.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Unique”, “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Light Blue Shadow” (retired), “Ball of Yarn”, “Aurora Flower”, “Petanque” (retired), “Ruby”, “Etruscan”, “Unique”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Silver Mountain”, “Auspicious” (Limited Edition World Tour Hong Kong), “Red Pink Prism” (retired), “Bee on Hive” (retired).



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 14


IMG_5768Isn’t it odd?  I don’t think of myself as a “Purple Person” or as a “Brown Person”… but I am in love with this bracelet!  This is definitely my favorite creation thus far this year.  It’s a subtle palette of soft, warm lilac, pale, icy blue and rich, light filled honey that gives me joy.  Many of the beads that are on this design are ones that I have used countless

IMG_5769times, but in this particular combination I feel as though I have discovered their beauty all over again.  Through the Autumn I enjoyed my little grouping of “Azure Bubbles” and paired them with the icy blues of “Light Blue Shadow” and “Silver Mountain”.  I’ve also combined those same cool blues with my various lilacs…

IMG_5765I’ve even combined my purples with golden ambers.  However, for some reason I hadn’t thought to combine all three together on one design.  Perhaps it was the recent acquisition of a nice, warm “Pastel Agate” to position opposite my Limited Edition, Lavender Chinese Jade that made me want to play together some new combinations with my

IMG_5766purples… (there is nothing like a new bead to inspire some serious beadplay).  I’m particularly delighted to have such a good vehicle for the “Faceted Aurora” and love the way it plays with the olive, slightly vicuna tone of the retired “Deep Bubbles”.  That bead always had a complementary blush at the heart of its huge bubbles, and my example

IMG_5767has a rich plum hue that helps to bring out the best in its purple neighbours.  I kept silvers to a minimum, but made them really count.  I used them strategically to create smaller groupings of colour, and give the eye a place to pause as it travels along the length of the composition.  I like the size, solidity and weight of the two silvers the

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 8.58.33 PMmark the middle of the bracelet.  The other two silver designs are set with Trollbeads’ mesmerizing dichroic glass.  The Trinity is a  regular collection design whose simple lines I have always loved, and the retired “King and Queen” offers drama, with its large pieces of shimmering glass.  These precious dichroic glass designs pick up on the full range of colours on the bracelet and echo them wonderfully.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Unique”, “Faceted Aurora”, “Deep Bubbles”, “Trinity”, “Light Blue Shadow”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Unique”, “Chalcedony”, “Unique”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Silver Mountain”, “King and Queen”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Azure Bubbles”.

As an aside, for those of you who are admiring the linen textile in the first photo, it’s an infinity scarf made by Melanie of Tartooful of pure linen, with hand stenciled gold and silver accents and contrast piping… Gorgeous!  Her first series features soft chambray blue, natural ecru and a deeper denim blue.  Each one is one of a kind, generously proportioned, and well priced at $89.00.




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).