Trollbeads Challenge Day 13


Today I’m tackling another design challenge that I have visited in past years.  I thought it would be interesting to see how the finished bracelet would look and feel with the recent updates to my collection.

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IMG_1913Over the past couple of years I have made a conscious effort to add certain shapes and sizes of silvers to my personal collection.  I’m very particular about each silver – it has to have a meaning that makes me happy, but it also has to function well for the way I like to build my bracelets.  I tend to make balanced compositions, so that means that pairs of silvers are useful.  However, with very few exceptions I tend not to actually buy duplicate designs, but rather prefer to find patterns that are complementary to each other in both theme and dimension.

IMG_1919Luckily for me, Trollbeads tends to have a few relatively standard size grades within which they produce a number of designs.  For example, “Jugend””Carved Flowers””” and even the “Rolling Troll” all have a similar form and size, so they work well to balance each other in a bracelet.  I often use “Ball of””Sweater” together for the same reason.  One bead that I simply had to twin in my collection was the “Bee on Hive”… it’s one of my favorite silvers, as it features the Bee image that I take as my personal emblem.  It’s soooo useful to have that one pair for bangles, necklaces and so on.


IMG_1915I like to group silvers not only by appearance, but also to some extent by narrative theme.  For example, I usually place my “Ball of Yarn” and “Sweater” together on a bracelet along with my “Spider”.  I like to think that the spider is a crafty little knitter of webs.  Similarly, I place my “Frogs”, “Neither Fish Nor Bird” and two “Happy Fish” on a design together for a wetland sort of a theme.


Perhaps the most relevant habit that I usually employ, however, is that I always…*nearly always* mix the glass or stones in with silver.  Occasionally I might make a bangle with only one metal bead.  From time to time I might make up an all-amber or all-glass bracelet.  But all-silver?  Nope.  Only for the challenge!  It’s a tough one for me, as it’s missing the colour elements that are my comfort zone.  It’s also very tricky to build all-silver while creating a sense of order to the design.    This year, with the addition of more size pairs, I think I’ve managed to design a bracelet that I would make and wear again.

It has a very comfortable amount of movement on the bracelet, which results in a very fluid feel in the hand.  It’s satisfyingly heavy and I am enjoying wearing it today!

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Trollbeads Challenge Day 12


Today it’s all about “Aurora”.  There are a handful of regular collection and limited edition beads that are unmistakably “Aurora”, and until fairly recently I thought we had to be content with this narrow selection of designs.  However, lately I have noticed quite a few unique designs which feature that distinctive, hazy shimmer.


For the most part, these beads display a more subtle version of the Aurora effect, which has opened up new design options for me.  I find now I can combine my softer Azure Bubbles with paler traditional Aurora designs and the new subtle uniques for a fresh look.  Add a hint of dichroic glass and a couple of luminous stones and it’s a complete design.

IMG_1781The pair of stones that I have employed in this design are the smooth, retired form of “Chalcedony” and a treasured, very translucent “Dendritic Agate”.  I’ve had the Chalcedony for many years, but the Dendritic Agate is a very recent addition.  I came across it  just before the Challenge began, so it managed to slip into the collection just in time.  Dendritic Agate is a variety of Chalcedony Quartz, and is often found with deposits of other types of Chalcedony.  This relationship is easy to see in a translucent example such as this, where the two stones are nearly identical, save for a few traces of Dendritic Agate’s distinctive fern textural markings.  Imagine how difficult it must be for stone cutters to predict how to cut and facet these stones to best display their hidden branchlike patterns… years of experience and well honed instincts must be required!


These Azure bubbles play nicely with others…




Trollbeads Challenge Day 11


After a few years of practicing the creative exercise of the Challenge, I’ve found a few composition themes to be particularly interesting… in some cases they are simply designs that I find difficult – such as all silvers, or asymmetrical.  Each year they become a little easier to achieve, and that’s very encouraging!  In other cases certain design challenged show me the changes that have occurred in the elements of my collection over the previous twelve months, which is a good measure of how my tastes shift from year to year.


This ombre design is one that I have explored in the past, and I find it interesting to see the changes that have taken place since last year.  This year’s version of my ombre bracelet gently transitions from softest golden peach, through pink and bronze into plum and finally completes at a delicious claret.


Some beads that were key in previous versions are no longer a part of the design.  Other beads have joined the collection since last May, and are now glowing here.  It’s different from last year, but I like it just as well.  It’s such an interesting exercise to see – really *see* the colours and how they relate to each other.






Trollbeads Challenge Day 2


Day one’s daunting greens were such hard work for me… I decided to play something together today that was pure joy and really oh so easy.


IMG_1733Truthfully, this bracelet practically built itself and threaded itself right onto the chain… warm, teal blues and golden yellows are perfect complementary tones, and are among my most beloved colours for Trollbeads.  It took me years to understand the appeal of the amber-y yellows, but once I started I didn’t look back!  I now have enough in my collection for at least two full bracelets of these toasty colours alone, and I love every single bead.  The problem, of course, is that if I put them all together on one bracelet… I can’t use them as complementary beads for my blues, purples, greens and so on.

IMG_1734It was during the course of another Challenge, a few years back that I came to the profound conclusion that “I NEED More Yellows!”… and I have been watching, stalking and lying in wait for special yellows ever since.  I’ve added quite a few to my collection since that Challenge year, and I have a feeling that there are still more amber and yellow toned beads in my future…There are just too many combinations that benefit from the addition of a light and deft touch of honey golden yellow.  Oooo imagine if one had enough Grey to tease together an entire grey and yellow combination…


The hint of tangerine hiding in the depths of this yellow bubbles bead always gives me joy!


This one isn’t an Azure Bubbles, but rather a Classic Core Unique!  It must be cousin of some sort though…


Ta da!  A well behaved group of teal and golden yellow…




Trollbeads 14 Day Challenge Day 1!


It’s the very first day of the Annual Trollbeads Challenge at Tartooful!  This year we are presenting a fast & furious, lean & mean version that will last only 14 quick days.  It’s our hope that by doing an abbreviated Challenge, even more of you will take the time to play along with us, and share all of your inspired and inspiring designs on facebook and instagram.


This year there’s not a single day to waste, so I’d better jump right in the “deep end” of the Challenge.  There are certain colours and combinations that always seem to be a bit tougher for me to pull off effectively.  Despite having a nice group of soft green beads, I never seem totally happy with the bracelets that feature them.  I decided to begin my challenge by tackling these persnickety greens head on.


IMG_1710I played with a few different sets of neutrals to try to soften the impact of the greens, and settled for today on a group of blacks, greys and gently golden browns.  These are all beads that are normally locked down on my favorite, daily wear bracelets: my all-amber design, and a “nearly” black and white that gets worn almost every day.  It’s a treat to have these familiar beads loose and available to experiment with new options.  It’s almost like finding them all over again!  Over the past year I added a few newbies to my collection of greens and it’s fun to see how they all work together.


IMG_1708Overall, I’d say I’m happy with how this design worked out… I’d definitely enjoy wearing this design.  Normally I love to look at these greens, but just can’t seem to get the hang of actually wearing them… but the soft warm greys make a huge difference to how I experience this shade of green.  With the addition of warm dark neutrals the green feels much calmer, and much more natural.  (Silly really – if any colour ought to feel natural, it’s green!  Perhaps I am mentally matching it up with pastel pinks, lilacs and blues like an Easter bonnet?)  Regardless… lesson number one this year for me is: “Find More Grey!”


IMG_1709What have you discovered on day one?  Do let us know!



30 Day Challenge: Day 29 – The Gratitude Bracelet


IMG_9853Many years ago now, I was at the life celebration of a dear friend who was taken from this world far too young.  We were all doing our best to maintain our composure, and express the happy, positive attitude that our friend epitomized… when a song she had chosen by the artist Dido began to be played.


“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life
Oh just to be with you is having the best day of my life”

IMG_9852Here we were, gathered to express our gratitude for her beautiful life, and in the midst of our grief, she thanked us.  It was a powerful moment, a devastatingly beautiful and emotional moment… and an experience that will never leave me.  It taught me a critical lesson in the enormous power and strength of gratitude.


IMG_9854We are very close to the end of the 30 day challenge… and I wanted to take time now, before it is all over for another year, to make up a gratitude bracelet.  This design is composed entirely from beads that have been gifted to me.  Of course, there are too many beads from my lovely community of Trollie Friends to fit them all on just one bracelet…but this composition can be a symbol of all the love that can be carried on each of our bracelets.



Clockwise from clasp:  “Chess Lock – from Melanie”, “Unique Amber – from Lisa”, “Heart – from Greg”, “Unique Glass – from Krista”, “Ball of Yarn – from Nadine”, “Unique Amber – from Nadine”, “Unique Artisan Bead – from Georgina”, “Unique Glass – from Paddy”, “Deck of Cards – from Trollbeads Denmark”, “Violet Petals – from Lisa”, “Retired Turquoise Dot – from Melanie”, “Unique Glass – from Laurie”, “Paradise Birds – from Phillis”, “Unique Glass – from Cristi”, “Unique Glass – from Trollbeads Denmark”, “Unique Glass – from Lisa”, “Smiling Cylinder – from Eric”, “White Steel – from Rob”, “Zanzibar – from Greg”, “Rosa Pearl – from Nadine”.

To all of you who have contributed to both my collection of beads, and my collection of beautiful days… Thank you.




30 Day Challenge: Day 26


IMG_9797I can’t believe we are at Day 26 already… where has the month gone?!  I find myself super inspired these last few days, with tons of great composition ideas that I would love to stuff into only a few last posts.  Today I am inspired by a relatively new bead of mine – the little pink and sand coloured unique at left.  With that bead in mind, I chose to create a

IMG_9796pink and grey bracelet design, using various shades of each colour.  I don’t often find my raspberry beads and my warm, pale pinks on the same bracelet, so this is a bit of a departure for me, and a fun treat for me to wear.  It’s too easy for me to fall into the trap of “But the best beads to go with this are….” I find I almost make up rules for myself,

IMG_9795habitually putting this bead opposite that, or a certain set of beads together.  I’m finally at the point in the challenge where those rules have really truly gone out the window and I’m seeing more possibilities than ever.  Today, this confection of a bracelet is only for one day… so it doesn’t matter if I have enough of both pale pink and raspberry pink to create full bracelets of both.  Today I will simply choose a few of each, and wear them together.


I usually think of my Sapphire as slate blue… but with such a subtle shade, it’s all about context.  If I place this bead near other blues, it reads unquestionably as blue.  Here, with other cool greys dotted about the bracelet, my eye is tricked into seeing grey.


I usually find other partners for both of these pale pink and gold beads… but today they make a perfect pairing.

IMG_9798I’ve always loved the softest side of this “Pink Desert”, and treasured it for its somewhat unusual expression.  For today’s bracelet I’m so glad that it has a bit of variation in it, and hints of raspberry in some spots.  It nicely ties together the various shades of pink in this design.  This is one bracelet that will definitely make an encore appearance after the challenge!


Clockwise from clasp:  “Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Rose Quartz”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Sapphire”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Sweater” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Glass”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Pink Desert”, “Unique Glass”, “Rosa Pearl”.


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 2


Day 2 and I had an idea that I had been wanting to try for some time… so today was the day.

IMG_5582I’d always hankered to experiment with a composition made up purely of “Azure Bubbles” and “Desert” beads.  I knew I had just enough in my personal collection to pull it off, but somehow had never taken the time to sit down and give it a whirl.  (Note to self, be sure to remember to take the time to stop and sniff the beads…)

IMG_5586So today I was feeling almost smug, as I sat down to try what was surely going to be a stunning combination.  However.  Instead I think I learned the first lesson of this year’s challenge…. because I wasn’t exactly stunned with the result!  Don’t misunderstand me:  I love love love every single one of these beads.

IMG_5583I received lots of compliments from ladies who saw it at the shop, and on paper it ought to be gorgeous.  However, I’m just a little…. underwhelmed.  Even bored…. with the overall effect.

IMG_5584I think it might be that these beads are pretty all together, but in my opinion really sing when given something with a little contrast to make them pop a little more.  I usually combine the softest Azures with other slate blues and lots of clear, honey ambers, and I think that the complementary golden tone makes the Azures simply glow.

IMG_5580So… lesson learned.  Moderation can be a good thing, and Azures play nicely with others!


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 1


IMG_5300Here we go!

Day one is a gentle easing into the process… First, the initial rush of taking apart all the bracelets and seeing the colours beautifully laid out in rows on the playtray… Like an artist’s palette.  Looking over the beads I really couldn’t wait to toss together this combination.

IMG_5296I admit, it practically built itself.   I’ve had a super soft blue bracelet composed for a little while, and a darker, slate blue and gold combination that is probably my favorite ever bracelet.  (“I’m going to miss you most of all…”) Today I got to mix the two of them up, and play with all my favorite blues together in one satisfying design.

IMG_5298This is the colour comfort zone for me, and it’s such a pleasure to be able to play with some of my newer beads that I’ve chosen over the course of the Spring uniques releases.  The harder it is to find a bead, the more careful ladies tend to be in designing with it.  The little oyster unique at left, for example… it graces

IMG_5297many beautiful blue to green to grey designs, and it gives me joy every time I see it.  However, I am looking forward to taking it out for a spin, and seeing what it can really do.  How does it work with apricot?  With pink?  Or golden ambers?   Somehow, I don’t think that I would nestle it into any of those arrangements as a long term plan – but until I try it I won’t really know!


IMG_5295I do love my Azure Bubbles… and I could easily have added a few more of these beloved beads to this bracelet, but instead I tried to incorporate some of the beads that I reach for a little less often.  For example, the Kimono Series blue and white design can stand out a bit due to its opacity – but in such an ephemeral design, why not toss it in?


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp” (retired) “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”, “Unique”, “Carved Flowers”, “Magical Lamp”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Silver Mountain”, “Trinity”, “Labradorite”, “Blue Desert”, “Sapphire”, “King & Queen”, “Chalcedony” (retired), “Unique”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Light Blue Shadows”, (retired), “Deep Bubbles” (retired), “Auspicious” (Hong Kong World Tour), “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”.

What have you designed today?