Trollbeads inspiration: A Bracelet for RA


r2-7Recently I was delighted to receive an inquiry from a faraway Trollie who was looking for inspiration.  She had purchased two of the limited edition green and purple armadillos, and was wondering how to effectively showcase them in a bracelet design.  Her first thought was to surround them with vibrant colour, such as the Saffron and

r2-2Masala Facet beads.  However, over the process of several draft designs, she has decided that she would prefer to frame them with jewel toned purples and rich golden amber tones.  The pair of armadillos can frame a dramatic center bead, such as an “Amethyst” or the “Diamond Bead, Black”.  Bold silvers won’t compete with the rich colour.

r2-11Golden Cave, possibly used in multiples, will give a bronze glow to the bracelet, tying in perfectly with both the amber and the purples.  RA plans to “finish” the design with a smaller purple unique, and a well matched purple prism.  I can imagine a “Ruby” taking a the starring role on the bracelet at some point, and a “Ruby Falcon” as its companion…


r2-3Creating a highly personal design for each Trollbeads collector is a fascinating process.  Colour is so subjective.  What makes one person’s heart sing may not feel right to another – so no two bracelets are alike!  In the end it’s really an evolution.  One begins with one or two beads and simply feels one’s way along… I have a feeling that RA’s bracelet is going to evolve beautifully, and am looking forward to seeing it grow!




Clockwise from clasp:  “Swan Lock”, “Purple Prism”, “Black Silk”, “Nomad”, “Unique”, “Amethyst”, “Amber Unique”, “Trefoil Knot”, “Unique”, “Diamond Bead, Black”, “Green and Purple Armadillo”, “Smiling Cylinder”, “Amber Unique”, “Purple Wave”, “Golden Cave”, “Flowers”, “Unique”, “Black Silk”, “Ruby Falcon”.



Trollbeads Inspiration: Cristi’s Hellebore Bracelet

photo 1photos:  Margaret Church

IMG_4547Today I feature a bracelet that came out of Cristi’s and my Bead playdate last week… This bracelet is composed wholly of beads from her personal collection, but it’s an original combination that I have never seen her wear before.


IMG_4546Ordinarily I’m more attracted to the warm side of pinks… those pinks that lean towards the yellow side of the colour wheel, that hint at apricot and peach.  However, this bracelet schools me in the allure of cool pinks with a hint of blue, that whisper lilac.  Maybe it’s the contrasting warmth of the ivory that keeps it from being cold…

photo 2Photo:  Margaret Church

IMG_4544… But I think it may be that it reminds me of an old fashioned flower, the Helleborus Orientalis, or lenten rose.  I grew up in a garden that had a huge bed full of them.  My garden obsessed Mother planted them en masse over the course of many years, until they began to cross pollinate, creating countless new colours and forms.  Each Spring it was completely out of control gorgeous.  Cristi has recently fallen in love with these subtle beauties, and has started her own collection in her garden.  Perhaps it’s their plum pink, creamy bone and barely green palette that inspired her in this composition.

IMG_4542All beads from Criti’s personal collection.

Trollbeads Inspiration: The “Magpie” Bangle

golden-combinationThe Magpie Bracelet

golden2This bracelet is pink and gold and sparkly and shimmery and shines like the stars.  (Ladies, I can see you drooling from here…)

However.  You may be asking “Why Magpie?”… I’m calling this one “The Magpie” despite a total lack of black & white, feathers, beaks or wings…

blue-desertbecause it’s the perfect bracelet for creatures that are attracted to shiny things!  Magpies are common birds that are cousins to the crow.  Quirky and intelligent, they are notoriously attracted to shiny things and will shamelessly pilfer them.  They can’t help themselves, they just get a little silly when faced with a perfectly shiny morsel.  Their nests are beautifully littered with trinkets, foil wraps and carelessly stored jewels.  I confess, I’m a magpie.  Anything with a little shimmer, a little hint of shine and sparkle, and I am in.


This golden bangle, with it’s sugary confections of pink and blue deserts, as well as the Diamond Bead with gold core… well, it’s lust at first sight for me, and simply makes my magpie heart sing.


PS.  We love the fresh slate to navy tones of the new Blue Deserts… gorgeous for this Winter.  They’re so dark and warm, they’re almost Brown Deserts.  It’s like someone in the atelier at Trollbeads just decided they missed the brown ones too much, and that they were going to start making them again, and simply call them Blue to stay under the wire.  Fabulous.  They’re a “must have” – regardless if you already have one in another shade.  Bravo to the unruly artisan at Trollbeads!




Inspiration found… the Autumn Garden


This time of year it feels as though the garden is having one last little celebration of the year… one final fling before it’s time for many of our favorite plants to take a few months of well deserved rest.

secret-garden-alchemillaEver since I was a child I’ve imagined the deciduous trees dressing up in their party best of gold and red to throw one final celebration of a year well done.  After all, they’ve been working hard ever since Spring… busy busy, make the flowers, make the leaves,

secret-garden-mushroomsgrow the leaves, time for new shoots, grow those branches, reach for more sunlight, go go go…. then time for fruit and berries, set those nuts, make the seeds, busy busy busy no time to rest if you are a tree.  Until October.  Then, it’s time to have a wild celebration of colour and pass out til Spring.  Isn’t it fantastically fun?  I’ve always thought it would make a great childrens’ book, with lovely watercolour illustrations.  Perhaps one of these days I’ll get to that project.

secret-garden2In the meanwhile the Autumn garden offers me unlimited inspiration.  Even as flowers finish and die down, leaves become tattered and the songbirds flee South… the quieter, more subtle stars of the Autumn garden come into their own.

secret-garden-dew-on-webYou’ll have to look a little closer to notice some of them.  The macro lens that I use to photograph Trollbeads glass is trained on tiny droplets of dew glistening on Lady’s Mantle leaves.  A carpet of moss is a miniature forest, with seeds glowing in the warm light.


A few flowers stand bravely in the garden… Coneflowers, Japanese Anemones, sedum and hardy fuschias are still adding flourishes of raspberry in various sunny corners.

secret-garden-musroom2… and oh my the mushrooms!  Love these magical little things, more creature than plant, popping up unexpectedly in crazy patterns about the lawn, flower beds and all over.  Such amazing shapes and forms.

secret-garden-lookupFinally, after one has been looking closely for some time, it’s easy to forget to look up… in my garden its way, wayyyy up to the top of the trees… sometimes clothed in low lying clouds, other times catching the sun and glowing madly.  The trees feel like the real owners of our piece of the world – having been here long before our family, or the family before us, or any of the houses.  Surely these sturdy mammoths will be here long after as well.

It’s wonderful timing that the same day I took these images, one of our most beloved Trollies popped into the gallery with an inspired bracelet composition that she calls her “Secret Garden”… stay tuned to see a design that could so easily have been created with these garden photographs in mind…


Trollbeads Inspiration: A Tale of Two Bracelets


2-bracelets5It is simply “the best of times”.  With a whole new line of classic silver, industrial black rubber and warm bronze links at our disposal, fresh new design inspiration is literally at our fingertips.  Already the ideas are flowing at Tartooful on how to use these new tools, both to enhance our beloved Trollbeads and as standalone pieces.

Today we began by composing a pair of bracelets that were designed to be worn together.  The look of a layered wrist is already hopelessly chic, but with the bespoke aspect of Trollbeads and X, one can create a truly personal and unique combination.


2-bracelets3With the palette of X in mind, we created the above bracelet in neutral colours that would sing in the presence of silver, bronze and black.  We selected silvers from both collections that feature a “budded” pattern, to wittily carry a similar theme across all the silver designs.  A similar approach might employ the knotwork themed silvers,

2-bracelets4birds, floral motifs, musical elements, stars or even the Chinese or Western Zodiac.  The key is to offer some cohesion between the two designs, both in colour and form, so that they can sing together.  Think of it as two part music, with the original Trollbeads offering the soaring melody and X the alto harmony.  Beautiful alone, exquisite together.


2-braceletsThe original Trollbeads composition here has a juxtaposition of honed natural stone, sparkling faceted gems, graphic pattern, and glowing glass.  This tapestry of colour, tone, shade and texture is what makes Trollbeads perennially fascinating to me, and the new X designs are simply a new element to add to the blend.


Take a peek in your bead collection and think about what you could compose as a companion for an X design….  How about silver and pink?  Or pale grey blue with a touch of golden bronze?  Or rich royal purple with bronze?  Or classic black and silver with mod primary tones?  Whites with gold and silver?  Or…. ?







Trollbeads inspiration: Big Rock Bangle


big-rock-bangle2Today we feature a recent bangle design by Cristi that combines some of the hot young stars of the new Autumn 2013 series with “Dichroic Ice”, a classic bead design that is long time favorite of ours at Tartooful.  The clear white dichroic glass is fascinating to examine, as it alternates between clear white and shimmering iridescence.

big-rock-bangle-4(See what I mean?)

This chameleon quality allows it to settle comfortably into classic white bracelets, but also to bring out blue, pink, green, or purple from its neighbours in a composition.

big-rock-bangle-5Here it echoes some of the fuschia and blue from the newly released “Moonlight Bubbles”.  This bead is part of the Aurora family of designs, and ranges beautifully from almost completely blue all the way to nearly orange.  All of the examples have waves of shimmering glass dotted with clear bubbles that feel like pearls.


The flash of shimmer and colour on this bangle might be what catches the eye… but the two “Diamond in the rough” silver beads will be what brings a smile to the eye… how fun!  They play on all our cultural associations with diamonds, and then brazenly toss them aside.  These are “rocks” for a very self sufficient, and utterly modern sort of girl.  What a wonderful gift from one friend to another… or to oneself!


One final note… I’m hoping to the “diamond in the rough” featured on lots of natural stone bracelet designs… what could be more clever than to blend it with other gems?

Where are you planning to put your new “rock”?



Trollbeads News: Autumn 2013 at Tartooful today

We are in love…

The Trollbeads collection for Autumn 2013 has arrived at Tartooful and we are in love with its’ stunning array of gorgeous colour and graceful silver designs.

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 9.25.42 AM

With two, very different palettes of glass, as well as so many different moods of silver, there is something in this collection for virtually every design project.

ivory-violetIn this series Trollbeads has taken some of their traditional design forms to new levels, as well as explored some completely new design territory.  For example, in the “Ivory Violets” glass bead shown here there are wonderfully subtle shades of blue blended on each petal, but in addition, each flower is placed onto a opaque ivory disc that floats above the transparent core, casting fascinating shadows.  Traditional form, but taken to a new level of accomplishment.

native-elements-kitIn the  “Pod” beads shown among the “Native Elements kit” at right we can see Trollbeads  exploring new forms.  Here is a complex design with opaque core, transparent layer, and dots sprinkled on the surface.  The “pods” or organic forms that decorate the outside of the bead offer a unique look and texture.

purple-heaven-kitThe “Purple Heaven Kit” expands on the groundbreaking “Aurora” bead’s aesthetic, with stripes, flowers and bubbles in the distinctive, shimmering fuschia.  This kit is sure to become a favorite with our collectors, as it is absolutely beautiful and plays nicely with so many different colour palettes.

waterlilies-of-julyThe collection of silvers includes graceful flowers with pearl accents for each month of the year, as well as heartwarming “Grandma” and “Grandpa”.  In addition there is a new “Baby Buggy” design which will be welcome, as so many collectors seek out the long retired version.   The “Ghost Fighter”s are a nod to 1980’s video game culture… (hello, quirky!) but are satisfyingly small, round and smooth.  They are a good match for size for “I luv U”, a semi abstracted written form design.  Of course, the scene stealing, star of the collection is the slender bony fellow…

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 5.52.53 PMStay tuned for upcoming photos of some of the bracelets that we played together at Tartooful, starring all the new designs…


Trollbeads inspiration: Fade to purple


purple-unique-2So much of our inspiration comes from our lovely Trollbeads collectors… take this bracelet, for example.  A few days ago, one of our ladies remarked that she was mulling a purple and cream design.  The idea took hold with me as well, and right away I started playing with  purples, various creamy glass options, and different styles of layout.

purple-unique-windowpaneI favoured the warmer range of purples, as they seemed to complement the creamy,  tones better than their more blue cousins.  These shades of purple are often accompanied by tiny touches of gold or flecks of yellow that make them suit the warmer ivory glass well.  I always like to design using as many uniques as possible, but ivory uniques

purple-uniquewere scarce on our display at the moment so I made good use of several production designs, including “White Paper Fold” and “Cream Armadillo”.

For the layout of the bracelet I tried various arrangements, but settled on an ombre effect, fading from a very rich Amethyst at

purple-linethe heart of the bracelet, to softest white at the ends of the bracelet.  This allowed me to bring many lovely soft purples into the composition to fade between the two extremes.

purple-frontAmethyst makes a dazzling centerpiece…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Freja Lock”, “Cream Armadillo”, “Faces”, “Unique”, “White Stripe”, “Unique”, “Porcupine” (Hedgehog!) “Unique”, “Unique”, “Amethyst”, “Purple Armadillo”, “Unique”, “Sweater”, “Unique”, “Dendritic Agate”, “Unique”, “Heart Print”, “White Paper Fold”.


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 15


IMG_1459Today is the second of two parts… the first half of this little project was to create a soft blue bracelet.  In the second half, I created another bracelet that could either be worn alone or as a complementary companion to the blue one.

IMG_1446The actual design of this pink bracelet is very simple.  It’s composed of round, abstract silvers, with warm pinks, apricots, creams and whites.  Despite its simplicity of palette and structure, I can easily imagine wearing this all by itself, as many of the beads are ones that I am particularly fond of…

IMG_1453The pink unique above was a gift to me from Trollbeads when I visited their Tivoli shop in Copenhagen.  The “White Steel” was a 40th birthday gift from my son, and the “Rosa Pearl” was a more recent birthday gift from a dear friend.

IMG_1456All my very favorite beads come with a story.  See how my “Rose Quartz” has a dull grey oxidized core?  That’s because I forgot to take it off, playing with my kids in the pool in Las Vegas.  For me, it’s much better that way!


However, let’s not forget the full scope of this mini project:  to create a pair of complementary bracelets… so let’s take another peek at how they look together:


IMG_1441one final little note:  I like the idea of clasping the two bracelets with one sturdy clasp to hold them all together nicely… Here I’ve used an old style basic double lobster, but one of the new one-piece ones would be perfect.