Trollbeads Design Lesson: The Nitty Gritty

rackStep 1:  approach the rack…

starting-pointRecently I’ve had a few messages from readers, asking for more insight into the process by which we compose a bracelet here at Tartooful…. We don’t keep to any kind of a strict system by any means, we simply play with colours until they “feel” right to us, but we thought we’d try to share a little more about our approach.

choose-rodsToday I was inspired by this retired and pretty “Aquarium Pastel”.  I like to pair this bead with light blue and apricot, rather than the usual expected chestnut browns.  This results in a lighter than air and very unusual palette.  I started by pulling some rods of beads that had possible candidates for the bracelet, and placing them altogether on a play tray.

first-groupPlacing  the inspiration bead in the center, I worked outward, adding beads one by one.

At this point I felt like it needed to feel a bit more Autumnal, so I added a few beads with soft grey and even black elements to deepen the palette a little.


“Traces” does a good job of combining the blue and grey, and Kathy Perras’ artisan “Siberian Tiger” adds a little “va va voom”. (purr!)

final-groupingNow it’s time to add a little silver…

traces-closeA few more beads here and there to fill out the bracelet… a few silvers that are roughly balanced for style and size… and a rearranging of order and we are at the final bracelet design.  I chose the retired “Zodiac Star” first..

siberian-tiger-closeI picked it for the perfectly coral coloured carnelian stone at it’s heart.  “Endless” is graphically punchy and interesting, and matches it well for size.  I chose “Three Siblings” for it’s abstract shape that complements “Endless” so well.  Finally I added “Bead of Fortune” as it matches “Three Siblings” so well with its long narrow shape.


light-blue-gold-closeWhen choosing the order of the glass I work outwards from the center of the bracelet.  I do this because I like to try to make sure that the few beads at the center are able to set the tone and palette for the bracelet as a whole.  I find that when I am wearing the bracelet those are the beads that I tend to notice the most, so I want to get those  just right.

pick-a-lockAfter the center beads are sorted I add beads in the two main colour families, trying to alternate the colours so that each bead is able to complement its neighbour.  I don’t match the beads on each side perfectly, but I do try to make sure that they are balanced in visual “weight”.  Imagine the design on an old-fashioned scale.  The larger or darker beads are “heavier”.  I also tend to have the largest beads at the middle of the bracelet and work downwards in size towards the ends of the chain.  Finally I choose a clasp that I think suits the overall theme of the silvers or the season.  In this case I wanted to be sure to set an appropriately Autumnal tone, so I added the “Trolltree” lock.


There you have it… the “nitty gritty” of playing together a new bracelet design at Tartoooful!