Trollbeads Inspiration: Cristi & Cathy’s Peacock Bracelets


twins14I’m calling these twinned designs our “Peacock” Bracelets for the iridescent, Limited Edition Pearls of the same name that appear in both bracelets.  Funnily enough we’ve had our challenges with these beautiful beads… I selected a lovely, slate blue version for myself when they were still available as a part of the collection.

twins11I loved it, wore it, and showcased it in many bracelets that appeared in this blog.  A couple of months ago it vanished, likely by accident into a lady’s bead bag while playing at the gallery.  One day it may come to light, and if it does I am sure it will come home, as our Trollies are notoriously honest!  

twins12Meanwhile, Cristi always admired the pearls and regretted not having picked one out while they were still at the shop… So just before Christmas I took the plunge, reached out and acquired a pair of these luscious pearls for the two of us.  Cristi’s has a distinct emerald shimmer, while mine has one that is more of an indigo blue. 


twins3Labradorite fascinates us, with its’ shifting planes of iridescence.  These stones exhibit colours that can vary from teal, to cobalt, silver, pink and even lavender.  It’s a softer stone, and my old but lovely example bears battle scars from being worn on a bracelet over the years.  I now mostly wear it on my Fantasy Necklace to offer it some protection.


twins4Compositions in these general tones have come together for each of us so many times over the years… with various beads and in different formats.  I’ve created leather necklaces, and thick, doubled leather bracelets in this palette, and Cristi has put together so many beautiful Fantasy Necklace designs in the same vein.

twins2The reasons why we keep coming back to this palette are simple:  it’s rich, gorgeous, and wearable. We wear these pieces with everything from white tees to LBDs.  If there is such a things as one, go-to palette, this is it.


(“Oh… this old thing?”)


The twinned Peacock Bracelets…

Next up… more fun and games with beads as we delve deeper into Cristi’s collection.






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: Final Day!


I cannot believe that it has been an entire month.

Thirty days, and more than thirty designs later I don’t feel as though I have even begun to explore the possibilities in my modest collection, and I am overwhelmed at the potential for beautiful composition.


It was very hard to choose one last design to showcase here on this blog… Of course, I wanted to finish on a high note, with a dramatic, unforgettable bracelet design.  More than that, however, I wanted to finish the way I had set out to begin… with a sense of adventure, playfulness and willingness to try something new.  So rather than just try for simply “beautiful”, I decided to dive in and once more explore a fresh approach to my collection.


Throughout the challenge I had arrayed my beads into colour families while designing each bracelet.  I decided to begin this bracelet by arranging the beads instead into material types – stones, ambers, glass, and silver.


Seen this way, totally fresh and new design ideas began to form in my head.  I chose to play with just the stones in my collection.. (Who knew I had this many?!)… and began to see what kind of composition I could create using exclusively those.


Starting with all the stones together on the tray, I slowly edited and shifted the beads to create small clusters of complementary colour.  I remembered that fellow Challenger, LeAnn Lowe had mentioned that she was beginning to become attracted to the “Ball Of Yarn” bead that has been featured in so many of this month’s bracelets, so with a little smile to myself I placed it in the middle of the bracelet.  After all, this exercise has been all about encouraging each other, and garnering inspiration and ideas from each others’ creations.


Working outwards from the “Ball of Yarn”, I tried to balance light and dark, facets and smooth, clear and opaque, patterned and plain, narrow and wide… I edited out the extremes of colour, opting not to work with a few favorite stones because they called too much attention to themselves.  (Sorry, lovely faceted claret coloured amber…)


Even within such a narrow definition of only one little collection there is so much diversity… and in order to create a composition that is truly harmonious there are so many elements to consider  Fortunately, with Troll it is so simple to play, design and freely create.  Trollbeads is pure fun!

I hope that this past month has inspired some of you to actively enjoy your collections; to play, create and design beautiful compositions that make your hearts sing… A huge, heartfelt thank you to LeAnn Lowe and Melinda Deyhle who faithfully posted their designs every day on our facebook page, as well as all you other ladies who shared selected designs along the way… Melinda & LeAnn, we have a very special Troll treat headed your way to show you how much we appreciate your support!



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 28


IMG_1654It’s a beautiful morning here on the West Coast, and I have a packed schedule today… this morning I am pottering in my garden, followed by brunch and playing in a friend’s garden.  It’s a hectic pace, but I’ll do my best to keep up!

IMG_1659For this kind of laid-back, blue sky day I felt like classic blue & white… and looking back over the photos from the past month I see that I haven’t paired my turquoise with crisp white at all!

IMG_1658The “Sakura” bead steals the show wherever it goes, and here it offers a welcome dash of floral pattern.  On a bracelet like this, with a very nearly pure blue and white theme, the touches of lilac and apricot in the heart of each blossom really stand out.  I particularly like that this bead includes both the blue and white, neatly tying together the palette.


IMG_1655This black and white “Spot” is an interesting bead… have you ever noticed that the pattern is more complex than first meets the eye?  The clean modern dots on the surface cast shadows through a clear layer of glass,  onto the lower layer of opaque white glass deep within the bead.  Like so much in Troll, the more you look, the more you see.

IMG_1656… and then there are the things that only I can see:  This “White Steel” was a gift to me from my oldest Son the day I turned forty.  He chose it for me because it felt modern, abstract, and different… and he thought I liked things like that.  The “Black Dot” bead was a gift from my husband when he returned from a business trip to Los Angeles.  He walked miles with a heavy bag, just to find Trollbeads to bring home for me.


In the end it’s the combination of the things seen by both the eyes and the heart that makes Trollbeads so special to wear.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 26


I’m really scouring my collection now.. with only a few days left in the design challenge I am trying to ensure that I’ve explored every bead!  Looking over the playtray this morning I realized with a shock that I had not made very good use of my blue and white Kimono Series bead.

IMG_1623I love everything about this bead… starting with its semi matte, yet velvety finish… to it’s subtle colours and unique pattern.  It has found its way onto lots of my designs and I’m surprised to realize that I haven’t included it in many bracelets over the past month.  I didn’t want to make a simple blue and white themed bracelet…

IMG_1620So I decided to take inspiration from this bead – “Sandstone” by Scott Bouwens for Trollbeads’ Spring 2013 collection.  It includes a range of blues, from very soft to a subtle denim shade, as well as creamy sand and richer chestnut browns.  This natural palette feels very “West Coast Summer” and is easy to play with.

IMG_1613I began with three natural stones at the heart of the bracelet, that together set the palette for the bracelet.  Labradorite, Chalcedony and Smoky Quartz shimmer, glow and sparkle without being showy.

IMG_1622I’ve used this bead in so many ways over the past month, but it feels perfect here as well… this “Christmas in Australia” limited edition is placed opposite the Kimono Bead on the bracelet.  With a similar overall intensity, and partnered with other soft blue beads it “weighs” the same and keeps the design balanced.


I’ve chosen to use mostly my slender silvers on this design, as there were so many glass and stone that I wanted to integrate!  I particularly like how the retired “Blue Dot” echoes the dichroic glass inserts of the retired “Carved Flowers” on the opposite side… and I also like the matched “Bee on Hive” (one of my early and favorite silvers), near the ends of the bracelet. 

…Only four days left!  I have too many more ideas…


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 25


Today’s design is a pair of bracelets that I designed to wear together… they’re inspired by the jewellery of the West Coast Surf culture, and are meant to wear on a casual Summer day, hopefully idling the warm hours away at the beach.

IMG_1625The first bracelet that I created was the black suede bracelet at left.  I added only a few little silver beads, and then twisted the two strands to ply the bracelet into a double, twisted rope.  I learned how to ply yarn while helping my Mother when she used to spin her own wool.  I used a vastly simplified version of the same technique here.


To replicate the thick effect, hold the two metal capped ends of the bracelet in one hand, and the end with the clasp in the other.  Simply twist the two ends of the bracelet in opposite directions until they are super tight.  Then, fold the taut strands carefully and exactly in half, and they will wrap around themselves into a thick rope.  (It sounds more complicated than it is…)  I used my standard double lobster clasp to hold it all together, but it would be much prettier, and easier, using one of the decorative locks.  I put the silver capped ends as well as the end with the tiny holes into one half of the lock, and then put one of the leather strands through the other half of the lock.

IMG_1627I am quite delighted with this technique for making a thick, sturdy and comfortable bracelet from the leather.  I do find that unless they fit just right they flop around a bit.  This is a great method for making a floppy bracelet behave itself again.

photoI felt like adding another fine chain to my stack of bracelets, so I quickly put together a twist on the solo pearl design.  I strung a tiny sterling ring on to keep my pearl company.  I wore this ring when I was a child, and now often enjoy it as a slender accent between glass or amber Trollbeads.  Here it seems to orbit the pearl, and jingles gently.


I’m really so pleased with my new leather idea – I can’t wait to try it out with a decorative clasp and various bead ideas!


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 21


Well, we wanted hot and boy did we get it.  The sun is officially back on the coast and Summer has begun for real….


Time for those tropical colours to come out and play, along with little strappy sundresses, espadrilles with ribbons that lace around the ankle, and our most glamorous sunglasses…


clockwise from clasp:  Basic Double Lobster Clasp (retired version), “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Turquoise Ribbon”, “Artisan Coral Bubbles”, (made at Tartooful by Irinia of Trollbeads Canada!), “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Unique”, “Unique Amber”, “Christmas in Australia limited Edition”, “Jugend”, “Unique”, “Carved Flowers” (retired), “Blue Green Feather” (retired), “Auspicious – Hong Kong World Tour”, “Orange Armadillo” (retired), “Silver Trace Blue Green” (retired), “Golden Cave”, “Chinese Zodiac Limited Edition”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Feather – Small & beautiful”.

hot5jpgIt’s much too pretty outside to sit inside and type… But here are a couple of photos to show the details that I love about this spicy bracelet!







Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 20


It’s the beginning of the Canada Day long weekend, and here in Vancouver we are braced for what we are told is going to be a dramatic heat wave.  This is exciting stuff, for us on the wet & misty West Coast!

saturday-sm1To be fair we had some beautiful weather back in May, and even now it’s very warm here, but still…. we’re ready to see some of our summery, clear blue skies!  By Canada Day on Monday it’s supposed to be blisteringly hot and clear, so I’m getting into the right frame of mind with this bright and clear, tropical fruit feeling design.

saturday-sm2I wanted to make one bracelet that used almost all my super bright beads, just to make sure that I made good use of them over the course of the challenge… there’s one more that I just couldn’t quite place on here, a deep rich sapphire blue – but I am dreaming up a whole bracelet designed around it.  (stay tuned for that one!)


Surrounded by the swaths of colour of all the armadillos, the “Sakura” bead is a welcome dash of pattern…


Clockwise from clasp:  Basic Double lobster clasp (retired version), Stopper, “Turquoise Ribbon”, “Unique Amber”, “Heart”, “Turquoise Armadillo”, “African Amethyst – Summer Stones Limited Edition”, “Spot”, “Unique Armadillo”, “Sakura – World Tour Japan”, “Green Armadillo” (retired), “Smiling Cylinders”, “Lavender Jade – Chinese Limited Edition”, “Orange Armadillo” (retired), “Neither Fish nor Bird, large” (retired), “Silver Trace, Blue-green” (retired), “Light Turquoise Prism”, Stopper.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 19


This morning it hits me – there’s really only ten days left in this design challenge, and I feel like there are so many more bracelets to make!  I have all these colour combination ideas and won’t have enough days to make them all… how great is that?!  I’m sure that I didn’t have all these ideas before I started the challenge.  Creativity with my collection has become a happy habit.

IMG_1544Today is a fresh and crisp combination of pink and green.  As always, I lean towards the warmer, more apricot shades of pink, but I think this would be just as effective with a more lilac tone.  I don’t really have that many light greens, but I’ve made do, and have mixed quite a few different tones of that colour together.

IMG_1550The bracelet was really inspired by this retired “Green Armadillo”.  It’s a humble bead, only recently retired and not hard to find, but I really like its crunchy green apple shade of green mixed with warm grey.  I don’t use it as often as I should, because it tends to overwhelm the subtle beads that typically make up my bracelets.

IMG_1551I don’t know why it has never before occurred to me to blend it with pinks?  I quite like this palette … it’s fresh and has a nice little pop of energy about it.    I love the touch of rosy blush at the heart my now-retired “Deep Bubbles”.  It’s a bead that’s so useful and well worth hunting down.  it’s enhanced by it’s neighbour, “Pink Prism”.

IMG_1547I’m pleased to use this retired “Green Dot” as well – I love the combination of these two pinks with its soft aqua green and buttery ivory.  The gold dust inside the “Pink Desert” almost takes on an olive hue.

IMG_1545My new, green “Rhyolite” from the limited edition Summer Stones series, allows all the different greens to play nicely together, as it contains so many shades within the one bead.  I wasn’t sure if it would work here, with its grey and rust tones, but the green is brought out by the other greens on the bracelet and somehow it works.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp” (retired version), “Pink Prism”, “Deep Bubbles” (retired), “Ball of Yarn”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Inner Glow”, “Auspicious – World Tour Hong Kong”, “Faceted Rose Quartz”, “Smiling Cylinders”, “Green Armadillo” (retired), “Spot”, “Rose Quartz”, “Jugend”, “Green Rhyolite – Limited Edition Summer Stones”, “Universal Unique”, “Zanzibar”, “Pink Desert”, “Green Spot” (retired), “Rosa Pearl”.

Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 18


We’ve had some folks asking for some design ideas for Fantasy necklaces, so I thought today I’d share my approach of using similar designs for either bracelets or necklaces.

IMG_1555I tend to fall in love with a colour combination or blend of patterns and want to wear it all different ways for a bit.  I’ll make up a bracelet with it, and when I want a change without giving up the composition I’ll transfer the design over to a fantasy necklace, leather bracelet or choker.

In this case, I loved the combination of icy blue and warm ivory with touches of gold.  I made up the necklace first, playing the ivory off the white pearl.

IMG_1536It was so easy to expand on the concept, switch a few things here and there and create a bracelet design from the same palette.  My bicone golden amber adds another warm touch , and I am able to use both my blue dot and green dot…

IMG_1533For me the main difference between designing for the various chains is simply how to arrange the different sizes of beads.  For example, on the bracelet I tend to place the largest ones in the

IMG_1535middle, and then taper towards the ends.  I try to balance the colours evenly across the circle of the bracelet, so that it doesn’t appear heavier on one side than the other.  When I come to the last bead on each side I like to have them play particularly well together, so that when one looks at the lock it appears harmonious.

IMG_1534However, when designing a Fantasy necklace I think in terms of stacking the beads in a pile on the chain… so I like the widest and thickest bead to sit at the bottom to give it a stable and pleasing look.  (The large barrel shaped silvers are so great in that position).  Then I taper the beads as one goes up the chain with the smallest at the top.

IMG_1554If one plans to double the chain using our modified lariat approach, then the last couple of beads should be stacked on in reverse order, so that when they are slid around to the other side of the necklace the smallest bead still ends up on the top.


On a daily basis I’m most likely to leave my fantasy necklace made up with a pretty neutral composition with ivory, gold and grey.  I do wear my necklace almost every single day – with everything from jeans & worn in boots to black velvet and heels.  On those days when I feel like a change, it only takes a few moments to toss something pretty together.