Trollbeads Challenge Day 5


Day 5 already – and today I’m enjoying this “Honey and Vanilla” bracelet.



IMG_1769I began to tease this combination together over the past few days, inspired by a very special “Honey Bud”.  This retired Trollbeads can be seen close to the middle of the bracelet design, tucked between the “Bee on Hive” and the Switzerland World Tour “Mountain Crystal”.  Then, as often happens during the Challenge, I was delighted to see that another Trollbeads Collector, Linda Jo, was working on a similar theme!  She posted a beautiful “Honey and Vanilla” design on our Tartooful Facebook Page.  This kind of synchronicity of design just shows how very connected the Trollbeads community of collectors is.  Both in person in the Village, and online in various social media we share inspiration and challenges, wins and losses.   It’s a rare and precious thing in our increasingly impersonal world.


For this bracelet, however, the story of connection doesn’t end there… The Honey Bud that is at the heart of this composition isn’t mine at all… It’s on loan to me, from a local long time collector who found she wasn’t using it.  She is thinking of selling it, but kindly and firmly insisted that I enjoy it with my collection for a little while before it finds its next home.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse!  It’s a gorgeous bead that just glows and feels beautifully smooth and liquid in the hand.  (If you think you might be the forever home for this bead do get in touch.)



The Honey Bud is not the only bead on this bracelet that I owe to that amazing collector’s kindness… there are many others in my collection that have passed through her jewel box!  (Thank you LC!)  It’s another example of the extraordinary community of friendships that are born out of our shared interest in these amazing little treasures.




Trollbeads Challenge Day 4


IMG_1724Today I wanted to lighten up, and play with some of the ivory toned beads that are usually locked into my black, gold and ivory bracelet.  That neutral bracelet is an essential wardrobe item for me, and a piece of jewelry that I wear several times each week… It’s unlikely that it won’t be rebuilt after the challenge, but until then… I can take these little ivory lovelies out for a spin and see what they can do!

I decided to pair these creamy glass, stone and ambers with warm purples to see if that combination felt “wearable”.


IMG_1727I usually pair most of these purple beads with Azure Bubbles and mossy Labradorite for a muted and understated approach to purple.  I’m not really a “purple person”… but despite that, somehow seem to have acquired a good sized group of purple beads that I love.  My purple and labradorite bracelet is one of those bracelets that often comes out of my Troll bag for a visit… I’ll even leave it on my bedside table so that I can just enjoy looking at it… and then it goes away, still without having been worn.  I’m actually very content enjoying beads in this way, as beautiful objects that don’t have to be worn.


However, I am curious to see if someday I can find the key to creating a purple palette that I would actually put on and wear regularly!

IMG_1726My thought was that pairing most colours with white and ivory somehow take some of the power out of them.  The example I like to give for this is Red.  Pair Red with black, red, purple, or pink… and it brings to mind racy lingerie, red lipstick and all sorts of other fabulously sexy stuff.  This is red fingernails and red sports car sort of red.  However, pair red with white, and it evokes Valentine’s hearts with paper lace, checkered tablecloths and cheerful Christmas ornaments.  Heartfelt, but innocent.  So.  I thought that perhaps pairing purples with white would give them an even softer air.


My conclusion after wearing this bracelet for a day… I’m still not sure!  I think I’d like to rebuild it after the challenge and try wearing it for a few more days over the warm weeks of Summer to see how it settles in.  Perhaps a few more tweaks to the design would help to make it feel more at home as well… The biggest surprise is how very yellow the amber looks when contrasted with the complementary tone of purple!



Trollbeads Challenge: Day 3


IMG_1716Today I decided to see if I could build a bracelet of all-labradorite.  Like so many other ladies, this stone is a favorite of mine.  Its endless shades of soft grey to green to blue add a gentle note to so many compositions.  It’s elusive flash of blue, aqua, green, gold, pink or even purple rewards those who are patient enough to sit and really *look* at it in the light.  Over the past year a few more Labradorites have found their way into my collection, but they are normally scattered across a number of bracelets where they can work their quiet magic.  However, today they were all lined up together on my play

IMG_1717tray, just begging to be strung together all on one bracelet.  Initially I played them together with larger, more complex silvers that took up more space on the chain, so that I could feature just the stones.  I thought I would love it that way, but when I actually saw it… it felt a little flat to me.  I wanted to add a little something… just a little pop of pattern – but not too much.  I could have used soft Azure Bubbles, but decided instead to use the slightly more challenging Kimono Kit of beads.  These are understated glass, with matte finish and clean, minimalist patterns.


Their subtle palette works beautifully with Labradorite, and I’m pleased with the end result.


IMG_1718The large, complex silvers were replaced with a series of “bead shaped” silvers that usually reside on my teal bracelet.  Their similar size and shape offer a nice rhythm, and are economical in the amount of space they take up, so that more glass and stone may be fitted onto my usual size of chain without crowding the bracelet.  I like the beads a little on the loose side, so that the bracelet flows nicely and doesn’t feel too stiff.  You can see I was feeling a little squeezed for space, as I resort to narrower and narrower silvers as the composition goes on!


My conclusion is… that this is something I would totally wear again!  (NEED more labs…)



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 28


Today I created a bracelet that makes my eyes deliriously happy!

IMG_9833This composition utilizes beads that used to be on several different bracelets, in completely different colour combinations… and a month ago I never would have thought to put them all together in this way.  I’ve helped in the design of dozens of rich purple and golden toned bracelets, but somehow, the shimmery, iridescent tones of this

IMG_9835combination feel fresh to me.  This bracelet includes some beads that I’ve had for ages, and others that are very new to me.  Perhaps part of the reason that I couldn’t imagine this particular composition before, is simply because I didn’t have just the right beads to tie it all together.  It’s a good reminder that as one adds pieces to one’s collection, it’s worth stopping to review the possibilities, and see if new, even more exciting compositions can emerge.

IMG_9832Shimmer, shimmer and more shimmer…

IMG_9837My silvers usually serve mostly to divide chunks of colour.  However, in this case my silvers with Dichroic Glass accents – “Trinity”, “Carved Flowers”, “Dichroic Flower Lock” and “King & Queen” – are a critical part of this bracelet.  They help to firmly set the shimmering mood for this design.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Dichroic Flower Clasp”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Trinity”, “Limited Edition Faceted Aurora”, “Unique Amber”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Carved Flowers”, “Aurora Flower”, “Golden Quartz”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Azure Bubbles”, “King & Queen”, “Issey” (retired), “Elfbead”, “Unique Amber”, “Van Gogh – Limited Edition Netherlands World Tour”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Family of Mushrooms – Limited Edition World Tour Lithuania”, “Unique Glass”.

30 Day Challenge: Day 27


This was so much fun to build!  I *never* make up bracelets in this way… but I’m delighted with the result!


IMG_9807For once, I wasn’t able to build a bracelet from the middle out.  My objective today was to shake up not only the usual structure and layout of my bracelet designs, but even the approach that I usually take to building them.

IMG_9809In this case, there was no way around it, I simply had to start at one end, and work my way along.  It took a bit of staring time… looking with a slightly unfocused eye, to find the beads that were a little too dark or too light in their position.

IMG_9805Beads shuffled up or down the line by a position or two, but basically, this was built from very dark to very light in a straight line.  I expected the result to be somewhat conceptual – interesting, but not necessarily something I’d be dying to put on and wear.  This bracelet surprised me, because it was a delight to wear!  It didn’t matter how the bracelet turned on my wrist, there was always a visual treat.


It helped that every single one of these colours makes my heart sing… (I call them “Singapore Sling” colours..)


Clockwise from clasp:  “Limited Edition Chess Lock”, “Rosa Pearl”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Tibet Series Takma”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Golden Cave”, “Unique Amber”, Chocolate Parrot” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Issey” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Ruby”, “Unique Glass”.



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 26


Day 26 saw a very simple little leather combination….


I wanted to play together a few neutral greys and various tones of white in a very gender neutral approach.  I felt I hadn’t reached for my retired “Brown Dot” enough through the challenge, and this makes such a nice home for it.

IMG_5980This includes a few beads as “greys” that I hadn’t really thought of that way prior to the challenge… for example, the “Blue Desert” at left was firmly established as a Navy bead in my mind, but through this process I’ve come to use it as a slate grey, and even as a copper.  The Labradorite at left is often used as a grey, but the more slate blue one always lived with my blues prior to being laid out on a play tray with an objective eye.


This is a wonderfully wearable combination, that one could energize at will with  the odd brilliantly toned bead.  Drop a couple of persimmon orange, bright turquoise or clear yellow beads into this design for a completely different feel….



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 22

IMG_5939Embrace the Orange

IMG_5940A few recent conversations with our talented customers have opened my eyes to the potential offered by orange.  I have always found it a little harder to work with the brightest colours, likely due to my preference for the subtle misty blues, lavenders and apricots that populate my personal collection and usually appear in my compositions.


IMG_5942However, in recent weeks I have encountered a number of brilliantly toned designs that have schooled me in the allure of orange and yellow.  First I came across a saffron yellow bracelet that was unabashedly royal

IMG_5937in its approach.  I loved that it didn’t reference buttercups and daffodils, but rather the imperial yellow of the historical Chinese court.  Next one of our clients who very closely shares my taste in colour sent me an inspiring image of her coral toned bracelet.  Altogether, it was time for me to dive into my collection and see what orange possibilities it contained.

IMG_5938I was pleasantly surprised to find enough beads in my own bead bag to create an entire bracelet in this colour family.  Once again, those golden ambers came to the rescue, playing nicely with this palette and filling out the design.  The key bead that sets the tone for the entire design, however, is the orange armadillo at the heart of the composition.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Red Pink Prism” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Golden Cave”, “Smoky Quartz”, “Jugend”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique”, “Tigers Eye”, “Shortcut”, “Golden Quartz”, “Orange Armadillo” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Spot” (retired), “Ruby”, “Unique”, “Brown Desert” (retired), “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Unique”, “Pink Desert”, “Unique Amber”.



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 2

IMG_1157Day two, and I couldn’t wait to play again!

IMG_1165I carefully took apart my day 1 bracelet… I loved it, and would happily have kept wearing it, but I have a photo, and if I miss it at the end of the 30 days I can always whip it back up again!  All the beads went back onto the play tray to form my bead “palette”, or toolkit.  It is so inspiring to see them all lined up like that: endless potential!

IMG_1160This new “Green Rhyolite” was the starting point for today’s bracelet.  It has a fascinating array of colours in it, from grey, to rust, to lavender, to pistachio green.  In the miraculous way that nature’s paintbrush has, somehow this mix of colours works perfectly.  I decided to create a neutral and natural palette around this gorgeous bead to allow it to truly glow.


One of the fun surprise combinations across which I stumbled is this russet toned “Golden Cave” with the rose gold sparkle in my “Blue Desert” and a soft apricot “Pink Prism”… delicious!

IMG_1156I had forgotten how much I like “Smoky Quartz” with the ivory tones of this creamy armadillo and the retired “Brown Dot”.  “brown desert” adds a little sparkle.

IMG_1150Day 2… we’ve only just begun!

stay tuned for day 3…