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 24


IMG_9768Yesterday when I was looking at the old photo of my original collection of Trollbeads, I couldn’t help but notice that all the beads that had shuffled out of my collection early on… were shades of green!  I shouldn’t really have been surprised, as I’ve so often created a composition with green – only to re-do it sometime during the day to remove

IMG_9767the green elements.  I love to look at green, but for some reason find it harder to actually wear it.

The breakthrough came during the original 30 day challenge, two years ago.  By the end of that month I had realized how very useful golden yellows were as complementary tones and neutrals.


IMG_9770I’ve never thought of myself as a yellow person, even had an aversion to it… but there is no doubt that the golden yellows of Trollbeads… murano glass, natural stone… amber… somehow those yellows are different.  These colour elements enhance blues, greens, purples, reds, pinks, even whites.  In this case I’ve created a framework of golden yellow to hold a handful of greens that delight me – in limited quantities.


The whole design is inspired by the distinctive central bead, a clear golden glass with an aqua green flower floating in its depths.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format),  “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Bead of Fortune”, “Unique Amber”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Amber”, “Trollbeads Day 2014 Limited Edition”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Two Trolls – Limited Edition”, “Golden Quartz”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Unique Amber”, “Neither Fish Nor Troll”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”.


30 Day Challenge: Day 23

IMG_9791Continuing on on the manner in which I began…

in-the-mannerToday I came across an old photo of my very first few Trollbeads… A couple of beads that are in the photo are no longer in my collection – someone must have fallen in love with them along the way – but most of them are still in regular rotation.

IMG_9786My Very first bead was this “Silver Mountain”.  I remember that it mesmerized me immediately, and there was no way I could resist its charms.  With its’ unique blend of earthy texture, palest aqua blue, and shimmering silver – it was a visual feast.  I still adore it, and find a place for it on so many of my daily bracelet compositions.


IMG_9788I decided to design a bracelet using my original beads as much as possible, and complete the design in a similar aesthetic with more recent acquisitions.  The photo at left shows my first silver, a Heart that was selected for me by my then-sweetheart-now-husband, Greg.  It’s satisfying simplicity works nicely with my next choice

IMG_9785of silver, the now retired “Sparrow”.  As soon as I saw this sweet-faced, chubby little bird I knew I had to add it to my bracelet in memory of my Mother.  She loved to sit at her comfortable kitchen table and look out over her bird filled garden.  She waged a hilarious battle with the fat squirrels who liked to raid her well stocked feeders.

IMG_9782Bee on Hive

IMG_9789Of course, I wanted my bracelet to not only reflect the ones I loved, but also a little of my own essence as well.  I’ve always identified with the Bee as a personal symbol…. Bees are busy, useful, little creatures that spend all their time working in our gardens to take care of their family, making good things from of little bits of plant that we barely even notice.  I’d like to be more like a bee!  I chose a now-retired “Bee on Hive” to remind me of my core values…


Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Lock” (retired format), “Peacock Pearl”, “Light Blue Dot”, “Unique Glass”, “Petanque” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Sparrow”, “Unique Glass”, “Labradorite”, “Artisan Stone”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Silver Mountain”, “Labradorite”, “Unique Glass”, “Heart”, “Unique Amber”, “Van Gogh – World Tour Netherlands”, “Light Blue Shadow” (retired), “Brown Dot” (retired), “Rosa Pearl”.

It’s hard to believe that my earliest beads and I have been together on this Trollbeads Journey for seven years, now… goodness where has the time gone?!


30 Day Challenge: Day 7


Today I was in a light sort of a mood… wanting something natural, simple and clean.  A fantasy necklace with a few spring greens was just the thing.

IMG_9459I picked this lovely sage green and gold stripe from my palette first and decided to work from there.  I added some golden ambers to play up the glitter, but added the buttery amber as well, so that it didn’t feel too terribly formal.  The clear golden yellow glass with stylized green flower is one of my favorite beads… it is absolutely at home here among other greens and golds.


The translucent Chinese Jade lays a nice wide foundation for this composisition – I like my fantasy necklaces to be stacked in a pyramid shape!  The sage and white scallops help to bring in just a touch of white, so that the necklace’s pearl drop feels like it’s part of the overall design.


From top to bottom:  “Unique Amber”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”.  Design composed on a 90cm sterling silver Fantasy Necklace with Pearl.


30 Day Challenge: Day 5


20121017_TracyMArt1_01-medium-2Today I started with a yummy old “stitch” patterned unique that is a little brighter than the rest of my collection, but that I just love.  It makes my eyes happy just looking at this particular shade of blue.  It’s not quite turquoise,

IMG_9403not quite the blue of a Tiffany’s box… I affectionately call it “Beautiful Blue”.

A wonderful piece of art by Tracy McMenemy that recently arrived at the gallery features a generous dose of this blue, and it reminded me that it is really “Map Blue”.  No matter what you call it, this bead is *fun*.

IMG_9404In truth, I have very little to actually match this bead, but by adding a whole range of teals and aquas that are all in the same family tree, I can create a design that makes it feel at home.  The metallic goldstone stitching pattern on the bead gives the impression of a vibrant green, which is echoed by the olive green of beads such as Labradorite and the

IMG_9405Christmas in Australia Limited Edition.  I didn’t want to have a dark, brooding mood, but rather a light hearted feel – so I added a group of ivory coloured beads to  soften the impact of the richer colours.  Two dotted beads with Ivory backgrounds and shades of blue dots help to marry the cream and the colours together.


IMG_9402This “Silver Mountain” was the very first Trollbead I ever had.  I picked it for myself, from the first shipment of beads ever received at Tartooful, now so many years ago.  It has found a place on most of my favorite combinations ever since, and I am still just as enthralled by it as on the very first day.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Unique Amber”, “Plait” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Turquoise Dot” (retired), “Limited Edition Christmas in Australia”, “Sweater” (retired), “grey Armadillo” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Labradorite”, “Traces”, “Grey Armadillo” (retired), “Ball of Yarn”, “Blue Green Feather” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Silver Mountain”,  “Art Deco” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Light Blue Dot” (retired), “Unique Glass”.



30 Day Challenge: Day 2


Today I thought I’d try working in a monochrome white palette… but as you can see I don’t quite have the hang of it!  I love love love my ivory coloured glass and ambers, and thought I *might* have enough of them for a whole bracelet… but I think the only way I can pull that off is with a whole lot of silver!  Perhaps another day I will explore that possibility, but today the softest of blush pinks crept onto the bracelet and I decided to let them stay.  (It was only polite, I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings…)


Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp – retired format”, “Small & beautiful Unique”, “Cells” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”, “Heart”, “Unique Amber”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Limited Edition Mountain Crystal” (Switzerland World Tour), “Zanzibar” (retired), “Grey Armadillo” (retired), “Artisan Champagne Quartz”, “Unique Amber”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Unique”, “Unique”, “Sparrow” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Pink Prism”, “Limited Edition Family of Mushrooms” (Lithuania World Tour), “Rosa Pearl”.


In this combination I’m delighted that the clean whites seem to pick up on a little of the pink tones, and blush just a little.  In contrast, the creamy alabaster ambers take on a buttery tone, and feel yellower than expected – in a good way!  Note to self:  make this bracelet again this Summer!

Do share your creations with us at or directly on facebook, we are itching to see what you have designed!



Tartooful 30 Day Challenge: Day 1


Day one of the 30 Day Design Challenge… and I am starting off with a colour combination that has been tickling the back of my brain for a little while…

day1-close2I’ve always loved colours in the aqua to teal to olive colour family… so there have always been a bunch of beads in my kit that featured those tones.  However, over the past year my little collection of olive beads seems to have expanded a little, (as does seem to happen…)… so I decided to try a whole composition!


day1-close4Of course – nothing but Olive beads all lined up in a row isn’t very interesting – no matter how pretty they each are!  These lovely warm spicy browns caught my eye, and seemed to be just dying to come out and play… so I popped them onto the play tray, too – and this bracelet came together so easily that it practically built itself.

day1-closeOne of the intriguing things about arranging all one’s beads on a tray as a colour palette is that it truly shows the colour of each of your beads.  For example, I might think of my Labradorites as teal, because their flash makes them play nicely with my warm blue-greens.  However, when arranged in neat rows by colour it becomes apparent that they really are more of an earthy green, and can easily be used as such in a design.

day1-close3It’s only day one, and already I’m a little surprised by what I see when I lay out my beads on the play tray… I always thought I had more soft pink?  Do I really have this many cinnamon browns?  Have I managed to add some good neutrals since last year?  So much to learn, and so many creative days to come!


Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp – retired format”, “Small & Beautiful Unique”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”,  “Smoky Quartz”, “Petanque” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Tigers Eye”, “Paradise Birds”, “Brown Desert”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Blue Desert”, “Jugend”, “Deep Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Artisan Bead by Scot Bouwens”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “unique”, “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”.

Have you decided to have a play too?  if so, please share them on our Facebook page, or email them to me at for posting so that we can all be inspired!  Tune in tomorrow for day 2….


30 Days – 30 Designs: Tartooful Design Challenge 2015

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It’s almost May – and dedicated Tartoofulers know that means that it’s almost time for the Tartooful 30 Days Design Challenge!  Will you take the challenge with us this year?


What if you started fresh… free from preconceptions about how your bracelets should look.  What could you create with your beautiful beads?


So here’s how it works:

1.  Photograph your current bracelets, so you can always put them back exactly the way they are if you want them back.


2.  Take everything apart and arrange it on a play tray or similar tool, so you can clearly see your design kit.  In effect, you will create an artist’s palette for yourself, using your beads and jewelry components.


3.  Play!  Create a new bracelet every day for 30 days.  The next morning, take it apart, place all the beads back on the play tray to create again with a fresh eye.  (Don’t forget to take a daily photo so you can always rebuild a certain arrangement again in the future.)

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May 1 – 30th will be the third year of the 30 Day Design Challenge…

…and every year I find I come to know my collection, and myself, just a little better through this simple creative process.  I can’t wait to get going, and see what evolves this year.

Finally, this isn’t just about me – I would LOVE to have as many of you as possible to take the challenge with me this year!  Let’s share the results of your wild design experiments on our Instagram feed (@tartooful #30daychallenge) or Facebook page so that we can all enjoy them and be inspired.  If you don’t “do” social media, simply email them to me at and I would be delighted to post the photos on your behalf.

Get ready, get set… go play!


Trollbeads News: Our Troll Heroes Are….


We just completed our second annual 30 Day Trollbeads Challenge… and were delighted by the high level of participation and talent among our ladies!  You girls are amazing.


You may recall that at the beginning of the challenge we promised prizes… well, after seeing all your incredible designs and witnessing all the love given on the facebook page, we now have a fresh crop of Troll heroes that we would like to honour with Troll Treats.


CG-day13First, we’d like to thank all of you who send in images to share with our readers.  Every single bracelet, bangle and necklace added up to an amazing event and we couldn’t have done it without you.  However, we would like to recognize Brigitt and Rebecca for

LC-DAY2participating every single day of the challenge!  This is so hard to do, and I know both of these ladies have full calendars, so it’s even more appreciated.  Not only did they each send in a bracelet every day, but they did so despite travel plans through the month.  Each of these troopers will be receiving a glass from the new Summer series of glass as a heartfelt thank you from Tartooful.


martha-day8The next category of prize awards go to the ladies who tirelessly supported those who participated.  Many of our best supporters were also busily creating designs and sharing them, but there were two names that came

PY-DAY2up more than anyone else… thank you to Carol G and Martha M for all the love and encouragement that you gave to all of us over the challenge, you truly are our heroes.  We will be sending each of you a glass from the new Summer Series as a gesture of our deep appreciation.


BJ-day18Finally, in very real terms, the Winning Design of the 30 day challenge was chosen by all of you.  The bracelet posted by Lisa C shown above garnered five comments and a whopping twenty likes.  This added up to more approval than any other single composition

day6-RC-kashmirithrough the challenge and so we are delighted to award the top design award to Lisa for her bracelet that she describes as being composed of all the beads she finds tricky to use!  Your fellow Trollies must have recognized the difficulty of the task you tackled… there LJJ-patterns-day4really are some stubborn loners on there, and they look wonderful on your creation.  Bravo!  Lisa has already received a very coveted, transparent and whitewashed example of the “Aurora Flower” and we can’t wait to see what she creates to showcase its rare beauty.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s challenge!