Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 30 Finale


It is hard to believe but here we are at day 30 of the 2014 design challenge.  For the last month we have created a new composition each day, to be worn and enjoyed for only a few hours.  The next morning, the design was taken apart and we began to compose again.

IMG_6070Why take it apart each day?  It freed us to create pieces that we never would have made if we were committed to them for a longer length of time.  Through the process we pushed down mental walls that restricted our designs… Experimented with new colour

IMG_6069 combinations… Changed the balance of silver to glass… Combined the chain components in unexpected ways…

Over the last days I dug deep and tried to think about the last few mental

IMG_6068blocks that I was holding onto, and tried to tackle them.  I also thought about what I had learned this year, and shared some of my insights and small victories.  Today for the final design, I was torn between creating something divinely simple, or something fabulously over the top.  You can see what I chose!  As Melanie says:  “More is More”….


IMG_6066Today’s opera length, chatelaine necklace is composed of four bracelet chains, five basic double lobster clasp bracelets, an emerald fantasy necklace and of course, a schwack of beads.  I began by choosing some key beads to design

IMG_6065the tail of the chatelaine portion, right at the bottom of the necklace.  They set the tone for the entire composition, so they had to be just right.  I took care to set aside some nicely matched pairs of beads, and leave them for when I was

designing the arms of the necklace.  Rather, at this point I used dramatic beads that stood rather more alone, and were harder to balance perfectly.  These were strung onto the bottom of the Emerald Fantasy Necklace.


When I was satisfied with the tail portion I folded the remaining chain in half horizontally to “split” the chain.  I don’t own a splitter bead for my personal collection, so I simply added a nicely matched pair of silver “Bee on Hive” and started designing up the arms of the chain.  I’ve found that as long as the arms are loaded right up, the weight of the beads keeps a “split” in place.  I added a bead first to one side and then the other, taking care to keep the balance.  This was the time to start using those beads that were nicely matched in pairs.


The first time I designed this necklace I used all my beads in my collection, creating a riot of colour and design.  I loved it, but I knew I wouldn’t really wear it… so I took it apart and started again, editing out a whopping total of 24 of the beads that created the carnival look and strictly restricting myself to colours that sang together.  This second incarnation has more bare silver chain, but I like it much better.  (This was one of the big lessons of this year’s Challenge:  sometimes the best way to improve a design is to take a bead – or a bunch of beads – off.  Don’t be afraid of bare chain!)


To lengthen the chain beyond that of the normal fantasy necklace I capped the rounded ends of the chain with my clasps, and then attached a pair of bracelets to the other side of the clasps.  I put just three beads on each bracelet, and then repeated that pattern again on the next pair of bracelets.  This made a total of four bracelets, forming the sides of the necklace.  Finally, I added one last clasp at the back of the neck.  In total the necklace is a true opera length, reaching past my waistline.  However, the length of such a design would depend on the sizes of bracelets and fantasy necklace used.  If you didn’t have four silver bracelets and wanted to create the same look, you could substitute a leather necklace or a leather bracelet for two of the bracelets and it would work out to roughly the right length.


This was a very fun design challenge and a great way to integrate all the little lessons of the past month into one piece.  Best of all, I think I’ll wear this design for some time!  It’s very satisfying on… heavy, bold and very dramatic.  Think black tank dress, or skinny jeans with a black tee and a pair of simple black boots, or pumps – and this necklace.  It’s a “power” piece that makes one feel a little taller, a little sexier, just by putting it on.

IMG_6064So here we are at the end of the month… hopefully with a new appreciation for the potential of our collections, and a bead bag full of fresh ideas, just waiting to be enjoyed.  I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each one of you who participated in some way with me – by jumping right in, making up new bracelets each day… emailing me with occasional pieces to be shared with our online Trollies, dropping by the gallery to show me a new design, taking the time to follow along and encourage those who were on the journey… or even something as simple as writing a note to say you were inspired by the posts.  It all adds up to a tremendous feeling of a wonderfully creative and inspiring Global Trollbeads Family, and it means so much.  Thank you.  Over the next couple of days we’ll be tallying all the commentary online, and finding the ladies who were outstanding in their field – whether it be as a designer or as a supporter – and we’ll let you know who our challenge heroes are!  Stay tuned to find out the names of these “SuperTrollies”…

…and whatever you do, don’t stop creating just because the challenge is over!  Take your passion, and new skills and enjoy your collection like never before…






Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 25


IMG_5949Today I played my collection into a necklace – even without a long silver chain.  This is a topic that is on lots of our ladies’ minds this week, as they mull the acquisition of new silver pendants for Summer… many of them are thinking they they’d like to spread out the expense of adding a new necklace to their

IMG_5950collection, and I remind them that they can pick a new pendants, begin enjoying it right away with a few bracelets combined together, and then then purchase the necklace in a couple of weeks when they have refilled their bead budget!  Alternatively, the Trollbeads leather necklaces are beautiful with the contrast of the silver against

IMG_5948them, and are so affordable.  They’re also so flexible for many different kinds of compositions… they look amazing when filled completely with beads, especially a full set of amber.  The effect is somehow modern and clean, despite the large numbers of beads involved.  In addition, the weight of the beads rests on the

IMG_5952shoulders, rather than pulling forward on the neck, making it a very comfortable approach.  I wanted to refresh everyone’s memory on how a necklace like this can work at some point during the challenge, but the truth is that it happened today

IMG_5946simply because I was happily adding beads to this design, creating away, when I realized that I had far too many beads for just a bracelet!  It’s easy to get carried away at the playtray.  So, I backed up, did a little rearranging and voila – today is necklace day!

When composing a necklace of this kind, use multiple sticks on the playtray for ease of design.  On one stick, put together the middle portion of the bracelet, starting from the very middle of that chain and working your way out.  This is the easiest way to ensure that the center of the design is dramatic, and that the necklace looks balanced as it comes out from the middle.  Next, on two different sticks, create the two side bracelets.  This time it’s easiest to work from one end of the stick, and design both sticks simultaneously, adding a bead first to one stick, and then the other.  This helps to makes sure that the two sides of the necklace stay balanced, both in length and colour composition.  In general, I try to put the largest beads in the middle and graduate to the smallest ones at the back of the neck…. but of course it’s also about the strength of colour, dramatic pattern and dispersal of silver.







Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 23

IMG_5975Back by Special Request:  “Big Pink”

IMG_5972Big Pink Rhubarb Cake  Serves 12

For the yellow cake:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
Yolks of 4 large eggs, beaten
IMG_59671 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the rhubarb layer:
3 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 package strawberry Jello
3 cups miniature marshmallows

IMG_59681/4 cup powdered sugar
Creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream(for optional garnish)

Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. First make the yellow cake batter. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, milk and vanilla until fully mixed. Finally add flour, baking powder and

IMG_5969salt to the mixing bowl and mix until fully combined. Set aside.

Evenly distribute the rhubarb on the bottom of the greased baking pan. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar and contents of one strawberry jello mix onto the rhubarb. Layer the marshmallows on top of the rhubarb as evenly as

IMG_5966possible. Lastly, pour the cake batter over the entire surface of the rhubarb/marshmallow. It’s okay if a few marshmallows poke through, it will be a thin layer of batter.

Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the cake is set. Allow to cool and sift the powdered sugar through a strainer to dust the top of the cake. Serve with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Pink Prism”, “Brown Desert” (retired), “Limited Ed. Kimono Series”, “Jugend”, “Unique Amber”, “Silver Trace, Pink”, “Golden Cave”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Unique”, “Ruby”, “Rose Quartz”, “Zanzibar”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique”, “Unique Amber”, “Silver Bead with Garnets”, “Custom bead by Georgina of Trollbeads Canada”, “Unique Amber”, “Pink Desert”, “Red Pink Prism” (retired), “Rosa Pearl.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 21


IMG_5852Today I am in the mood for one of my favorite colour combinations… I love playing my rich ruby together with my soft greyed blues.  It’s an unlikely palette, but one that I find fresh and pleasing to the eye.  The Ruby can play as a warm and toasty red when combined with chestnut or golden ambers, smoky

IMG_5851quartz and earth toned glass.  However, here in the company of these hazy blues it feels more like a blackberry-stained claret.  As always, it is helpful to have a couple of beads that pull the palette together nicely in one package… here I have used the older unique shown above, with its distinctive pale portion and perfect combination of

IMG_5853burgundy and pale blue.  I also added this very unusual form of “Aurora Flower”, which is very light and transparent, showing only a hint of the fuschia tone that is usually found in this design.  What is left is a soft, warm amber-y pink with palest blue flowers.  I used my “Silver Bead with Garnet” and “Red-Pink” prism” (retired) to echo the colour of the centerpiece ruby.


IMG_5854In today’s bracelet I also wished to reduce the proportion of glass, and alternate evenly with silver.  As everyone knows, I usually gorge on glass…   Here I’ve used my favorite, very round silvers to pace the glass in the middle, and have balanced the form of the “Silver Bead with Garnets” with the simililarly shaped “Auspicious”.  I’ve even finished this one with a matched pair of  silver “Bee on Hive”.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Unique”, “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Light Blue Shadow” (retired), “Ball of Yarn”, “Aurora Flower”, “Petanque” (retired), “Ruby”, “Etruscan”, “Unique”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Silver Mountain”, “Auspicious” (Limited Edition World Tour Hong Kong), “Red Pink Prism” (retired), “Bee on Hive” (retired).



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 19


IMG_5808This is a bracelet that I’m giddy to wear!  I love the blend of warm amber and rich turquoise, and there’s just enough pattern to keep it interesting – but not so much that it competes with the brilliant colour.  However, the thing I like best about this bracelet is that I am able to make it with my collection of beads.

Allow me to explain…

Last year when I tackled this challenge I found out a few things about myself, my

IMG_5809taste in colour, and my strengths and weaknesses as a Trollie.  I also learned a little about the shortcomings of my own collection!  We’ve all been there… we’re seduced by a gorgeous glass unique, and knowing that we will never, ever, in a billion years ever find another like it… we snap it up, even though we might know that what we

IMG_5807 really need to round things out is a new silver or two, or perhaps a neutral that gives our drama queen uniques a little space to breathe.  Last year I discovered that I golden ambers as a neutral, complementary note on tons of great colour

IMG_5810combinations… and that I really needed to add a few more in order to be able to make those combinations work.  I also discovered that I liked working with round, well matched silvers, especially on bracelets with a higher proportion of silver to glass, and felt I wanted to acquire a few more of those as well.   This bracelet is a perfect example.  I have a

IMG_5811bright, turquoise and teal beads – but not so many.  When dropped strategically around the bracelet, and mixed in with a generous dollop of silver and amber,  this bracelet works perfectly.  Last year at this time I wouldn’t have been able to create this full composition. Thanks to my acquisitions over the past year I’m finding it much

easier this year to create some very fun new designs for myself… and lots more designs that I am sure I will want to create again!




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 17


Silvers are hard!

IMG_5834Today I dive into a design area where I am always a little challenged… For whatever reason, I find composing bracelets mainly of silver to be quite tricky!  I naturally gravitate to the mesmerizing colour and depth of the glass, so I always reach for those first, and sometimes by the time I place all the glass there are barely any spots left for

IMG_5833silver at all.  I situate my silvers carefully along the length of the design to give the eye a spot to pause and rest, so as not to overwhelm the viewer and have all the beads blur into each other.  I also find that the silvers help to create mini compositions of colour that

IMG_5831the eye can appreciate separately from the whole.  To my eye, too many silvers seem to blur together into a mad mess of pattern, just as all glass blend together into a muddled palette of colour.  Having tackled this challenge last year at this time, I remember that the only way I can make sense of all the pattern of the silver is to keep strictly to simple forms and try to create a rhythm, or pattern of them.  Here I have framed a dramatic center glass with a pair of bold spheres.  Then I go on around the bracelet to set up patterns of round and “bead shaped” silvers.  In this case, the glass act as little islands of colour that break up the groupings of silver.  I have essentially reversed the proportions of my normal bracelet designs.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”,  “Bead of Fortune”, “Unique”, “Happy Fish” (retired), “Chinese Zodiac Rooster” (Limited Edition), “Happy Fish” (retired), “Silver Trace, Pink” (retired),  “Etruscan” (retired), “Auspicious” (Limited Edition Hong Kong World Tour), “Frogs” (retired), “Faceted Aurora” (limited edition), “Spot” (retired), “Unique”, “Shortcut” (retired), “Aurora Flower”, “Petanque” (retired), “Jugend”, “Faces” (retired) “Unique”, “Mushrooms Family” (Limited Edition Baltic States World Tour”, “Carved Flowers” (retired), “Cells” (retired), “Violet Petals” (Limited Edition), “Bead of Fortune”.

One final note… this bracelet is surprisingly heavy, but feels wonderful on the arm!







Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 12


IMG_5663Today I took inspiration from a silk blouse that was a recent gift from my husband… the patterns and colours make my heart sing, and I decided to play with its palette in a bracelet composition.  I began by picking out the principal

IMG_5662colours that made up the core elements of the design.  Those rich blues, subtle greens, creamy ivories hit of coral and touch of saffron all play so beautifully together.  I had no trouble finding all the right colours in my bead tray, as I favour every single shade.  In fact, the challenge here was editing down all the appropriate beads to a

IMG_5661grouping just big enough for my bracelet.  I could have filled a necklace!  The next challenge for me was to hint at the saffron and coral elements without overwhelming the blues, creams and greens.  Every time I added a rich tangerine note, or golden amber, it seemed to dominate the palette too much to really feel like the

original inspiration.  In the end I settled for a sedate blend of celadon, navy, teal and denimy blue, with the only hit of gold coming from the ribbons of the azure bubbles and the gold dust in the desert beads.  It’s not the riot of colour I origianlly envisioned, but I do like it!


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”, “Unique”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Unique”, “Blue Desert”, “Blue Green Feather” (retired), “Family of Mushrooms” (Lithuania World Tour), “Grey Armadillo” (retired), “Jugend”, “Sapphire?”, “Carved Flowers” (retired), “Aventurine” (retired), “Auspicious” (World Tour Hong Kong), “Unique Amber”, “Chinese Zodiac Limited Edition Rooster”, “Christmas in Australia Limited Edition”, “Unique”, “Limited Edition Kimono series”, “Petanque” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 9


IMG_5637Today we are into the hard stuff!  I was so far outside by comfort zone when I built this, it was making me laugh out loud.  Chatting with one of the participants of the challenge, she commented that she tended always to design subtle, tone on tone bracelets… and that for the challenge she wanted to push herself, and create bracelets that she

IMG_5632wouldn’t usually consider.  I totally agree with her approach.  For me, the holy grail of the challenge is to create something outrageous, and then discover that I actually love it.  Realistically there aren’t going to be many design moments like that.  However, this might be one.  I would never usually attempt this combination,

IMG_5633but I am enjoying this colour palette so much!  Isn’t it fun to see the “Faceted Aurora” playing with these “Hawaiian Shirt” colours?  Totally takes the stuffing right out of it.  The chartreuse green and juicy corals are perfectly complementary to each other, giving the combination an edge and a high level of energy.


IMG_5634This has been a great way to break out of my subtle colour palette!  I don’t imagine for a moment that I will wear colours like this all the time, but the green and orange/coral combination was definitely satisfying to me, and I will work with them again much more often.  Perhaps next time I’ll try it without the purple – on a leather?


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Bee on Hive”, “Chalcedony” (retired), “Limited Edition Green and Purple Armadillo”, “Carved Flowers” (retired), “Unique”, “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Heart”, “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Orange Armadillo” (retired), “Unique”, “Deck of Cards”, “Limited Edition Chinese Lavender Jade”, “Unique”,  “King & Queen” (retired), “Green Armadillo” (retired), “Faceted Aurora”, “Unique”, “Bee on Hive” (retired).






Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 8


Today I decided to branch out into fresh territory… time for a Fantasy Necklace design!

IMG_5625With a brand new, Emerald Fantasy Necklace beckoning in my jewellery bag, I’ve been wanting to tackle this little project for a while….I don’t use my turquoise beads nearly enough, and the idea of a necklace design that incorporated them seemed like a good idea.

IMG_5628I have found the emerald to be unbelievably flexible, pairing happily with greens, greys, aquas, pinks, purples, blues… By adding some jewel toned beads plays as a brilliant aqua, but by adding a string of aqua to grey beads it feels whisper soft.


Do any of you have a new Emerald ?  I would love to see your fresh design ideas!


Trollbeads Challenge: Day 6


Today I felt like a feminine, pretty composition, and happily played together a rose and gold design.


IMG_5306A large part of this bracelet’s inspiration comes from the “Golden Quartz” above… It was one of those beads that I had admired for ages but never quite got round to acquiring.  I had promised to add a few more golden yellows to my collection after the last challenge, so I finally chose one for myself a couple of months ago.

IMG_5309“Pink Desert”, with its rose pink and rich gold sparkle, makes it easy to pull together a pink and gold design.  My example is a little paler, but the Pink Deserts that have been coming though our stock this Spring have been spectacular.  If this is a bead that you’ve been mulling it’s a good time to go looking!  I love this little combination

IMG_5308of the apricot and butter yellow unique, “Pink Desert” and a limited edition, Russian Pink, mini amber at the end…  I like it opposite the “Rosa Pearl” as they are both so warm and golden, and well matched in shape as well.  The matte, Japanese glass of the apricot toned “Kimono Bead” nicely echoes the warm Rosa Pearl.


“Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Unique Amber”, “Pink Desert”, “Unique”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Custom Made Unique”, “Unique Amber”, “Rosa Quartz”, “Heart”, “Golden Quartz”, “Unique”, “Golden Cave”, “Pentanque” (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Unique Amber”, “Rosa Pearl”, “Bee on Hive” (retired).

IMG_5311Finally, a closer peek at the unique armadillo created for me at last Autumn’s Custom bead event at Tartooful by Georgina Black of Trollbeads Canada.  For the ladies who participated in the Spring event, we are expecting your custom treasures this week!  Stay tuned and we’ll let you know as soon as we see them… (We can’t wait!)