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.




Are you ready to take The Challenge?


It’s almost May, and that means it’s time again to take up The Challenge!  (Dun Dun Dunnnnn…..)

The objective is to find new inspiration and new possibilities in your collection of Trollbeads.  The method and rules are simple – and meant to be bent!


  1.  First, decide which designs you would like to take apart.  Perhaps it’s bracelets that you love, but never wear.  Perhaps it’s ones you used to wear but now find a little boring… or maybe it’s ones that have just never settled in your mind.  Some people take everything apart, others choose certain parts of their collection and leave other parts complete.  There’s no right or wrong way – just choose whatever you’d like to play with!
  2. Lay out the designs that you plan to take apart and photograph them.  That way, you have a permanent record of your designs, and after the challenge if you like, you can put them all back together again.  This is KEY… it makes the challenge an absolutely risk free, no-stress affair.
  3. Unleash!  Breathe deeply, and take ’em apart… feel the freedom!  I like to lay my beads out on a play tray like an artist’s palette, so I can see exactly what I have to work with, but whatever works for you is perfect… (Hey, if you want to put them all in a big pile and and roll around in them, who am I to judge?!)
  4. Start to play!  Every day take a few moments to put together a fresh design from your collection, and enjoy it just for one day.  Take a photo so that you can remember your new designs and share them with us on our facebook page or via instagram (@tartooful, #trollbeadschallenge).  (If you don’t “do” facebook you can email them to us at and we can upload them for you).


This year I am making one BIG change to The Challenge… Over the years I have heard from a number of people that they shy away from participating because of the long time period involved – traditionally we have carried it through the entire month of May.  This year we are switching it up and trying an intensive, Fourteen Day Challenge to entice all of you to join in and play along!

So… Starting on May 1st, join us in The Challenge!  Unleash your bracelets and indulge in some Trollplay!





30 Day Challenge: Day 12

IMG_9455A cooler shade of blue…

IMG_9453Today’s bracelet is a re-imagining of one of my semi permanent designs… I say “semi” because if there is one thing this Challenge has taught me, it’s that no design in my bead box is entirely sacred.  However, my deep teal blues and golden amber and stones have drifted back together countless times, and it’s one of the palettes that I like to be able to reach for several times a week – so it’s definitely a fixture.


Today I decided to rework that design and take inspiration from the navy glitter and white longevity symbol bead shown above.  It’s a favorite bead, and one that I feel is a little lost on the teal and gold design.

IMG_9450I centred the Longevity, and then worked my way out, focusing on teal, deep blue and white.  I used the same array of silvers as before, as they are satisfyingly heavy and subtstantial, without taking up too much length of the bracelet chain.  I was pleased to see how much more prominent my blue and white Kimono beads are in this revised design…

IMG_9454Navy Glitter is almost copper!

IMG_9451The deep dark navy “Blue Desert” shown above is so very glittery that it almost reads as copper!  I couldn’t resist its charms, so I thought I’d better put one other deep blue and warm toned bead on the opposite side, just to provide balance and make sure it didn’t look mismatched with the other cooler beads.  I used this Azure Bubbles – which I

IMG_9452normally “read” as purple and vicuna – but somehow I think it works in this application.  Finally, I tapered both the glass and silvers, trying to place the larger beads closer to the middle of the design, and popping the tiniest “Small & Beautiful” glass right at the very end.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Sterling Double Lobster Clasp” (retired format), “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”,  “Limited Edition Auspicious” (World Tour Series Hong Kong), “Unique Glass”, “Blue Desert”, “Jugend”, “Sapphire”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Azure Bubbles”, “paradise Birds”, “Labradorite”, “Unique Glass”, “Artisan Labradorite”, “Rolling Troll”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Labradorite”, “Carved Flowers”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Glass”, “Limited Edition Chinese Zodiac – Rooster”, “Unique Glass”.  Artisan Labradorite Tassel by Melanie Matthews.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Perfectly Imperfect


IMG_8724Too often I see ladies who are frustrated with their Trollbeads.  They come to me and share their problem bracelets… they are locked in an uneasy struggle to create perfection.  For myself, I have no such lofty aspirations.  I try to make something beautiful, that gives me joy, but fully embrace the imperfections that are inevitable.


IMG_8727… “I think I’ll stick some gold right *here*”….

IMG_8721Consider a flower:  which is more delicious?  A perfect, trimmed, long stemmed red rosebud… or a messy, blowsy, tea rose, with every shade of yellow to pink and a couple of freckles along the way?  Give me the messy rose any day… The same is true with Trollbeads.  The beads with the strange little squiggle… the crooked leaf, the unusual tone on one side – those are all my favorites.  I adore the exceptional!


IMG_8723When I was a child, living in Turkey, I was told a wonderful thing by a carpet merchant… there is an old proverb in that part of the world that says “Only God is Perfect”.  No matter how gifted the weaver, you will never find an absolutely perfect carpet – because the weaver will have intentionally misplaced a stitch.

IMG_8725The purpose of this is to ensure that The Creator is not insulted by the attempt on the part of a mere human to imitate the divine.  Now I don’t think that I have to make an effort to ensure my compositions are not perfect… and I certainly will keep striving to create beautiful things.  However, it’s a gentle reminder that perfection is not a reasonable or even laudable goal.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Limited Edition Lucky Clasp”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Three Flowers”, “Engraved Poetic”, “Sea Anemone”, “Unique”, “Paradie Birds”, “Limited Edition Lucky Glass”, “Amethyst”, “Fountain of Life”, “Moon Ocean”, “Aurora Flower”, “Unique”, “Limited Edition Lucky Silver”, “Third Eye”, “Moonlight Bubbles”, “Purple Prism”.

In the end, it’s the inspired and perfectly imperfect that gives me the greatest satisfaction.  So go ahead, make something beautiful, quickly and with great joy.  Don’t fuss, don’t worry if it’s not “Perfect”… just enjoy the process and the beautiful reward of the result.




Trollbeads News: Christmas Uniques Now at Tartooful


IMG_7724We just received the prettiest little kits of Christmas Uniques!  So. Much. Fun.  Each kit contains three glass that coordinate nicely to play together on your holiday bracelet… and many of them will linger year ’round, too, as there is a good blend of abstract patterns as well as Wintery themes.  We’ve also uploaded individually photographed Christmas Limited Edition glass for 2014, with Christmas Trees, Snowflakes, stunning three dimensional florals and rich red bubbles to tempt you.  Take a peek at them all on our online shop!


Trollbeads Inspiration: Designing with Dramatic Silvers


The new Trollbeads collection for Autumn 2014 includes dramatic silvers that are each tiny works of art in their own right.  I’m fascinated to see the intricate detail that can be contained in each design, and love the impact that they make on a piece of jewellery…


IMG_6963There is, however, a bit of a trick to it.  Too many patterns, too many clashing shapes, too many forms to decipher – it can all be a bit much for me to wear on my wrist.  I find that my eye loves to dive into the details of Trollbeads…whether it’s a complex glass unique, or a

IMG_6958storytelling silver, the genius is in the details.  My eye pauses to savour each element as I glance at the bracelet.  If there are too many elements, I feel as though it requires too much of my attention and energy to wear the piece.


IMG_6965…So how to wear and enjoy these dramatic and complex new silver designs?  I find that if I pair them with beads of calm mood, it works better for me.  The calm colours of “Silver Mountain”, “Azure Bubbles” and “Sapphire” are just right as a zen foil to the riot of pattern found in the silvers on the featured bracelet.

IMG_6964These glass beads are far from boring…. on the contrary, their swirls and earthy patterns are endlessly satisfying to me.  However, their lack of structured pattern and calming palette are just the thing to make highly patterned silvers feel sophisticated… Much better to fascinate with understatement, rather than hit the viewer over the head visually.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Fish Lock”, “Grey Prism”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “Trinity”, “Silver Mountain”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Khaki Stripe”, “Ganesha”, “Sapphire”, “Giant Lotus”, “Moonbeam Facet”, “Giant Lotus”, “Moon Ocean”, “Cornucopia”, “Snowflake Obsidian”, “Silver Mountain”, “Black Silk”, “Three Flowers”, “Blue Desert”.  (All beads in stock at Tartooful)

IMG_6962… I can already hear some of our talented collectors and designers replying to me… and yes, sometimes “More is More”.  I am not immune to the charms of the big statement, and I’ve been known to make the odd one myself… This entire blog entry is not really meant for you ladies who

IMG_6961already completely understand the appeal of the big statement silvers, and who dive right in to enjoy their beauty.  (You know who you are!)  (RT!)  This blog is for the rest of us… we’re the ones who fall in with love these silvers, happily take them home, place them on bracelets, and then take them right off again before leaving the house.

…So let’s see those “Ganeshas”, “Jugglers”, “Seers”, “Buddhas” and “Mouse (Mice?) on Cheese”… show me your fresh designs featuring your biggest, baddest and most beautiful silvers!


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 16


Well, I’ve kept at it, and I think I might have done it.

Working with all silver posed a surprisingly difficult design challenge for me.  Possibly it’s because I am so accustomed to working with the soft, forgiving glass and stone beads… or possibly it is because I have some seriously quirky silvers.  Clowns and spiders and boats oh my.  When I placed all those little faces and bits and bobs together on a bracelet they just seemed so complicated and busy and I couldn’t see any of the charming elements that made me love them.


IMG_1522Perhaps it’s a little like creating art.  It’s actually easier with colour, because it’s so forgiving.  Pare design down to purely form, and it’s immediately apparent if anything is imbalanced.

So I decided to approach designing with all silver with the same disciplined approach as colour.  No simply chucking beads together – find the points of similarity, and them set up a rhythm.  Looking closely at the design below you’ll see that I’ve put together a basic pattern of round forms alternating with tall & narrow ones.  I do love the narrower silvers that are shaped like “doughnuts”, or like glass beads of silver.


I think that it would be even more effective if I had planned my collection specifically with this in mind.  If I were picking silvers for this approach I would lean towards the more modern, sculptural silver forms, to keep the overall composition smooth and satisfyingly clean.

However, having said all that I am pleased with the end result of this little exercise.  This bracelet feels amazing to wear… so heavy and fluid!  I’m so glad I kept at it and was able to wear this.


Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 14

IMG_1433Part 1

IMG_1431Today is really the first of two parts… I envisioned a pair of bracelets that were designed to be worn either together or apart.  Each one should have its own distinct colour palette, but be complementary to each other so that they could really be worn several different ways.  However, one step at a time; let’s begin with the first design.

IMG_1435Knowing that the overall project would require a total of quite a few beads, I went with a soft palette that offered lots of options.  The first bracelet is all different shades of light blue, lavender and green.

IMG_1432I took inspiration from two silver beads with dichroic glass in lovely shades of mint, periwinkle, and aqua.  They are placed prominently on the bracelet, next to beads that help to enhance their already lovely colouring.  I like to put “Chalcedony” next to this “Trinity”, and like to balance “Silver mountain” with “Light blue shadow”.

IMG_1430The overall look and feel for which I was hoping was light and shimmery, just like the dichroic glass.  I was wishing that I had a “Dichroic Ice” to add to this bracelet.  I did have one, but let a desperate husband buy it off my bracelet one day when we were out of stock.  However, no cheating for me!  I resisted the urge to snag one out of tartooful.

The good thing to take away is that “Dichroic Ice” a bead that would be useful in my collection that I ought to acquire when this is all over.  I’ve come across a few little gaps in my collection through this process, which has been such a good learning experience.  For example, I think I should look for a couple of nice yellows to round out my palette and offer a good complementary tone for my purples, pinks, blues and greens.  Overall, however,  I’m delighted every day with all the options at my fingertips, and haven’t been stumped even once.  Interestingly, I don’t really pick beads based on “gaps” in my collection, or composing specific bracelets.  I just take home the beads that I fall in love with, and somehow it all seems to work out.



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 11

big-necklace1Oh Yes I did…

longnecklace7What started off yesterday as a simple necklace has… evolved.

In this design the objective was a super long and dramatic opera length necklace that showcased a wide range of colours from my collection.

longnecklace6The first step was to build a series of bracelets that felt similar in tone and were very close in length.  Obviously the chains were all the same to begin with, but I also wanted the amount of beads on each one to measure about the same so they would balance.

longnecklace5Building four similar bracelets became a bit of a technical affair, counting out even numbers of silvers, balancing out big and small, round and irregular.  Then I divided out all the colours and dispersed them evenly.

big-necklaceI edited the colours before beginning the process of building the bracelets, setting aside the brightest and boldest colours.  I wanted the overall effect to be a calm and pretty wash, with no one bead claiming more attention than the others.  I did keep the peacock pearl bracelet exactly as it was yesterday, and integrated it.


My thought was that it would be intriguing to have that simple, visual space on one side of the necklace.

longnecklace8Building each one of these components reminded me of when I first started in Trollbeads a number of years ago… my first bracelet was made up simply of beads I loved, in colours that I liked together.  I didn’t create to a specific palette of theme, so there was a little pink, a little blue, a touch of green, a butter yellow amber, a bit of teal, and somehow they all got a long perfectly.


…So in total I used six bracelets:  five silver, and one black leather for the back of the neck.  I also needed six clasps and two stoppers.  There are no beads on the leather bracelet, and there are about sixteen or seventeen beads on each silver bracelet, other than the one with only the pearl.  If one had more stoppers, one could put less beads on each necklace, and center them with stoppers for a lighter and, in some ways, more exciting design.  If I had used less beads and edited rigorously according to a chosen palette, I could have created a more cohesive design.

It will be fun to expand on this idea and try other combinations…  I’m enjoying this necklace today!