Trollbeads Inspiration: Ombre Raspberry


Ombre beadplay is always a fun little design project…

9Casting an eye over our selection of uniques today I noticed that we have an absolutely marvelous collection of raspberry pinks in stock at the moment.  I decided to have a bit of a play with them, but thought I’d give the design a little twist and try my hand at a crimson-to-pale pink ombre composition….

This collection of beads are wonderful, rich shades of soft blush pink through raspberry and down into a deep, satisfying crimson.  Add an absolutely dazzling array of pattern and texture, and no matter how this composition came

5together it was bound to be a fantastic bracelet.  I really think that with these beads it would be impossible to make the bracelet look anything but gorgeous.

The most essential tool when designing this sort of bracelet is definitely a play tray… I string the beads onto the rod to find just the right placement for each bead.  Often I’ll think I know just where a bead “belongs” in the ombre gradation – and then when I slot it in, it becomes apparent that it really looks better a little to the right or left.


8At the two extreme ends of this bracelet design you’ll find some of the opaque unique beads that are such a delight to true collectors.  The rich red and glittery one shown above has actually been tempting me for my own collection!  So luxe and utterly delicious.  At the other end of the bracelet be sure to note the beads that have elegantly formed flowers traced on milk glass backgrounds.  These have been such a lovely fresh addition to the design oeuvre of glass Trollbeads uniques.  I’d love to see an entire bracelet made up of these delicate beauties.



I knew that I wouldn’t allow many silvers to find their way onto this bracelet design…. partly because the fun of an ombre is to see how the colours relate to each other, gently transitioning from one shade to the next.  It was also in large part because there were simply too many gorgeous beads that I wished to include in the composition!  However, the overall effect is much more effective with a little silver to break up the colour blocks and allow the eye a spot to pause and rest.  In the end I selected a few highly ornate silvers that were up to the task of matching the drama of their glass companions.


Both the silver and the glass elements in this composition are like a confection for the eye…

1Clockwise from clasp:  “Lace Lock”, All Glass beads uniques.  Silvers:  “Spiritual Ornament”, “Elderflowers”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Wine Harvest”.


Trollbeads Inspiration: Hidden Garden Bracelet


The arrival of this stunning “Glass Trolls” made me want to create a bracelet matched its dewy and light as air mood.

With delicious shades of apple green, to golden honey, to aqua and forget-me-not blue, the dichroic glass acts as an inspiration and focal point for the whole bracelet.


This allows me to pull together a diverse set of blues and greens that include turquoise, teal, sage, birds egg blue and even this gorgeous Emerald that takes the center position in the composition.

A pair of newer design uniques come in handy for knitting together the palette as well… these swirled glass patterns hide every shade in the bracelet, with periwinkle to teal and all shades of blue between.  I love the dimension of pattern in these glass; they invite the eye to dive right into their cerulean depths.

I find that “Tropical Travels” is a good match for the size and lush mood of this “Glass Trolls”, and I’ve added a slightly smaller “Royal” and “Ornamental Flower” to complete the set of silvers.  To me, the overall mood of this bracelet is a Summers afternoon in a rich garden.  Perhaps this verdant place is in an exotic locale, like a Florentine Palazzo’s courtyard, adorned with vines and fountains….


Clockwise from clasp:  “Small Fish Lock” (Summer 2016 Release), “Unique Glass”, “Ancient Palace”, “Royal”, “Blue Agate”, “Florence”, “Traces”, “Glass trolls”, “Unique Glass”, “Blue Agate’, “Emerald”, “Blue Agate”, “Unique Glass”, “Tropical Travels”, “Florence”, “Blue Agate”, “Silver Mountain”, “Ornamental Flower”, “Turquoise Ribbon”, “Unique Glass”.


2016 Trollbeads Challenge: Finale


IMG_1854Well.  Here we are at Day 14, and the end of this year’s fast and furious Trollbeads Challenge at Tartooful.  Normally I’d be just getting warmed up, with many days left to explore all the facets of my collection, but this year we shortened the challenge to encourage more of you to take the plunge and join in.  Like every year, I feel as though I really am just getting started.  Every day that I perform the ritual of creating a fresh design, I have more and more ideas for future designs.  Like every year, I have ended the Challenge with more unexplored inspiration than when I began.


IMG_1855I’d like to thank so many of you for your support and participation.  Having all of you playing along with me each day gives me a real sense of the extraordinary community of Trollbeads collectors that I’m privileged to know, both in the gallery and online.  I’ve been delighted and inspired by so many of your creative and beautiful designs.  Your daily encouragement and kind words for both my designs and the compositions of other collectors brings an element of joy to this exercise that goes far beyond the pure aesthetics of our designs.  Thank you, my friends….


On countless occasions I’ve explained Trollbeads to neophytes as “Like Lego for Ladies”.  In other words, Trollbeads are cleverly designed components that can be built and rebuilt as many times as you like, in endless combinations.  To emphasize the versatility of Trollbeads,  I’ve chosen to finish the Challenge by creating a “convertible” design that can easily be worn as either a bracelet or necklace.  For this design you’ll need three bracelet chains, with two of them the same length.  You’ll also need two decorative locks that are similar in form. They don’t have to be identical, here I’ve chosen two one-piece locks with different patterns.  You’ll also need a third lock to close the necklace at the back of the neck.  Place a simple but elegant group of beads, and center them on a bracelet chain with a pair of stoppers.  On the other two bracelet chains add a handful of beads that are twins, so on each bracelet are a very similar group of beads, in the same order.  connect these two chains to the bottom one with the centered grouping using the matched pair of locks, and voila!  A necklace.  Remove the center portion, and it can be worn alone as a bracelet.


There are endless variations on this – filling all the chains with beads, using a leather for the back of the neck and so on… but the basic concept that you can create a necklace – by combining your various Trollbeads components remains the same.

In the end, Trollbeads is simply a creative toolbox to design whatever jewellery you wish… and it just begs for play!

Thanks for playing along with me!




Trollbeads Challenge Day 6


Today is a “More is More” sort of a day.  More colour, more silver, more pattern, just MORE.


It all started because I adopted this “Purple Armadillo”, just as it was being retired.  I tucked it into my bead bag of little “extra”beads that haven’t found their way onto one of my semi permanent combinations.  I thought that I’d get back to it and explore its possibilities during the challenge, and now I’m having a lovely time playing it into all sorts of combinations!   Today I find it at the center of an all-armadillo bracelet.

Each year during the challenge I enjoy playing together all my armadillos to see how the new additions (and subtractions) are settling in.  A few of our Tartooful Trollies have extraordinary armadillo collections, and by comparison mine is very modest… however, I’m pleased that I finally have enough ‘dillos to make a grouping of colours that work together nicely!


For today’s bracelet I chose relatively ornate and complex silvers with a theme of faces, trolls and other (slightly horrifying) creatures… I just love seeing all those ugly little faces peeking out from between the glorious glass beads.  It’s a little bit of shock value, and it makes me smile.



Beyond simply entertaining me, the large silvers serve two very practical purposes in this composition as well… First, the larger silvers offer a visual gap, to allow the eye to pause between shots of intensive colour.  The complex patterns serve to force the eye to take in the design more slowly, and enjoy each element.  In addition the longer silvers such as “Fabled Faces” and “Beads of Fortune” take up more real estate on the bracelet chain, which allowed me to complete this design with only a few armadillos in complementary colours.  I have addition Armadillos in my little bead bag, but selectively weeded them out of this composition as I didn’t feel that their colours matched the intensity of their neighbours.





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!



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!





Trollbeads Inspiration: Dream Away


IMG_0866Today I’m playing with “Beautiful Blue”.  This hard-to-describe shade of blue is one that appears in a number of unexpected spots in the Trollbeads collection.  You’ll find it, peeking out from among the sandy speckles of “Milan”… or hiding right at the edge of the light stripes in “Khaki Stripe”.  There’s even a hint of it in the petals of “Flowers on Indigo”.

IMG_0867Two of the most delicious bead designs from the Autumn 2015 collection also feature this “Beautiful Blue”.  “Dream Away”, with its distinctive raised and textured glass dots is an intstant scene stealer of a bead… Often oversized, it  demands the spotlight, and we find ourselves centering it an many bracelet designs.  Here I’ve given the center spot to a lovely “Blue Tigers Eye” and

IMG_0869gave it further emphasis by framing it with a pair of “Lotus Tops” and then a pair of “Dream Away”.  It makes for a strong, symmetrical heart for the bracelet design, and firmly sets the colour palette.  Next the challenge was to find more “Beautiful Blue” to build out the rest of the composition.  I reached for “Black Flower Mosiac”, and the new “Pure Heart”.


Additional hits of blue are provided by “Traces” and “Ancient Palace”, while navy to black grounding is given by “Black Silk” and an exceptionally deep “Azure Bubbles”.


“Pure Heart” was the first bead from the Autumn Collection to find its way onto my personal bracelets, simply for its uncanny ability to play with “Milan” and “Black Flower Mosaic”, two very beloved patterns.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “Pure Heart”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Rolling Waves”, “Flowers on Indigo”, “Traces”, “Khaki Stripe”, “Compass”, “Dream Away”, “Lotus Top”, “Blue Tigers Eye”, “Lotus Top”, “Dream Away”, “Hong Kong Junk – Limited Edition”, “Milan”, “Ancient Palace”, “Flowers on Indigo”, “Sea Urchin”, “Black Silk”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “Purity”.


Finally, when selecting the silvers for this design I imagined a little story… a sailing trip across a moonlit sea, with ripples of “Beautiful Blue” dappling the surface of the water as the little shop bobs along… so you’ll find a tiny boat, waves and even a compass to guide your way.




Trollbeads Inspiration: The Calm Between Storms…


IMG_0855Well, here we are in the very busiest time of year… the gallery is hopping with holiday shoppers, the streets are bustling, and the sound of live music can be heard drifting through the Village.  Most of us are dashing from one errand to another, busily preparing our homes for the upcoming gatherings, and attending various holiday celebrations that are already underway.  It can all be a little overwhelming… but it’s part of the rhythm of the seasons and what fun to have a such a joyful time as this in the very darkest time of year.


The key to maintaining sanity seems to be to take little breaks, and enjoy those moments of calm between the storms…


…So enjoy dressing up, designing and wearing your most extravagant bracelets ever – but today, on this quiet Sunday before Christmas, take a moment with a cup of tea and savour this calming bracelet…How fitting that it features a number of beads from the “Balance of Nature” kit.

IMG_0856This Autumn 2015 series has intrigued, delighted and, at times baffled us at Tartooful.  On the one hand the designs are absolutely gorgeous – exactly the sort of subtle, natural tones with which we love to play.  On the other hand, we are, at times, hard pressed to determine which bead is which – many of the designs can mimic each other in their extreme forms!  Rainbow of luck, Power of Hope and Shades of peace are close relations.  No matter – we love them, whatever their names are…. (“A bead by any other name would look as sweet…”)

IMG_0860 (1)Today I teased together a soft and pretty plum, grey and celadon composition that is designed to be that moment of calm… While it could be seen as hinting at the Spring to come, the subtly earthy tone of the plum, makes me think that this could be an all season bracelet.  I’ve included “Pink Conch” in the crew, as it is surely a cousin to the “Balance” family.  Recently the “Pink Conch” examples that we have been receiving have a lovely olive tone to the stripes that open up new possibilities for that already lovely design.


IMG_0857I’ve included generous helpings of sparkle in this bracelet – nearly half of the beads in the design are ones that dance with gold.  For me, a large part of the appeal of this bracelet is the way these subtle colours play with each other.  On the other hand, I think that without the contrast of the deeply patterned silvers, the distinctive texture of the natural stones, and the brilliant light of the “Dichroic Ice”… it might be too homogenous and fall a little flat.  I’ve found that before when trying to design with all deserts or all azures – they are lovely but they benefit from the addition of contrast.

IMG_0851 (1)

Clockwise from clasp:  “Lace Lock”, “Purple Prism”, “Dichroic Ice”, “Mothers Bouquet”, “Shades of Peace”, “Unique Glass”, “Pink Conch”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Power of Hope”, “Dendritic Agate”, “Rainbow of Luck”, “Tropical Travels”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Ruby Rock”, “Purity”, “Eidelweiss (Switzerland World Tour)”, “White Petals”, “Grey Prism”.

Savour the calm – and then dive into the glorious chaos!


Tartooful News: Black Friday Fun…


As any Tartooful regular can say, we never miss a chance to throw a party!

IMG_0836With the notorious Black Friday shopping specials only a few days away, we’ve decided to join the fun and throw our very own Trollbeads event.  This Friday and Saturday we will be proud to present a very special selection of *SALE* priced beads and premade bracelets, as well as a *TOP SECRET* bead designed by Trollbeads just for Black Friday 2015.  (This is one bead that you will absolutely need.)


The Gorgeous new Diamond Bead, Emerald Green

IMG_0837With so many beads still tempting us from the Autumn collection, lots of yummy new uniques and stones in stock and a whole new group of beauties for Christmas there are more reasons than ever to come by and pay us a little visit… Oh, and UM you might want to think about gifts for the holidays…. for other people as well as yourself. (one for you, two for me…)


So.  The nitty gritty.  We’ll be offering selected items on special, Black Friday pricing that we can’t announce until the day, but in addition we will also be presenting traditional, holiday trunk show specials with all the trimmings.  Choose three beads and we will be pleased to gift to you a fourth one of equal or lesser value.  Pick your favorite lock and receive a bracelet chain as our gift.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Freya Lock”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”, “Positive Change”, Unique Glass”, “Malachite”, “Black Flower Mosaic”, “String of Lights”, “Unique Glass”, “Diamond Bead, Emerald Green”, “Unique Glass”, “Fireworks”, “Unique Glass”, “Malachite”, “Unique Glass”, “Snow” (retired), “Unique Glass”, “Unique Glass”.

You can expect bubbly, treats, a wonderful selection of Trollbeads, and of course Tartooful’s  warm hospitality and caring service.  Please send us your special requests so we can do our very best to make your wishes come true… and come decked in your favorite holiday compositions!  We look forward to seeing (or messaging with) all of you….