Today, November 1st, is a cluttered black square of type in my calendar… It’s the first day of the month, with all of the financial deadlines and chores that accompany a fresh month…it’s the day after Hallow’een, so we are all just a little groggy from sugar overload and a sleep punctuated with fireworks and firecrackers. It’s also All Saints Day in the Christian calendar, or Samhain in the Celtic Pagan calendar. No matter what your cultural background, here in the Northern Hemishphere there is no questioning the shift in light that accompanies the beginning of November.
Gone are the memories of Summer – we are well and truly into the dark months of the year!
The beginning of November feels like a shift. Suddenly we expect the nights to be long, we expect the days to be cold and we look to the days of Winter ahead. I awake in surreal darkness, convincing my skeptical body that it really is time to get up… and on rainy days it sometimes feels as though it never really gets fully light. Curls of slate coloured clouds catch on the curves of our local mountains and lazily hang there waiting for a breath of wind to push them along. No wonder, then, that just now the veil feels thin between the world of the living and the world of those who have gone before.
So what are we to do? Shiver here in our dim, grey existence? Hardly! We North Westerners have perfected our strategies for warmth and light. We celebrate the contrast of light and dark in thousands of tiny ways. Some examples… You’ll find brilliantly uplit, spectacular trees in most gardens in my neighborhood. That pop of green light is even more beautiful for being embraced by darkness. we light our houses more and more as the very darkest time of year approaches, and by Christmas the entire city is aglow. Inside you’ll find candles and fireplaces are de rigueur to banish the November chill and in the very darkest months I’ll even light candles at the breakfast table!
In the same way, I seem to gravitate to warmth and light in my personal objects and jewellery… a little more warm metal: a touch of bronze, copper and gold just feel wonderful at this time of year. Amber has a natural golden glow that is irresistible, particularly when blended with warm metals and some black or grey for contrast. This leather bracelet is just the thing to have a touch of sunshine that can be carried with me through my day!
Today at the gallery we are playing with a simple design of pure, Trollbeads silver…
I decided today to create a leather necklace that felt sleek, sophisticated and modern. I carefully combed through the Trollbeads silvers, finding and selecting all the boldest, simplest, heaviest designs. These are geometric forms that give me such joy. Their naturally balanced symmetrical forms are satisfying to work with, as they easily stand alone, or combine nearly effortlessly with similar companions. Each one feels like a tiny, modern art sculpture – can’t you imagine them placed on nicely lit, miniature plinths in an art gallery for mice?
I began by placing “Victory” in the center of the necklace composition. This marvelously large and dramatic piece melds organic, round forms with angular, chevron forms. This was a fit choice, as it happily accommodates both rounded designs such as “Three siblings”, “Transformation” and “Trefoil Knot”, as well as more angular items such as “Smiling Cylinder” and “Two Sides to Everything”. As I built outwards in the composition I occasionally added a matched pair of beads. This gives a sense of balance and rhythm to the design, without the rigidity – not to mention predictability – of a perfectly matched set of paired beads.
From left to right: “Water”, “Neverending”, “Two Sides to Everything”, “Three Siblings”, “Transformation”, “Endless”, “Soft Heart”, “Victory”, “Frames”, “Endless”, “Smiling Cylinder”, “Trefoil Knot”, “Love Within”, “Water”.
Day 30. Can you believe it? The month has passed in a flash. I have so many more ideas now than a few weeks ago… my collection will likely stay in a state of flux for some time, before my bracelets settle into new semi permanent arrangements again.
As expected, I haven’t gone back to my “before” photos even once, and have no interest in trying to recreate old designs. I have too many things I want to try! Of course, the 30 day challenge is an extreme situation… daily pressures and timetables prevent most of us from creating an entirely new composition each day.
Even if we did have the time, some beads simply sing too beautifully together to take them apart! The distilled wisdom to take away at the end of this month long exercise is to go play and have *fun*. There’s absolutely no wrong way to do this!
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all the ladies who have played along with me over the course of the past month. (If you haven’t been to our facebook page to see their gorgeous designs, be sure to take a peek at the album… ) Ladies, your encouragement, support and beautiful designs have inspired me more than I can say. Thank you to each one of you for all your time and energy!
I hope to seem lots of you in person at our upcoming Trunk Show – if you are in our area on Trollbeads Day – Saturday June 6th – be sure to come by the shop from 10-2 and say hello!
We’ve had lots of questions this Spring about Trollbeads Leathers… how do they work? What do they feel like? How to size? What colours are available and so much more. I think perhaps some of our collectors are mulling leathers as they offer a completely different
way to design with, and enjoy the beads we all love. Today I thought I’d play with one of the newer leather colour combinations: Cyan & key. This teal and navy leather really pops, whether you compose a simple, neutral coloured design with mostly silver, choose beads with just as much oomph as the leather itself!
I was inspired by the arrival of the new Limited Edition Italian bead, “Party Time”. This lovely glass has a light glitter base layer, with a thick of clear glass and a blue harlequin pattern. Hints of aqua green and blue soften the overall look and make it a cinch to combine with all the new, green and turquoise Spring bead designs.
This dotted unique is one of my all time favorite beads… I can’t begin to describe how perfect it is… the blue isn’t quite turquoise, which makes it so much more interesting! The dots are all just a little bit off kilter too – plum, not purple… vicuna, not yellow, teal, not navy… I just seems to have it’s own quirky little personality, and manages to go with a
ton of colours! It goes particularly nicely with this yummy butterfly, with it’s cool batik wings. I was also delighted to be able to place a kite patterned bead on this design that beautifully echoes the Italian Party Beads… such similar colours, just a twist on the same motif. Note how the blues and greens just glow in the dichroic glass dots of the silvers? Delicious.
When I composed this piece I intended that it be able to be worn two different ways… I put the Trinity all by itself on one strand of the leather, thinking that it would hang separately if the leather was being worn as a necklace. Isn’t it perfect how the beads pull the lower strand down just enough for it to create that graduated look? Of course, one could also wear this piece as a bracelet, simply by twisting the two strands together messily and wrapping the whole thing around the wrist twice.
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.
This 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….
Today’s design is a pair of bracelets that I designed to wear together… they’re inspired by the jewellery of the West Coast Surf culture, and are meant to wear on a casual Summer day, hopefully idling the warm hours away at the beach.
The first bracelet that I created was the black suede bracelet at left. I added only a few little silver beads, and then twisted the two strands to ply the bracelet into a double, twisted rope. I learned how to ply yarn while helping my Mother when she used to spin her own wool. I used a vastly simplified version of the same technique here.
To replicate the thick effect, hold the two metal capped ends of the bracelet in one hand, and the end with the clasp in the other. Simply twist the two ends of the bracelet in opposite directions until they are super tight. Then, fold the taut strands carefully and exactly in half, and they will wrap around themselves into a thick rope. (It sounds more complicated than it is…) I used my standard double lobster clasp to hold it all together, but it would be much prettier, and easier, using one of the decorative locks. I put the silver capped ends as well as the end with the tiny holes into one half of the lock, and then put one of the leather strands through the other half of the lock.
I am quite delighted with this technique for making a thick, sturdy and comfortable bracelet from the leather. I do find that unless they fit just right they flop around a bit. This is a great method for making a floppy bracelet behave itself again.
I felt like adding another fine chain to my stack of bracelets, so I quickly put together a twist on the solo pearl design. I strung a tiny sterling ring on to keep my pearl company. I wore this ring when I was a child, and now often enjoy it as a slender accent between glass or amber Trollbeads. Here it seems to orbit the pearl, and jingles gently.
I’m really so pleased with my new leather idea – I can’t wait to try it out with a decorative clasp and various bead ideas!