Trollbeads Inspiration:Lemon Tart & Earl Grey Tea


IMG_1961This afternoon I’m sitting in a ray of sunshine at my desk at Tartooful… and I am craving a cup of classic Earl Grey Tea and a traditional lemon tart…. Do you know the kind I mean?  It would have a home made butter crust, with little fork marks around the slightly imperfect edge.  It would be made with free range, happy-chicken eggs with deep, rich eggs yolks… and the lemon curd would be that same, ridiculously beautiful shade of yellow.


IMG_1953…Not too much sugar, but just enough to take the edge off the tart, citrus flavour of the fruit.  That kind of lemon tart is so satisfying.  It scratches every sort of snacking itch… buttery, flaked, baked, sweet and sour pure afternoon sugar fix.  No matter how delicious, I could only ever eat one of these decadent treasures.

The Earl Grey tea, with its subtle hint of Bergamot, is an essential element, necessary to bring a little balance to the afternoon treat.  The tea cuts the tart, firmly forbidding it from becoming cloying.  Sipping from the hot cup demands that one slowly savour the whole experience.

Sigh…. are you there with me?  It’s time for afternoon tea.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Golden Flower Lock”, “Unique Amber”, “Silver MOuntain”, “Water”, “Unique Glass”, “Labradorite”, “Unique Amber”, “Smile of Stars”, “Unique Glass”, “Neptune’s Promise”, “Unique Amber”, “Neptune’s Promise”, “Unique Glass”, “Smile of Stars”, “Unique Amber”, “Labradorite”, “Unique Glass”, “Neverending”, “Unique Glass”, “Unique Amber”.



Trollbeads Inspiration: “The Gold of the Sea”

IMG_0669amber like honey…

IMG_0658Some spectacular Trollbeads amber uniques arrived at Tartooful this week, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and play together a delicious golden concoction purely of these beautiful beads.  With such a wide array of colours, sizes, shapes, textures and finishes, these beads offer a complete palette with which it is a pleasure to design.

IMG_0662background image courtesy of “An Icon in Jewellery Design:  Trollbeads”.

IMG_0659I recalled that there were some very inspiring images of amber beads in the coffee table book that Trollbeads published a few years ago… so I used it as a backdrop for today’s photo shoot.

As it says in the book: “The Trollbeads with amber, hardened tree resin, tell a fantastic story.  Between 30 and 50 million years ago, 

IMG_0665resin flowed from prehistoric coniferous trees across an area ranging from the Ural mountains in the East to the massive Swedish forests in the West.  The resin dropped to the forest floor, where it lay for several millions of years, hardening to amber, often with an insect or a tiny plant fragment inside it. 

IMG_0666Later, rivers and ice flows spread the amber far and wide. Today amber washes up on beaches all over the globe.  Thousands of pieces of amber jewellery have been found in Denmark’s heaths and moorlands.  Danish Iron Age tombs have revealed that beads of amber and glass were often combined to make elegant necklaces for prominent women of the period.”


I can’t sign off without mentioning that these ambers *feel* fantastic to wear… they are so light and warm, even though they are generously sized.  They click together in a satisfying way, and shimmer and glitter in the sunshine!


All beads in today’s post currently in stock at Tartooful.  604.924.0122

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”.


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 18


IMG_5759Today’s bracelet is inspired by a quirky and wonderful orchid that is blooming cheerfully in my home’s bright front atrium.  The windows there face South, and get bright, filtered sunlight all day, which makes my pot full of orchids deliriously happy.

IMG_5800With a busy family and shop to run I tend to forget the orchids when they are not in bloom, often forgetting to water them for weeks at a time!  Think of it as a Darwinian approach to gardening… It’s “survival of the fittest”!  They must be in the right conditions, because despite my neglect, they irrationally reward me with gorgeous flowers.


IMG_5799Most of my orchids are white phalaeonopsis,  but the one that is currently blooming is a fascinating combination of ivory hinting at yellow, and fuschia that deepens into a rich crimson.  Of course, like all flowers, traces of green are woven throughout the blossom.  It’s a challenging palette for me, as the colours are not close

IMG_5801to one another in tone or shade, and most of my compositions tend to me subtle gradations of colour.  I began by picking out my boldest pinks, and then found my deeper reds.  These few beads were all the ones I had in this colour family, but it doesn’t take much of these ruby tones to make a splash.  Next I found some subtle, earthy greens and finished the colours off with some buttery amber and a retired grey armadillo for a touch of cream.  I kept the silvers simple but bold, to take up a little extra space on the bracelet and give a little extra length to the design.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “red-Pink Prism” (retired), “Bead of Fortune”, “Silver Trace, Pink” (retired), “Auspicious” (World Tour Limited Edition Hone Kong), “Grey Armadillo” (retired), “Canadian Jade” (Summer Stones Limited Edition), “Shortcut” (retired), “Deep Bubbles” (retired), “Ruby”, “Magical Lamp”, “Spot” (retired), “Labradorite”, “Unique Amber”,   “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Unique”, “Neither Fish nor Bird, Large” (retired), “Peacock Pearl” (limited edition).



Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 16


IMG_5820Today I decided to create a bracelet that featured my two “Kimono Series” beads, from the popular limited edition that was released in 2011.  According to the Trollbeads Museum,

This delicate collection of six beads in matte colors is not only designed by a Japanese designer, it is also made from Japanese glass. It is inspired by the colors and patterns of a Japanese silk kimono. – See more at:

IMG_5824“This delicate collection of six beads in matte colours is not only designed by a Japanese designer, it is also made from Japanese glass.  It is inspired by the patterns and colours of a Japanese silk kimono”.

IMG_5826I find the colours and subtle patterns of this entire series very calm and pleasing to the eye.  The velvety Japanese glass is very soft, without the glossy hardness of the Italian glass.  I find the colours very easy in integrate into so many compositions, and often wish that I had purchased the whole kit when I had the chance…

IMG_5823Just soft…

IMG_5825 I am particularly grateful that I have the apricot pink design – I have a weakness for apricot and peach tones and it really does have the perfect shade of soft, warm pink.

However, as much as I enjoy the two beads that I do have, I rarely seem to put them both in the same design.  This time I wanted to create a fresh composition, simply around them, with the two of them at center stage.


clockwise from clasp:  “Limited Edition Peacock Pearl”, “Pink Prism”, “Silver Mountain”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Rose Quartz”, “Blue Desert”, “Sparrow” (retired), “Custom Bead by Georgina of Trollbeads Canada”, “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “”Zanzibar”(retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Heart”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Pink Desert”, “Pale Blue Shadow”, “Rosa Pearl”.

IMG_5822One final note on Nozomi Kaji, the Kimono Series’ designer… she says:

“I am influenced a lot by Traditional Japanese designs, and always try to portray this in glass beads.  My designs mostly represent Japanese senses of silence”

What a wonderful phrase that is – “senses of silence”… Now I like the beads even better….



“I am influenced a lot by traditional Japanese designs and always try to portray this with glass beads. My designs mostly represent Japanese senses of silence,” – See more at:
This delicate collection of six beads in matte colors is not only designed by a Japanese designer, it is also made from Japanese glass. It is inspired by the colors and patterns of a Japanese silk kimono. – See more at:
This delicate collection of six beads in matte colors is not only designed by a Japanese designer, it is also made from Japanese glass. It is inspired by the colors and patterns of a Japanese silk kimono. – See more at:

Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 14


IMG_5768Isn’t it odd?  I don’t think of myself as a “Purple Person” or as a “Brown Person”… but I am in love with this bracelet!  This is definitely my favorite creation thus far this year.  It’s a subtle palette of soft, warm lilac, pale, icy blue and rich, light filled honey that gives me joy.  Many of the beads that are on this design are ones that I have used countless

IMG_5769times, but in this particular combination I feel as though I have discovered their beauty all over again.  Through the Autumn I enjoyed my little grouping of “Azure Bubbles” and paired them with the icy blues of “Light Blue Shadow” and “Silver Mountain”.  I’ve also combined those same cool blues with my various lilacs…

IMG_5765I’ve even combined my purples with golden ambers.  However, for some reason I hadn’t thought to combine all three together on one design.  Perhaps it was the recent acquisition of a nice, warm “Pastel Agate” to position opposite my Limited Edition, Lavender Chinese Jade that made me want to play together some new combinations with my

IMG_5766purples… (there is nothing like a new bead to inspire some serious beadplay).  I’m particularly delighted to have such a good vehicle for the “Faceted Aurora” and love the way it plays with the olive, slightly vicuna tone of the retired “Deep Bubbles”.  That bead always had a complementary blush at the heart of its huge bubbles, and my example

IMG_5767has a rich plum hue that helps to bring out the best in its purple neighbours.  I kept silvers to a minimum, but made them really count.  I used them strategically to create smaller groupings of colour, and give the eye a place to pause as it travels along the length of the composition.  I like the size, solidity and weight of the two silvers the

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 8.58.33 PMmark the middle of the bracelet.  The other two silver designs are set with Trollbeads’ mesmerizing dichroic glass.  The Trinity is a  regular collection design whose simple lines I have always loved, and the retired “King and Queen” offers drama, with its large pieces of shimmering glass.  These precious dichroic glass designs pick up on the full range of colours on the bracelet and echo them wonderfully.


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp”, “Unique”, “Faceted Aurora”, “Deep Bubbles”, “Trinity”, “Light Blue Shadow”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Unique”, “Chalcedony”, “Unique”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Pastel Agate”, “Silver Mountain”, “King and Queen”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Limited Edition Violet Petals”, “Azure Bubbles”.

As an aside, for those of you who are admiring the linen textile in the first photo, it’s an infinity scarf made by Melanie of Tartooful of pure linen, with hand stenciled gold and silver accents and contrast piping… Gorgeous!  Her first series features soft chambray blue, natural ecru and a deeper denim blue.  Each one is one of a kind, generously proportioned, and well priced at $89.00.




Trollbeads Design Challenge: Day 11


IMG_5679Today is a fresh colour combination for me, and one I will certainly create again after the challenge is over!  I was inspired to try this sage green and pink combination by the arrival of a “Blue Desert” at the gallery which contained both colours, fading gracefully from one to the other around its glass.  I loved the way the two

IMG_5681colours played together, and made up an entire bracelet of stock beads to celebrate it.  It was so pretty that I just had to go to my own bead tray to see if I could create a bracelet for myself in a similar palette.  I don’t know why I had never done this before… it’s one of those bracelets that practically “built itself”, coming together in a matter of minutes.


IMG_5680Note that two of these center beads were custom made beads, by Georgina of Trollbeads Canada… the celadon green and gold bead is her most recent creation, and I am so excited to include it in my collection.  Those of you who are awaiting your own beads by mail, we just received them and will be posting today and tomorrow!


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster clasp”, “Pink Prism”, “Magical Lamp”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Series”, “Sparrow” (retired), “Azure Bubbles”, “Unique”, “Zanzibar” (retired), “Blue Desert”, “Unique”, “Unique”, “Ball of Yarn”, “Rose Quartz”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Heart”, “Pink Desert”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Deep Bubbles” (retired), “Rosa Pearl”.

IMG_5682Such a gentle and soothing palette, and such a lovely way to wear pink without it feeling too “girly”!  Pink delights me, but I avoid it if it feels to flighty and silly.  Somehow the natural complement of green settles the pink and makes it so wearable for me.



Trollbeads Inspiration: A Bracelet of Calm.


paddy5Today’s bracelet is a blend of beads that belong to one of our clients and beads from Tartooful’s stock… the challenge today was to create a design that utilized her collection of pale blue beads in a fresh new way.  She previously had these beads blended with aurora series pinks, but was in the mood for a change.  With a busy life and many balls to

paddy4keep in the air, I thought this lady could use something calm, beautiful, and meditative.  A dose of serene greys and meaningful silvers seemed just the thing to lend a peaceful air to her cerulean blues.  I knew right away I wanted to include “This too

paddy-tortoiseShall Pass”… a wonderful reminder to cherish the moment we are in.  The new “African Tortoise” is to encourage patience – both with daily frustrations, and with ourselves.  I love the detailing on this new, classic series of silver designs.  Just look at the texture on the shell, the sleepy eyes, and  his little toes…

paddy6I selected the Swan for a few reasons… firstly, it is a lovely balance for the size and weight of the Tortoise.  I also liked the idea that it seems so feminine, serene and yet powerful.  It’s a state of being to which I aspire.  Lastly, I can

paddy3imagine the swan carelessly shaking drops of water off its broad, white feathers… and I’m going to channel that image to aid in managing stress gracefully.  With light blue and cool grey this bracelet might have felt cold – but I wanted a comforting mood – so I added a couple of touches of warm gold, adding a glint of sunshine to the design.


paddy2The hint of gold comes from “Honey Dawn” and “Scirocco”… not a lot – not enough to change the whole palette –  just enough to hint at warmth.  The “keystone” bead on this design, however, is this stunning example of a “Fossils”.  This particular one is a warm greenish grey with lots of lilac purple and silver, accented with points of black.  It almost singlehandedly transforms this bracelet into a sophisticated and serene composition.  Isn’t it amazing the difference that just one bead can make?


“Freya Lock”, “Turquoise Prism”, “Small & Beautiful Unique”, “This too”, “Unique”, “Honey Dawn”, “Blue desert”, “Traces”, “Swan”, “Blue Moonstone”, “Fossils”, “Unique”, “African Tortoise”, “Chalcedony”, “Blue Desert”, “Scirocco”, “unique”, “Three in One”, “Unique”, “Grey Prism”.