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

Trollbeads Inspiration: Cathy’s Copper & Pomegranate Update


IMG_4560One of my favorite combinations that I like to toss together is what I call my “Copper and Pomegranate” bracelet.  It’s evolved many times, changing as beads come and go, but the mood stays the same, and I never tire of wearing it.  It;s been written up lots of times in this blog, if you’re interested in seeing the older versions.

IMG_4563Last week Cristi gave me the gift of a unique bead that she had spotted… she knew as soon as it caught her eye that it was perfect for my collection, with warm golden yellow, my very favorite apricot shade of pink, and a delicious touch of lilac.

IMG_4561It inspired me (as she knew it would) to try adding my Lavender Jade to this combination, and isn’t it wonderful?  The new bead settles the lavender in nicely, and pulls the entire palette together in a most satisfying way.  I can’t wait to try using it for an exuberant easter coloured bracelet, with all soft pastel notes, as well!


Clockwise from clasp:  “Basic Double Lobster Clasp” (retired form), “Rosa Pearl”, “Bee on Hive”, (retired), “Pink Desert”, “Unique Amber”, “Silver Bead with Garnets” (retired), “Limited Edition Kimono Bead”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Spot” (retired), Artisan Glass (Made by Yours Truly at a Trollbeads Academy), “Shortcut” (retired), “Golden Cave”, “Limited Edition Chinese Jade”, “Unique Glass”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Rose Quartz”, “Custom Made Pink Armadillo”, (made by Georgina Black of Trollbeads Canada at our September 2013 Charity Event), “Unique Amber”, “Bee on Hive” (retired), “Red-Pink Prism” (retired).

Thank you again for the new addition to my collection, Cristi… I’ll treasure it.


Trollbeads design Challenge: Day 27


Today I’ve opted to work with all my spicy, cinnamon and berry colours for a warm and rich composition…

IMG_1649I played with these colours earlier in the challenge, but in that case I added lots of soft pink as well, for a totally different effect.  This time I barely touched on pink, with a punchy raspberry bead in the center, and only one Pink Desert.  I’m pleased with the way that the raspberry unique armadillo contrasts with the claret tones of the

IMG_1650amber and other warm rusts.  I finished this bracelet with two prisms… This is one of my favorite ways to frame a bracelet, as they are always perfectly matched for size and pattern.  When the bracelet turns and shows the lock it’s so good for it to be nicely framed.  In this case I used a retired Red-Pink Prism and a nice golden apricot coloured Pink Prism.

IMG_1651The rose gold sparkle in the depths of the Pink and Brown Desert beads is coppery and ties in nicely with the overall look of the bracelet.  My Brown Desert has quite a reddish background as well, so it complements the design even more perfectly.  My Scott Bouwens Unique in the background seems right at home in this bracelet as

IMG_1648well – it’s really been so useful over the past month!  My bicone unique amber has a very golden feel to it, but its translucent glow does a good job of echoing the faceted claret amber on the opposite side.  The three beads selected to go right in the middle of the bracelet – two ambers and the raspberry armadillo – set the mood for the whole composition.

IMG_1645Phew!  So glad I added “Auspicious” to my collection just before the challenge!


I think this is one of my favorite bracelets from the month long challenge… perhaps a little cozy for Summer, but destined to be reassembled for September!


Trollbeads Inspiration: KT’s “Big Pink”


IMG_0327Today’s bracelet is just mouthwateringly beautiful… it brings to mind an old fashioned and totally scrumptious cake that I make every Spring, called “Big Pink”…

It’s super fast and easy to make, thanks to it’s classic 1950’s convenience food approach, and it makes wonderful use of the

IMG_0322abundant rhubarb that grows in our garden.  We like this cake so much, we sometimes even run out of our own rhubarb and have to buy more at the store!

Big Pink Cake

Serves 12

For the yellow cake:
 1 cup sugar
, 1/2 cup butter
, Yolks of 4 large eggs, beaten, 
1 cup IMG_0328milk
, 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,
1/4 cup powdered sugar, 
vanilla ice cream (for optional garnish… as if ice

IMG_0318cream is *ever* optional at our house…)
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 salt to the mixing bowl and

IMG_0323mix 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

IMG_0321marshmallows on top of the rhubarb as evenly as possible. 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 vanilla ice cream.



Trollbeads Inspiration: Wabi Sabi


IMG_0299The Japanese phrase, “Wabi-sabi” is one that one now hears often, in all sorts of odd applications from restaurant names, to fashion, to philosophy and  paint finishes.  It is a complex concept that is more than a simple aesthetic, but rather is a world view and a method of experience.

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:

Wabi-sabi  represents a IMG_0297comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.  It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.”

IMG_0289Volumes have been written about the traditional meaning of the phrase, and how it has evolved to the present.  In Western common expression it is now often used to describe something that is simply imperfect and beautiful.  However, in the deeper sense, it is less about how something looks and more about how something feels.  Author Andrew Juniper says it well:

IMG_0291“If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.”

That feeling is one that is familiar to me… the quiet and calm and somehow empty sensation when one experiences a certain type of beauty….

IMG_0290It can be experienced in the humblest of places or in the presence of the simplest of objects.   Perhaps you’ve felt it too, looking at a shaft of light that will vanish in a few moments…or when luxuriating in a spectacular blossom that will only last a day…. Or maybe even running your fingertip over the pitted, matte finish of an ancient piece of amber.


Clockwise from clasp:  Basic Double Lobster Clasp (retired format), “Rosa Pearl”, “Unique”, “Unique Amber”, Beige Moonstone”, “Mountain Flower”, “Unique Amber”, “Zebra Jasper”, “Unique Amber-Pink Russian”, “Unique”, “Small Berry”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique”, “Unique Amber”, “Noh Masks”, “Golden Cave”, “Zebra Jasper”, “Blue Desert”, “Unique Amber – Pink Russian”, “Cells”, “Purple Flower Mosaic”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique”, “Rosa Pearl”.

IMG_0288Thank you to KT for once again sharing her collection with us…



Trollbeads Inspiration: Autumn Light

We recently had the pleasure of a visit with the lovely Jennifer.  You may recall that she and her partner Kevin designed “Loving Light”, one of this year’s winning beads in the Peoples Bead Contest.  This local pair of artists have a flair for design and an appreciation for Trollbeads that is apparent not only in their successful design, but also in the composition of Jennifer’s bracelets…

This unusual, cross shaped amber was a gift from Trollbeads to Kevin in his selection as a Peoples Bead Design Contest winner.  It cannot be a coincidence that both his design and this amber prominently feature cross images.

This is, of course, Kevin and Jennifer’s winning design.  Jennifer had the kernel of an idea, and Kevin applied his artistic talent and training to translate the idea to a polished drawing suitable for submission.

The golden ambers combine with the hot blues to create a classic palette that is equally at home in a formal or casual ensemble.  The sparkles of faceted stones, liquid clear ambers and cut crystal floating in glass help to make this design sing.

It’s an interesting mix of beads on this bracelet, with retireds, limited editions, uniques and regular collection all blended together.  Here’s the World Tour “Garden Gnome”, and retired “Brown Desert”.

In this photo, “Neither Fish nor Bird nestles between “The Diamond Bead, Blue” from the 2011 Christmas Collection, and this season’s star bead, “The Wave of Dreams”.

Clockwise from clasp:  “Swan Lock”, “Safety Chain”, “Loving Light”, “Fur Flower” (retired), “Decorative Baby Rabbit”, “Milky Way”, (non troll), “Midnight Flower”, “Brown Desert”, “Garden Gnome” (World Tour Germany), “Unique Amber”, “Diamond Bead, Blue”, “Neither Fish Nor Bird, Big”, “Wave of Dreams”, “Unique Amber”, The Hare and the Tortoise”, “Golden Quartz”, “Skyline”, (World Tour Hong Kong), “Owl”, “Beach”, “Maple Syrup Amber”, “Loving Light”.

Thank you for the visit, Jennifer – and thank you for letting us share your bracelet!


Trollbeads Inspiration: EM lightens up for Summer…

The lovely EM has created a delicious new bracelet with sunshine in mind… this Ivory and soft green combination is as refreshing as a mint julep on a hot summers day.

The new design was inspired by the addition of two wonderful new beads to her collection.  The “Azure Bubbles”, pictured at left, is as distinctive as any example of this bead we’ve ever seen… with soft green to sand tones blended with light blue and mere hints of indigo, it is the keystone bead that adds cohesion to the entire composition.

The other new addition to the collection is a crystal clear, pale honey coloured, faceted amber unique.  We’ve seen only a very few of these faceted ambers, and they never fail to take our breath away.  In this soft and subtle design, the pale golden colour feels like liquid sunshine and plays beautifully with “Silver Trace, gold”, on the opposite side of the bracelet.

Clockwise from clasp:  “Fish Clasp”, “Grey Prism”, “Green Jade”, “Alabaster Amber Unique”, “Smiling Cylinder”, “Silver Mountain”, “Honeydew Faceted Amber Unique”, “Waves”, “Azure Bubbles”, “Labradorite”, “Mermaid”, “Smoky Quartz”, “Silver Trace, Gold”, “Etruscan” (retired), “Black Silk”.

One of the great pleasures of Trollbeads is the ability to create and recreate original jewellery compositions from one’s collection… and EM makes such wonderful use of her beads, making new and original bracelets often.  We always look forward to seeing her latest designs!


Trollbeads Inspiration: a little extra OoOoO

I’m still enjoying my “Copper & Pomegranates” bracelet so much, it’s almost embarrassing.  There’s just something about that mouthwatering combination of reds, pinks and peaches that hits my “sweet spot”.

I *thought* it was perfect, just the way it was… but then a couple of beads “happened” to me:  first, the 2012 bead retirements were announced, and I just knew I had to adopt a “Pink Bud” before they all disappeared.  I’ve had this bead in my collection at various times, but it always ended up on a customer’s bracelet.  This time, I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t migrate!  I love the way this colour feels right next to my “Red-Pink Prism”, which is also now sadly retired…

Here’s the other bead that “happened”.  Can you blame me?!  I mean, *look* at it!  (“Yer honour, it wanted buyin’…”)  It’s a Unique Amber, bright garnet red with huge sparkly facets.  I’ve never seen anything like it and I am in LOVE.  (Or is it lust?)  I’ve reordered another Unique Amber kit, and I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that there will be more beauties like this one!



Trollbeads inspiration: Sweet Memories

Remember the happy anticipation of opening the freezer at a corner store as a child, and leaning in through the cloud of chilly, sweetly scented condensation to track down the perfect popsicle?  The colours of this composition take me right back, and I can practically taste it now…

clockwise from clasp:  “Large Flower Lock”, “Light Green Flower”, “Unique Amber – honeydew/alabaster”, “Heart”, “Light Blue Bud”, “Baby Girl”, “Dichroic Flowers”, “Universal Unique – lavender with blue/green flowers”, “Hope”, “Flowers”, “Rose Quartz, round”, “Light Blue Gold”, “Chick”, “Universal Unique – Yellow and Ivory”, “Light Green Stripe”.