Inspired Amber


IMG_8043It was a cold and rainy day today, and the village was quiet, with only a few damp shoppers scurrying from car to shop door, bags in hand.  It gave me a chance to play with a project that had been simmering in the back of my mind for a while.  I’ve been thinking of a necklace that is inspired by the warmth of amber, but with some beautiful glass mixed in too,

IMG_8042for a little pattern… a pop of crisp white and the occasional truly beautiful silver to break the beads into manageable groups.

I began by reaching for an array of amber with lots of variation in colour, size and clarity.  Everything from alabaster to ebony is on this necklace, with all the possibilities in between.


IMG_8048Next, I decided how I wanted to design the center of the necklace.  This will, of course, be the most noticeable part of the composition, so it’s important to really love this part.  I wanted a little shine and drama here, so I put an exceptionally large and lovely example of a “Gold silver trace” right in the middle.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.34.53 PMI framed it with a pair of natural stones – one “Red Tigers Eye” and one “Smoky Quartz”.  These faceted stones give a little sparkle, but the fact that they are not a matched pair stops the necklace from feeling too formal.  I wanted a more organic, casual mood.  I chose favorite silvers to divide the groupings of colour…


IMG_8044I wanted a necklace that was filled all the way from one clasp to another.  It feels much more modern and powerful to fill it right up, and oddly enough it doesn’t feel as heavy.  I think that when the beads rest on one’s shoulders, instead of pulling forward, the weight is more evenly distributed and easier to manage.  Of course, adding lots of amber helps to keep it light, too.

To design such a long composition I employed two rods from a play tray, and set them side by side.  Working out from the middle of the design, I built one half of the necklace on one rod, and the other half on the other rod.  It was easy to check to see if it was well balanced, simply by placing the two rods side by side.


Clockwise from clasp:  “troll tree Lock”, “Unique Amber”, “Moroccan Cushion”, “Unique Amber”, “Lucky Clover”, “Unique Amber”, “Stay Positive”, “Unique Amber”, “Jugend”, “Cream Armadillo”, “Unique Amber”, “Golden Cave”, “Ocean”, “White Paper Fold”, “Unique Amber”, “Crown Chakra”, “Unique Amber”, “Paradise Birds”, “Brown Fusion”, “Unique Amber”, “Nougat Flower”, “Goldstone”, “Spiritual Ornament”, “Dewdrops”, “Smoky Quartz”, “Silver Gold Trace”, “Red Tigers Eye”, “dewdrops”, “Spiritual Adornment”, “Unique Glass”, “Cosy”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Glass”, “Rolling Troll”, “Unique Amber”, “Unique Amber”, “Scirocco”, “Unique Amber”, “Angels’ Feathers”, “Golden Cave”, “Unique Amber”, “Crown Chakra”, “Transformation”, “Unique Amber”, “Heart 4 You”, “Unique Amber”, “Lucky Clover”, “Unique Amber”, “Royal”, “Unique Amber”.

What a fun project!  I am feeling inspired to try a necklace using my own collection and see what combinations I can create… Hope you are feeling inspired too!




Trollbeads Design Lesson: The Nitty Gritty

rackStep 1:  approach the rack…

starting-pointRecently I’ve had a few messages from readers, asking for more insight into the process by which we compose a bracelet here at Tartooful…. We don’t keep to any kind of a strict system by any means, we simply play with colours until they “feel” right to us, but we thought we’d try to share a little more about our approach.

choose-rodsToday I was inspired by this retired and pretty “Aquarium Pastel”.  I like to pair this bead with light blue and apricot, rather than the usual expected chestnut browns.  This results in a lighter than air and very unusual palette.  I started by pulling some rods of beads that had possible candidates for the bracelet, and placing them altogether on a play tray.

first-groupPlacing  the inspiration bead in the center, I worked outward, adding beads one by one.

At this point I felt like it needed to feel a bit more Autumnal, so I added a few beads with soft grey and even black elements to deepen the palette a little.


“Traces” does a good job of combining the blue and grey, and Kathy Perras’ artisan “Siberian Tiger” adds a little “va va voom”. (purr!)

final-groupingNow it’s time to add a little silver…

traces-closeA few more beads here and there to fill out the bracelet… a few silvers that are roughly balanced for style and size… and a rearranging of order and we are at the final bracelet design.  I chose the retired “Zodiac Star” first..

siberian-tiger-closeI picked it for the perfectly coral coloured carnelian stone at it’s heart.  “Endless” is graphically punchy and interesting, and matches it well for size.  I chose “Three Siblings” for it’s abstract shape that complements “Endless” so well.  Finally I added “Bead of Fortune” as it matches “Three Siblings” so well with its long narrow shape.


light-blue-gold-closeWhen choosing the order of the glass I work outwards from the center of the bracelet.  I do this because I like to try to make sure that the few beads at the center are able to set the tone and palette for the bracelet as a whole.  I find that when I am wearing the bracelet those are the beads that I tend to notice the most, so I want to get those  just right.

pick-a-lockAfter the center beads are sorted I add beads in the two main colour families, trying to alternate the colours so that each bead is able to complement its neighbour.  I don’t match the beads on each side perfectly, but I do try to make sure that they are balanced in visual “weight”.  Imagine the design on an old-fashioned scale.  The larger or darker beads are “heavier”.  I also tend to have the largest beads at the middle of the bracelet and work downwards in size towards the ends of the chain.  Finally I choose a clasp that I think suits the overall theme of the silvers or the season.  In this case I wanted to be sure to set an appropriately Autumnal tone, so I added the “Trolltree” lock.


There you have it… the “nitty gritty” of playing together a new bracelet design at Tartoooful!