Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Finally I find a leather I like!

Now alongside all of this bead collecting I'd realised after I'd bought the Agate Kits that I had enough beads for a second bracelet.

Trollbeads also make leather bracelets and I thought this would be a good idea, it's different to my silver one, it solves the problem of everyday wear (a full bracelet for me means I can't type or write easily as I rest my right wrist when I do so on whatever I'm working, and I wear a watch on my left wrist so swapping didn't make sense) and I think leather can look more casual, bonus.

Easy I thought, I'll nip down to Beaverbrooks again and get measured, try some different colours and away I go!  I'd already decided to limit myself to just the bracelet and not get another lock just yet... well if my willpower held out that is!

Not so, leather bracelets come in 3 sizes, I thought this would make life easier.  I popped into my local shop, but the assistant wasn't sure what sizes they had, just that they didn't have all of them.  No problem says I, I'll try what you've got in blue or green please.  Ah second issue, we only have black or brown in stock.  Okay, I'll try those (probably don't want to buy them but best try).  I'm not sure what size it was but it swamped my wrist (I have really small wrists) and neither colour suited me as well as I'd hoped.  So I left empty handed (now that's a first).

I debated whether to buy online but really didn't want to buy blind, with beads I'm fairly sure I'll like them and I like the surprise of the differences, it's like an extra gift, but didn't want to risk it with a bracelet.

Coming home from working away one day I passed near to the Platinum Retailer in my area, sorted I'll pop in there then.

The shop was trollbead heaven, I enquired about leather bracelets, they had small sizes in everything bar the blue and green, but it did at least mean I could try the sizes out.  Hurrah the small was just right!

Encouraged by this I set about looking for all the beads I was interested in but wanted to see before I bought (mostly the more expensive ones or ones I wasn't sure about completely).  I ordered a few things to try, checking out that it would be okay to buy online for the loyalty points, assistant was really lovely about it all.

A week later and I popped back to try on my bracelets, so glad I did as the green did not suit my skin tone at all, the blue was perfect so I left with it there and then, sod the wait, it was Friday and I wanted to wear it out straight away!

My long awaited blue leather (small) bracelet with L-R: RAFBF, Beach, Turquoise Agate, OOAK.

Spurred on to get more silver beads

So my last finished bracelet gave me a dilemma, I didn't have the ambers and didn't want to put other glass beads in with my Agate kits, there was no option in my trollbead crazed mind... I needed more silvers!

Brew of the Moor and Silver Angle, Triangles followed and completed my Agate bracelet just in time for me to wear out for my wedding anniversary.  I don't have any photos of that combination but here are two of the silvers instead.

Brew of the Moor
Angle, Triangles

I had had Brew of the Moor on my wish list for a while and Angle, Triangles had just been recently retired so I decided to get it whilst it was still available.

Millions of years old!

Now when I saw that trollbeads had agate bead kits I drooled a little bit, I love agate and have several chunks of rock, slices of rock and even a hanging mobile made of the stuff.

However even though my collecting was going well, there was no way I could afford the price.  I'd daydreamed about making a bracelet out of 2 kits with some silver beads, and possibly some darker amber beads.

During April they suddenly took 40% off the price of the kits... so along with an online discount and some more loyalty vouchers...

The start of my dream bracelet making use of Turquoise Striped Agate Kit and Turquoise Agate Kit
mixed up with silvers lucky knot, cells, lucky dragon, happy fish and symbols.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Next on my journey came the OOAKs, no I had not just watched Star Wars in some alternate universe, I'm referring to beads that are "one of a kind" or OOAKs  (my pronunciation is something like "oooks" - I've no idea how you would pronounce this but I like my version)

I missed the delivery of these as they came when I was out, I was so excited to go and pick them up I had to open the package in the car!

My first OOAKs!

I had deliberately chosen some ooaks with brown in them as I was determined to find some beads to go with Black Squirrel.

I have bought a few ooaks since that day and I've put that photo below, the blog doesn't always need to flow chronologically (although it has up to now)...  but I felt my ooaks deserve their own spot together!

The first OOAKs with others that have followed over the months

The Bubbles

Now I've mentioned before I was having trouble with Black Squirrel, I'd bought it early on as it was recently retired and I wanted to get it before it was gone.

However I was never 100% happy that I had it with the right beads, so much so that when I finished my first bracelet I felt it wasn't quite right so I bought Organic Bubbles to replace it, so in fact Black Squirrel became recently retired off my bracelet too.

All beads are unique by the fact they are handmade even when they are catalogue beads, here are my Azure Bubbles and Organic Bubbles next to each other.  Organic Bubbles is very similar to Azure Bubbles but is in brown glass rather than clear glass.

L-R: Azure Bubbles, Organic Bubbles (side view)

L-R: Azure Bubbles, Organic Bubbles (front view)

Beware the Ides of March

Or more precisely why I ordered SIX trollbeads in the run up to it.  Mostly I decided to get stuff that was pretty and that I liked... but one bead was very special to me.

I bought silver cells to wear for my friend, you see the following week she was going into hospital for several weeks for a Stem Cell Transplant and I really wanted that bead for her on my bracelet.

My first finished bracelet.
Clockwise from top: Lace Lock, silver stopper, Silver Mountain, Milky Way, Cool Dusk, Symbols, Forest Flowers,
Lucky Knot, Midnight Flower, Lucky Dragon, Golden Cave, Black Squirrel, Beach, Happy Fish,
Whitecap, Lake Eye, Azure Bubbles, Cells, RAFBF bead, silver stopper.

Left Hand Side in more detail.

Right Hand Side in more detail.

To match or not to match?

The next bead was bought for a number of reasons, it was one of the 3 that made up the set with Silver Mountain and Earth but mainly I bought it for it's colour and to balance out Black Squirrel on my bracelet; which up to now was mostly blues and greens so I felt I needed another brown/gold bead to even things out a bit.

Now matching is not that important, my friend who introduced me to trollbeads has the most random selection on hers which looks great as they are all different.  However I think because I'd chosen mostly blues and greens I did need to think about balance at this point in my collection.

Ironically I should have realised at this point that my collecting was about to get out of control and that I needn't have worried about "balance" as soon I would have more than enough to work the colours in anyway!

Golden Cave to balance out my bracelet and to join Silver Mountain,.
I love these two beads and will be adding Earth at some point in the future.

In memory of

A year ago on 14th February 2011 my father in law passed away; it all happened very quickly but we had our time to say goodbye.  We were coming up to the first anniversary that February and this, plus my rapidly growing interest in trollbeads were both on my mind.

On 1st February 2012 Trollbeads released a Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund bead, it wasn't limited edition, just very hard to get hold of as it's a very hard bead to make.

Did I mention that all trollbeads are made by hand by individual artisans who create each bead that you buy?

As my father in law was in the RAF, this seemed the perfect bead to remember him by, the timing was quite perfect and I received my RAFBF bead shortly after the anniversary.  

When I have this bead on my bracelet it always gives me a great sense of joy and comfort, yes it's just a bead, but it always makes me smile when I see it and the memories that it evokes.

My Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Bead, probably one of the most special beads (to me) in my collection

Only 2 days later...

2 days before Valentine's Day and there was still 10% off at the online retailers, I decided to take advantage of this along with another £3 loyalty voucher!

This purchase I wanted some silver beads.  I wanted one to represent where we currently live which is by the Humber, my husband grew up in Lincolnshire on one side, whilst I spent many happy years living in Hull post University, to me Happy Fish represents those two sides of the Humber.  I also choose Lucky Knot just because I liked it!

Happy Fish, or 2 sides of the Humber as I like to think of it.

Lucky Knot, I love this bead and would like to add the other silver knot beads to my collection one day.

6 days later

So I had the beginnings of my bracelet and was really pleased with my 5 beads.

Then there was that 10% off offer from the online jewellers, along with the £9 loyalty voucher from my first order with them...

Say hello to Silver Mountain and Black Squirrel (a "recently retired" bead)

L-R: Silver stopper, Midnight Flower, Silver Mountain, Milky Way, Lucky Dragon,
Lake Eye, Black Squirrel, Forest Flowers, (unseen) Silver stopper, safety chain, Lace Lock.

Black Squirrel in more detail, now I tend to wear this the other way round with the V shape pointing down.

Silver Mountain in more detail, this is one of 3 beads in similar style.
The others are Golden Cave (to come) and Earth (yet to buy)

Oh my word what have I started?

I had barely been home 4 hours after my first purchase when I placed my first online order with the Platinum retailer in my area...

I wanted some glass beads to go with my lucky dragon, and after doing some research I also wanted:

2 silver bead stoppers, these perform a dual function of safety - they stop beads falling off your bracelet and aesthetics - they allow you to space the beads, or in my case wear a few beads but keep them together rather than rolling around your bracelet when it's not full.  A lot of people like moving the beads around but I wanted mine together.

The safety element was a theme running through that purchase as I also bought a silver safety chain (stops the bracelet falling off if the lock becomes undone/fails) and a case to keep them in.

Aesthetically I had great fun in choosing 4 beads from the Birthday and Christmas money I had been saving up to buy a new laptop... yes that's right it was another 5 months before I got the lovely laptop that I'm typing up this blog on!

So which beads did I go for?

L-R: Silver stopper, Forest Flowers, Lake Eye, Lucky Dragon, Milky Way, Midnight Flower, Silver stopper.
Shown on top of the trollbead travel case with silver safety chain in the background

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My first purchase

So I had been drooling over the Official Trollbead Website for a good few months before I went to see some *actual* trollbeads in a shop.

I went into town (a rare occurrence these days) and I decided to pop into Beaverbrooks as I knew they were an official Trollbead retailer.  Now that's the thing with trollbeads - you can't just get them anywhere as they are only sold at selected jewellers.

Should you wish to look in your area

My local Beaverbrooks is a Silver retailer, which means they only hold selected stock across the catalogue and not the full range and although I knew had a Platinum retailer also within a 5 mile radius, they were a bit out of my way and not somewhere I normally shop.

The shop visit was very important in order to get the help and advice of an experienced trollbead assistant in order to buy the right size, luckily I hit the jackpot so to speak in that visit with the delightful lady in the local Beaverbrooks branch.

Bracelets come in a variety of sizes as you'd hope and expect, but you buy them much bigger in order that you don't cut off your circulation when it's full of beads.  I had just popped in for a look and I have to say received really excellent service in helping me to choose the correct size that I decided to buy there and then.   (17cm in case any kind soul is thinking of buying me a present).  The lock adds a further 2cm to your bracelet (or 3cm if you go for one of the really big locks) and the assistant kept assuring me that it was the right size as when it was full of beads it would fit just right. (Many more beads later I can confirm she was correct).

I bought a silver bracelet with the silver lace lock as part of the invitation bracelet there and then, and my first bead...  silver lucky dragon!  For me I wanted my first bead to represent my trollbead beginning, in Wales with a friend and boy did I wish her all the luck in the world through her journey.

My first bracelet and bead from my local Beaverbrooks

Close up of Lucky Dragon from the top

Silver Lace Lock

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The beginning

It started with a friend, naturally.

She had been talking about these trollbead things, it was all very mysterious, why I didn't google the word I don't know... I actually waited until we saw each other in the August (2011) to find out what these trollbead things were.

I fell in love with her silver bracelet and pretty beads, there were only a few, she explained that each one had a story and meaning, her own started... well I'll let her tell you that story one day.

For me, it got me thinking about having my own bracelet one day and I wanted to share my friend's journey too, you see that visit was my first visit with her after her diagnosis of cancer.  I loved the design of the bracelet, lock and beads regardless, but my first introduction was also an emotional one too and looking back quite appropriate to what trollbeads are all about and why people are so passionate about them.

So that was my beginning, I didn't actually buy my first bracelet, lock and bead until the following February... during August I had just finished one temping contract and you don't start an expensive habit between contracts!

Such self control back then... it all went to pot once I'd started collecting; but at least I had a regular income by February!