Saturday, 24 November 2012

Jewellery I love!

As you might have guessed I quite like trollbeads... certainly enough to start a blog about them!  I also love pendants and rings and thought it would be fun to show you some of the jewellery I love and wear with my beads.

I regularly combine this bracelet with some amber to compliment my Baltic Gold bead (from the World Tour Collection).

Up until my recent holiday I didn't have an amber ring, although I've been on the hunt for the "right one" for many years.  Last month when I found this splendid chunk of amber in silver in a little shop in Gaois Harbour I was delighted.  I've seen a great many beautiful rings in my search for "my" amber ring but I find with jewellery I instinctively know when I've found the right piece for me.

The necklace pendant, by contrast, is quite a delicate piece, (and has it's own bracelet to match for when I need something delicate to match), it was only when I brought the ring home did I realise the twist in my necklace and the shape of the ring were a great pairing.  My pendant has huge sentimental value because it was a present from my parents-in-law, shortly before my father-in-law passed away.

In this blog post I made 2 more bracelets that have remained made up ever since, the first one I think of as my dragon bracelet.  This tends to get worn with another favourite of mine, labradorite.

I can't remember when or where I found the pendant, but Wales is probably a good guess!  This was the second labradorite pendant I bought, the first wasn't quite the right one (but still lovely) but at the time I bought it, many many years ago, labradorite was quite hard to find in jewellery, or at least it was for me.  The ring I found on a jewellery stall at a festival a few years ago, I love the strong, bold silver setting.

The next bracelet was a multiple attempt at using up leftover beads to create a colourful combination that I was inspired to make by seeing a rainbow bracelet made by another collector.  Whilst I wasn't trying to copy the design I wanted to create my own kaleidoscope of colours.

With this bracelet I tend to wear my all time favourite pendant, this one gets used so much and nearly always creates a comment from other people, there seems to be a great need to touch this stone and I too find myself caressing it's surface when I wear it.

The ring was bought earlier this year when I met a very old friend for lunch in Wales and we did a bit of shopping before parting company; just like old times when we were teenagers.  Just like now, I often bought a ring, or pendant, in some lovely independent shop found in a little side street tucked away from the main shopping areas.

Another pendant that I sometimes wear with this bracelet is my amethyst one, which in turn matches my wedding ring shown in the photo to the left.  My wedding ring was found in a jewellers that specialised in clocks!

The blue/green opal ring shown above also gets worn with this bracelet, (it really is a very versatile bracelet), I found this beauty whilst on honeymoon in Greece.  I'm also wearing this as I finish this blog piece, along with my wedding ring and the silver footprint thumb ring so I'm having a strange visual experience of seeing double from hands to screen.

I've had my silver footprint thumb ring for many years, where I discovered it, well that has become lost in the mists of time.  I'll take another guess at Wales though!  I almost lost the ring a few weeks ago when it fell off after I'd managed to knock it getting into my car outside a restaurant.  I heard that "plink" and then I could hear it roll away, on a very rainy night in a dark car park in Newcastle...  I'm not sure what passing folk must have thought when I was scrabbling around on my hand and knee in the rain under my car trying to balance on them like I was playing a solo invisible game of Twister.  Thankfully I did find and retrieve it; I would have been so upset to lose this ring, it's not in any way valuable, just precious to  me.

These are all pieces of jewellery that I love, and are some of my absolute favourites.  Those who know me well will not be at all surprised to see which pieces I chose to show you in my blog today.  In reality it was very hard to write this article and to bring it to an end as I have so many other pieces that could have been included too.  Maybe I shall write part II some day.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Teal Luck and Joy Starter Bracelet (Imagination)

These were released in mid-October 2012 as limited edition starter bracelets, you get a silver chain, plain lock (smaller than the regular plain lock), silver lucky knot and the Colourful Joy bead which comes in a range of colours but is limited to only being available to buy as part of the starter bracelet.  Here is the link to the official UK Trollbeads page regarding colour choices in the UK.

When I first saw these I thought they were very pretty, but I'm not a massive fan of polka dot beads, I already have silver lucky knot and whilst I wanted a plain lock for my leather bracelet I wasn't in a rush for one.  It was something that I thought I would get at "some point".

Bead wise I always thought my love of purple would come to the fore, but teal is a colour that isn't that widely available across the range and I couldn't resist.  Actually I fully intended to resist full stop, even chatting with fellow blogger Victoria over her review of this bracelet that I would like one "one day", fully believing I was talking metaphorically not that I was measuring out the approximate amount of time it would take for me to buy one.

So what happened over the course of next 48 hours for me to do another about turn?  A very attractive deal, that's what!  The bracelets retail at £75 which is an excellent price for the starter bracelet as the debut bracelets (with 2 glass beads) have started at £99 but they also offer one of the upgraded locks such as knot, flower or lace.  I'd done my homework and sourced new bracelets from other retailers that worked out slightly cheaper, but then another collector had a few new ones in for even less, and that is what prompted me to go, oh never mind the boiler fund... I'll do my "one day" tomorrow then.

The bracelet surpassed my expectations, I was expecting to like the bead, especially the colour and be happy about the extra bracelet, the extra lucky knot and finally getting the plain lock... but this really is a great starter bracelet and whilst I was typing this blog up a friend showed me a photo of her bracelet picked up on the weekend with the red bead - now I want another one and I've not even finished blogging about this one yet!

The bead is lovely, a very clear and defined translucent teal colour with the spots being an opaque pale mint/teal on cream that sit on the surface of the bead.  The bead is slimmer than some of the standard production beads and is one that you definitely notice.

When I was playing with some combinations I did get the urge to go source some teal uniques (OOAKs) to go with it but have resisted, well for tonight at least!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

New OOAKs (uniques)

Well the pitter patter of tiny packages have continued to drop through the letterbox at a steady pace.

I've been collecting a lot of OOAKs across November ~ one of a kind beads or uniques as they are more commonly known.  (I just like really like the term OOAK so I keep on using it from personal preference rather than accuracy).  Much like my first post on OOAKs I decided to save* them up to blog about them all together.

For a great guide to OOAK/Unique patterns then Trollbeads Gallery has the most extensive one here, Charms Addict has started one here as an ongoing project and adds to it as time goes by (it's always a nice surprise to see a new "chapter" on her blog) and Trollbeads UK have this to say on the subject of OOAKs.  So now you know more about OOAKs... what did I get?

The first one in the picture (red dots, purple pattern on a white bead) came all the way from the US, although I had a little tussle in customs, followed by a bigger tussle at the Royal Mail over this one bead.  I live in the UK, so packages over a certain value attract VAT (the threshold at which you pay VAT has been lowered in the UK from April 2012 so you are more likely to pay VAT) so although I didn't have any issue with paying the VAT, I was rather cross to be charged a flat rate fee from the Royal Mail for "handling" the package; such was the fee that it was almost 3 times the cost of the VAT and made this little bead a much more expensive one than I had expected.  It's still a lovely bead, although it makes me scowl a little when I think of the Royal Mail charge!

The next four OOAKs in the picture came from the lovely Trollbeads Studio, also in the US, they were doing a promotion on buy 3 get 1 free, combined with a "bead party" on facebook - which is where you get an opportunity to "ask" for certain beads that are featured.  I only got 2 of my 4 choices on the night (beads 4 & 5 in the photo), but picked another 2 up from the shop inventory which were just as fabulous.  Bead 5 is my first glitter OOAK as the tiny gold dots are made of glitter!  These were all delivered in a lovely box, on a pillow with ribbons and tied with netting and a handwritten note.  This was such a delightful package to receive!

Finally my last, but not least, OOAK came from another collector, I thought I was being very good for once, as of the 4 she had for sale, I really wanted 2, but stuck to just the 1, my favourite!  This bead has such an amazing deep blue colour with the green that it stood out as being a bit different to a lot of OOAKs I have previously seen.

So that is my OOAK spectacular for November, I'm developing a particular passion for translucent OOAKS that have swirls, stripes and bubbles!

*... I need a little manoeuvring room for some artistic licence here; I got so excited about my swap OOAK that I blogged about that all by itself, before receiving the last of my OOAKs featured in this post, but you can read about why I couldn't wait here).

Friday, 16 November 2012

Swap Bead - OOAK

On the same day that Christa's beads arrived, my swap bead also turned up.  This was the bead that I'd traded Midnight Flower for (below left), the bead next to it is Forest Flowers which is still available to trade should anyone be interested?

I really like these 2 beads, but probably more to look at than to use in combinations so they spend more than their fair share of time in my bead box.  Well apart from that little trip I took them on in Trollbeads on Holiday.

Originally I was after a silver charm, as I knew I'd ordered a lot of glass beads recently and for once I was thinking ahead rather than just reacting to a pretty glass bead.  My potential swap partner didn't have any silver beads that I was really interested in and in an effort to make the swap work for her I asked to see any glass beads that she might want to swap instead.

Once I saw the photo of the row of available beads I'd already made my decision as it was a fairly easy pick for me, I saw a close up but that was more to see the bead again than because I needed to confirm my choice.  It was a "with fingers" day of bead photography that day as here is the picture of my swap bead...

Swap bead, a pretty trollbead ooak with bubbles

I've since tried to take other photos of this bead but none really seem to do it proper justice, and one of the reasons I was rushing on the day with my "with fingers" photography is I was wanting to show my swap partner just how well her bead went with my Christa bead that came on the same day.

Christa Keizer artisan bead
So with my first trade completed it just leaves me to play with these beads, my new bracelet and lock to see what will happen, oh yes, just a few more things to tell you about first!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Artisan Bead Makers - Christa Keizer (Luccicare) on Etsy

As observant readers will have noted a while ago I've already bought some Non-Trollbead artisan beads from another collector but as they were preloved I didn't know who the original artist was.

Not so with my next purchase as I bought direct from the bead maker - I have been longing to buy some Christa Keizer beads for quite some time; Christa has a shop on Etsy and I have been drooling over her beads on a regular basis as her shop was one of my browser's early bookmarks.

What finally spurred me on to make my first purchase was seeing a preview of this focal bead, called Shades.

Stock photo copyright of Christa Keizer
I was immediately drawn to this in a I *must* have it type of compulsion, I hadn't thought of how, when or where to use it, I just wanted to look at it!  Probably not the most practical way to buy a new bead but that's how it actually happened... or rather it was a little bit more complicated than that.

I am not a member of Etsy, so when this bead was listed I had to go through the joining process in order to be able to purchase the bead.  That done I put the bead into my "shopping cart" and settled down to choose some other beads, both to go with it and because I figured it would be cheaper on the shipping to get a few more whilst I was there.

Great idea, but for one small flaw that I was unaware of.  I had spent a happy half hour choosing 3 other beads and was just about to complete my purchase when my shopping cart told me the focal bead was no longer available!  Much confusion, how could it not be available?

I contacted Christa directly, who informed me that unfortunately someone else had bought this lovely bead, I was still confused... it turns out that in Etsy, when you "put" a bead into your shopping cart, it literally is only there as a virtual item as it still displays in the shop and can be bought by another person whilst you are choosing something else.  I was very disappointed, however the lovely Christa replied almost immediately that if I wanted she would make me another one tomorrow (which was a Sunday).  Now that is customer service!

"Customer service plus" was achieved shortly thereafter when Christa created a private listing of my yet to be made bead, so that I could purchase it along with my other beads to save coming back and finding that one of my three other beads had been bought in my absence.  You can see the type of thought patterns I was experiencing, I'd already identified them as "my" beads, when I'm perfectly sure they were legally Christa's beads at the time!

Transaction completed, now I just had to wait whilst "my" beads winged their way over from the Netherlands.  When they arrived there was no setting up of photos to show off the beads artistically, just a quick snapshot between fingers to show friends!

The size of the focal bead was a lot larger than I thought it was going to be, initially I wondered how much use I would get from it (even though I'll never tire of actually just looking at it) and I guess only time will really tell with this, I've been quite busy recently and I've only just literally received my 4th bracelet with my new lock, so I haven't had a spare bracelet to hand to try anything out.  

I can highly recommend Christa's beads and shop, the beads are beautiful and well made and the shop itself is very well organised so you can easily find what you're looking for.  Christa also makes beads with a variety of core sizes so you can use them on other bracelets and they also go well with other charm brands.

Here are a few quick links...

Sale beads - grab yourself a bargain

Small core beads - only suited to trollbead bracelet sizes or smaller

Larger cored beads - suitable for bracelets bigger than troll

Cubic Zirconia - for those who like their sparklies

Focal beads - for when you want to make a statement

I'm popping off on my (work) travels for a bit so I'll be working on making my bracelet statement with "Shades" in the coming weeks rather than days.  I've a few more new things and experiences to share with you before that... once I've come back from my travels.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Christmas 2012 Holiday Collection - my new lock

Friday saw my new lock arrive from the US, complete with a complimentary 17cm silver bracelet, one of the  bargain deals that I talked about in my first post of November.

The lock arrived in a cute little bracelet box that I've not seen before, I always enjoy how the trollbead packaging is a design classic it's own right.

This Lock with Buds is beautifully detailed, the buds actually cover every part of the lock and the texture and detailing on this lock is superb.  I've been waiting for a new lock to appear and hoping it would be along the lines of the lace lock with a repeat pattern on the lock rather than a "feature" lock.

I have only one criticism of the new design, and it's a flaw that I've yet to see how easy it will be to live with, as I wanted to blog about the new lock as soon as it arrived.  The problem is that the small loop of the trollbead bracelet does not easily fit square on to the lock.

There is one place on my lock where it will just about sit right; at first I wondered if it was just this particular bracelet, however I tried with my other bracelets and it seems about 50/50, obviously I knew it wouldn't work with the leather bracelet as it was not supposed to.  When I sort my bracelets I'll match this lock to a more suitable chain.

If you are going to buy the Lock with Buds I'd suggest picking out the bracelet to go with it in store if  you can, especially if don't have multiple bracelets, as it will be well worth the trip to avoid the hassle that will come with taking the lock on and off (if like me you like to change your bracelets around regularly).  If you tend to make your bracelets up and leave them as permanent combinations you probably won't share the same frustration.  When I was playing with beads to make a combination I then got the bracelet stuck on the lock and when it was finally released it spilt it's contents onto my lap. (Must get some more stoppers).

Having just spent most of this piece discussing the flaw - I have to say that I'm very glad I've got this lock, I think it's way better than the stock photos and despite it's little difficulties I can see this lock becoming a firm favourite of mine.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Preparing for departure & new arrivals

This weekend marks my first online trade (swapping beads with another collector) so I took the opportunity to take some photos of the collection as it's currently comprised, before the actual physical trade takes place.  I am a little sad to see a bead leave the bead box but it's going to a much loved home and will get to see far more daylight that it currently does with me; although in my defence, I did take it to 3 Greek Islands last month so it had a good holiday before we will eventually part company tomorrow!

Over the coming weeks I am expecting the bounty from my bead buying bonanza to start arriving so I thought it was a good time to also take stock of my collection to date.


I am delighted with these two photographs, I think they show off the lovely colours and diversity within my collection at this time - I use the term diversity quite loosely as I do realise I have 3 agate kits (plus the extra one I couldn't resist) and a fondness for zodiac stars!

The sharp eyed amongst you may be wondering where my leather bracelet has gone, well it was the entity that was anchoring my 3 heavy bracelets to the top of that pot!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Christmas Collection 2012

Well you're probably wondering where my Christmas Collection blog post has got to given the release date was 2nd November, or maybe you're not, I have to admit I was curious myself as to why I hadn't got around to one...
It's not because I haven't been excited about the new Christmas Collection.  To start with it's technically my first one since I started collecting - I'm not really counting Christmas Collection 2011 as despite looking I hadn't bought any trollbeads at that point and since then I have only bought one preloved Limited Edition Christmas Bead from the blue kit.
Secondly in 2012, there are a few key pieces I've been very excited about, namely a new lock and a particular silver bead, and I've been rather curious to see the other pieces in the collection, as for me there are many beads that I need to see in real life (not just from stock or actual photos) to make a decision about any must haves, leave it for later or not on your nelly!
For non-UK readers of the blog, indeed for anyone who needs it here is a definition of not on your nelly, but I'm sure you got the gist without the need for any explanation!
Mainly the lack of a Christmas Collection blog post is because I was too busy being a Trollbead Fan Girl, I've been reading about, talking about, looking at, researching deals and generally just been experiencing it rather than writing about it.
My main source of reading blog pleasure about the Christmas Collection has come from Endangered Trolls, not only is Victoria usually the first to break the news but I really like the way she writes and presents her material (hmmm think I'm having a fan girl day today).  Her photos are crisply presented and her blog layout is a delight (told you I was having a day of it).  In the last 24 hours she has been collating lots of the many deals that are available to those collectors who are prepared to shop around, or looking to combine their Christmas Collection purchases with other items to get the best deal for them as an individual.  I'd actually started to do this for myself with online retailers, but it was really good to dip into the links provided by Endangered Trolls to have a nose at the ones I was yet to discover.
Other fellow bloggers have been writing on the subject so I haven't completely neglected Charms AddictTartooful, or Michael Nand who've all had something to contribute to my reading list.
Originally rather than reproduce all the photos I thought I would just point you in the direction of other sources such as Endangered Trolls post showing all the beads with details, and Trollbeads UK for further info.
However when I reread the published the piece earlier; I remembered the original reason I started the blog, to see pictures, so I pulled the piece to put in some stock images from Trollbeads UK.  Apologies to anyone who was confused by my "no pictures" "with pictures" indecision this morning.

All my links will open in other windows so if you wanted to make yourself a nice drink, pop open all the links and perhaps enjoy some Saturday reading?  If you fancy some Saturday shopping then I do recommend you read Endangered Trolls posts on the Christmas Collection, there are a lot of good deals out there for those who are prepared to wait for their packages.