Friday, 27 December 2013

The Fantasy Dilemma

In a long and distant past I had a bit of a love affair with Maths, there was the whirlwind of romance, that amazing honeymoon period where we just flew along, the comfortable snuggling and then slowly we began to drift apart... I was young, easily tempted and so many bright and new shiny things to experience for the first time... and the slow burning realisation that perhaps that wasn't the life for me.

Now before you think I've been at the Christmas Sherry or that you've accidentally stumbled into a parallel universe where Mars talks Maths and not Beads... fear not!

Or perhaps do fear a little bit as I've not quite finished... you can of course just skip to the pretty pictures; go on I really don't mind... when I was deciding upon the blog title I thought to look up the precise definition of Dilemma and got beautifully sidetracked by Logic and Dilemmas, an autobiography of a mathematician, which randomly led me onto some fabulous blogs and a klezmer group... which I'm currently listening to as I type this blog.  I love the process of blogging!

Thanks to the usual heads up from Victoria at Endangered Trolls I partook of the Danish Christmas Gift Sets and bought an 80cm Onyx Fantasy Necklace (FN), complete with new In Your Heart pendant from the recent Christmas Collection and a red prism bead for less than the price of the necklace alone.

I was keen to make up a combination with some new beads that had just arrived and with this matching bracelet I was all ready for my night out - I literally threw this combination together but as it's turned out I've been wearing it non-stop for the last month without changing a thing. 

I've actually got more use out of this in a month than my 120cm Pearl Fantasy Necklace that I've had since the Summer, and therein lies my dilemma.

Long or Short? Pearl or Onyx?

Now I know that there are other things to consider, like it's Black Onyx and not Pearl, so it goes with a lot of my other stuff quite easily; plus there's the new little black and red tunic top I've just bought and wear a lot so it's not just long vs short... however over the last month I've been mulling this issue over quite a lot and have come to the conclusion that being shorter, that "Wash'n'Go" element about it is wonderfully appealing.

My long FN can be worn a myriad of ways, making it very versatile, although a tad more fussy to arrange and wear, but it's length makes it a show stopper when it is worn; it can be quite the statement piece.

So what exactly is the dilemma you might be wondering?  I have one of each; problem solved surely?

My dilemma is more a typical Mars one... Should I take advantage of the still available Christmas Gift Set price to get an 80cm Pearl FN for everyday wear, given I already own a 120cm one? be continued

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Favourite combos from 2013

Well as that's Christmas Lunch over with (yes I'm still digesting it a day later... huge feast!) and as I peek at, but studiously try to avoid the Boxing Day Bead Sales, I thought I'd cast my eyes and keyboard back at some of my favourite combinations from 2013.

In "no particular order" as they say on competition reality shows...

My first pick is my All Silver bracelet, on a Redbalifrog chain, although I must confess the tag has since had the snip; I love the chain but wasn't as keen on the tag!

My next choice is a leather combo that was usually paired with the bracelet above, and features one of my (many) favourite beads... Daisy.

I love the combination of black leather, silver with just a hint of gold.

X by Trollbeads launched in 2013 - black rubber and silver links combined and teamed here with a black lambskin Story bracelet.

It's not all monochrome; earlier in the year I was able to indulge in my passion for the retired red pink prisms and a trip to Wales saw me picking up the final 2 pieces for this particular bracelet.

It's not just bracelets either; this recent Winter Ice themed Pearl Fantasy Necklace is one of my all time favourite designs.

Nor did bangle designs miss out either; this one features not one, but two versions of another favourite bead of mine, the Navy Galaxy, one of the new designs from the "small and beautiful" dubbed unique release in early 2013/late 2012.

This year has also seen me pick up some gorgeous amber beads: the combo below features a lovely carved amber on the right hand side (to the left of the silver bead) and the first of my more unusual ambers.

It's probably no surprise that quite a few of my favourite combos are those bracelets that have survived my make and break mentality, including my Rocky Beach Bracelet and those fab Redbalifrog Silvers.

This remains made up along with my current Amber and Daisy bracelet... a departure from my continuously all amber bracelet variations throughout most of the year.

2013 saw another favourite silver design emerge, Skeleton Spirit, this bead made it's debut with the Fall Collection and by luck the one I have has the unusual tilted head!

There also had to be at least one combo from the Troll Date with Friends Series, this first one that I made to go out for dinner on the Saturday night, Summer Stones, a bangle and that unique I picked up on the troll date.

And finally, although it's another fairly recent combination, I really love the bracelet I made for over the Christmas period, it uses 4 pearl zodiac stars, and actually caused quite a few headaches as I had all the beads in almost every combination they could go in before I settled on this design.

So as I'm currently seeing double (one on the screen and one on my wrist for those of you who may be about to blame some Christmas Spirit) I shall love and leave you on this bracelet... hope you all are having a lovely relaxing time and the recent bad weather is not causing you too many problems.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Story by Kranz and Zeigler

Story by Kranz and Ziegler are a Danish brand, not as widely known in the UK as other brands but they certainly seem to be gaining popularity amongst my friends at least; as every time I show one of them a Story Bracelet the brand seem to instantly gain another fan!

My interest in the Story brand started over a year ago with this review on Endangered Trolls and whilst I've yet to indulge in the snakeskin range I seem to be adding to my collection nevertheless.

My first choice was the Black Lambskin 3 Wrap Starter Bracelet.  It came with 1 charm and I was able to choose whether it was gold plated, silver or rhodium plated, as I wasn't sure what else I'd be wearing it with I thought the rhodium would be the most versatile of the three.

The lambskin bracelets are super soft and light to wear, a great choice for around the office as it doesn't stop me from typing like my silver charm bracelets can.

As regular readers will know, one usually isn't enough... actually the bracelet I most coveted from the Story range was the incredible Garnet 3 Wrap Bracelet, made up of 5 strings of garnet beads that wrap around your wrist 3 times.  I'd tried this one a long time ago and fallen in love - it comes with a much heftier price tag than the lambskin so I'd decided to save up.

As luck would have it, Endangered Trolls offered a 10% discount a while back in conjunction with one of my favourite shops and coupled with a few vouchers I had plus another online discount on top and I picked up my second Story bracelet much sooner than I'd expected.

All the Wrap Bracelets close via a magnetic clasp and are really easy to manage one handed, at first I was a little nervous as to whether it would come apart but having worn both bracelets extensively since I bought them I've had no such issues.

My third and final choice (for now) is the Olive Green 3 Wrap Bracelet made up of 6 strings (it feels like a rougher leather cord) that wrap around your wrist 3 times.

So three very different bracelets all from the same brand, one advantage of Story is that you can easily link more than one bracelet together and the 3 I have compliment each other quite well.

Whilst I tend to wear the garnet bracelet by itself I've been wearing the black lambskin bracelet with regular trollbeads bracelets, the trollbeads bangle and X by Trollbeads as well as by itself, it really is an incredibly versatile bracelet.

For those of you based in the UK, you can find your nearest shop here.  I've been lucky enough to have a few shops near me so I've been able to go in and try them on first; indeed on my first visit I think I must have tried on most bracelets in the range, but they didn't have any in my size so I left empty handed on that occasion. (Obviously being a great shop they did offer to order in anything I wanted in my size... but I took this as a sign not to plunder my Boiler Fund on that occasion so declined)

Bracelets that wrap around 3 times come in 54cm, 57cm, 60cm and 63cm sizes and as usual I take the smallest size of 54cm whereas most shops seem to stock 57cm as standard.  I was able to buy my starter bracelet direct from the shop but I've had to order all the others online, I could have had the shop do this directly but I'm afraid I was both impatient and as is typical I wanted to take advantage of some vouchers I had and the online specials that are available from time to time!

You can get earrings, necklaces and rings to match and there is a wide range of charms to choose from.  I've decided to start with collecting the bracelets before charms as I actually like the bracelets worn naked without any charms.

Now my biggest decision is do I continue to buy bracelets and pick up that lovely turquoise bracelet in the sale or start on the charms?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas "Galaxies"

The Christmas Collection from Trollbeads saw the usual two kits of 6 limited edition glass beads.  One red kit called Christmas Love which is a kit of true reds and one blue kit called Elegant Christmas.

Trollbeads Christmas Collection 2013: "Love Sparkle" and "Elegant Sparkle"

Once again, many retailers are selling these as individual beads and like many collectors I gravitated to what I think of as the 2 signature beads, a true red and a true blue galaxy/mercury bead that follow the very successful pattern seen in the much sought after small and beautiful collection of uniques.

New Christmas red bead shown with the
small & beautiful cream galaxy/mercury beads

I quite like these 2 beads worn on their own on a bangle, the design is strong enough for that to look quite spectacular, particularly when layered up with my usual Story and X by Trollbeads combo as the only pop of colour in an otherwise black and silver ensemble.  However as I always do this I thought I'd play around a bit more.

Interestingly I found I had a bit of difficulty matching these two up with other beads in my collection, as I seem to have a lot more transparent glass and even fewer blues.  Leaving the bangles to one side for a moment I decided to try my hand with these beads on a fantasy necklace for a bit of Christmas Sparkle!

The beads themselves vary quite a lot in both size of glass and silver patterns; I've seen several examples from very pretty and neat beads to lovely messy ones like mine!  I would recommend if you're after a particular size or pattern you choose your own where possible, whether in person, or by photo, or certainly give the shop an indication of your preference if you have one.

I was able to choose my blue bead personally based on a photo and for the red bead I requested "a messy pattern of silver, size of bead is unimportant but the more the silver runs into each other or spills from one dot to the other the better!"  I think the shop chose very well based on my description!

Given the scramble for the small and beautiful beads, there are still people who didn't get any of the most sought after patterns, so I'm especially pleased that Trollbeads have included 2 galaxy/mercury style beads in the Christmas Kits.  As most retailers are splitting the kits it means that everyone has a chance to acquire one of their own, with or without the rest of the kit.  Now that's a nice choice to have to make!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Amber & Blue Daisy Bracelet

I love amber and I've added a couple of great beads recently to my collection.  I decided it was time to rejig my current amber bracelet but first I needed to dismantle it and add the new beads to the pile...

My amber bracelet is one of the few bracelets I have that remains permanently made up, so taking it apart always feels a little odd.  I absolutely adore amber and these are mostly uniques, apart from a couple of the Limited Edition World Tour Amber beads, as I have 3 Baltic Gold and 1 Runes; I've not collected any of the production ambers yet.

Out of habit I started to make another all amber combo, and then stopped.

I always do this (who doesn't love an all amber bracelet) but for once I gave myself a new challenge, to finally make "that" bracelet with amber and my Daisy bead; an idea I'd had way before I ever got my first amber or my Daisy bead.

To add some spice I threw myself a curveball; I'd also acquired a new glass unique, shown above, from the recent D4E big unique sale and I was keen to use this too.

Plan B was shaping up... an amber, blue and Daisy bracelet!  I set to work!!

I had to fiddle with the placement and choice of amber beads quite a lot - my beads are mostly all different but I did want some semblance of symmetry, well as much as you can have when the beads are all different shapes, shades and sizes.

It's taken a while to get used to this bracelet as it's not one of my normal colour combinations (and I've been wearing a lot of X and my black lambskin Story bracelet recently) but after a day or two on the wrist I'm beginning to appreciate it all the more.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

New beads: Old favourites

The consequence of writing a blog is you do tend to get a bit obsessed with new things; new beads, new collections, new bracelets...  I often wonder if I didn't write Curling Stones whether I would end up with *quite* as many new beads from the latest collections?  Oh who am I kidding; of course I would... 'cos they're new and shiny!

I was on my way to see the rest of the new Christmas Collection as 2 beads in another shop window caught my eye on the way, a lovely Chakra Colours and an amazing Azure Bubbles.  I popped them on the end of my bangle to get these shots and then popped them into my bag; after paying for them of course, not in a shoplifting kind of way!

When I got home I was able to take a few more leisurely shots...

Sometimes the beads that catch your eye are old favourites; I have both these beads in my bead box and I've always intended to get multiples, but like many before me I've been somewhat waylaid by all the shiny new collections - finally I bought some old beads!

Couldn't resist a quick bangle combo with some other old favourites!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Blizzards!

The new Trollbeads Christmas Collection has been out for a while now and I've been waiting patiently for my parcels to arrive.  The bead I'd most anticipated from the new release was the Blizzard glass bead... clear glass with a little snow storm inside... and the added bonus - they glow in the dark!

I was so sure I'd like this bead that I actually ordered 3 straight away without even seeing them in real life first.

I wasn't disappointed with my decision to buy 3, in fact I can see me adding more over the years!  My blizzards don't glow half as much as my Halloween Inner Glow beads from the 2012 collection but they are very pretty au naturel.

I set out to make a Christmas Bracelet and Fantasy Necklace.  To ensure this doesn't become too cluttered I haven't shown you the bracelets & necklaces I made before I got to the final two designs!

For the bracelet having only chosen 5 silvers (4 of which are the same) I figured I'd be able to just throw this one together... 2 hours later having had these beads in literally every combination they can go in I finally sussed it out!!  The Fantasy Necklace was a less painful and less frustrating process; having tried out a few alternative colours I quickly settled on all all white, silver and pearl combo.

Being a December baby Christmas in our house doesn't actually start until a few days before the 25th... however I thought I'd blog my finished designs early for a change as last year my red and green beads arrived so late so I actually made my Christmas bracelet in January - this year I would not be thwarted so easily, although I'll admit late-November is a tad early even for the dedicated Christmas fans!

I absolutely adore my Fantasy Necklace in particular and I can assure you it won't just be for Christmas!

Friday, 15 November 2013

In a Trollbeads Galaxy far far away...

I was admiring Victoria's gorgeous Night Sky bracelet last weekend and thought it was perfect timing to show you my current bangle as it's along a similar theme; it's already been tweeted and featured on my facebook page so apologies if you've seen it before!

My engraved azure and fuchsia beads had arrived just scant hours before I left for holiday last month, but in enough time to be taken with me on a bangle.  It was a busy day, beads arrived, beads to pay for, work to be done and still I hadn't finished my packing! 

It was worth making sure all my bead bills were settled before I left though because look what was waiting for me when I returned home!  My second Navy Galaxy... 

Taking a break from blogging has given me more time to actually play with my beads (and I've been pimping my bead box a la Blue Peter style) so when I finally sat down to have a good session with my beads a few weeks ago I noticed just how well the colours matched on the galaxies and the engraved azure bead.  I've used artisan stoppers as small silvers and voila!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Share a Christmas Card 2013

In the 2012 Share a Christmas Card event 15,968 cards were registered with the Trollbeads official website as being received by fellow trollbead fans around the world.

2012 was also the first year I took part.  I had my own Christmas Cards made but unfortunately as they didn't arrive with me until the 27th November I had to post them without taking any photos for the blog as I was going away the following day.  This is the photo I used for my Cards in 2012...

2012 Card Photo

I won't show you which of my trollbead photos I've used this year; just in case I get to send one to a reader of Curling Stones and spoil the surprise!  Last year 7 of my 10 cards were registered on the website and I received 8 in turn, my last but one card led to this blog post which was a great story to end 2012 on! Even with 15,968 cards sent there can still be amazing co-incidences!  Greetings from 2012 can be read here and 2012 prize winners and their prizes can be seen here

The 2013 event details can be found here for anyone who wants to join in, you can preregister now and there is no cut off date for registering; you can join in at any time!  5 postal addresses will be emailed out to you on the 18th November (next Monday) if you preregister and the earlier you join in and send your cards the more chances you have to be entered for the prize draws that take place throughout December 2013.

So how does it all work? Essentially you register your details to receive 5 names and addresses from all over the world, you then send those people a Christmas Card (or a postcard) with your message and your unique Troll ID which you receive when you register.  Your name and address will be sent to 5 others who will be able to send you a card too.

Update - Trollbeads have now updated the site so you can register again (by clicking the participate button on the page) to receive another 5 addresses - 10 in total.

When that person receives your card, they will (hopefully) register your card on the website and this in turn gives you a "lottery ticket" for the draws that take place every day from 1st - 31st December 2013. When you receive a card, you in turn register their Troll ID and you can write them a greeting in return. The returned greetings and winners are also posted on the website (article updated with links as the event is now live).

It's nice to be able to read the greetings people send each other when they receive their cards and it's fun to see who has won the draws and what bead/s they are going to receive.

For me - it's my Trollbead Community Advent Calendar that lasts the full month of December!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

X by Trollbeads

On launch day, back on 18th September this year, courtesy of the lovely Steffans, I received my first rubber X link...

X by Trollbeads is the bracelet concept designed by Trollbeads, taking it's inspiration from the traditional anchor chain but with a twist, you buy each link individually and assemble the whole bracelet/necklace/chain yourself to your own style and design. 
X comes in single rubber links, single and double plain bronze links, single and double plain or decorated silver links, silver links with a concept and/or glass stones and to finish your bracelet off either a silver or a bronze plain lock (bracelets can be used without a lock too).   
When I first drafted this post... I actually forgot to include the single and double plain gold X links; should your budget be able to stretch this far!!
The soon to be released (in 4 days time on the 14th November) Christmas Collection features another big Silver link XOXO (which is text speak for hugs and kisses), another silver double decorative link and a new silver lock based on the heart within link.  If you need to find a retailer you can go here, although many of the online retailers will ship globally.
All links fit together by lining up the cut out X shape in each link, you push them together and voila!  To take them apart you simply line up the X shape and pull them apart, it's a very easy system to use and get used to. 
My first single rubber X from Steffans was shortly followed by another 15, then another 3 (due to misjudging the size) and my first silver single X link, Sound Wave.

To be honest I was disappointed with the size of Sound Wave, it's actually smaller in size than the rubber links and I feel looks a little lost by itself.  Don't get me wrong I love the design, I think it's one of the nicest designs of the single links, but if I'd been able to see the size in person I wouldn't have ordered it as my first silver link.  Having seen some stock photos I think these look great when used as a connecting link for two of the bronze links!

Now I had enough links all together for a simple bracelet!

You can use X links with the locks that have been made for the new system, at a push you can actually use trollbeads original locks if you line up the X with the locking mechanism (tricky but can be done, although it does look a little odd) or like me you can opt not to use a lock at all.  I just do mine up by connecting the end links, it's a bit more fiddly but I prefer the look of this when it's on my wrist.

Before my first Sound Wave arrived with me I'd actually ordered a second one so I ended up with two of them. Not to be deterred, I really enjoyed wearing my X bracelet teamed with my Story Starter Bracelet and a variety of bangles and it was one of the bracelets I took away with me on holiday. 

Back in the UK after my holiday, when the US Trunk Shows started, I decided to go for broke and use this as an opportunity to sort out my X bracelet properly and I put in a much bigger order for more rubber links, another 2 single silver links and 4 of the double silver links.

I had great fun choosing what to buy and opted for 2 of the My Star link, Lovers Bond, Order in Chaos, Lots of Love and DNA.  When they arrived I wasn't disappointed in my choices at all, great big chunks of links and given what I now know, had I had my time over I would have chosen My Star to be my first silver X link.

My Star

Lovers Bond

Order in Chaos

Lots of Love


I set out to play and what struck me was how easy it was to quickly make and break new combinations, unlike other systems you can swap out links without having to dismantle the whole bracelet - this was my first proper play now that I had more than 2 silver links to choose from.  Below are some of the quick snaps I took to show my friends.

What I finally settled on was making 2 single bracelets to wear together, using my 2nd My Star as a dangle.

I love X by Trollbeads!