Sunday, 31 March 2013

My Easter with Trollbeads (and my 100th blog post)

Reflecting on the blogging process, aside from having somewhere to rabbit on about trollbeads and show some of the photographs I take on my mobile phone, I realised it has directly, and indirectly, introduced me to some really lovely people from the Trollbead Community.  Scattered across posts you will find phrases such as "a lovely troll friend", "with the help of the trollbead community" or " a trollfairy helped me out".

So for my 100th post, and seeing as it's Easter Sunday, I thought I would tell you about something that was done between a small group of friends from all over the world who like trollbeads, a Secret Easter Swap.  This is a bit like a workplace Secret Santa for those of you who are wondering what this is.  One person collected all the names and addresses and assigned a Secret Easter Bunny for each person.  The Secret Easter Bunny had only 2 rules to stick to, that they sent their partner 1 genuine trollbead and a card to tell them who they are.  The partner had 2 rules too, to announce when their parcel arrived and share photos with the group of what came, so everyone got to see lots of lovely parcels being sent and received all over the world.

Secret Easter Swap

Obviously I had no idea who my Secret Easter Bunny was, but I did know that my partner didn't live a million miles away, although this was my very first swap I know that it's traditional to put things in the parcel, if you want to, from your own country.  As we both lived in England, in the UK and only 1 or 2 counties apart I decided to do a Welsh theme for my parcel, as not only did I grow up there but I'd also lived there quite recently and had shared photos with this group of friends from our mad year in the middle of nowhere (but that's a whole other blog).

I planned my parcel sending with my next trip to Wales so my partner got theirs quite early as I didn't want anything to go off!  My top tip is don't buy the chocolate in advance... these are the second lot of eggs I had to buy my partner having got chocolate urges the entire week beforehand!

My other top tip, is think about the weight of your parcel, Jam is actually quite heavy!  If you're wondering what the long things are, the fluorescent strips are glowsticks complete with connectors, when we had parties I used to hang 100s of these in our apple tree to create a strange glowing garden light, the dark ones are incense sticks, well I can bit a bit of an old hippie at heart.

There were also Welsh Cakes, a film subscription, a (very thin and thankfully bendy) calendar, words to "Land of My Fathers" (whilst I don't know the words myself I have to say when in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and this is being sung before Wales vs New Zealand All Blacks it's quite the experience) and postcards with the Welsh Words for place names.

All the items were individually wrapped in a shiny silver wrapping paper so my partner didn't know what anything was and had to open them all to find out what they'd got, and I asked that she opened the card last with all the explanations of why I'd sent each item.  I wanted it to be a "what on earth was she thinking of" moment on some of these and the tale that threads it all together to be the final reveal.  I didn't get a full set of photos of the parcel or what was in it as I wasn't intending to blog this... but you can guarantee I did take a few of the bead so here is a nice one for you.

The bead I chose for my partner was a glittery fern in a very pretty pink colour, it took me a long time to tie the gold ribbon over the Trollbead Box but I'd been inspired by the new Steffans ribbon so I wanted it to look the part, but obviously with a gold ribbon to go with the fern!

So that was what I sent out, so what did I receive?  Well my Secret Easter Bunny lives in France and is clearly an experienced hand at packaging lots into a small parcel, I couldn't believe what kept coming out of the box she sent...  I didn't even find it all on the first attempt as when I was packing it back up I found a trollbeads jewellery cleaning cloth in the bag!

What had hit me first was the amazing smell of Jasmine when I opened the parcel, everything was beautifully wrapped and very stylish, as well as the lovely Jasmine soap, there was Perfume, a lovely smelling cushion, chocolates (which lasted 2 days), pretty notelets in their own case, trollbead mints in a snap tin and the most amazing rose petal hand cream from L'Occitane which has become a firm favourite since it arrived!  The card and message were very touching and I felt really humbled to receive such beautiful words and presents.

What was a very large surprise was that there was not 1, but 2 trollbeads in the box.  Silver Faith, Hope and Charity and a mocha brown ornament glass bead.  Well it didn't take me long to make up a bracelet with these two and my newly arrived Zodiac Birthstone Star!

So a very special Thank You to the very lovely Pat, for all the thought and love that went into this parcel.  I'm still feeling very lucky to have received such a fabulous box of treats for Easter!

And thank you to everyone for reading Curling Stones for Lego People and my 100th post, and for all my beads, extra treats, goodies and other fun things I have been sent, but thank you most of all for the friendship and lovely sense of community. 

I dedicate this post to you good folk, the lovely individuals, groups, friends, bloggers and retailers alike.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Everything But The Beads

Well given that I was a student in Hull, albeit not as early as 1982, you'll perhaps forgive my title...

Today I thought I'd bring you up to speed with everything but the beads... and yes there are TWO chess locks in that photo.  There are also two plain locks but you might have missed those in the excitement.

Whilst Victoria over at Endangered Trolls alerted everyone that the chess lock was about to make an appearance actually for sale through a retailer and kept us all up to date, later on Michael over at Mike's Trollbead Adventure! wrote a lovely piece on the history of this lock, supplemented by his insider knowledge of not only having worked with Trollbeads but also having visited Fable who are the UK distributors of Trollbeads.  I would recommend a visit to those two blogs for a much more detailed account of this lovely lock and the story of how it all happened.

For me personally, the appeal is a lot about what the lock is not... it's not floral, an animal or particularly girly/cute.  I like it because it is more plain, gender neutral, a bit abstract even though it's a pattern and I love the history of it.  As an aside I anticipate that I may be switching over to Redbalifrog locks next time I want a new one as I love their detailing and designs.

There was quite a scrum, as first one, then two, then three, then four Danish retailers were able to sell a very small quantity of these locks, which flew out of the shops selling like proverbial hot cakes. Whilst I did manage to get my own lock on the second attempt (I found a retailer selling these before it had become common knowledge), the credit for my second lock goes to a very lovely troll friend who managed to source several for people who were unable or unsuccessful in buying any at all.  I did make sure that everyone had had the chance of getting at least one before I felt confident in snagging a second... I didn't want anyone to miss out!

Bracelet wise, I'm now up to 7 silver bracelets and have been steadily buying stoppers and safety chains for all of these.  All my safety chains are artisan as I just can't bring myself to pay the official asking price for a safety chain... When I first started collecting I did purchase an official chain, ironically this broke (totally my own fault I hasten to add) and I didn't want to pay out for another.  I've also been able to source artisan stoppers too so apart from my first 2 troll ones, I've picked up 4 more official troll ones at half price but the rest are all artisan.  More bead fund for beads!

Leather wise I just have my original blue leather bought back last summer and the brown leather I picked up just after Christmas, the new collection that released in January 2013 saw some 2 toned leather bracelets added so I think that may be just where I am headed next.  Leather bracelets are great when you want a more casual look, to wear less beads or need to type/write and a full bracelet is just too tricky.

Just before the all the chess lock excitement/drama happened, I'd finally matched up the number of bracelets to locks to stoppers to safety chains, not that this matters but it was fun (in a nerdy kind of way) to have everything all equal.  I'm sat here wondering if this is a good enough reason for more bracelets now I have 2 spare locks?  In an even rarer Mars moment, all bracelets are actually made up right now and I have none spare for bead play (for all the spare beads) - and yes I did have to dismantle everything and store it with military precision to take all these photos and yes it very much was a complete pain in the ass to do so.  That should remind me to plan ahead a bit more with photography for blog posts, or maybe not!

Which is probably why the next picture happened, I think I thought that if everything was dismantled I needed more to show for it... now I know what I think this is a picture of, but I wonder if we see the same thing?  Tony Hart I am not!

Finally there was one more thing I was really in need of.  If you read the blog on a regular basis you won't have failed to notice that my collection has increased quite substantially over the last 5 months in particular.  I overcame the storage issue by buying another stacking case (I can't recommend these enough for being very useful) but I was hankering after something a bit more substantial.

I'd seen the official Trollbead white jewellery cases when they came out, but being not a fan of white, I completely ignored it, and to be fair I didn't need something that size at the time.  What changed my mind was a discussion on how friends kept their beads, there were some great solutions but then I saw photos of the white jewellery box with someone's collection in and realised just how much it held.  So then I was on the hunt for one, which was much harder than I expected given it was still on all the websites.

Unbeknownst to even my Local Dealer, not only had they all sold out, but were no longer available from Fable either.  I then turned my attention online and scoured the internet, lots of jewellers had them on their websites, but as an order in item; which you can't do if there are none left... I finally found one and ordered it and probably confused the shop by ringing them up to ask "You definitely have this actually in stock in the shop, one you can physically send out?"  as I knew I was running out of time to find one... but yes they did have one actually in the shop and yes they did physically send it out the next day.  I would show you this full of beads but given my title... you'll just have to wait.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

More stars???

From the photos of the magnificent packaging I think you might be able to work out which stylish retailer was having a sale!

So what was in the box?

Gemini Zodiac Birthstone Star

My search for more retired Zodiac Birthstone Stars, or my New Year's Bead Resolution No.2 as I like to call it,  had struck lucky with my Australian Trollangel (what happens when a Trollfairy gets a promotion; she actually goes by the Earth name of Jenny, but she has long since ascended this title in my eyes).  I hadn't quite completed my mission as I simply didn't have the required Bead Funds to stretch to the final 2 stars; to be fair I didn't have quite the Bead Funds to stretch to 7 but knew these opportunities are rare.  I figured it would save a lot of money in the long run (given I was going to buy a 2nd set anyway) by buying more during the half price sale price, and it would also save a lot of searching to try and find some of the more hard to source stars... indeed a recent search on behalf of a friend to source some stars, whilst eventually successful, took a lot of different trollfairy hours and hard work and the price was full retail (which was lucky as it could have been retail plus given there just aren't as many about of some).  I am still on the lookout for 2 more stars for another friend but at sale or preloved prices and I just haven't found any of these - not even at retail prices.  

So my lovely readers, what I am saying is if you do want any of these beauties, and you see one, and it's a good price that you like, then grab it!  For reference, I'm finding that the harder to sources ones now are Cancer and Pisces (Pearl), Capricorn (Onyx), Libra and Sagittarius (Dark Blue) and Aquarius (Light Blue).  A bit harder but were available for longer and still to be found are Taurus (Light Green), Leo (Orange) and Scorpio and Aries (Red).  Still seen for sale regularly are Gemini (Brown) and Virgo (Dark Green).  Even when you have one set I've still found some lovely variations between the stones on the same stars, when I've completed my second set I will do a full blog post with photos of all my Zodiac Stars, and probably cut and paste some of the info across all the blog posts so you have it all in one place!

My second star of this blog post was preloved and one of those beads that are pesky to photograph.  Again this is another bead I've had on a wish list for while but I wanted to buy preloved or during a sale so I've been waiting for this to come along at the right price.  I've had to show you a sneak preview of a new bracelet yet to be blogged to find the only half decent photo I've managed to take of this lovely Sparkling Star!

L-R: Lake Eye, Sparkling Star, small and beautiful Koi Pond, Green Ridged and Stepping Stones.

I can't show you the whole bracelet yet, just this hint as I've not yet told you about another special bead on here... but I love the way you can see the close up details on the ridged small and beautiful bead and the green and orange in the Koi Pond.

Just so you don't think I'm being too mean teasing you with sneak previews... I thought I'd leave you with one of the first bracelets I've made with a small and beautiful bead and some Harlequins.

Friday, 22 March 2013

(My) Small and Beautiful Collection... so far!

Now during February I had started off being quite good, well for me anyway!

Everything so far had been either preloved or in a sale, my one exception being the 2 red with purple beads to finish off a very special bracelet... but then came the small and beautiful collection, a'hem.  (I'd recommend you click on this link to read the excellent blog post by Leann over at Charms Addict as it's a great comprehensive review of the small and beautiful beads and my "go to" post on these beads; it also made me realise that if I wanted any of these beads I'd better not wait for them to come to me)

So no bargains, everything at retail price and impossible to get hold of... or a scramble at best.  I stumbled onto this collection via my ridged bead.  Typing this blog post at the end of March and I still have yet to find the pink version or another green; these are very hard to acquire!

So the next package through my letterbox contained two of the more accessible ones, although in this batch they were all snapped up quite quickly, I chose light blue stripe and green stepping stones, both arriving in early February from the US again.

Next came the nail biting craziness that involved trying to get some of the collection via the only UK retailer who had these beads in stock, it was a "released at X time" style scramble, on the first round I was able to pick up an eye of the storm and a blue galaxy... shortly followed by a koi pond the following session.

When taking quick photos anything can be used, the beads don't come with their own rubber band!

So if you've been counting as we've been going along you should realise I now had my own "kit" of 6 that I'd assembled from the UK and US.

There are still more on my wish list of beads from this collection.

My top two favourites and must haves out of ALL the small and beautiful collection are Navy Galaxy and Cream Galaxy but these have been quite a challenge to find, next on my list are Navy Peacock, Pink Ridges and Turquoise Tiger Stripes - beads I still desire to have.  I don't want to pay the inflated prices where collectors have bought at retail and are selling on for a lot of profit as the market makes these very desirable so it may take a lot longer to have a chance at the next ones, this will however give me more time to save up for them!

To be honest, it's probably a good job they're very hard to get hold of as the latest news on my ongoing Boiler Fund vs Bead Fund is that the Boiler Fund is not holding out against the might of the Bead Fund and is losing quite dramatically *puts on another jumper*

Watch this space as I am still on the hunt for the others!!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Great gifts with purchase (GWP)

The lovely folk at Goldmine have been running a great gift with purchase promotion from February, a beautiful ring box decorated with Klimt's The Kiss, you can buy this box directly from several retailers whilst stocks last but I was delighted to get it as a gift from Goldmine.  It does come with the foam to hold 1 ring, but after nearly losing my wedding ring and skin off my finger trying to retrieve it the following morning (it was a very tight fit and my wedding ring is a bit chunky on the shoulders) I've taken the foam out and use it as a trinket/ring box.  Enjoy the photos, it's a beautiful box!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

My Valentine's Bracelet as it was meant to be

You may recall that I mentioned in my Valentine's Day Bracelet Post that there was a 3rd (and final) version of this bracelet planned but that 1 of the beads didn't arrive in time...

The story was that I'd ordered, paid and had my package delivered in good time for Valentine's Day but 1 of the beads was accidentally left out, luckily the shop still had it and rushed it out to me with a free gift but despite their amazingly quick response it still didn't quite make it by the 14th.

These were the beads reunited and I've tried several times to take photos of them but they are incredibly difficult to capture in a photo, complicated by the fact that I have a new phone so I'm still learning how to take macro shots on it.  I've kept true to the original idea of the blog that these are the mobile phone photos I share with friends but sometimes I wonder if I'm just making life a lot more complicated than it actually needs to be!

And here's my favourite photo of this bracelet, taken on the neck of a particularly nice bottle of red wine I was about to open!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Hello bead world, what have I missed?

When one has not blogged for a fortnight because one has had lovely long weekends away and crazy weeks at work one can be faced with a blank screen and one's brain might just crash... or maybe that's just me?

I have lots to tell you (and for comedic effect the postman has just knocked and delivered another signed for package) but where to start?

After I'd completed my Amber Bracelet I'd made a decision to try and spend less on beads as January was amazingly crazy even by my standards, looking back at February I can say that yes I did spend less on beads compared to January but I still spent quite a lot (damn those "small and beautiful" beads) so my collection continued to grow and my new boiler fund didn't grow at quite the rate it should have.

So what have I been up to?

Well there was the world's tiniest silver bead in the shape of a group of hearts that came along... then even though I was contemplating climbing on the Bead Wagon there was a purple and white ooak (unique) with metallic buds/bumpies on.  The lovely person at the shop who posted this out to me even wrote a message saying sorry we tempted you off the Bead Wagon.

3 days after contemplating the Bead Wagon 3 beads arrived, 3 is such a good number don't you think?

There was a LE Pink Jasper, silver snowball (shown here to the left of snow which is the bead on the right) and Whirling Adventure from a lovely collector who had hand picked it to use on a bracelet but decided it wasn't working for her, all of these were very much bargain beads at great prices as I picked them up in sales or preloved.

The final bead in this post was another ooak, a bumpy python bead from the US, described as having peacock colours, love this bead and have finally used it in a combination that I'm very happy with, but you'll have to make do with just the bead for now!