Friday 31 May 2013

An amber I couldn't resist

So it's the last post of the month and I'm typing this as I get ready for my Troll date with friends later on, I have already arranged to finish work early so I will be going straight from work to my Local Dealers today - can't wait!

It's rather fitting that I conclude the month with an amber bead as one friend I've made because of Trollbeads has a bit of an amber thing going on and I'm planning to wear my amber bracelet to show her.  Here it is below if you've not seen it before...

My carved amber, placed to the left of Silver Transformation (the silver bead on the right hand side - also designed by Mette Saabye who did the recent collection for Trollbeads in addition to designing some of my favourite production trollbeads), has ousted one of the beads that was originally on the bracelet, and I've recently added to my free floating amber beads with my latest addition, my first craggy amber.

I think this one will be going on the main bracelet eventually but I haven't had chance to match it into the bracelet yet.  In the meantime I definitely wanted to use this in a mini-combination on my brown leather bracelet.

So there you go.  I'm ready to step off this rather lovely Bead Wagon and celebrate the end of May's self-imposed Bead Embargo in style, catch ya later!

Thursday 30 May 2013

Good things come in 3's - Bracelets

I remain firmly on the Bead Wagon (although yesterday I had to force myself not to pop in to a jewellery shop as I was passing) - these are all pre-embargo purchases that I just haven't found the time to tell you about before!

Clearly I'd been buying a lot of beads and it was finally time to pick up some more bracelets in the sales to put all those beads on.

I had already picked up the first of this set of 3 - a 17cm silver bracelet at a great preloved price.  Then the sale at SWAG started and the price for bracelets was so attractive that I picked up another 17cm silver bracelet... and another leather bracelet, black this time.

So another set of 3 bracelets came to reside in my bead box, but not for long.

The first silver bracelet was used immediately to make up this first bracelet on the left, part of a stacked set of bracelets to wear to a lovely May wedding.  These two will be staying together, or at least reassembled again, as I will be needing them for another set of nuptials in early August.

I couldn't resist making up a quick leather bracelet combo whilst I was having some bead play, and this is what I came up with.  I was contemplating finishing this one to wear to the festival so I deliberately chose production beads only on this one (just in case), although my Chakra Colours is a bit of a one off!  I decided to go away without it in the end so I never really finished it off properly and it's all now back in the bead box ready for the break and make session to come next month!

One more pre-embargo bead to show you tomorrow before the end of the month comes to a conclusion and I step off the Bead Wagon in style at my Troll date!

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Good things come in 3's - Silver Beads

As you've no doubt gathered by now I've not broken my self-imposed bead embargo - this series of beads are all pre-embargo and I'm just catching up with the blog!  I'd been buying a lot of glass beads and it was definitely time to pick up some more silver ones for contrast.

L-R: Lotus, Van Gogh, Chinese Snake

My first bead was preloved and one from my wish lists, I particularly like Lotus when it's on the end of a bracelet facing outwards, it gives a really cute effect.  On the smaller end it almost swallows up the link where it attaches itself to the lock and on the larger end it beautifully tapers the bracelet.

Next was another favourite from my wish lists, Netherlands World Tour Van Gogh silver bead, also preloved and just as gorgeous in real life as it is from the stock photos.  This is quite a chunk of a bead considering it was in price band II, it has some tiny gaps between some of the sunflowers (the flowers themselves are solid silver) and I think this would look great on one of the brightly coloured leather bracelets.

I still have quite a lot of beads left on my wish list from the World Tour Series, but then again I had a lot to start with when they were released briefly in the UK market, ah back then when I had some restraint, I only bought 4 out of the 14 I wanted from that collection! As I have also picked up Runes as part of my Amber bracelet collection I figure I still have another 8 to collect.

Finally I took advantage of a lovely sale from SWAG to pick up Chinese Snake - a bead I saw a non-stock photo of back when it was released last August but I missed out on the chance of it new at a bargain price then, not so this time and I bagged my bead new with a staggering 60% discount!

As you'd expect from a Price IV silver bead, this is quite a large one.  My only criticism of this bead is that as it's heavier on the front facing side I suspect it will have a tendency to slide upside down on a bracelet if it's loose on the chain, I will however keep you posted once I've road tested this one!

Such beautiful detailing all over this bead

I'm really pleased with this set of 3 silver beads, they are all very detailed and quite striking - and they are all longtime wish list beads.  I'm delighted to have finally picked these up, especially at some of the sale prices I was lucky enough to bag, it really can be financially worth waiting for beads that are a bit pricier in a new release.

So what next?  Well there is one more in my mini-series of Good Things come in 3's to publish tomorrow, then my long awaited Troll date with friends on Friday!

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Good things come in 3's - Glass Beads

Before anyone worries that I've broken my self-imposed bead embargo this series of beads are all pre-embargo beads, I'm just catching up with the blog!  I've been buying a lot of glass ooak or unique beads recently so it was great to add some glass production beads at fab preloved prices.

L-R: Blue Fizz, Dichroic Ice, Red Berry

First up was Blue Fizz - When I went to buy my first bracelet and beads this was one of the beads I'd originally wanted to buy, except when I saw it I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.  I went with different choices for a number of reasons, but at the time I think it was the uniformity of the bumpies that put me off, I do like messy bumpie beads!  Roll forward by a year or so and Blue Fizz was exactly what I needed when I made my Blue Galaxy Bracelet.  A bit late for that bracelet but I have to say I've definitely changed my mind about this bead.

Next was Dichroic Ice - a bead I have pretty much ignored until I saw some photos of one on someone's bracelet.  This is a deliberate move towards collecting some of the more, what I think of as, icy beads.  I've not bought this with a particular design in mind but I'd also like to pick up Mountain Crystal and Inner Glow for very similar reasons.

Finally the cherry on the cake, or rather the Berries on the cake.  Red Berry is an absolute stunner of a bead, at first glace it just appears a deep red, but there is a lot of depth of colour in this bead.  Turn it sideways and hold it up to the light and  you can see where that depth comes from,  it was a really clever person who worked out how on earth this pattern gives you such a beautiful end colour.

Blue Fizz and Red Berry were bought separately but they are a perfect match and quite big beads on a bracelet, I can't wait for my next break and make session to try them out!

Monday 27 May 2013

Good things come in 3's - OOAKs (Uniques)

Before anyone worries too much that I've just broken my self-imposed bead embargo with my usual panache after blogging about it yesterday - the next series of beads are all pre-embargo beads, I'm just catching up with my blogging from April!

Front view of all 3 OOAKs: Green Glitter Swirl, Red/Pink Fern & Scroll, Blue & Teal Glitter Budded Python

My first OOAK arrived as part of a preloved bundle, it's a translucent swirl design - bright green translucent base, milky white with pale green and a hint of pink along the swirls and with really full plump gold glitter buds.  I've quite a few swirl and spinner beads now, some translucent like this one and a couple of opaque ones that you can see on my Valentine's Day Bracelet either side of my RAF Benevolent Fund Bead in the centre.  They come in a variety of designs so there's something to suit most folk if you like this style of bead.

Side view of Green Glitter Swirl

The next bead was a raffle style knockout that I liked the look of and was lucky enough to have my name picked.  I'd been going through a red/pink phase so a bead that spanned both colours has definite appeal, I particularly like the 2 different patterns on each side of the bead, it has a fern pattern on the left hand side and a scroll pattern along the right hand side curve.  The core is red and is covered by a clear glass with the pattern sitting along the "top" of the bead.

Left hand side showing fern details

Right hand side showing scroll details

My final and third OOAK is my favourite of this bunch, I have a fondness for budded pythons and this one is a particularly fine example from a most generous and lovely seller from the US.  It has the most vibrant blue translucent base, with teal scales and lightly glittered gold buds.  This one took a long time to reach me as it got held up for a particularly long time in customs but it was most definitely worth the wait when they finally released  it... maybe someone should have explained that not all pythons need a transport licence.

Side view of glitter budded python - my mobile phone camera has not done justice to these colours!

I have yet to use any of these in a bracelet as I am rather full on made up bracelets, it's getting towards the time for a big make and break marathon as I've no spare bracelets currently and I'm starting to get that twitch I get when I haven't made anything new for a while...

Sunday 26 May 2013

Day 26 of a self-imposed bead embargo and some maths!

Well I thought I'd pop in and let you know how it's all been going.


The last two weeks have been rather tricky, there have been, and still are, several really gorgeous beads for sale at fab prices and it's been hard to resist snapping up a couple, especially as I was in the right place at the right time for some classic core Navy Galaxies... but resist I did, and to date I still have.

Part of what is helping this week is knowing that I have a "troll date" with some lovely friends next weekend and I've budgeted for this as a special occasion.  If I find the right kit of the Trollbeads Summer Stones 31st May release I intend to indulge myself fully.  Plus there will be so many other beads my friends own to drool over I should get my troll fix by the bucket load, but I needed something more if I'm ever going to spend what I want to on my jewellery without going slightly crazy on all the bargains out there.

So I did some back of the fag packet* maths.

In the first 6 months of this year (providing I stick to my self-imposed bead embargo and budget) I will have still spent the equivalent of 20% of my take home pay on jewellery, mostly Trollbeads, compared to the equivalent of 7% on savings.  Now that maths looks a little bit wrong to me, although I'm sure I can conjure up a fabulous argument regarding investment vs spending when it comes to jewellery, which to some extent is true should I ever decide in the future to sell my collection.  Fat chance of that though, as whilst I may part with the odd bead or two that are not working out for me, I buy my jewellery primarily to wear - not because of it's collectible value.

Having said that I must admit, like many collectors, I do get a certain buzz off picking up something up that's a bit rare or limited/special edition or hunting out, or discovering something that I really want.  All this despite denying what several friends have independently called my Pokemon addiction - although I do see the similarities, especially when I've collected the zodiac birthstone stars, twice!

Whilst you may be amazed that anyone can not spend 27% of their take home pay on everyday essentials, looking back at the last 6 months it has all been at the expense of everything else e.g. very little day-to-day spending on essentials bar what you need to exist, plus the odd bottle of wine, as some things, like last weekend's festival, have been paid for well in advance, 12 months ago in fact for Bearded Theory!

So I've rejigged some figures on that virtual fag packet for what I'd like to be spending on jewellery for the remainder of the year and I'm aiming for an incredible 1.5% of my take home pay and an average of 2% thereafter.  Now I appreciate that most folk don't buy their jewellery like an accountant, nor do I, so this will be an interesting experiment.  Normal willpower hasn't worked well in the past so I thought I'd throw some cold hard logic over the situation to see if that works any better?

*or it's modern day equivalent of a few formulae in an excel spreadsheet

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Silver & Mud - How to wear great jewellery in a field

Having spent a wonderful few days at Bearded Theory Festival in the beautiful setting of Kedleston Hall, near Quarndon in Derbyshire, all in the name of music, friends and yes, just a little bit of mud, I was mindful of capturing a little splash of silver to bring back to Curling Stones.

As much as I love Trollbeads, a potentially muddy field where you need to keep your valuables with you at all times and lack of bathing for 3-4 days is not really conducive to full on Troll mode.  I had thought to wear a leather bracelet, then I remembered all the elements that it might have the opportunity to soak up during the festivities and I decided against it.  

However I never go anywhere without my rings, I favour big chunks of silver, or white gold, with or without stones and as I love to indulge my passion for rings - this year I decided to ask people if I could take some photos of their hands, and the occasional ear or even an arm to bring some snapshots back to you of what appeals to me about other people's jewellery.

First spotted was the amazing thumb ring of my friend who had popped in for a cuppa, well it was the least we could offer him after he'd kindly saved a spot for us as we were going to be a bit late to the party!

Also popping in for a coffee was another neighbour and friend, in fact this lovely lady gifted us a kettle many years ago, a "sister kettle" to hers, after my photo of her kettle below won us four free tickets to another festival in a sunny/muddy field in Devon.

Both kettles are still going strong 8 years later... although maybe not quite as shiny... the original above and the copy 8 years later below!

And so the weekend was off to a great start, more tea is always called for - then time for another wander...

These rings were a great surprise, not because of the actual rings themselves but because they belong to a lovely lady who almost didn't make the festival, my opening words on spotting her earlier were "oh what a fab surprise, I didn't think you could make it" which I think she must have heard 100+ times that weekend...

Jewellery could be found in many places, there were a lot of photos I didn't take, as I was there after all to have fun and not just on a blogging mission, more a blogging meander.  A lot of rings came to me and I was lucky enough to get a quick snap in.

As the weather turned a little chilly on Saturday it was the peek of some silver in amongst all that wool.

I love the photo below and what a fabulous collection of rings, also impressed that someone still has a perfect manicure after a several days in a field.

Not everyone had a ring to show, and boots can be just as colourful, I love the filigree ring in the centre of the photo, if it's not a chunk then this style works for me too.

Or you can go for a more secure form of jewellery, no problem in keeping your valuables on you with this design...

Next on my travels and last jewellery photo of Saturday night belonged to another friend

As I discovered, a few people I photographed are also keen jewellery fans, it was sometimes necessary to take another photo as the rings had multiplied in the space of 24 hours, check out the new rings below!

I wasn't completely immune to this either, I went for a walk to get some pizza (goats cheese and red onion in case you were curious) and came back with a new ring myself. 

So that was almost my festival over as far as the jewellery photos went, the last day was gloriously sunny and we even had to use the suntan lotion we laughingly had thrown into the huge pile of stuff we take when we camp. 

To the left are some rings that had been hidden by gloves the previous day, the owner having now shed her many layers and spotted enjoying a bit of late afternoon sun...  You can tell I was also a bit tired at this point as I didn't get a large close up of that beautiful ring on her little finger, suffice to say you can take my word that this is a stunning ring, one of my favourites of the weekend.  

In order to take a photo, when I explained that I blog about jewellery, I kept my explanations brief - "I write a blog, it's about jewellery, would you mind if I took a quick shot of your hands/ear for the blog?" as I didn't want to take up too much of peoples time.  I always showed the person a photo of their jewellery, if they were interested, to see if they were happy with the picture.  

My final photo was taken just as the last but one band were playing on the main stage.  The lady concerned was traveling with a friend of mine and I asked if I could take a shot of her hands, a question I had asked many people over the course of the weekend.

The last person was interested in my new phone as she was in the market for one and I showed her the photos I usually take for the blog, imagine my surprise when she immediately identified random bead shots as Trollbeads.  Turns out her sister is a fan too!

It was a pleasure to finish on this pair of hands, the jewellery being worn has great sentimental value and in particular the second ring in the photo which she has had since she was a little girl.  When the band broke on the ring it cost many times over what the original ring cost to get it fixed but worth every penny.  Reminded me of the time I crawled around in the rain and dirt under my car to recover my favourite thumb ring rather than risk losing or driving over it by moving my car.

So that was the end of my jewellery shots, just the rest of the festival to enjoy... don't mind if I do!

Tuesday 21 May 2013

When two is never enough - Pearl Zodiac Birthstone Star

Speaking of multiples as we were in the last post, I was recently offered the chance to buy from another collector's set of zodiac birthstone stars.

Regular readers will know how much I love this set of silvers having recently completed my 2nd set as part of my New Year's Bead Resolutions.  Therefore I was feeling fairly satiated, or so I thought.

My tribute bracelet for Valentine's Day featuring my RAFBF Bead and my original pearl stars

When I was offered the chance to buy more I had to really think about what I would do next, as after helping a friend search for some recently I know that it's becoming a lot harder to source certain ones, particularly at reasonable prices.  After several days of thinking this over, I decided I really couldn't pass up on the opportunity of another Pearl Star, Cancer and Pisces.  I'd used my original two on my tribute bracelet above so I could see that I would also get good use from a third.

Pearl Zodiac Birthstone Star No. 3

I've also set myself a new goal for the stars, as I know I don't want another full set - which would be overkill even with my passion for this collection.  I would however like to have 4 Pearl Stars and 4 Garnet Stars in total.  I can really see me using these on a single bracelet together by type, or just enjoying having these as multiples to use.

Triple Stars... just one more to go!

But not just yet... Day 21 and still not bought any more new beads!

Thursday 16 May 2013

When one is never enough - Organic Bubbles

I already had one Organic Bubbles, I had bought this early on as I was finishing my very first bracelet.  I decided this would be a good multiples bead for my Rocky Beach Bracelet, and as these things sometimes happen, within the space of a few days I went from 1 to 4!

A Sweet Swap
I suggested a swap between myself, a friend and another seller as both had beads to buy and sell that weren't compatible for a straight swap, however with what I had to offer and what I wanted in return it would work as a 3-way swap.

A Light Turquoise Prism was sent to my friend, who sent Organic Bubbles to me and I in turn sent a Pink Bud to the original seller - Result!  

My swap bead, a very plump Organic Bubbles

L-R: Azure Bubbles, my original Organic Bubbles, my swapped Organic Bubbles

As you can see my swap bead is darker and plumper than the one I already have and the bubbles run down the centre rather than the pattern you see on my other two beads.

Unusual Variations
I love the great variations you can find with Trollbeads, my next 2 beads arrived together and were bought on a whim because of the amazing colours.  They are really unusual and great for my Rocky Beach Bracelet; although they hadn't arrived in time to be photographed for the original blog post.

I was so pleased with these beads, that having missed the delivery I had to take a quick shot when I picked them up from the depot to show my friends before I got them home, it was a beautiful sunny day which really showed off their colours, a lovely "muddy green", great for representing UK winter rock pools and really unusual to come across two at the same time.

Side view of Organic Bubbles

So now I have four, and I only need three for my current project - oh well, you can never go wrong with having a spare!