Tuesday, May 10, 2016

5 Ways to Spark Bead Creativity

Ways to Spark Bead Creativity

I think many beaders want to believe that if we owned bead stores, we would have never-ending inspiration every day. And most bead store owners would tell you that when you run your own brick and mortar business, you don’t have time to bead. The truth is, no matter how well stocked we are, gaps in inspiration can happen at any time. Sometimes we just run out of ideas, or out of creative energy. I often get stuck in a rut when I try to make something that I don’t find enjoyable, and before I know it I’m in full procrastination mode. It can take days or even weeks until I’m ready to do anything creative again.

Since this is something that has happened to me often over the years, I’ve discovered a lot of little tricks for getting the beads rolling again. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge; other times you need a complete creative detox and reset. These methods have worked for me time and again.

5. Browse Your Favorite Sites

The easiest and cheapest way to spark a little creativity is to do some artistic window shopping. Check out what other artists are making, look at the designs in museums and catalogues, browse interesting color palettes and patterns, or just ogle beads until something fires you up.

Your favorite bead shops, Pinterest, fashion mag sites, and museum catalogues are a great place to start. A lot of sites offer a little more in the form of interaction, where you can play with the inspirations and see what happens. I like ColourLovers.com and Pantone.com when I want to experiment.

COLOURLovers.com Color Palette Browser
Browse and Create Color Palettes on COLOURLovers.com

4. Flip Through Some Pages

Books and magazines always offer a wealth of inspiration, whether you buy or borrow. Your public library likely has a great selection of jewelry, beading, and craft books, as well as back issues of craft and fashion magazines. If you subscribe – or have ever subscribed – to magazines or catalogues, all you have to do is haul out your back issues and start flipping. You’re bound to find something that calls out to be beaded.

If, like me, you have a lot of beading magazines from years ago, you can go back and try out projects and techniques that you once overlooked. I tried this earlier this year, and it worked so well I haven't had to go back to it since! If you're not ready to commit your bead stash to old projects, you could always peruse the ads for new material and color ideas.

Favorite Bead & Button Projects

3. Make Collages

Making digital collages like those you can tinker with on Pantone and ColourLovers is a great way to spark creativity, but nothing beats the good old fashioned scissors and glue stick collage. Almost any type of magazine or catalogue will do to make an inspiration collage. Cut out any pictures that speak to you and arrange them together to get a palette of ideas to help you on your way to new designs. And don’t overlook the potential of ads for color and pattern ideas!

Once you’ve made a few collages, you can hole-punch them and store them in a binder for future use, or wallpaper your creative space for inspiration at any time of the day or night. If you want to skip the arranging step, you can also paste whole pictures and snippets in a scrapbook or sketchbook. As an added bonus, collage-making can often lead to sketching, which is a great way to experiment and plan new design ideas.

Lime Lizard

2. Try Something New

When all else fails, grabbing some new beads is a great way to get your designs flowing again. Even if the project doesn’t work out, you’re bound to come up with other ideas while you’re working. Beads are just too exciting to ignore! You don’t have to go outside of your normal comfort zone when trying out new beads. A new color, shape, or finish in a style you’re already familiar with is often enough to rev things up.

There are also zillions of tutorials out there to try when you need a little boost. Whether you choose a free project or purchase one from an instructor, working from someone else's pattern gives your creative side a chance to relax and reset. By the time you’ve finished the project, you’ll likely have a whole to-do list to look forward to.

The Necklace a Day Challenge
The Necklace a Day Challenge

1. Challenge Yourself

By far my favorite way to start new inspirations and keep them going is with a challenge. Big or small, they never fail to give me a reason to bead (and learn new things along the way). It’s important to set a challenge that you want to do, and that you have the time and resources to stick with. While there’s plenty to be learned from failure, a successful challenge is much more exciting.

There’s no exact way to go about creating a challenge, but the easiest way to start is to pick something you want to repeat on some scale and set a time limit to do it in. It could be variations in a single design, or a variety of designs based on a theme. It could be a once-a-day challenge, or creating X number of projects by a certain date. Pretty much anything goes! Chronicling your challenge, whether in a journal or online, is a great way to stay motivated, too.

What’s your favorite way to deal with a creative slump?


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  1. I've always done flat peyote, so I'm learning Russian leaves and going to try flat chenille stitch. Learned St Petersburg stitch recently too.
    Lori F. MN

  2. It is a vety nice article. How true! I get stuck in some not so intersting projects and to leave it like that is not acceptable. Sometimes I make a note of the number and size of the beads in my dairy to continue it later. But that is not a good idea. Nowadays I try to finish off whatever I started.

    1. I firmly believe that beading projects are like books: life's just too short to drag yourself through one that you don't enjoy. Of course muscling through and finishing a tough one can be rewarding, but I don't think we should let them get in the way of things we really want to bead (or read)!


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