Monday, 13 June 2011

Inspiration is everywhere

It is amazing what we experience during the course of just one day, we are constantly bombarded by sights, sounds and sensations. Often ideas come to me, as I go about my normal working day. A shape, texture or snatch of music will stimulate an idea. I have not been feeling too great today, probably a combination of an arthritis flair up and the medication that I am having to take to counteract it. I have still been having ideas, despite struggling to function. For example an idea popped into my head this afternoon about how to incorporate vintage buttons into a bracelet. I have found that on days like these the best plan of action is to write these flashes of inspiration down as soon as I can, before I forget them.

I hit a bit of a brick wall about 6 months ago where my beading is concerned. I am not really sure why it happened. For the last 5 years I have been completely absorbed by it but perhaps I just needed to take a break and recharge my batteries. I think that I am now working through the beaders' block and hopefully coming out the other side. Going back to my opening sentence - I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head that it would take several lifetimes to realise all of them. On days like today when just navigating my way through the working day takes all of my energy, writing my ideas down is the best plan of action. It also means that when I have a bad patch with my beading I can browse through my notes and ideas and see where it takes me. (Sorry if I am rambling, but as I said earlier - very bad day!).

During my City & Guilds and NCFE beading courses I got into the habit of keeping a beading journal. I now have a small collection of sketch books. I have found it a great comfort looking through them over the last few months. Even if I have lacked the energy to actually make much I have at least been keeping my mind ticking over.

I also have a couple of large lever arch files full of beaded samples with scribbled notes and instructions. These have proved absolutely invaluable.

I would definitely encourage you to start a creative journal, whatever your chosen craft. I don't profess to be an expert and there are many books available on creating and keeping journals. However here, for what they are worth, are my tips for keeping one -

  • Buy a number of inexpensive journals or sketchbooks. I find the Daler Rowney range really useful as they come in a range of sizes and the paper is robust enough to cope with paint, marker pens and glue.
  • If you find a blank white page daunting then colour it with a pale watercolour wash or diluted ink.
  • Write in your journal or notebook regularly. It will soon become a habit. It doesn't matter if you think that you cannot draw. Don't worry about being neat, no-one else has to see it.
  • Collect items which inspire you - postcards, magazine cuttings, scraps of fabric, dried flowers and leaves, feathers - whatever takes your fancy.
  • If you are frightened of using colour in your work, use your notebook or journal to experiment. Get some magazines (garden and interiors magazines are good for this) and tear pieces out, then create a collage. See what works and what doesn't. Very few people have an instinctive way with colour. We all see colour differently, good use of colour come with practice and trial and error.
  • If you make something write down instructions and the exact details of your materials before you forget them. Then, if you need to recreate a piece you have all of the information in one place. I have been extremely thankful on a number of occasions that I have done this.
  • Finally - have fun. Who knows where it might lead!

I honestly couldn't have got through the last few months without the support from my family and friends. It was 'A Girl in Winter's Birthday today and I decide to make her a bag to say 'Thank You'. A couple of years ago, at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace we bought an Anne-Marie Horner bag pattern, splitting the cost between us. The idea was that we would each make a version of the bag. For various reasons that simply did not happen and the pattern has lurked in my stash since then. I recently came across it and decided to make it for her as a surprise.

For those of you who are interested, the pattern is 'The Multitasker Tote' and the fabrics are Amy Butler's Daisy Bouquet in 'Misty' for the handles, side pockets and lining and Sweet Jasmine in 'Gray' for the main outside panels. I was a bit worried about my fabric choices. I ordered the fabric online and when it arrived, as often happens, it was not quite what I was expecting. However they are definitely 'A Girl in Winter's favourite colours so I hoped that it would be OK. As it turned out she loved it.

The pattern was easy and fun to make. It is not a pattern for a complete beginner, but would suit an intermediate sewer. I have made a number of bags and I have to say that I found the instructions mystifying on a first read through. My advice would be to simply follow the instructions to the letter and everything will fall into place. The construction is really ingenious.

I made the following modifications to the pattern -
  • The finished bag is quite large, and as I was using quilting weight fabric I was worried that it would be too floppy and not robust enough. Therefore I attached medium weight fusible interfacing to the pocket panels and lining and fusible fleece onto the external panels. This gave the finished tote just enough substance and strength.
  • I used a double layer of fabric for the interior pocket (instead of the single layer in the instructions) for the same reasons as above - to give it strength.
  • I added a magnetic snap to the upper edge of the tote, to make it more secure and to prevent the top edge gaping open.
I was very pleased with the finished bag. OH remarked that the fabric reminded him of a 1950s apron, which was exactly the look I was aiming for. I would definitely like to make myself one. The only problem is going to be deciding which fabric to use.


agirlinwinter said...

I do love my bag - it is absolutely beautiful! You are the most creative person I've ever met and I'm awed by the wonderful things you create. Thanks for the tips on keeping a journal. I might do this, I'm in need of inspiration.

Anniebead said...

I would definitely give it a try. I found it hard at first but it gets easier with time.