I wanted to talk about inspiration with you today, how I find it, how I use it, how I share it and what it means to me to be able to inspire others.
So, what is ‘inspiration’? Google defines it as ‘the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative’ and ‘a sudden brilliant or timely idea’. Inspiration can certainly strike at any time and anywhere. For whatever reason, I find that many of my ideas are formulated while in the shower or late at night when I am trying to get to sleep…not the best time for inspiration to strike especially when your sleep is already interrupted throughout the night by a baby!
When we talk about inspiration, I do not think it just needs to be in a creative way. We can be inspired to make different life choices, to live more sustainably, we might be inspired by another person’s journey both physically and mentally. Almost all our ideas thought processes, and decisions are in some way directly or indirectly influenced by something that has inspired us.
In our digitally-driven world, these days we do not have to go very far to find inspiration, we do not even need to leave the couch! The invention of Pinterest 11 years ago gave everyone the ability to have a virtual inspiration board where you could ‘pin’ all manner of images and organize them on different boards. Pinterest allowed its users to save an image from a website to act as a reminder with a direct link of something they wanted to try for themselves. I am not sure how you felt when you discovered Pinterest, but I was ecstatic! I was a self-proclaimed ‘pretty image’ junkie and Pinterest meant I no longer had to save hundreds of inspiring images to my computer but rather save them to my own profile and pinboards.
It seems 2010 was the year for image-sharing platforms because a few months after Pinterest launched the world was introduced to Instagram. It is safe to say that this social media, photo-sharing platform has changed the way we share our lives and creations. We could choose to keep our little picture squares private or share them with the entire world! Instagram for me quickly became mostly about sharing what I was making. I started to discover other makers, hundreds, and hundreds of them, so many talented, creative makers to fill my feed with their pretty handmade items, so much inspiration! I found myself a community of makers that shared the same joy and passion for EPP and Slow Stitching as I did. I am inspired daily by my tribe, by my friends, not just with what they have made, but they inspire me and motivate me to keep working on my own creations and designs through their ‘hearts’ and comments on my posts.
It is easy in our fast pace, digital world to rely solely on these online resources for inspiration, but we must remember that there is a great big world out there and we should take time to smell the roses! Referring specifically to craft-based inspiration sources, I find visiting Quilt shows, craft fairs, and patchwork shops to be wonderfully inspiring. It also gives us the opportunity to chat and share our love for our craft with our fellow makers. Getting together at quilt guilds, sewing, and craft groups allows us to share what we are making and see what others are making, thus participating in an inspiration circle.
Another thing that can help to inspire a new make or design is quite simply fabric. Sometimes playing in my stash, pulling together a collection or scheme can get me inspired to create a new project. Much like mixing paints together for a painting, seeing what fabric plays well with another can help get the creative juices flowing.
Looking through my craft books and magazines can also help to inspire me. Aside from learning a new technique that might inspire a new project, they often just inspire me to start making something, to dive into my stash and crochet something fun or stitch something to hang in my home.
Beyond the world of craft, I find inspiration in many other areas. Having worked as an Interior Designer for 15 years, I have always found interiors, decorating, styling, home furnishings, homewares, and furniture inspiring. I draw on colour trends and styles, immersing them in what I create and design. I find architectural forms also inspiring, and I love searching for unique mosaic tile patterns that can be reinterpreted into EPP.
Sometimes I can be inspired by simple little things, and often from nature. I love and adore flowers. Roses and peonies being my favorites. Cottage gardens also inspire me. Reading a good book can sometimes lead to new ideas as can watching films or Tv shows, in particular those with amazing cinematography, set, and costume design.
So, I have all this inspiring matter floating around me, how do I use it all?
My first step is to organize it. That involves Pinterest boards and Instagram ‘Saved’ folders. Depending on what project I am working on, I may create a visual mood or concept board. This helps me to narrow down the inspiration and focus on key elements.
I might hit the books or the internet to do some further research into a particular item of inspiration to learn more about the meaning or origins. Often what I find inspiring might be a new technique, such as an embroidery stitch, and so I will teach myself the new stitch and think about how I can incorporate it into what I am making.
Quite often inspiration serves as motivation. Seeing what everyone is making on Instagram inspires me to continue to work on my projects so that I can share them with my tribe and crafty community.
Sharing inspiration for me tends to happen in a digital way. I enjoy sharing what I am personally making on Instagram through my profile feed and the various video formats we now have. I like that I can ask for advice or get help to solve a design problem.
I enjoy curating my Pinterest boards and sharing these with my followers. I enjoy creating video tutorials that I share on my YouTube channel, and of course, this blog is a big way for me to share ideas and thoughts with you all to help educate and inspire.
I believe that it is important when sharing something you have made that has been inspired by another’s creative work to give credit to that maker. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with a fresh new idea for a pattern or design. Elements of your work may end up being similar to another’s without you ever intending it to be. There is a whole library out there of different traditional quilt blocks, motifs, embroidery stitches, and techniques. Many pattern designers draw on this library when designing a pattern, and so it can often be the case that the work by different designers can have the same or similar elements. I think it is important to be transparent, open, and honest about where we get our inspiration for what we create.
So how do I feel when someone says I have inspired them to try a new shape, or new pattern, or to try EPP? In a word, humbled. It brings me so much joy to know that the passion I have for EPP and Slow stitching inspires others. I am deeply passionate about traditional crafts and keeping them alive, moving them forward in new modern interpretations, but always acknowledging the past and where they have come from. To be able to inspire others makes what I create worthwhile. It gives me purpose and it encourages me to pursue my passion and follow my dreams. It feeds my creativity and nurtures it at the same time.
I hope you have found this post inspiring and you enjoy this space where I share my creative musings.
Until next time, Happy Stitching
Miss Leela x