Sunday, May 15, 2016

Inspiration - where does it come from?

People often ask me "Where do I get my ideas from?" and "what inspires me?" Being a teacher I have heard students say they don't know what to make, don't know what colour/s to use etc.

There are many areas in our daily lives capable of inspiring Bead artists so I hope to inspire you by sharing some ideas and giving some examples of where myself and other artists get our inspiration from. Believe me 
it is limitless.

First up is the pretty obvious one of


Color is around us all day and all night, it is everywhere, we even dream in color. Imagine the bright colors of Spring blossoms, the intensely rich earthy Summer desert scenes, the warm tones of Autumn leaves or the cool/cold/crisp whites of a Winter wonderland, just to name the seasons. Speaking of seasons, how about fashion colors in clothing and interior design? these also inspire and luckily regularly alter. A favorite piece of artwork, the color of someone's eyes, the changing hues of water, shadows as the sunlight moves, the sheen of feathers on a bird, the colors of a snake and the list is endless…………… here we have Aurelio Castano's color inspiration taken from an American Rattlesnake, awesome work also awesome snake.


You may have a favorite piece of fabric that you love because of its patterning or its colours? You may love the intricacy of a piece of lace. You may see terrific wallpaper in a magazine, a house, a store or even as display in a wallpaper shop.  

Pattern can be abstract like a psychedelic shirt, linear like tartan, circular like polka-dots or paisley, or a mix of all these nowadays. What about image repetition to form pattern - we see those every day and most don't even register in our mind. Seeing a row of items can inspire a design. Pattern is part of our everyday life also, just like colour is………on the left we have Cynthia Newcomer Daniel's design from a love of lace and on the right we have Sand Fibers - Carol Dean Shapre - design "Cubism" inspired by a fabric pattern.   How good do these look? (click to enlarge images)


People love to touch, love the feel of different things. Inspiration also comes from how something feels. What about a spiky ocean critter, or an echidna/porcupine. All spiney protrusions are possible to achieve with spike beads or daggers like my 'Echinoderm' bracelet.


I love architecture. Inspiration from architecture is also limitless and we have so many styles of architecture covering such a diverse and wide range from Roman to present day. Consider the curves in a modern building, the patterning of exterior finishes, the sails of an Opera House, the stain glass windows in a church, the steeples of a mosque, the lines of a gothic building, the material used to make the various surfaces and again the list is endless……… example of Art Deco architecture is the Chrysler Building in New York City inspiration for my Art Deco bracelet.


Many people paint beautiful scenery, photograph mountains and trees. We cannot escape nature as it is all around us and why not try to allow a massive scene to inspire and get the creative juices to flow? Neva Brown had Machu Picchu as the challenge inspiration for a brooch.

Duplication of what you see

This is where you make something that you see in life, a literal piece.  
My friend Regina Krawets of Kaleidoscope Wearable Art, recently designed a piece based on bubbles. We all see bubbles in our daily life and this is an amazing representation of them.

Whereas Aurelio loves bugs and fruit. Just look at the amazing workmanship in this fly, and the pineapple - an incredible eye for detail.

So here are just two examples of literal translations of what exists to inspire.


How inspiring are flowers? and floral arrangements? I think they need a special mention all of their own.
Flowers may be the biggest of all inspiration as they are very often used in jewellery. As often as the coming and going of the seasons. 

Many bead artists endeavour to create floral representations and with the amazing colours available today how could they not be inspirational!!

On the left is the beautiful Briar Rose design of Marsha Weist-Hines from Haute Ice Beadwork. Such workmanship and intricacy!

On the right is a floral grouping I made, my first. I had so much fun making this one.

Literature and imagination

So far we have only mentioned things that we physically see for inspiration. We cannot omit the images we conjure in our own mind when we are reading a book, listening to music, reciting a poem. All these things also trigger a
flow of internal imagery. 

Just look at Neva Brown's beautiful piece called "Lady of Shalott" all inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name.

There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colours gay. 
She has heard a whisper say, 
A curse is on her if she stay 
To look down to Camelot. 
She knows not what the curse may be, 
And so she weaveth steadily, 
And little other care hath she, 
The Lady of Shalott.

New Beads and experimentation

Last, but not least, all the new shapes and colours of beads coming out.  Inspiration is triggered when you experiment. Just sitting and playing with the variety of two hole beads now available gets your creative juices flowing. New ideas and new ways to use them are being discovered all the time. In my 'Passion Flower' brooch/ pendant we have Super-duos, lentils, two hole daggers and what an eye-catcher they make.

Just for the fun of it.

This is an interesting category for inspiration. You can find inspiration in the oddest of places to create a design very original in concept. Here we have Kris Empting-Obenland's tribute to Fred Spillmann who used cigarettes in fashion. Kris' cigarette necklace is a monument to him and I am amazed at how she has added such detail, right down to lipstick on the butts.

Today's post is just a small snippet of all the inspiration that surrounds us. Be open to what is around you, what is attractive to you, what catches your eye, your attention. All you have to do is open your eyes, really look, and be open to the possibilities. 

You have heard the line 'Stop and smell the Roses' how about changing that to 'Stop, smell the Roses, look at how beautiful the colour, how delicate the shape, how soft the petals, how pointed the thorns, how green the leaves, how interesting the angles, the light play...………...and the inspiration begins.'


  1. Thank you Patrick for the super article. Also you new logo is terrific!
    -Eva Maria

    1. Thank you Eva Maria, much appreciated. I am glad you like the new logo also.


  2. Well done Patrick and beautifully chosen work!

  3. Sharon Edelman Wonderful article Patrick!