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Kayte Terry

Inspiration Every Day

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Written on June 4, 2007 6:37 PM

Inspiration is defined as arousal of the mind to special unusual activity or creativity. We crafters are always talking about inspiration: what we get inspired by, where it comes from and how it happens. Inspiration is elusive, you never know when it's going to strike but you do have to be prepared for it at all times.

A beautiful paper flower and artfully torn wallpaper in the Souvenir window, a store in Seattle. One of my favorite images.

The color of a newly bloomed flower, the silhouette of a passer-by's vintage dress or the architectural details of a neighborhood building may all find their way into your latest crafty masterpiece once you learn to recognize inspiration and channel it into your work.
Here are a few techniques and suggestions for getting inspired and learning how to organize all your new ideas!

Get out of the House
When I was a kid, my favorite school days were field trip days. I loved to get out of the stifling classrooms, and, because I was a total nerd (still am!), learn something new. Today, as a freelancer (and a workaholic), I have to force myself away from the computer and the sewing machine to take a break but once I manage to do it, I am always glad I did. There is nothing at all inspiring about eating a soggy sandwich over your computer keyboard instead of taking a lunch break.
Inspiration is everywhere, all you have to do is get up and look around. Maybe this means taking a walk for a few minutes of your lunch break to people watch, maybe it means taking the long way home down a new street or through a different neighborhood.

My mother actually pointed out this funny piece of buttered toast hovering high over the door of a building in Soho. I love seeing everyday iconographic objects in funny places, so this one really stuck with me.

Sometimes I just need to get some fresh air to clear my head. That's often when inspiration strikes: I write most of my blog entries and articles in my head on long walks.
And if you need any more convincing-when I started writing this article, I was holed up in my office in front of my computer when inspiration struck! “It’s a beautiful day”, I thought, “what am I doing inside?” I grabbed my laptop and headed out to the park. The trees were blooming, the kids were playing and everyone just seemed happy to be alive, even for that one moment. Sometimes I need to follow my own advice about getting out of my house!

This park by my house is the perfect place for me to type away on my laptop.

Oh and don’t forget to take your camera with you! You never know what you will see on your journeys.

Try New Things
You know the routine: you roll out of bed, grab a quick breakfast, head to work, stay too late, stuff dinner in your face in front of the TV and collapse into bed only to repeat the same thing over again the next day. You, my friend, are in a rut. What you need is something new to flex your brain and get your creative juices flowing.
Instead of going home to watch television, have dinner with some friends, volunteer for a cause you believe in, have a picnic. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get inspired but you do have to be creative.
You could also consider signing yourself up for a class or better yet, organize a skill-share with your friends and friends of friends. Learn a new language, start listening to Balinese Gamelan music, get a membership to your favorite museum, whatever gets you going. The idea is that a new hobby or a new skill equals a new lease on life and renewed creativity. I recently started re-learning Portuguese, a language that I once spoke fluently. I started remembering how much I loved Braziillian culture and music and all the inspirations I had while living there suddenly came flooding back. I tapped into a part of my brain that had been lingering around unused for almost a decade. Now I am planning on signing up for some Portuguese Meetup groups so I can connect with other people and who know where this new ispiration will take me next?

Find a Community
Which brings me to the next step: making connections with people who share some of your passions. There are people blogging about any and all kinds of craft and design. Google the subject you are looking for, or find the community on Flickr or Meet up and go from there. Sometimes it’s fun to get stuck in a blog vortex linking from one blog to the next to the next to the next. You never know what you are going to find or how it will inspire you.
Another thing to try is the craft-along or the craft challenge. On the web, you can find all sorts of monthly challenges from Tie One On, a monthly Apron challenge to craft challenges on Whip-up. You can even type craft challenge into the search function on Flickr and come up with some new inspiration.

An adorable apron from Amy of PoppyHeart from the Tie One On rick-rack apron challenge

You can also join or form a craft night. This can range from an informal night of making things over a bottle of to a more organized meeting with group projects or themed craft night.
One little caveat: it’s great to be inspired by looking at other people’s stuff but It’s also easy to get into another rut of looking at blogs all night and not working on your own projects. I speak from experience!

Collect your thoughts

Ok, you’ve started opening up your mind to new ideas, you’re thinking all the time and inspiration is a-flowing, but how do you keep all these ideas organized? There’s nothing worse than having a great idea one night only to forget about it the very next day. You know that it was there, you just can’t remember what it was.
The best way to keep inspiration is to have a place to put it all. I keep an inspiration book (well, actually several) of magazine tears I like. The nice thing about this is that you can recycle most of the magazine and keep only what you really want. You can also make yourself an inspiration board. I like this one and this one too! Here's a group where you can see even more inspiration boards-notice they don't have to be boards even! they can be ledges, shelves or even curio cabinets!

my sewing table">
This is an inspiration board I made from cork tiles I found at the hardware store. I covered each one with some favorite scraps of vintage fabric. The nice thing about an inspiration board is you can pin up all sorts of things that strike your fancy: ribbons, fake fruit, small toys, whatever makes you happy!

If you are more web-inclined, use a blog as a catalogue of what inspires you or keep all your pictures and scans in a photo set on Flickr. I also keep a small moleskine journal in my bag at all times to write things down. You can even keep one by your bed if you are an active dreamer!

I hope all of you are running out of your houses right now, camera in hand, to take in the world and get inspired! And if you’re not, there’s always tomorrow right? Which brings me to my last point: Give yourself a break. You’re not always going to be full of ideas or energy. Sometimes all I want to do is collapse on my couch and watch bad TV and there’s really nothing wring with that; we can’t be deep thinkers 100% of the time!. Think of it as recharging for the next great idea!

comment by Nancy Flynn on June 5, 2007 12:59 AM:

what an inspiring article! i know that is punny, but i mean it--thank you for the great advice on making every day more creative.

comment by moodshine on June 12, 2007 9:33 AM:

this is a realy useful and inspiring article.
Im a graphic designer by trade, and i obsessivly keep a big srap book of everything i like, including crafty things! that way im never stuck for somehting to get me inspired or enthused about a project.

comment by angelheart315 on July 15, 2007 1:58 PM:

Hi, I'm new here so this is my very first post ever here

I loved your thoughts here Kayte and you have certainly inspired me!

I have a question for you guys though, this probably sounds stupid but you all seem nice enough to ask so here goes...when you say you keep a scrap book, do you just paste or glue in photos, poems, magazine articles/photos, project photos from other people etc? and do you just put them all in one book or make separate ones or what?

I used to be SO organized but since I've had to quit working due to my nerves and anxiety/depression, I get so rattled and cannot organize anything anymore which upsets me. Especially when I try to craft or sew so I need help as well as inspiration! Any ideas are welcome and appreciated believe me.

And Kayte, your post about getting inspiration every day really cheered me up because I DO stay depressed a lot and although I make an effort and really try to be up and positive every day, sometimes with this chronic depression and panic, it's hard so I need all the inspiration I can get and your article certainly cheered me up and gave me hope.

On really good days, I get a LOT of inspiration from nature and the outdoors because we have a back deck that I spend a lot of time on with my flowers and overlooking a wooded area where deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds all come into our yard from because we feed them.

I'm a country girl from birth and LOVE nature, outdoors, mountains and trees/plants and flowers; rainbows, sunrises and sunsets and even rain and storms sometimes so I definitely have some potential for learning to draw inspiration from all those right?

I just don't know how to use it and where to put all my ideas and get myself organized so anything you guys can share with me would be wonderful!

Thanks for listening and Kayte, thanks for the GREAT article and inspiration and to you other posters, thanks for your ideas. Now if only you have time and will be good enough to take me under your wings and help me get organized and "inspired" further!

Have a GREAT day, all! :-)

comment by Christy Petterson on July 24, 2007 9:33 PM:

Kayte, this is great! My camera has become almost as essential as carrying my wallet with me lately. You just never know when you gotta snap a shot.

angelheart315, I hope you are feeling better...I think the fewer the rules the better for scrapbooking. Sometimes it's fun to put things together thematically and sometimes it's fun to just stick them in a notebook in the order you ran across them. It's all just for fun so I think organization can be thrown out the window if that feels good!!

comment by Christy Petterson on July 24, 2007 9:34 PM:

ps- I love that your mom spotted the toast...I would crack up if my mom noticed something like that!

comment by kayteterry on August 6, 2007 6:44 PM:

thanks christy!
yeah my mom has a good eye.

angelheart-sorry this reply was so delayed. i haven't checked this article in a little while! my inspiration books are actually like little portfolios where you can slip magazine tears into a plastic sleeve. i like them because they are easily removeable.
but...you can glue or tape things to anything you want! I agree with Christy that it's good to just pick a cataloging style and run with it! my books are organized by a few themes: rooms, displays, fashion, craft ifeas, etc but yu can do them by color or chronologically too.