I am very inspired by my materials. Crafting with Fibre, engages all the senses, and I get as much inspiration from gazing into a box of fibre as I do from “thinking”, possibly more.
There is a time and a place for mindful creativity, of course sometimes I will start with a concept, or be given one for a commission, but what I want to share with you is my never-fail strategy for getting past the creative blahs, the Inspiration Basket!
If I am stuck, I always return to my materials for inspiration. What does this fleece, this braid, this colour want to be? What will make it sing?
I will look into my box, pull a couple of things out, put some of them back, grab something else, eyeing up the colour, feeling the texture, inhaling the warm pungent wool scent of it, and suddenly, I’m head down, bum up rummaging for the accent fibres, the silks, the bling, the locks, chucking it all into an “inspiration basket”, words and pictures whirling in my brain, faster than my hands can work.
This seems to work, whether it is a felted piece, or my Designer Yarns, though one thing I have learned, is that while in felting, the colours stay more or less where they are placed, it is almost impossible to apply too much colour, as the felting process tends to mute and harmonise what look, on the face of it, to be clashing colours and textures.
I may edit the basket later. I’ll confess, I did these for the photoshoot, the pictures show an attractive basket, but I’m just as likely to use a pound shop plastic bin, or even an old cardboard box, whatever is to hand, when the inspiration strikes. I may not use everything in it, or I may go shopping in the stash for that last little something, but the concept is born in that mad rummage!
I can be feeling totally meh, not a creative bone in my body, and if I remember to do this, it almost always works, and I am excited to create again. I’ve also lost count of the times I started wanting to make one thing, and wound up making something entirely different, because that was what the thing that inspired me needed to be!
Like all artists, I can get stuck in colour ruts. I find blues, purples and teals in complementary colour schemes are a bit of a default. I’m challenging myself to be more adventurous with colour, so sometimes I use one of those colour palettes, beloved of Pinterest, as a leaping off point. This one spices up my beloved Blue/greens with Reds and Orange. What I make from it, and how, will be another post!
Sometimes, one fibre is the inspiration, and the rest play a supporting role. For instance, I have a glorious luxurious blend, which came to me in a grab bag of World of Wool lap waste, and sat in my stash for several years. It had Merino, Alpaca, lavish amounts of teal blue mulberry silk, in the most delicious mixture of blues, whites and natural fawns. It sang to me of the sea, on a sunny day after a storm, when the water was blue again, but with flecks of fawn foam. And it waited, patiently, until I had the skills to do it justice, before becoming a yarn that reminded me of just such a sea. Core spun with a jagged motion, chain plied, with silky Teeswater locks woven into the plies. Fat and bulky, but airy and squishable, and the slightly grubby denim blue of the sea after a storm, with big frothy white breakers. That fibre changed the entire creative direction of a larger project, because it needed that technique.
Sometimes it will be an accent that sets the tone for a piece. I once bought one of those Turkish “Good Luck Eye” bracelets, because I wanted to felt a Torque necklace with a row of googly eyes in it.
Sometimes unconventional materials lodge themselves in my brain, telling me to hunt out the perfect fibres and techniques to bring them to life, as with my Peacock Barb and Beetle Wing Yarn. That yarn lived in my brain on and off for a month as I mulled it over, before making up my inspiration basket and blending the batt, selecting the technique, and the plying thread, and making it real.
This post has been a joy to write, so welcome to the whirling Kaleidoscope that is my process. I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired now! I think I may just have an appointment with a basket of fluff!