Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Finding Design Inspiration

Finding inspiration for your next creative project can be a real challenge and when faced with a blank sheet of paper/canvas/piece of fabric we can feel truly daunted and find it find a starting point. And there is no single definitive process - this can vary from person to person, but also from project to project. I  always find it fascinating how people's processes can vary, and thought I'd share with you the sort of approach I have when working creatively.

Inspiration can come from many sources, and sometimes unexpected, however it is extremely rare to have a bolt out of the blue fully formed idea, and most ideas come from a process of adjustments, corrections and further ideas generated as we actually do the work. Some folks seem to get down to that work almost immediately, but I tend to need to do a lot of 'mulling over', and it can feel like an age has passed before I can actually start to move forward.

Each year Stitches Coven, a creative textiles group I am a member of, put on an exhibition on an agreed theme. Next year's one will be on the theme of Memories. I have been letting this 'percolate' in the background for a good couple of months as it is a fairly abstract & conceptual topic, and I want the resultant work to be really personal to me. I still hadn't come of with a suitable 'hook', but a recent trip to visit family in Poland has unexpectedly provided me with a great source of design inspiration and will allow me to express a personal story.

My family on my mother's side are from Szczawno-Zdroj, a small Spa town in the South west of Poland, which has a long tradition as a health resort for healing, convalescence and rehabilitation, and boasts a mineral water pump room which dispenses naturally carbonated spring water.

Pump Rooms at Szczawno-Zdroj

There is also a Spa park which is great for recreation, plus some plants & trees are grown that are considered to have medicinal qualities. We took a stroll around the pump rooms and grounds with my family  including my aunt, an ex-teacher who is suffering with dementia. As is often the case for this condition, her long term memory remains strong and she is able to recall and impart information well - it's a pity my ability to understand her 'teachings' was not so good due to my limited polish, but as we walked through the park she pointed out a gingko tree and tried to explain how this was considered to have medicinal properties which were good for memory. She picked up a few leaves for me to take with me, and this was a lighbulb moment for me  in terms of design inspiration.

I love nature and especially forest & woodland - my earliest memories are of trips to the woods where we used to live at that time, and trees feature prominently in my memories of visits to Poland. The gingko leaves serve as a personal and poignant memento,  as their association with memory and my aunt's dementia strikes a deep chord from me. Thinking about memory also makes me consider how I experience being born in the UK but with family in Poland - in the absence of regular day to day contact, much of the 'relating' feels like it based on memories rather than the present. Whilst I have a deep desire to keep these relationships alive, I also fear that without taking due care to ensure this, they will fade like memories over future years.

So, a quick stroll around the park has given me plenty of food for thought, and a great starting point. The gingko leaves look attractive too, and are a great motif to work with. On my return home I quickly did some gelli printing with them, making numerous prints onto paper and some fabric - this will provide raw materials for developing further. I've no idea at this moment what direction it will take or what my finished piece of work will look like..................but it was great fun making the prints!

all set for a printathon!

the actual leaves with lots of paint and pattern on them from printing

a stray mulberry leaf

Gingko with dill and sweet chestnut leaves

So that's a little glimpse into how I approach a creative project, at least this one as it varies. I'd love to here about how you find your inspirations, or if you have any good tips on finding your inspiration and getting started, so do leave a comment below.

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