Sites for Sore Eyes
Everyone has their own creative process. Whether you are making a necklace or writing a novel, you probably have your quirky habits that help to put you in the right mindset to create.
Maybe taking a run around the block or fixing your favorite snack helps you to focus. I find that harvesting beads and findings to repurpose from beaded objects like napkin rings and headbands really gets my creative juices flowing. (You can see some of these re-imagined projects in Creative Jewelry 2011.)
But no matter what your methods are, there are times when they just don't work.
I am sure that you know as well as I do how frustrating this can be. Just last week, I sat down to try and design a few new pieces for our upcoming issue of 101 Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings, only to find myself up against a serious creative roadblock. After sitting in the middle of my living room surrounded by bags of beading materials (seriously, it looked like the Fire Mountain catalogue threw up all over my floor!), I was ready to give up. My initial impulse was to devour an entire sleeve of Oreos and turn on Friends re-runs. Instead, I opened my laptop and went in search of some inspiration.
The crafting community has become a growing presence on the web, and with the development of creative collectives like BeadingDaily.com and handmade marketplaces like Etsy, the internet has become a space in which anyone can publish, share, and discuss his or her creations.
I have found that just browsing through some of my favorite crafty sites and blogs is almost always enough to kick start my creative engines. It's never long before I find a new technique I want to try, or a color scheme that would be perfect for a new necklace or bracelet.
One thing I have discovered, however, is that the sheer volume of sites that have amazing and inspiring ideas can be daunting. There are so many to choose from that it is difficult to know where to start! But since you have to start somewhere, I have assembled a list of a few of my favorites below.
Etsy is an online handmade marketplace, where you can buy or sell handmade and vintage items.
What I like:
-Their homepage always features curated galleries of items from different shops on their site, and these galleries change frequently throughout the day, which means that you are constantly exposed to new and interesting items.
-You can mark your favorite stores and individual listings, so you can easily keep track of pieces or materials that you like. You can also organize items into cohesive collections called "treasuries."
-Etsy also publishes interviews with artists that are featured on their site. I always love hearing about what other creative minds have to say about their craft.
Pinterest is essentially a virtual bulletin board that you share with the entire online community. Have you heard of inspiration boards (collages of inspiring photos, magazine clippings, etc.)? Well, on Pinterest, you can create your own themed "boards" and then "pin" items to each of those boards.
What I like:
-I can easily group links that I find useful by general subject area (for example: I have a board just for color schemes that I really like). It seems like I encounter at least a handful of links every day that I want to remember, and file for future use, and instead of emailing them to myself (which really means that they get lost in the black hole of my junkmail box), now I use Pinterest to organize them in one place, with just a click of my mouse.
-The thumbnail-based interface makes browsing really easy, and you can customize the pins that are displayed based on their subject matter or how popular they are.
-Everyone's boards are public, so if I find other users that have interests and tastes that are similar to mine, I can "follow" them, and easily browse through their new pins.
StumbleUpon is more of an online service than a site in itself. You select topics that you are interested in and StumbleUpon will show you sites that you may like based on the preferences you entered. My StumbleUpon interests include "crafts," "handmade jewelry," and "jewelry design."
What I like:
-You can "thumbs up" any site, and StumbleUpon will file the page you are on under your account. (StumbleUpon has essentially digitized the word-of-mouth process. When you give a page a thumbs up, you are notifying their system that you are interested in what is on that page, and you think others might be interested, too.)
-You can install a StumbleBar, a toolbar that will always display at the top of your browser window, so you can give any site you visit a thumbs up and file it away, even if it is one that you didn't discover through stumbling.
-One downside: StumbeUpon only works in certain web browsers (including Firefox and Internet Explorer, but not in Safari).
These are just a few of the sites that I have found helpful in my eternal quest for inspiration, but I would love to hear about any others that you have discovered! Do you have a favorite jewelry blog? What do you do to find your creative muse?
Assistant Editor, Jewelry Stringing Magazine