Question of the Week: What's Your Favorite Source of Inspiration?

When you design your own beadwork, finding inspiration for your beading projects is an important part of the whole process. Finding new sources of inspiration can help you grow and evolve as an artist. I've found that staying open to new sources of inspiration can yield some very interesting and exciting beadwork! Here's what our panel had to say about their favorite source of inspiration for their beading designs and beading projects:

Carol Dean Sharpe: I seem to get much of my inspiration from textiles. Sometimes a color palette will grab my attention. At other times, it's the texture or the pattern that gets me asking "what if?", "could I?", "how would I?"  Bargello needlepoint inspired my multiple drop peyote patterns that mimic some of the motifs found in those textiles.  Houndstooth fabric just screamed to be interpreted in peyote. My latest project was inspired by the ribbing on knit sweaters.

Shelley Nybakke: My favorite source of inspiration is generally other jewelry, although non-beaded.  Just flipping through fashion magazines with jewelry advertisements can lead to an idea which if I like it enough, I can usually make it work as a beaded piece one way or the other. 

Jill Wiseman: My favorite source for inspirations is fashion magazines. I love to look at the fabrics for color inspiration, and the trends in fashion jewelry. And believe it or not, shoes can be a great idea generator! I'm always looking at the unique way they place those straps and translating them into bracelets!

Beki Haley: This question was actually harder than it seemed at first.  I draw inspiration from so many things, picking a favorite was tough!  But I think I'll have to go with the abundance of colors of seed beads I am so gratefully surrounded by all the time.  Sometimes a single color will spark a whole slew of ideas, many more than I could come close to seeing realized in an actual beading project.  Also, when my muse takes a vacation I find myself just playing with color combinations, almost as if it keeps me connected to the beads in some way even without actually creating a piece of beadwork.  So, in addition to using the array of colors as inspiration, I also get to use them as a comforting tool when I get frustrated for lack of actual ideas.

Kerrie Slade: My own whimsical imagination!  When I have the time (which is rare these days) I like to escape from this world.  I close my eyes and let my mind wander through an enchanted midnight garden where all manner of magical creatures roam.  I imagine fantasy flowers blooming and shimmering in the moonlight, leaves unfurling and reaching for the sky and fairy folk weaving adornments from the blossoms and vines.  When I return from my reverie – I bead!

Kelli Burns: I must say that Nature is a super source of inspiration for me! I am for all intents and purposes an "asymmeclectic naturalist" beader. Meaning, I am inspired by nature's chaotic, eclectic asymmetry and let components dictate my designs, random or natural, whatever may come. I am a very visual person and tend to break everything down to it's basic shape to come up with a finished product.  Another significant source of inspiration for me are beading resources – magazines, books, CD's, Internet, Facebook. I love looking at how other artists have used the same components and colors!

Jean Campbell: I seem to be drawing inspiration from other artists these days, whether it's jewelry-makers, architects, painters, graphic designers, or sculptors. In fact, right now I'm working on a series inspired by the wrought iron work on the Harvard campus–such stunning shapes!

Do you have a favorite or unusual source of inspiration for your beading projects? Leave a comment here on the blog and share it with us!

Bead Happy,


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Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

3 thoughts on “Question of the Week: What's Your Favorite Source of Inspiration?

  1. My source of inspiration is everyone elses beautiful work. I am not a good designer, so I appreciate every one elses designs. There are so many different techniques and ideas and I try to take them all in and make something of my own. If I can’t, I will buy or ask someone elses permission to make or sell their ideas. There are very many gracious beaders out ther and I love them all!

  2. My favorite source of inspiration would have to be my family, friends, pets, all rounded into my life experiences. By teaching beadwork I have had so many wonderful and unique people come into my life and become true friends and stay in my life forever and become like family when I don’t have much family of my own. I would have to say they are my inspriation with all their stories mixed in with mine. Bonnie Cristi

  3. My favorite source of Inspiration is nature and life. When you look around, you see so many colors every day, every minute. The colors of beads is inspired in nature. Nothing is invented, beauty of beadart became from nature, life. Beauty inspire me, but for me it became from nature and life.