Top 3 Places to Find Beading Inspiration

Get Inspired

Inspiration is truly everywhere.  Last night I opened a bag of new Halloween-themed M&Ms and was struck by the colors–lime green, orange, lavender, black.  The first thought that popped into my head was not eating them, but draping them on my wrist to see how they would look as a bracelet!  (I didn't do it–really–but I was ridiculously tempted!)

More than 1,000 beaders responded to the inspiration poll.  The top three sources for inspiration were beads/materials, magazines, and books, specifically beading or jewelry-making titles.  Nature and websites tied for fourth place.  The least likely source of beading inspiration was "politics"!

Inspired by the Beads

"Touching the beads, holding them up to the light, and looking at all the different colour combinations inspires me," one reader said.  Another noted, "The shape of a bead, where the hole is drilled, how it hangs–all inspire the final project." 

I agree–it's definitely inspiring to pick up and admire all the beads in my stash, but it also means that straightening up my beading table takes forever!  Of course, one reader pointed out that even cleaning is inspiring.  "Yesterday I swept the floor in our beading room and violá–inspiration in the dust pan."  Being inspired by the very materials you work with makes it fun–and a little dangerous–to visit bead shows and shops.  I don't know what you're like, but the minute I pick up a bead, I have a million ideas of how to use it.  And if I don't have an instant idea, I still might buy the bead because it seems like a challenge!  

Inspired by Books and Magazines

Many beaders in the poll used beading and jewelry making books and magazines to jump start the creative process.  One beader noted, "I usually end up using a piece of this inspiration and a piece of that inspiration to get a finished piece of art of my own."  Another said, "When I get inspiration from beading magazines, I don't copy the designs I see.  I have hundreds of designs in my head and notebook.  Beading magazines often get my creative juices flowing and motivate or challenge me."   The "Inspired by Stringing" gallery has some great examples of projects inspired by Stringing magazine.

Of course, there's a difference between being inspired by a design and simply copying it bead-for-bead.  As one reader wrote, "I'm tremendously annoyed by people who confuse 'inspiration' with 'copying.'  It's hard enough to get back your investment in time and supplies by selling your own work without having other vendors at craft shows stealing  your 'unique' designs and features.  Don't they realize that copying hurts them/their sales as well as everyone else's?"  Share your thoughts in the forum.

Inspired by Everything!

One reader wrote that she was inspired by the words "I wish I had…"  If she couldn't find what she needed, then she would make it.   Here were a few other suggestions from readers:

  • "Today while waiting in line at the Post Office, I saw a great teal and purple mailing envelope and thought 'ummmm…bracelet!'"
  • "I find inspiration in strange places like the pattern of stacked drainage pipes in a builders yard or the repeat of brickwork on a historic building."
  • "Even comic books can cause bursts of inspiration."
  • "Sometimes just reading a good story can inspire me."
  • "Some of my best ideas have been inspired by cleaning up a spill or pruning in the garden."
  • "My kids give me ideas all the time when I am at an impasse!"
  • "I like to look at art/painting magazines."
  • "A symbols dictionary can be an inspiring guide for combining beads that tell a story through shapes, colors, and number sequence."
  • "Some of my best inspirations have come from a need to have 25 pair of earrings (or whatever) done by the end of the week. Needing the cash is a great source of inspiration!"

So where do you find inspiration?  DId any of these ideas from other readers ring true for you?  Share your thoughts on the website.

Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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Beading Daily Blog, Beading for Kids
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

9 thoughts on “Top 3 Places to Find Beading Inspiration

  1. Apparently many beaders aren’t even aware that there’s an issue with selling someone else’s designs, so this discussion is very important. Thanks Micehlle!

    There’s a business forum post started “Is copying okay?” which asks if people think being published makes a design communal property. The difference between INSPIRATION and IMMITATION is one every beader should know and respect.

  2. When selling at a craft fair, I can usually tell the difference between a very interested hobbyist or admirer and someone who seems to be angling to get information from me. With the former, I am friendly and informative, but don’t go into great detail. With the Nosies (they’re the ones who use a lot of beading vocab most people don’t know such as “findings” “crimps” “gauge” etc.), I am polite and vague. I worked terribly hard to teach myself, build my skills, and learn from hard-won experience, so why should I just give away the store to opportunists? With my colleagues in the jewelry trade at craft fairs, I figure that we’re all working incredibly hard and so I try to be supportive and helpful where I can be. Most of the jewelry people I know (with a few exceptions) are supportive, friendly, and willing to trade stories and ideas. Those of us with different skill sets from one another often refer customers to others who could do it better than us (e.g. stone-setters sending me their stringing customers/I send them my stone-setting customers), thereby cementing good customer and colleague relations.
    As for getting inspiration, I sometimes play a little game with myself. Now that I have almost memorized all the Swarovski crystal colors and their variations, I look at something and try to “translate” it into Swarovski color combos just for fun. Yesterday, I tried to think of the color combo for “Office Supplies”: post-in pink, legal pad yellow, notebook black, computer white, desk lamp silver, and so forth. –Kelli P.

  3. I take inspiration from the colours of the sky at the sunset, reading book arts, natural flowers in the garden, the arquitecture, the people in the streets, escultures, shoes, gastronomy….and when I feel I need more ideas, I take a look at magazines. To see what important clothes designers are doing in the runway, inspire me to invent necklaces or earrings or bracelets for that specif cloth, like if they should invite me to accesorize them. I also like internet to study a movie, an epoque, a person, a civilization, a culture. Alejandra.

  4. Recently I got inspired by a tag off one of the pieces of clothing my daughter and I bought while school shopping. It has a black mat background and purple metallic lines (abstract) ,I was going to duplicate it in polymer clay But I ended up backing the tag with polymer clay and embellishing the front with PC spirals in lime green and purple it is now a focal bead in a necklace for my daughter!!!

  5. I get inspiration during the walks my son and I take every morning to the school bus. The scene is constantly changing with the seasons like the foliage on the hills or the grass and flowers even the wild turkeys that roam around. Books are a nice refresher when I need a little pick me up. When I get a little stagnate on the materials that I have I leave some out on the end table just glancing at them randomly and eventually some design always comes to me.

  6. I get inspiration during the walks my son and I take every morning to the school bus. The scene is constantly changing with the seasons like the foliage on the hills or the grass and flowers even the wild turkeys that roam around. Books are a nice refresher when I need a little pick me up. When I get a little stagnate on the materials that I have I leave some out on the end table just glancing at them randomly and eventually some design always comes to me.

  7. I have a section in a notebook dedicated to pictures of things that have given me ideas or insperation. I even write next to it what the idea was or how I pictured it in my mind if I can, I’m not always able to create it then or even know how to create it yet (I’m still at more of a beginning level). I even have a picture from one of my girls’ Happy Meal Boxes, a neck line on a Barbie’s shirt struck me. I haven’t made it yet, but it is still there!.
    Also, with ‘insperation’ vs ‘immitation’, I am, unfortunately, one of those people that Kelli wrote about that asks,’How did you do that!?’ I have taught myself how to do different things just from looking at a picture of the design. I get so excited about a design or idea that I forget how hard it might be to make and ask hoping to get an answer. Kelli, I don’t think I’ve asked you that question, but on behalf of those that are asking in honesty and not to steal your idea, I’m sorry.

  8. I would like to know why you don’t have a more efficient way for people who go through the frustration of registration, passwords, etc, to get directions for the Parallel Chain Neckdrape. It will not download more than the lovely photo despite multiple attempts. I can’t help but think that you could put more effort in delivery of what you promise, and if you did I would visit the site more often (and would be more likely to send you my hard earned $.) I would much prefer to recieve a response to my comments than have the opportunity to blog.