What’s your daily source of crafting inspiration? For me there are general and specific answers to this question. The general answer can be found in the ways that color, texture, and pattern meet to produce a story. The “story” is the tale the final product tells: what it is, for whom it’s designed, and how it’s beneficial. Make no mistake—every product tells such a story to varying degrees.

The gratitude journals I design, for example, are written meditations for those who want to bring about, through mindfulness of what’s really important to them, a more positive outlook on life.

Rose Garland Gratitude BookThe blank books I craft capture an individual’s fleeting thoughts, interesting quotes, bits of poetry, doodles, or mini sketches—in general, expressions of creativity or inspirational reminders.

Sweet Petunias Mini Blank Book

The specific elements that provide my crafting inspiration usually come from nature, particularly from flowers, leaves, birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

Botanica and Wings Collage

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I am not much of a gardener—honestly, I forget to water plants and then, not surprisingly, they don’t survive. But I do love flowers nonetheless, even if I don’t find inspiration in my non-existent garden. Instead, I rely upon a mixture of imagination and illustrations from old calendars, books, magazines and Web searches. Especially helpful to me from my personal library is Gardens Flowers, by Matthias Hermann. The book, published more than 40 years ago in Germany (but translated into English), includes exquisitely detailed engravings from famous painters such as Albrecht Dürer, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Moritz Michael Daffinger and others.

Gardens Flowers book

Sitting on a shelf above one of my sewing machines is a garden-themed mini-pillow I stitched, along with other garden-themed items I have collected over the years.

Garden-inspired sewing

Another wall in the sewing room displays blown glass birds and flowers, as well as a dolphin and elephant that don’t quite match the rest of the theme, but are special because they were gifted to me by family members.

Blown glass garden inspiration

My paper crafting studio showcases mixed media wall art, “Mountain Mommas,” designed by Tennessee artist Sam Willoughby, as well as nature-inspired folk crafts from Kentucky and elsewhere that John and I picked up during our travels.

Garden-inspired paper crafting

I keep a collection of old calendars and regularly use the pages to cover binders. Invariably, flowers and winged creatures are prominently displayed in the illustrations.

Repurposed calendar pages

My love of birds probably began when I was a little girl and spotted a robin’s nest outside my window sill. But that affinity for birds likely grew when I owned various parakeets, both as a teen and as an adult. In this 1972 photo, my late father is playing with the family budgie, Tony.

Daddy plays with Tony the parakeet

I even sketched and embroidered a portrait of one of my birds back in 1976, when crewel embroidery was popular.

Parakeet love

When we lived in southern California many years ago, I missed the changing seasons—especially autumn. The love for fall persists today, even though we live in Iowa, where seasonal contrasts abound. As a result, I collect buttons and other embellishments that remind me of my favorite season, and enjoy creating items that incorporate a fall palette of colors.

Fall Collection

In short, I surround myself with what inspires me, not consciously, but because these items appeal to me visually and evoke images, sounds and scents from my past. I suspect this is true for everyone who creates. In the comments below, describe the source(s) of your crafting inspiration. Feel free to provide a link if you’ve blogged about this same topic.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “What’s your source of crafting inspiration?”

  1. And here we are in SoCal this week being amazed by the temperature differences and “season!”

    I don’t conciously sit down to be inspired by the view from my living room, for example, but almost everything I make is inspired by my everyday life and the environment around me. I use colors and materials that reflect where I live (koa wood, Hawaiian print fabric, etc).
    The Garden Flowers book looks beautiful!

  2. Interesting post. I also get a lot of inspiration from Nature — and fabric. My moods affect what colors and patterns I’m drawn to.

  3. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by inspiration. All of your flowers and birds are great.
    Ever since I got my laser, everything is an inspiration. I’m always looking for the next thing I can put in there and laser 🙂 I’m still wanting to try rubber stamp making with it and when I get my new laser, making wedding cake toppers!

  4. Paige @ Little Nostalgia

    I’m not surprised to hear that you have little nature collections at home! 🙂

    Now that I’m fully transitioned into interior design, I get inspired by items in that category more than any “outside” ideas. Patterns grab my attention a lot, as do certain paint colors or interesting wood grains. Depending on who I’m designing for, the inspiration will come from different products.

  5. Yes, I also keep things that inspire me around the house. I had an old calendar framed into twelve different pictures. I love the pictures because they are all of outdoor flower markets, i.e. rural, city, park etc. They also depict the seasons, which I also love, so I can rotate the framed pictures on my dining room wall depending on the season!

    I also have my own framed watercolors on the wall, to remind myself that I CAN do it! sometimes we get a little down on ourselves and try to convince ourselves that we are NOT creative. My work on the walls remind me of an “I can” attitude–they say to me “just do it!”

  6. I love your binders with the birds and butterflies on. So lovely. I have a vision wall over my desk and my art room is literally full to bursting with art on the walls 🙂


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