Boost Your Creativity with These Tips

23 Mar 2010

It’s officially spring, and not a moment too soon for me. I already traded my boots for open-toed shoes a few weeks ago--and I'm not going back! Now it’s time to open the windows, do some spring cleaning, and let some fresh air into my studio in the hopes that fresh ideas will float in on gentle breezes.

But just in case my muse doesn’t travel by air, here are some tricks I use to keep the creative spark alive.

  1. Try something new. My most recent favorite is soy wax batik (Melanie Testa has an article coming in the June/July issue of Quilting Arts). You can find lots of new ideas on the QA Community, in the reader forum and gallery. Once you have a spark, give it your own twist.
  2. Play with an old technique in a new way. I’ve renewed my interest in incorporating lots of hand stitch into my work again. I’ve also been combining hand and machine embroidery, not unlike the way Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn do on soluble film to create lacy fabric in their Fragile Fabrics book.
  3. Work in a different color palette. I love my greens, but sometimes I just need a punch of red or yellow to kick-start my creativity. Don't you think my dog Sophie looks good in red?
  4. Fuse (or glue) where you usually stitch and stitch where you usually fuse (or glue). Susan Carlson has a wonderful freeform technique for creating a fabric collage with glue coming in the April/May 2010 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.
  5. Get fresh inspiration. This is when I turn to books by my favorite outside-the-box artists like Jan and Jean, mentioned above, or the Committed to Cloth group. They have a way of helping me see fibers, patterns, and techniques with fresh eyes.
  6. Take a class or workshop. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a live (or video) demonstration is worth about a million. When I watch guest artists create at our “QATV” or Quilting Arts Workshop tapings, I just can’t wait to dive in to that technique myself.
  7. Participate in a challenge. Do you need a deadline to get your muse in gear? Here’s one: May 10, 2010. That’s the day when entries are due for our “How Entertaining” reader challenge. Get the details on the QA Community.
  8. Take one concept and explore it thoroughly. Have I ever mentioned I was into Thermofax printing? (ahem) I keep learning new things, and I just can’t get enough!
  9. Start a sketchbook/journal. If you already have one, go back to a notation or image and use it as a spark to create something.
  10. Clean your studio! Even if you just rearrange a shelf, sort through your fabric scraps, or move your worktable into a sunnier location, you’re sure to get a fresh perspective on your art. I know “winterizing” my studio (see the video) helped get me through that cold, gray season, and now I can’t wait to shake things up for spring and summer.

What about you? How do you give yourself a creative boost? Leave a comment below and share your strategy.


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Fragile Fabrics

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In Fragile Fabrics, Beaney and Littlejohn introduce numerous ways to create your own delicate cloth, from hand stitching lace to screen printing.

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