by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer and Instructor, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Where do you find inspiration? Nature, magazines and books, workshops and classes, shows? Sure those are the usual inspirational triggers, of which I am a HUGE fan and partake in regularly, but what to do when budgets are cut, it's snowing outside and you won't be seeing a budding anything for another 2 months? Or you've just run out of that divine creativity juice and cannot hop a plane to attend a show?

Inspiration and creativity can be right down the street under your nose! I have some hot spots and techniques sure to spark your flame, come along with me!

I take tours through my fave stores on a regular basis, to see their color palettes, special design ideas, staging, texture ideas, displays, style trends--not to mention retail therapy is delightful, is it not?

Kristal Wick

Recently I developed a new technique for inspiration (and tried it on myself). So, consider yourselves all guinea pigs and report back to me your findings!

Location was Anthropology--here is how I structured my tour:
  1. No purchasing! Seems strange to go shopping and not actually shop, but my goal was to "see" things differently, with inspiration as the end result not a sobbing bank account.
  2. Leisurely walk through the store 3 separate times, first time only looking down. Now this can take as much willpower as the South Beach Diet but the results are worth it. There are so many interesting details and design ideas you never pay attention to because your focus is at your eye level. The second walk through only look up toward the ceiling and top shelves; and the third look at eye level.
    Optional fourth walk through--go back to buy all the cool stuff you ignored during the first 3 walk throughs!
  3. Leave the store after each walk through and sketch your ideas, discoveries, and visions in your notebook (y'all have one that accompanies you everywhere, right?!). Close your notebook and prepare for the next walk through.
Note: Turn off the inner critic and any other inner voices injecting distracting comments like "Aunt Gerty would love that candle for her birthday next week," or "I could never even fit one leg into that tiny skirt much less my waist" blah, blah, blah. You get my drift. Your purpose is visual inspiration--stay on track gang.

These wonderful retailers have professionally trained staff in merchandising, display, trends and the like. Take advantage of their expertise and thoroughly experience your visit as a sponge, soaking up unexpected color palettes, mediums and textures. View all these delights in the abstract to inform and inspire your new creative work. You may see a fabulous pillow with lush elements and colors; you won't run home and make a copy of the same pillow, but you can pull in the ideas and elements of colors and textures into your next necklace project.

You may be surprised at how much is going on "upstairs" from a design perspective. When noticing the ceiling and upper wall treatments, break down the elements with your eyes. For example, notice how adding spirals with wide stripes in the wallpaper really works in the overall design. Maybe that's something you'll try in your jewelry design. Also, pay attention to color blends. Many times I say to myself "WOW, I'd never put those colors together" yet they work. This is a great way to stretch your color palette breadth and expand some possibilities. We all can get stuck in a rut and keep creating in our fave colors, yet it can be very interesting to play outside the box in this area even if uncomfortable. FYI, I've not heard of color having any permanently damaging effect on an artist to date...I'm just saying!

You'll see unusual groupings, mixed mediums and color combinations that can impact your aesthetic and forever change the way you look at your jewelry-making world.

Give it a try and let me know your discoveries and fave shops to peruse. If you cannot physically make it, let your fingers do the walking and browse their internet sites.

Have fun!

Fave stores:
  • Anthropology
  • Saks
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Chicos
  • Cold Water Creek
  • Airport shops
  • Fancy hotel shops are prime spots for inspiration

Downstairs--These images were on the floor.

Getting any ideas for a fun wire design jewelry piece based on this bird cage???

Unexpected elements thrown together can create startling noticeability.

Upstairs--These images were at 10 feet height.

Heavily textured dangles of simple yarns in an interesting color combo add warmth and intrigue to an otherwise boring flat wall. Notice how the coordinating coral flower makes the vase below just pop. Try applying the same principles to your jewelry sets.

No confusion here, clearly kitchen items. Words are always fun to add to a design.

Eye level--These images were at eye level.

Bed sheets, lamp shades and pillows are always worth a look. Fascinating colors and designs.

Mixing bold colors and totally different designs can work if done carefully. This set of chairs is an unexpected surprise that delights the eye.

Photo permissions granted by Anthropologie.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Look Up, Look Down, Looking For Inspiration," featured in an email exclusive. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Really good article, I mall walk/window shop with a friend. No spending allowed that day. Good exercise, Z gallerie home accessories are our downfall ... and yes it is because of the colors. Too us animal print=pearls, agate, onyx."
- Nancy

"I found the article very interesting. It provided new possibilities for ideas and inspiration that had never before occurred to me. Thank you,"
- Suzan

"This was a great way to look at shopping. I shop to find out the current colors for the season. I like look up and look down. Best Regards,"
- Lisa

"This article was Great! I'm always looking but I never thought about that kind of focus. I can see where walking through a store ''3'' times would create an abundance of ideas. I used to work in display in a large department store and yes, looking up and down can bring great treasures! : )"
- Peri

"I loved this article by Krystal. Something I never would have thought of ... I've gotten inspiration from many places but I'll look at things differently now!"
- Anonymous

"I enjoyed the article. I never thought of just browsing in stores for inspiration, but; I am always looking for things I can make or use as displays for my jewelry. I will look anywhere from yard sales, fabric or craft stores, to high end stores."
- Barry

"Awesome idea! I'm gonna use it when the winter doldrums set in."
- Anonymous

"Great idea, loved it!"
- Suzannah

"Excellent suggestions, great tips--thanks."
- Denise

"Always looking for inspiration and I enjoyed the article, you can see beauty in all things. Thank you"
- Donna

"I did enjoy this article ... a little different from the usual. I sent it on to my sister, who often looks for inspiration as well. Thanks!"
- Cherrie and Romey

"Great idea!! I'm a painter and mixed media artist too as well as a jewelry maker. Your ideas would be great for all three areas; they reinforce the idea that creativity is everywhere. Thanks again!"
- Sue

"Hi, I liked your illustrated essay. Actually, I do what you suggest *all the time*! It is very pleasurable and does generate ideas. I also like to look at Pier 1 and Saffron Maragold which is on the web."
- Anne

"I always watch what women are wearing on TV shows. I always pay close attention to what people are wearing out in public. I went to a craft sale today with some of what I had made recently. Sold around 50 pieces and one of the most favorite was a version of what I had seen someone wearing."
- Patricia

"I absolutely loved this article! What a genius way of finding inspiration ... I can't wait to give it a try! Please keep these kinds of articles coming. I get snowed in during the Winter, and these types of articles would be of great help. :-) Thank you,"
- Brenda

"At first I thought I didn't have a question but I do. Where can I find more articles like this? This is wonderful to me because it gives clear step by step instructions for a process that is not concrete and absolute like the normal "how to" article. I also love reading how to make an exact copy of this perfect necklace or that fabulous pillow or whatever it may be but how to find inspiration is not so simple to find. This is a class I wish I could have taken 20 years ago or more. A book I wish I'd read. I will save a copy of this to use. I'm a Kristal Wick fan now. Thank you,"
- Katie

"I really enjoyed this information because I just decided to make my jewelry making into a business?Thanks."
- Karley

"Thanks for the aspiration to finally start making jewelry with confidence!"
- Mary

"Dear Kristal:
Your "Looking for Inspiration" article was delightful. Yes, I do carry my sketchbook around with me, because in addition to jewelry, I'm also a fiber artist and often find inspirations for my clothing and home décor designs while I'm "out and about." Also, I'm a devout Catholic and therefore am often in various Catholic churches throughout the area. Buffalo is an older city, and so some of the churches are of stunning 18th and early 19th century architecture and interior design. There's inspiration to be found aplenty! Thanks for all you do to help us design beautiful jewelry. Sincerely,
- Candice

"THANKS, just the photos you posted gets the creative juices flowing. Appreciate your tips."
- Donna

"Good practical ideas! Thinking out of the box can be very creative and satisfying. This is one of the main reasons I love to watch Project Runway, it shows how one can be totally creative/original working within certain "constraints"!"
- Margaret