Luckily for me this part is very straight forward. Sorting, selecting and arranging fabrics ready for a project is something I’ve always done. Comes from being a neat-freak I suppose. My threads, fabrics, trims, beads, metals, wires and so on are beautifully stored in easy to see colour ranges and types. Items appropriate to wire storage baskets are folded and colour co-ordinated, whilst beads are sized and colour sorted. Do I sound just a little obsessive/compulsive? Perhaps, but in my world a cluttered work room creates a cluttered mind and a paralysis of progress.
Some years ago I started a system of Inspiration Boxes. I have a couple on the go at any one time. They work like this:
- Choose a box/storage container/tin or whatever (OCA suggests large polythene bags) to start with. I particularly like a container that is not clear, so I can’t see what’s inside.
- Once the basis of your project is formed in your mind/visual diary/drawing board or whatever your start point, and you’ve chosen your colour theme, start assembling fabrics in that range.
- Put them all (or at least a snippet) into your box.
- Without looking in the box, but with your original fabrics and colours in mind, collect together threads, additional fabrics and other embellishments that you think you might like to use. These could include buttons, ribbons, trims or whatever you feel appropriate as a possible inclusion depending on what you are hoping to create.
- Over several days drop items into the box but never look in it and see what’s already there.
- All the time you should be working on refining the project idea, drawing, painting and exploring how you intend to construct your piece in a practical manner.
Once you are ready to proceed and actually start the work, open the box and spread everything out. I find that not having been able to see the items I chose as I went along means that they are still fresh and new to my eye. Not having been able to constantly refer to my original few fabrics means that I’ve put items into the box that I might not have chosen had I been able to lie them side by side. This can give rise to some interesting and stimulating mixes, not all of which may end up in the final piece.
For me it is a successful way to select a finite number of items to get me going without becoming overwhelmed by all the products in my stash. Of course I might swap and change a couple of things, add others later, and decide something that I thought would work is in fact totally unsuitable.
I love the way the mind works when trying to remember the exact colours, thicknesses and sheens of the original items in the box. It’s staggering how the mind corrupts and what you think you have chosen is actually quite different to the real thing.
When I open my Inspiration Box to get started I’m always thrilled to pick through the items I had so quickly forgotten I had placed inside. It’s always a delight to rediscover these things and see where, or if, they will fit into my creation.
This might not work for everyone but at least if you’ve taken the time to read this it has given you a new opportunity to think about.