Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tips and sources for jewellery design inspiration and creativity

Creativity and inspiration - brainstorming and sketches
As design is such a huge aspect of silversmithing and making jewellery, I’m constantly on the look out for new sources of inspiration and ways to get my creative juices flowing. There are those that say creativity cannot be taught – which I agree with, but you can consciously spend time working on a few techniques to allow for more creativity, and you can build up your own sources of inspiration.

Creative techniques

There are quite a lot of techniques out there for generating good ideas for a new design. Firstly – I recently learned that it’s not all about generating immediate ideas: the concept of ‘incubation’ is pretty new to me but is about thinking about a concept for a new idea, then mentally ‘parking’ the idea and not consciously processing it, which gives the sub-conscious time to process. If you’ve ever had the best ideas for a new design pop up at a random time, this is what incubation tries to encourage more of.
Bed, Bath, Bus. It’s a recognised concept that these are often the places where we come up with the best ideas, because our brains are not consciously working on anything too difficult. So definitely make use of these sorts of moments and flashes of inspiration – I now always carry around a notebook to capture them.


Brainstorming is a well-used technique of mine to start thinking through different beginnings of ideas. I’ve also started using SCAMPER as a good technique for generating lots of ideas (they don’t all have to work – the point is to put every idea down to build upon, then afterwards you can choose from them):
Shawish jewellery company produced an all-diamond ring as a substitute for a metal band
S – Substitute 
Try substituting a part of your design, or a material, for something else. What would it look like with plastic, concrete, wood, stones, instead of silver? What about substituting the colour? Just look at what Swiss Jewellery company, Shawish did when they substituted the metal in the ring for pure diamond! 
C – Combine 
 Combine concepts or ideas which wouldn’t normally go together, like a bottle opener with a bracelet, for example. What about combining different materials?

A – Adapt
Adapt something you notice in nature, or in a design somewhere completely different, into your design. Say you wanted earrings with lots of movement – could you adapt a windmill design to give you that?

M – Modify, Minimise, Maximise
 Can you modify your design in some way – or take something normally very small and maximise it to become the key feature of your design – for example making that rivet that holds two bits of metal together oversized and the main focus of the design. It works the other way around too – what about taking something large and making it tiny or, for example, modifying something you would wear on your head so you wear it on your finger instead?

P – Put to another use
Bracelet created from safety pins
 How can you take one idea or part of your design and put it to another use? I’ve seen really clever things done with turning safety pins into the links for bracelets, for example. Can you give your items dual functionality, like a ring which can also be worn as earrings?

E – Eliminate
How can you remove bits of your design for dramatic effect? Instead of adding metal, what about taking it away? Remove the unnecessary parts.

R - Reverse, Rearrange
Try switching the norms around, either in materials, designs, ideas. What about reversing the way you set stones and have it upside-down instead? Challenge all your assumptions and try something completely different.

Sources of inspiration

I find my most-used sources of inspiration fit into either: online or offline.


  • Going for walks – especially in the countryside I find there is a wealth of inspiration in nature and natural designs, plus animals and plants are ideas in themselves to be turned into a metal form.
  • Going to art galleries – sometimes even just the form of a line or the blend of colours can be inspirational. I also find that being around different types of art puts me in the right mindset and can really stimulate me to think in terms of jewellery design 
  • Visiting impressive architecture – again, I find that the visual stimulation is often enough to put me in the right mindset and think particularly about lines, form, structure.
  • Books and magazines – I like reading fashion magazines for jewellery inspiration, and similarly there are plenty of books out there that showcase other designers’ work and prompt inspiration in terms of techniques and style.


  • Pinterest – my newest source for both finding and tracking inspiration, I find the idea of having a visual online moodboard great. It’s really handy for searching for design ideas, and you can repin things onto your own boards. Check out my Jewellery Inspiration pin board.
  • Etsy – the home of all things handmade. Although it’s definitely not cool ripping off other designers’ ideas, there’s plenty of inspiration that can be triggered by viewing the work of others.
  • Flickr - so many beautiful pictures to inspire, plus there are groups on nearly everything, including handmade and jewellery.
  • Since we’re here – Blogs! There are so many blogs with beautiful imagery that I want to just absorb and soak up.
What gets your creative juices flowing and where do you find inspiration?


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