As a fairly new beader and a very left brain, a-type personality, I struggle with figuring out what handmade jewelry to create, how I want to create it, and what bead colors I plan to use. After browsing the Potomac Bead store for much too long, I inevitably end up at the check-out counter with black, gray or brown beads (because they match everything) and zero clue on what I plan do to with them. The result? A drawer full of filled-to-the-brim, untouched tubes and bags of beads waiting for me to feel inspired.
At the beginning of October my husband and I were fortunate enough to travel to Europe with Nate and Allie to visit a number of Potomac Bead’s suppliers and get a glimpse into how some of Potomac’s beloved Czech glass beads are manufactured (Click here to see glass production videos!). We witnessed the production processes of a number of bead shapes like Potomac’s AVA Bead and their various coatings. Some of these processes were very new and cutting edge, others were age-old and haven’t changed for many decades. Even this was fascinating as the old machinery and manpower lead to ideas and were inspiring. The smallest of details have been meticulously thought out and tinkered to perfection, which was especially true as we toured the ClaspGarten manufacturing floors.
On the days we weren’t visiting factories, we explored cities, countrysides and mountains, indulged in the local fare, and admired the beautiful architecture of centuries-old buildings and the intricate detail of almost every sidewalk we stood on. We traveled to Europe planning to set foot in only four countries but by the end of our 14 days of travel we had successfully been to nine and driven close to 2,500 miles. The places we visited were beautiful and the weather was perfection.
The hours spent traveling in the car were never dreaded because the cities and countrysides were interesting and different. I couldn’t peel my eyes away! The book I brought to pass the time went completely untouched as I marveled over the greenery, nature, newness, and unfamiliar.
As the days passed, I started to look back through the images I captured from our travels and slowly I began to realize that the beading inspiration I lacked and had me totally stumped, was ALL around me. Beautiful patterns, colors, and shapes were everywhere. One of my most favorite parts of the homes and buildings in nearly every country were the chock-full-of-pink-flower window boxes. Bright, beautiful, overflowing window boxes that had me falling in love with pink. PINK! Coming from someone who pretty much sticks to black, gray, and brown, this was kind of a big deal. When I came home I purchased lots of delica beads in pink, coral, purple, and cream.
In addition to the gorgeous window boxes I loved so much, I was so intrigued by the unique pattern of the meticulously laid bricks of the sidewalks and roads. I thought to myself, what a great pattern and totally something I could recreate in a piece of jewelry! Right there in the sidewalks I could see stitches like herringbone, circular peyote, right angle weave, ect. All I have to do is pick my beads, find the right Potomac YouTube video, and get inspired looking back at the multitude of cobblestone photos like the one to the left. There is already a cobblestone Potomac Bead Company YouTube video to get me started!
I purchased some great souvenirs along the way but really wanted something unique, meaningful and different to remember our trip. One thought I had as I was going through the photos was why not just CREATE a souvenir that was totally INSPIRED by my trip? When I returned home, got back into real life, and had some time to do some beading, I went back and referenced some of my favorite things from the trip. Out of my reminiscing and the inspiration I experienced came this pair of earrings that I adore. They took me forever, but it was worth it.
They remind me of my travels and the amazing times we had. They were created to mimic the patterns of the sidewalks and the colors of the rich, green countrysides of Europe. I’m currently working on another pair. PINK this time and maybe a little purple. They too will be designed to remember by trip by and remind me me of those overflowing window boxes I can’t help but covet and wish were draping from the windows of my own home.
Next time you’re lacking inspiration, just take a look around you and perhaps design and create something for yourself that means something, that is something special. Something that is more than just a pretty necklace made of pretty colors. Maybe those colors could be chosen after the color of your child’s eyes or your grandchild’s birthstone. If you need help picking colors you can even check out Ashley’s or Tereza’s recent blogs on color. Or maybe pull up that photo you took last week of that incredible sunset or the bright blue water from your latest trip to the beach. Many of you probably already do these things and that is great, I’m just a little late to the game. But I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of of myself and the little lesson I learned about inspiration. For more inspiration you can also check out The Potomac Bead Company’s Pinterest account!
Happy beading, everyone!
The Potomac Bead Company