What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

By guest blogger Nancy Shafee 

Have you run out of inspiration? Or have you run out motivation?  In other words – are you just procrastinating?

Most of us put things off sometimes, especially when we’ve just been creating manically, perhaps for an event or to fulfil a commission. I also say I’ve run out of inspiration when I am halfway through a project that isn’t going my way, when really I am just having trouble finding how to ‘think outside the box’.  Conversely, sometimes I can’t get started on one thing because my thoughts are on a completely different project!

Whatever your own reasons for hitting a wall – be it lack of inspiration or motivation, or indeed an overload of too much of both – perhaps we can all help each other? It’s interesting to read what other people find helps, so to get the ball rolling, here are some starter thoughts of my own.

Inspiration is all around us, no matter what our craft.    Think: colour, shape, form, texture.

The internet, of course – Pinterest, Stumble, Flikr, Google images – a bewildering amount of ‘inspiration’.  But don’t confuse browsing mindlessly with ‘seeking inspiration’. And don’t stick to your own craft – look at other crafts – they might give you a different perspective.  If you are going to succumb to internet browsing, do it after you’ve made yourself move. Inertia is a creative killer. Go for a walk, dig a flowerbed, hoover, change the bedclothes (yes, there is always some housework).  Get some air in your lungs as my granny used to say!

Go Back To Basics

Go back to basics – visit your library and look through books – at least you will have been out of the house/workshop.  Drop by WHSmiths and look at the wrapping paper and cards, check out the scarves in Accessorize, the cute prints and appliques in Mothercare.

This picture was the start of a range of greetings cards – you can see the results on my website

Carry a Camera

Carry a camera or get to know how your mobile phone camera works, and record things that look interesting/promising – I just love seedheads and bare tree branches against the sky, for example.

Unikely Things

Unlikely things like a dog’s shaggy coat, a filthy car or graffiti on a wall, raindrops on a bus window or a reflection in a puddle can be hoarded in a file on your computer.  If you are even remotely confident with Photoshop you can have doodle-fun changing the colours and hues and you never know what might come out of those.  The picture below was just footprints on wet sand on Hayle beach.

Footprints in the sand – I thought I might make a felt picture using this as inspiration

Copy and Colour

Be a copyist (of your own work I hasten to add).  Have you made something you were really pleased with? Make something similar in totally different fabrics/colours/yarn.  For example, if you made a pretty pin cushion in pale pink flowery material, why not use the same pattern but make it in gingham or bright spotty material?  If you are a card maker, even a different colour background can make the same applied design look so different.

A lot of my work is sparked by colours. I work in 3D (mostly wetfelting) and can be halfway through a pink and purple flower when I think – hey, why not pink and lime? So I just have to make another, and so on!  Same with my baskets – two baskets in the same fabric can be changed entirely with a different trim.

Bouquet of lilies – the lady who commissioned these lilies did so specifically because of the peach colour


Doodle – I am not good at putting ideas down on paper, though I know this works for thousands of creative souls. So if it works for you – doodle.  Whether in colour or just a biro, ideas can emerge from simple scribbles.

This month’s word-search game:  Look up the words Coral, Turquoise and Feathers even just on Google Images – I hope this will show you a whole new way of ‘procrastinating on the internet’!

About Guest Blogger Nancy Shafee

Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, SAOS, Surrey Guild of Craftsmen and Professional Crafters Guild. She runs regular workshops both for wetfelting and for coiled fabric basket making and examples of her work can be seen at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *