As part of a design group, I receive an inspiration photograph on roughly a bi-monthly basis and work to design and piece a block, mini quilt, or quilt based on inspiration I get from the photograph. This is very similar to the Quilt Design a Day (QDAD) Facebook group that I have discussed in the past (in case you are interested in joining a community to begin this kind of design practice around). The difference between the design group I am participating in now and QDAD is that QDAD focuses on design and while you are encouraged to piece and make the quilts that inspire you in QDAD, it’s more of a daily design practice to encourage repetition and development of design skills and also a great idea to use for design software familiarization.
Sometimes it can be really straight forward for me to find design inspiration from the image given. In December I shared the Crop Circles table runner, which was my first challenge that I participated in with the group. I was really drawn to the circles in the sculpture of the inspiration photo. Oh, and be sure to check out my Quarter Arch Piecing Tutorial that I created after the fact to explain my piecing technique for the table runner!
I selected the photograph for the next challenge with the group, and I submitted a photograph of a butterfly I took while on vacation in Australia a few years ago. Narrowing down my choices on an image to submit was harder than finding the inspiration to work from in the photo. I chose to focus on the color gradient change of the blues in the wings of the butterfly and I also used the challenge to try a new to me technique: reverse applique. Adding in the extra challenge of trying something new felt less scary in this design group setting because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to explore the idea I had with traditional piecing methods and I felt like using a mini quilt to explore the idea was low risk. For more details on this mini quilt, I wrote several blog posts about it along the way:
I did take a little bit longer to figure out where to focus my design for the last challenge that I shared, the Crown Mini Quilt. There was a lot to look at and choose from in the inspiration images, but I narrowed in straight away on the gold elements within each sugar skull. Once I let go of my piecing inhibitions and decided to use raw edge applique, the creating the mini quilt went very quickly and resulted in a mini quilt that I am proud of and really love.
So, all of this post is a long way of getting to the point that I have been pretty stumped by the inspiration photo for the next challenge (see above). As I am sure you see immediately, the large grid is a huge focal point of the image and something that I have been struggling to see around. Not that I need to – if the large grid inspired any brilliant ideas I would have gone with it. I did honestly consider trying out Laura from Slice of Pi Quilts‘ open lattice technique (see Quilting Outside the Box and Autumn Lattice Quilt for 2 examples).
Because it wasn’t sparking ideas for me and it takes in so much of the attention and focus, it has been hard for me to find a spark that excites me. So I sat down and discussed the image with my husband. It was immensely helpful to just talk out loud about what I was seeing and point at different elements in the photograph with him. In the end, I now have a design inspiration that I want to draw from in the photograph.
My next task will be to select a color palette and fabrics to work with. I don’t know if I will use this tool, but one option is to use the Palette Builder created by Anne Sullivan from Play Crafts, where I could upload the image to get color and fabric matching help. I’m more likely to pull out my stash and approximate colors loosely inspired by the image.
Clearly, I enjoy the challenge of using photographs for design inspiration. Where do you find design inspiration? Do you have something that really speaks to you in the photograph we are using for design inspiration this month? Is it a color or a shape or even a texture or idea? Oooh, just by writing out “idea” opened up a whole different range of possibilities for me that I hadn’t explored before (transportation theme, abandoned/rusting theme…).
I really love a good discussion post and encourage you to read the comments for thoughtful insights and ideas to ponder. Thank you in advance for sharing your methods and ideas with us!