Thoughts of Design Inspiration


Unexpected Beach Art

Every once in a while I want to check that I’m in tune with what is current in the fashion world when it comes to color, shape, patterns and so on. I picked up a spring fashion magazine at the store the other day and it had all the saturated bright colors that we have been seeing for the spring. But I was a bit surprised of all the yellow and green! The Pantone colors for this spring have emerald and lemon, but they also have violet, blue and nectarine (orange). We all have favorite colors, colors that we feel most comfortable with and then colors that feel foreign and hard to use. Green and yellow  have never been easy for me and I tend to avoid them. I think it’s probably best to follow your instincts and stick to what you like since you most likely will come up creatively with something better, but every once in a while I think it’s good to challenge yourself and try to use those colors that are less comfortable.

What did I find on my morning walk on the beach – more bright yellow and green! Two pieces of rope from a lobster trap had  washed up and created a composition in the sand. Even the ocean was creating yellow and green beach art! The morning light shined on it and it really looked like something you could find  in an art gallery.


Rope and Wood Composition – made by the ocean

Interestingly, I wasn’t thrilled by the yellow and green after I saw it in the magazine, but seeing it on the beach gave me a new perspective. This is an example how seeing something in a different environment can change your view on it. I am ready now to try working with these colors and attempt to create something yellow and green!

More searope art  - in green

More searope art – in green


Even the seaweed is yellow!


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Inspiration Feedback Loop

Those of us who like to try to create things are always looking for inspiration. I look for it everywhere, every day all the time. It is so nice when you get it unexpectedly from an unexpected source.  My green necklace was featured on Green Symphony Etsy Treasury List with beautiful green things! I am so appreciative of getting an unexpected inspiration boost like this, artists and designers helping other artists and designers. It creates a wonderful inspiration loop, your creation was admired by somebody, you get inspired based on the sole event that they liked what you created.

Etsy Treasury List Green Necklace

Green Symphony Treasury List on Etsy

In response I decided to try to help some other creative spirits out there and made my own list about Finnish Design objects to feature somebody else’s Etsy shops. Seeing the very familiar objects of Iittala, Arabia, Aalto, Saarinen, Kaj Franck  designs lifted my spirits, too (again!) Many of these items bring back a lot of memories. I also found some current crafters and designers from Finland that are doing some interesting things I did not know about.

Finnish Design - objects in glass, fabric, furniture, household items

Finnish Design Objects in Bright Spring Colors

Helping others helps you to succeed. Start an inspiration loop of your own and you may be surprised (and it may never end)!

Now, what is the tea towel design in the feature picture above? I am completely hooked. If you know the answer respond with a comment!

Wood bits


Wood Coins and Drill Holes

wood pieces and parts used for my jewelry

Different shapes of wood from the hardware store

When I visit the local hardware store I generally linger around the plumbing department. I can spend a lot of time looking at the small pieces of copper parts and I do use them a lot in my jewelry to enamel with. This time I ended by the drawers in hardware, full of little bits, parts and pieces. I kept perusing the different drawers and ended up in the wood piece drawer. Didn’t know there were so many interesting small wooden parts that were used in construction!
I got interested and instantly started getting ideas – what if you painted these shapes and crafted them into a jewelry piece such as a necklace? I ended up finding more small pieces near lumber, little plugs that were already shaped nicely flat and round.


Wooden hardware store bits painted

The next day I went looking for paint. First I was thinking of using  wood stain and even tried some food coloring I happened to have in the cabinet. The results were pretty good.  I even tried making my own organic color, but the kale I blended in the machine didn’t really produce enough color. (!) I did read  that there are some berries and plants that you can use successfully. The colors you get out of the natural ingredients are not as bright, I wanted to get some brighter color. I did some research on the internet and found out that regular craft paints should work just fine. I found  a whole isle at the craft store, they had surprisingly many options of quality and brands.

I picked out some turquoise shades in pearl and satin, I figured the change in reflective material in the paint might give a nice contrast between the pieces.  Add some type of finish to make the paint more durable and I was ready to begin. I did some hole drilling and painted my pieces, then treated them with some spray finish. Pretty nice beads!


Round wood pieces drilled and painted – ready to be beads for jewelry!

The color and finish options on these paints are quite remarkable. I can keep experimenting for a long time! Let’s see what I will come up with when it comes to finished pieces! And always look around, you never know what you will find in your local store.

Pink mussel shell

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Pink Shell

You would think that all or most seaweed, shells, algae and so forth “stuff” that washes up on the beach here in Maine is bland colored. You image it being brown, grey, neutral, black, dark, all those colors that don’t generally inspire me. Now, on a day after a few storms when there’s a lot of that stuff washed up on the beach you go there and start looking you actually realize how colorful this stuff actually is! There is a lot of pink, red, purple, green in very interesting combinations of textures and shapes.


Pink and purple shell


Washed up on the beach

Mussel shell with candy coating

Mussel shell with candy coating and a sugar foam!

These mussel shells have a fantastic pink coating that reflects light, some of them have red dots on white that look like candy.  In the picture above they had a a foam around them from the ocean  that looked like a light sugar syrup foam made for a dish in a professional kitchen.

These colors and shapes gave me an idea to try to replicate something similar in metal. I cut some copper, filed and sanded, then hammered it using my small wooden dapping block, and then enameled it with torch using black, peacock blue and  clover pink.

hammered enameled copper shape

My attempt on replicating a mussel – copper shape hammered and torch enameled with black, blue and pink

hammered and enameled copper shape

My second attempt on making a mussel shape out of copper, more rustic with some rough textures

I thought my attempt with this shape wasn’t too bad. Getting colors that you want with torch enameling is of course a bit of a test – you get what happens to come out.  Some more advanced enamel wizards I’m sure can bring up colors that they had in mind more precisely. If you look at the second shape, it is bigger and has a more rustic nature feel to it with dark shades of black and brown. I’m really happy with what I got so far.

You can see more samples of my copper pendants on Goodsmiths and Etsy:

In case you want to know more about mussels I found a video featuring mussels on Maine coast on youtube.

Now I never knew that there is an official definition of “beach”. Here it is!

A coastal beach is the zone of unconsolidated material
extending from the lowest low water landward to the point
of permanent vegetation or change in topography.