Probably the best source of inspiration I can think of, besides my Cross Stitcher magazine, is crafts fairs. The atmosphere of craft fairs is fairly alive with creativity. It really kicks your imagination into overdrive. And the best part, once you get an idea, there are plenty of experts about who can give you advice on how to turn that idea into a lovely piece of handicraft. Plus you can save a bit of cash when you shop at these fairs.
At the spring International Craft and Hobby Fair (ICHF) held at the NEC this year, I was making the rounds, glancing at various stands, when I came upon a demonstration. I love demos. Watching someone create something from virtually nothing really sparks my imagination. I stopped at the Clarity Stamp Ltd. stall and watched while the exhibitor took some shredded film and a stamp, added some heat and transformed this:
Some of you may know Clarity Stamp Ltd. as a great place to get stamps, inks and other card-making accessories. It’s probably the last place you’d go to get needlework supplies. And you’d be right ‘cause you wouldn’t find a thing. However, we are talking about inspiration and creativity. Neither one of which can exist in a vacuum. They need to be set free to explore and experiment with other types of crafts. I like to experiment with a variety of crafts and see if there are any aspects of them that I can incorporate into future stitching projects.
When I saw this diminutive fashion femme emerge from something that anyone else would have probably thrown away, my mind was dancing with ideas. I could see her as the focal point of a small cross stitch surrounded by small, minimalist fashion motifs: a set of padded hangars, a pair of dainty shoes, jewellery and/or a handbag all done in back stitch; or perhaps as an appliqué on a shirt. Or how about as an adornment on the cover of a sketchpad or notebook? You know, with a little more crafting, she could become a quirky brooch. It’s a thought.
I managed to grab a few minutes with the lady, who had done the demonstration. Her name is Lesley Wharton and she’s been crafting for years. You can check her blog at www.thepaperengineer.blogspot.com.
As we chatted, she gave me loads of tips and advice. She explained, for example, why stamps from Clarity Stamp Ltd. were well suited for the type of demo she had just done. For one thing, the stamps are clear so you can see what you’re doing. For another, they have been specifically designed and manufactured to be used with heated appliances.
Not all their clear stamps lend themselves to this kind of creation, however. You need to stick to those that don’t have a great amount of small detail. Something with bold, simple lines will give you the best results.
Our chat was brief as Ms. Wharton needed to prepare another demonstration. I left the stall with not only information about Clarity Stamp Ltd. and some new ideas for my cross stitch designs, but also with the little fashion plate Ms. Wharton had created.