I feel like I'm supposed to draw inspiration from The World Around Me, or Nature, or something like that. And I do, to some extent - just recently I've made nature-themed charm bracelets, honeybee earrings and a sunset necklace. But thinking about the way I work, I'm most often inspired by the materials I use. I'm a total magpie, and I have an enormous toolbox that contains three pairs of pliers, two pairs of cutters and precisely one gazillion beads. I'm forever scouring eBay and browsing my favourite suppliers. Ideas sprout when I see a material that's crying out to be used.
It's probably not the most cost-effective way of doing things, as I do quite often end up buying something gorgeous and then sitting on it for ages while I mull over what to do with it. But I somehow feel that it keeps me on track. It means that I'm always thinking about the feel of a piece, the weight, the colours, the look. It means I don't get sidetracked from what works, because that's precisely what I draw my inspiration from - the way materials work together. When I get distracted from that, I just don't produce such good results. I've spent hours over the last two days trying to get a pendant right, and it just wouldn't hang well no matter what I did. I had got very stubborn about including some specific elements on a particular theme. In the end I had to accept that there was too much going on and pare it right down to basics. Now it's much, much better. If I'd been looking primarily at my materials, it wouldn't have taken me half as long to get it right.
On the other hand, maybe I'll work differently when I've got more experience under my belt and I'm more familiar with a range of different materials, so that I know exactly where to go when I get an idea for a piece. I bet nothing will shake my window shopping habit, though.