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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Cole

Going with the flow… and where do ideas come from!?

Following my children's curiosity and pondering on where ideas come from... with a mini-craft tutorial at the end, for the activity that sparked our conversation!


I’ve always loved seeing the creative ideas that children come up with spontaneously and carry out independently with materials they have to hand, and whatever they can manage… my daughter recently made this felt rainbow badge, independently, after we had left out all the materials from another activity that had been more structured and set up for her and a friend. I love that she felt the freedom and inspiration to extend our session with felt, scissors and a hot glue-gun, into something of her own design…

She went on to make these sweet felt brooches too (shared with her permission):

As she was thinking about what to incorporate into her designs it sparked a conversation about where ideas come from.

In this instance, it was very much the case that one idea had led to another… and it seemed simple enough to say that ideas spark ideas. Indeed, I have so often found, in the flow of life, that creative ideas come from all around us – from one activity to creative theme that was then explored in a slightly different way or with different materials, to things seen out & about and we want to try, spontaneous experiments and play with everyday objects and of course things we have seen online – which can often just plant a little seed of inspiration that grows into another idea, rather than necessarily being a tutorial that is followed to the letter.

But there’s also always been a more mysterious element to where ideas come from too… so often my own most insistent ideas seem to come along when I’m doing something like the washing up, or out for a walk – and quite often, to me at least, they appear very visually and almost fully-formed, with no explanation of how I will get to the finished idea and seemingly un-connected to anything else…

This reminded me of something I had read a few years ago in Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s book – Big Magic:

“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way and idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”

Elizabeth Gilbert expands on this thought by explaining how ideas are just out there, floating around, waiting to be noticed, and waiting for someone to say yes to them. If it’s not you who is to say yes at that moment, it will move on to someone else… And of course, saying yes or no to an idea is always a choice to be made, and will always be influenced by whatever else is going on around you at the time.

My daughter seemed to really enjoy this concept, and in a happy moment of serendipity a couple of weeks later, she read and showed me a lovely quote by the late children's author David McKee (creator of Elmer the Elephant) echoing this: "I think the air is full of stories - you just have to have the right receiver and you pick them up". (The Week Junior, Issue 331, p9).

More than anything, this conversation seems to have re-affirmed in us both, a sense of trust that there are always plenty of creative ideas out there in the world, and if we are open and willing, they will find us and we will find them 😊

There will always be those moments when we can’t think up what to do, or feel uninspired by everything and anything, or not in the mood for this idea or that… but knowing that another idea, that we do feel like saying yes to, will probably be along soon can be very reassuring and uplifting. It’s perfectly fine to allow a bit of space and wait for the next idea to come along!

I love that my daughter chose a limited colour scheme for her brooches; just three colours, or four if you include the two shades of pink. I thought it was really effective in turning them into a coherent collection, and love the way that each of the individual objects she chose still worked in those limited colours.

Now I’m busy thinking up projects that could explore colour in this way – making choices about which colours complement each other and how colour might influence design – her ideas have, in turn, sparked ideas in me!

If you'd like to know how to make these sweet brooches my daughter has kindly shared how below :-)

I hope this short post finds you well and wishing you plenty of bright days spring days ahead...

Happy Crafting!


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