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Recently, Andrew Thornton made a video about his use of idea books over the years. I haven’t been making a lot lately, so I thought I would talk about my own use of idea books. I often make sketches on loose pieces of paper, but I also have multiple books (Andrew’s use of the term “idea books” was new to me when he used it leading up to one of The Great Bead Extravaganza events.)

I have two main idea books: one for upstairs and one for downstairs. However, I couldn’t find the downstairs one a few weeks ago, so I brought the upstairs one down. I’m sure I’ll find the other one eventually. I like to buy books made by folks who take old kids books and fill them with blank pages. The spiral binding makes them easy to lay open when I’m trying to write/draw in them, especially when I have a lot going on.

One thing I like to do, especially if I am watching a video or tutorial, is write down supplies or tools and where to get them. It’s handy to be able to refer to this later when placing an order or trying to remember what that great thing was that someone mentioned.

Pendant by Cynthia Thornton. Vintage turquoise nuggets from Allegory Gallery.

Of course I sketch design ideas. It’s helpful to capture those and also fun to go back and see how much of the idea goes into the final design (if it even gets made). The earrings at the top of the page have not been made (and these sketches are from 2019). I can’t specifically say the sketch at the bottom of the page got made. The pendant got used, but nothing else from the sketch was incorporated.

Faux tin mitten and sari silk from Humblebeads. Large clear glass and manik-manik beads from Allegory Gallery.

Here’s a case where I ended up adjusting the design as I went along and made a much better piece in the end.

Here I took down the names of some interesting books Candie Cooper referred to in a video, noted where in the video there was a design idea I wanted to go back to and did a quick sketch of some tips she gave about using memory wire.

When I was participating in the Art Journeys for Art Bead Scene, I would often look at the inspiration and sketch out ideas based on art beads I thought of. I love this one. I used both the Sally Sutherland tab beads and the Czech glass flowers from the original sketch.

Inviciti charm inside Vintaj frame.
Pendant by Andrew Thornton

Idea books are also great to use when thinking of designs for kits. This one is from one of Allegory Gallery‘s 2015 design kits, Amethyst Aether. I loved that kit! The necklace used a lot of ideas from the top sketch. The bottom sketch also turned into a necklace similar to described.

The book always comes in handy for writing things down. It’s so much better than all of my scraps of paper which then I can never find. This is from when Andrew Thornton was doing a tutorial (I think with Apoxie Clay) and he mentioned some mosaic artists. I went to check them out and made a list of the ones I wanted to follow for inspiration. The other day in another video he mentioned one of his teachers from college, Stephen Westfall, and I love what I’ve seen. Those pieces from Persephone!

There is so much more you can do with these books. Andrew had a lot more things in there if you watch his video. I often use them for lists when I’m deciding what to buy just because I’ve got a cat on my lap and I can reach the idea book and my scrap paper is further away. I don’t want to disrupt the cat! It’s nice to have a place to (sort of) organize the creative mind.