©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, This picture illustrates the Little fingering component for beyond brainstorming in the making of an embellished harp by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

Beyond Brainstorming to Design Mine

How do you go beyond brainstorming in your search for inspiration? Although idea starters abound – card prompts, pinterest boards, nature – nothing is as effective as presenting your idea to a group of peers and asking for input.

I experienced such an opportunity during a recent Mastermind spotlight session. Each participant had an equal amount of time to present a scenario to the group and ask for input. The result offered new perspectives for each session member.

Artisans and makers of all types could benefit from a similar exercise I’ve designated as “design mine.”

This is the mini harp, the subject of beyond brainstorming by Mary Ellen Beads, Albuquerque.

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Mini Harp

I experimented at a recent meeting of Collaborheartists. (The Collaborheartists know me well. We’ve produced a number of group projects. While we each have specialties, we enjoy learning together and experiencing group creativity. Read more in this post or this one.)

The question I brought to Collaborhearts focused on expanding my general design ideas:

“Will you please give me some specific input on my design ideas for this harp?”

I wanted to create an engaging embellished mini-harp without beading for 40+ hours. (NOTE: I agreed to produce two instruments for the Precedence Music Academy fund-raiser. Read about “Rhapsody in Blue,” my beaded clarinet.

In summing up my outline I asked the group to consider one major caveat:

“I have a tight deadline, so the ideas must be easy to implement.”

My conditions:

  1. My base plan includes beaded free-form hearts in gold on silk
  2. These three or four silks will mix for the background material
  3. Freeform beaded notes and hearts in rectangles will be on the right
  4. I will replace the strings with waxed linen and string on beads
  5. A bias-wrapped dowel will conceal the raw left side of the piece

My materials:

Beyond Brainstorming looks at how beaded rectangles featuring notes and hearts go on the righ.t side of the mini harp made by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Harp components

  1. The discussion took less than 15 minutes but the takeaways were long lasting:
  2. Instead of bias-cuts, most of which would be covered by the rectangles, use strips of silk for quicker, easier assemblage
  3. ‘Little finger it.’ Use a small beaded heart on the lower left of the instrument to draw the eye down for a cohesive appearance (NOTE: ‘Little finger it’ added a new term to our vocabulary after one member described her nephew’s usage of the word as a verb)
  4. Keep the original harp strings and crimp beads on (A quick experiment proved this could readily be done
  5. Wrap batting and disguise the raw left edge in that way
  6. Instead of a common pinking shears trim on the rectangle, use pattern cuts from scrapbooking scissors

©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, This picture illustrates the Little fingering component for beyond brainstorming in the making of an embellished harp by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

My point: “Design Mine” adds additional idea power, increasing exponentially the outcome. As presenter, you can choose to accept or reject the input. On the two occasions I’ve used this method, I’ve found my thinking dramatically expanded.

Will you go beyond brainstorming and use “Design Mine” for your next creative venture?