Much of what I have been doing lately (crazy quilting and ATCs) requires the doer to be creative on demand and the teacher to enable this to happen. From my limited experience as a teacher my hat is off to Sharon Boggon and Linn Skinner. It is hard to create an atmosphere where others not only want to play, but can do more than just the mechanical.
For me to be "inspired" I tend to use the volume of stash method. I place in front of me the items from my stash that I think might be useful on this project (no matter the project). If I'm really stymied I may put the items out across the room and let my eyes play over them for a couple days. Usually by then something will jump out and say "try me" and other items will have retreated into the background.
My eye must also be attuned to the project. When I'm crazy quilting I look through websites like Sharon's and books like the ones by Judith Montano Baker. I don't want to copy what these creative ladies have done, but rather tune my eye to possibilities that lay before me. When I am preparing for class, I usually need to limit my work to a set of possibilities - like a set list of stitches. It does not mean that I need to limit what I do with the stitches.
Part of this is that I am a seat of the pants project person. By that I mean that I just do and let the project evolve. If I was teaching mediation, I would be saying "trust in the process". I do trust my process of evolving the project into something that eventually is more art than what Linn would call "a pig's breakfast".
Some might say that this is the lazy way out. I admire those that create visual journals and work from them. I admire those that design a project and then execute it. However, so far this has not been the right "method" for me.
When I design a project for a class, I start with a list of things that the project needs and goals to be accomplished - ie. blackwork, basic outline, basic filling stitches, pomegranate, max size 5" x 5, 28 count linen/14 count aida, etc. If it needs to be charted, sometimes I start at the computer, and sometimes I start with the fabric/tactile. It still is an evolution process, just more constrained. Sometimes what comes out is not appropriate for that class, but suitable for a different/later class. In that case, it is back to the drawing board, however, I usually put out some different items from my stash to make the "view" something new/fresh.
This year for my EGA chapter I have thrown them a challenge of sorts. Rather than have lots of different or small projects, I am encouraging them to create a sampler. Several of the classes we are doing are suitable or adaptable for doing on 28 count linen. Each of the teachers have been asked to provide fabric, but also a drawing which then can be traced onto the sampler fabric. I am currently opting not to put the sampler in a frame, but will use a series of hoops that are wrapped on the bottom to create a firm base. I also am encouraging them to do a basic plan -- my plan is to do a colored thread running stitch which will divide the sampler into 4 quarters (Left Top, Right Top, Left Bottom, and Right Bottom). My whitework will go into the Right Top section and my first 2 spot motifs into the Left Top section. Then I will move down the sampler as appropriate. The linen is 17 x 18, I think, and I will do some hem stitching around the edges. We shall see what transpires.