I've been playing with polymer clay for a while now, and am starting to tire of my run-of-the-mill selection of cutters. And while there are some enviable shape templates available now, they can be a bit on the pricey side - especially when you just can't decide on a favourite! Now, while I'm in work I'm as spendthrift as the next girl, but I've been on unpaid care leave for five weeks and am feeling the pinch. I'm missing the little polymer-related treats I'd buy myself from time to time. But there are lots of free ways to find interesting shapes for jewellery and other projects ...
Look closely at the packaging of toiletries, cosmetics and other household goods for shape ideas - companies spend thousands making the simplest things visually pleasing, and sometimes the cross-section of a bottle or profile of a lid can be a nice surprise! Search the Internet for magnified images of natural objects like egg cases, seeds, pollen and minerals ... look at the negative spaces between leaves and flowers. Play with a set of designers' French curves to invent your own shapes ... develop a doodling habit and over a period of time you may notice that you naturally favour a particular shape.
Meanwhile there are lots of free shape resources: one of the best is on Ana Belchi's website. Ana uses a range of attractive shapes in her work, and has been amazingly generous in making a file of her shapes, named after Bauhaus designers available to download
I'm a firm believer that before you give in to either temptation or despair, you should at least have a go at making the thing that you want; I think that's how real originality is born. It's especially true of custom templates you might make for a one-off project - but what about those elegantly simple shapes that seem to recur again and again in pendants, bracelets and earrings?
Even though I failed O-level Maths twice, I think even I've grasped the idea that there's a certain truth that geometrically-derived shapes are some of the most appealing and aesthetically satisfying, because mathematical rules govern the shapes that appear in Nature. So, doing a bit more research, I was intrigued to come across the Superellipse - the concept that produced the Squircle (a satisfyingly curvy square - or alternatively, a blocky sort of circle) and similarly-rounded triangles. If you Google "squircle", you'll find examples.
Even better, a click or three later I discovered procato.com, an online calculator to generate your very own super-elliptoid and other natural looking shape-oids by inputting co-ordinates! While having not the first idea how it works, it's easy to experiment with, and the results are exciting.
Images from Wikimedia commons