"The Little Spark" – Blog Hop – Give-a-Way

I am very excited to be part of a blog hop for a new book, The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, by Carrie Bloomston. I wrote a book review and posted it on my blog a few weeks ago.  The 30 short chapters offer the reader lots to think about and exercises to inspire and push through a creative block. The front matter discusses the many ways to use this book and get the most out of it. The backmatter is full of great resources.

As you can see, after I read it, it sparked a lot of ideas for me. And I already have bought a few copies as holiday gifts for those creative people in my family. You can purchase a copy through Amazon or click here.

After my review, I had a chance to sit down and interview Carrie by phone, about her background, and what ignites her amazing creativity. Before I begin, let me tell you a little bit about her. 

Carrie isn’t just about art, quilting, painting and designing fabrics. For her, the journey is about being creative, and creating in whatever, medium you want. This is why she refers to herself as an Art Enabler. By the way, the book provides a great list of websites and webinars that offer online learning in a variety of mediums, i.e. Craftsy, Creativebug, kingarthurflour.com. (See p.18.)

Carrie grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in a very supportive community, neighborhood, and with a very supportive family. She went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994, and currently resides in Arizona.

I asked her about how she became interested in art and then sewing? And who were her influences?

Carrie began showing artistic interest and talent at age 2. Her mom was an interior designer. Her father designed clothes and manufactured them. And her Aunt was a caterer. The person she feels influenced her most was her Kindergarten Teacher. Today, her children are her biggest inspirations, because they don’t censor themselves.

Some of the first things she loved to create were loom potholders, knitted items and needlepoint. From there she began paint splattering tee-shirts, and at age 13, Carrie’s paintings were shown professionally in an art gallery.

I asked her about those discouraging and encouraging voices we all carry around with us. What she shared with me about attending  professional art school was interesting, and not the first time I’ve heard an iteration of her experience, which is something we can all take appreciate and absorb. 

For Carrie, art school was like attending a huge playground and very intense. The professors were extremely critical. They often tear a student’s work down, which can be very destructive and damaging. Much of the criticism is not delivered in a constructive way. This was very different than her first mentor, Kiki Smith, who’s voice came from a very encouraging place, and helped Carrie grow and thrive. 

We talked about why Carrie decided to write The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, which is her first book.

A little backstory before we go further. Several years ago, Carrie had an urge to sew and began to take classes at her local quilt shop. She was approached to write out her patterns, which was a bit foreign to her, because she designed her quilts somewhat improvisationally. 

She accomplished pattern designing, and then Windham Quilts approached her to design fabric lines. And here we are today, after her second fabric line was released, called “Paint,” (See photo below.) She also has an amazing web site and company, SUCH Designs. Her third line of fabric is scheduled to come out in the late summer of 2015 with Windham fabrics.

The quilt she is most proud of, (sorry no photos), is Wonky Little Houses. Her quilts mostly have a lot of negative space that offer an opportunity to be painterly with FMQ, which is very cool concept. On the back of her favorite quilt, she wrote a secret message, which can been seen when the quilt is flipped over. It says, “May Happiness Always Find You.” Yes, that made me teary-eyed in a good, “coming from the heart and soul way.”

She had been blogging for five years when the sewing and quilting trade publishers approached her to write a book. However, Carrie’s vision was to share her voice through a book as an artist, because her core skills are as an Abstract Painter and Colorist. 

Her focus in writing a book was to help readers get rid of doubt and the notion of perfectionism. She wanted to offer something broader backed by a loving, enabling and encouraging voice, which this book accomplishes beautifully. And she wants to help readers develop their own encouraging voice, which she does through her workshops.

I asked Carrie about how she came up with the name of SUCH Designs for her company. She wanted the name to have “thustness” and “suchness.” When using the word SUCH in that way, it turns up the volume on the word Designs.
Her intention was to brightly celebrate the inner artist in herself and in all of us. It works. 


Carrie is giving away five copies of this book stellar book. All you need to do to enter, is click on this link.

There are a lot of talented quilters and artists participating in this blog hop. Check out their blogs for some incredible inspiration!!

Leave a comment in Carrie’s comment box. Or you can enter through Instagram, where three lucky winners will be chosen too.

On a personal note, this is a book I will keep in my personal library. I have notes written in next to some of the exercises, on page 18, and on p.127,with the backmatter. I know I will add more thoughts as I revisit this book again and again throughout my creative life. 

A big Thank You to Carrie for writing this one-of-a-kind book.

Happy Reading and Happy Creating!!

"The Little Spark," by Carrie Bloomston – A Book Review – A Great Holiday Gift

Sometimes a book comes into my hands, just when I need it most. November is my least favorite month of the year, (except for Thanksgiving). It seems like the sky is always gray. We all know the sun sets earlier. It feels like the rainiest month of the year. And, of course the temperature drops….a lot.

Along came Carrie Bloomston’s debut book, The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity. The last 10 days of November have become brighter!!

While reading this book I discovered quite a few creative sparks. (Note all the stickies on the pages, with notes and ideas on them). I read through this book quickly, because I wanted to review it before the holidays. It makes an awesome gift. It’s exactly the kind of book I like to own, because I know I will revisit different chapters throughout my creative life. (I borrowed this copy from the library, and am glad there are many copies in our system).
But for me it will get another thorough reading. I didn’t get a really get an opportunity to do the exercises, mindfully. (There is one I did a few years ago). When I read through them, I could see they were thought provoking and are apt to provide a creative spark.

Two years ago, I did make a soul box, which Carrie suggests and describes how to do in Chapter 25.  

Yup, I collaged the whole shebang!!
I was using it to hold some charm squares I had been collecting from my fabric stash. But now I think I’m going to put a copy of this book in the box, along with my goals, dreams and special memories.
Creativity is a difficult subject to write about because it is esoteric, and means different things to different people. Carrie tackled this subject with grace and authenticity. I applaud the organization of the chapters and how the information is presented. The flow works quite well. All of the chapters are short, crisp and are accompanied by photos that support the text beautifully and creatively.  

For example, Chapter 20, “Create a Mission Statement,”  Chapter 21, “Fear,” Chapter 22, “Find Your Voice,” Chapter 23, “Repetition,” and Chapter 25, “Make a Soul Box,” are applicable to me right now, because I have been a bit stuck in my creative process, and procrastinating. But, this book also provides permission to do that when needed. For example, sometimes everyone just needs a day off or a break from their creative endeavors. In my case, it is almost the year anniversary of the passing of my mom, and the gloominess of November seems to make me sluggish.
However, the most awesome piece of wisdom hit me while reading the Chapter on fear. Carrie states that, “The creative act is the opposite of fear.” (pp. 90). I have been a bit immobilized lately, and if I would let myself push on all the sides of my creative boundaries, I know I would climb out of my fink funk. I’ve experienced this before, and I know Carrie hit the nail on the head with how she wrote this chapter. THANK YOU, CARRIE!!
Chapter 20, discusses how to make a personal mission statement. Just the term “mission statement” reminds me of business school and makes me quiver. However, Carrie cleverly coaxes the reader into considering this in a less intimidating way. 
First she has the reader think about their first inspiration, and who it might have come from; A relative, friend, teacher? Then she challenges the reader to describe in one word, “what your unique creative path looks like?” Then she challenges you to “describe how it feels.”
She kicks it up a notch, and asks for a “description in two words?”The next step is to try and make it into a sentence. That’s what I would call taking on a tough challenge in small manageable bites.
The book’s end notes are useful. There is a list of amazingly creative contributors and their web sites. In the “About The Author” section, Carrie shares her favorite books and movies, which have inspired her. Additionally, throughout the book she recommends other creative resources; a George Winston CD, quotes, etc.

The first time I sort of met Carrie Bloomston was through the media. She gave an incredible webinar – Awaken Your Your Inner Color Genius, which was sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild.

I was so impressed with her passion for the subject, that I wrote down the names of the artists that influenced her, and checked out books about them from the library. Carrie received her degree from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an artist in many genres, including quilt and fabric design. Her blog and company is called Such Designs.

I participated in her classes through The Sewing Party; 
“Understanding Color From The Inside Out,” and “The Little Spark – Get to Know Your Creative Process and Rev-Up Your Creativity.”  

After participating in these webinars/classes, I had to read this book, and thus this blog post is born. This is a book to savor, and possibly read a chapter every few days or a week, at a time. There is so much inspiration on every page.

Happy Reading and Happy Quilting!!