Wednesday, December 3, 2014

“The Little Spark”

I’ve read a fair number of books and articles on creativity. It is a topic that fascinates me the longer I teach fiber art classes. Why is it that some people know they are creative, and some people absolutely deny that they could ever be creative? I always insist that everyone is creative, but some people have simply shut down this essential part of themselves. Artist and author Carrie Bloomston agrees with me. She’s just written one of the best books on creativity that I’ve ever read. Not to sound overly dramatic, but it’s already changed my life.  

It’s called The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity (C&T Publishing, 2014), and  it is 128 beautifully written, photographed, and designed pages to help you try new things, think about things from a different angle, and get motivated to build the artistic life of your dreams.

Carrie writes with great passion, joy and honesty about her creative life. She shares her enthusiasm, her struggles, and her discoveries on her path to greater creativity and personal fulfillment. This is a deeply spiritual book. Not a religious book, but a book about finding meaning and contentment through personal growth, connections, and giving back. It’s about harnessing your essential core – your creativity – and why it is so important to finding your bliss.

Want to get inspired? Watch Carrie’s short video here:

So much of what Carrie says resonates with me. Much of it is stuff I believe, stuff I’ve been telling my students, too. Some of it is stuff I know, but need to be reminded about. “The fact about a creative life is that it is messy and imperfect,”says Carrie. Don’t you love that? Permission to make messes and screw things up? Yes, yes, yes! 

You can buy of The Little Spark copy at bookstores, or here on It would be a great holiday gift for a creative person you know. Or a person you know who wants to be more creative, but just needs a little friendly encouragement to achieve greatness.

Want to see what other people think about the book? Twenty-four other bloggers are posting reviews of Carrie’s book this week:
  1. Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber
  2. Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish
  3. Shea Henderson of Empty Bobbin Sewing
  4. Shelly Figueroa of Figgy’s
  5. Anna Graham of Noodlehead
  6. Karen LePage of One Girl Circus
  7. Rachael Gander at Imagine Gnats
  8. Amie Plumley wrote Sewing School 1 & 2!
  9. Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio
  10. Generation Q
  11. Cheryl Arkison
  12. Erica Sage of Craftyblossom
  13. Heather Givans at Crimson Tate
  14. Tia Curtis 
  15. Jill McNamara Photography
  16. Susan Brubaker Knapp
  17. Verena Ehrhardt at Einfach Bunt
  18. Kerry Green from very kerry berry
  19. Sally Keller
  20. Reets Rags to Stitches
  21. Cristy Fincher
  22. Stephanie Kendron at Modern Sewciety
  23. Anne Beier
  24. Jennifer Sampou
  25. Amanda Haas
Carrie is giving away five copies of her book on her blog! Go to her blog, and leave a comment there by midnight Dec. 9, Mountain Time Zone. (Don’t leave a comment on this post on my blog, because it won’t count.) Also, play along with her Instagram giveaway where three additional people will win a copy. (U.S. winners will receive a copy of the book. International winners will receive the digital copy.)

Registration is open for my retreat!

Blue Ridge Center at Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA
Details of my “Once in a Blue Moon” Fiber Art Retreat with Lyric Montgomery Kinard are now up on my website. You can download the registration packet, which contains information about the classes, pricing, supply lists, and the registration form, by clicking here. It will be Oct. 1-3, 2015 in Black Mountain, NC.

We are so excited about this event, and are trying to make it very special. So we had to start with a special place: Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA, near Asheville. I held my 2012 retreat here. It is a place with a lot of soul, and a lot of beauty. The grandeur of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lush forests, lovely creeks and walking paths, and amazing historic buildings that have stood here for nearly 100 years.

Lyric and I want this retreat to be more than just three days of classes. We are building an event that will be a time to center yourself, to make new friends, and relax. That’s why we are planning special things like photography hikes, a campfire, sketching sessions, and creativity exercises. (Maybe even some simple yoga!)

Most of all, we want it to be a safe, supportive environment to take risks and stretch out new places inside yourself for your creative spirit to thrive. 

For 1-1/2 days, you’ll study realistic wholecloth painting with Susan:
Learn the basics of creating wholecloth painted quilts based on photos. Working from your original photograph, you’ll use acrylic textile paints to bring it to life. Don’t worry if you’ve never painted anything before.… this may look complicated, but my technique breaks the process down into simple steps. I’ve seen students who were utterly terrified to try painting, and then completely astounded at what they were able to achieve. You will learn how to select the right photos; trace your photo to create a pattern; transfer the design to fabric; mix colors, shades and tints; choose paints and fabrics to use; transfer your design to fabric; and paint and blend colors. 

For 1-1/2 days, you’ll study abstraction with Lyric:
Abstraction: Freedom from representational qualities in art. Taking away or removing characteristics from something in order to reduce it to a set of essential characteristics. Abstract-a-licious: Freedom from pressure or the need to make it real. Taking away or removing fear and the need for perfection in order to enlarge the artist’s essential joy in creation. If you’ve looked with hidden longing over an imaginary wall to the world of art quilts but don’t know where to start, this is the class for you. Lyric will gently guide you through concrete exercises designed to help you create ideas for original abstract quilts. Doodles will be scribbled, eyes and minds will be opened, and fun will be had. You will learn the basics of fused collage as you assemble your quilt top. Even students who have never created their own designs before will end the class with at least one small and unique art quilt top. Learn more about Lyric at

We hope you can join us!