Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A Little Spark: Book Review

This is a book to shake you up; a book to do rather than to read.  The Little Spark by Carrie Bloomston aims to light the creative flame for the quilter, dancer, painter, potter, artist and more in you.

A little background:  I have seen Carrie's patterns and fabrics and designs for a couple of years in the quilty world, I liked what she did and I followed her on Instagram.  She leads a more alternative lifestyle than many in the quilting/fabric industry and I was intrigued.  She practices yoga and mediation and I was curious how she combined her alternative side with her commercial creative work designing fabric ranges for Windham.  She has produced two great lines for them: Collage and Paint which burst with colour and originality, and I believe another is on the way.  She has such a wealth of creative experience in a range of disciplines that I can see exactly why she wrote this book.  I was curious, it sounded so different from the usual quilty/arty book and Carrie kindly sent me a copy.

The whole book is is a burst of energy and passion.  It's packed full of inspirational pictures, interviews and lots of bite size snippets to snack on.  Its a book to leave out, not store on a shelf:  I have mine on the kitchen table so I can read chunks of it at breakfast and later in the day when I return from work and enjoy it with a cup of tea.  There are thirty 'sparks'- mini chapters that mix inspiration with practical exercises and tips to get you started on an aspect of creativity.  In a roundabout way, I found a little bit of me in this book! Spark 8, Process features a picture of Ayumi Takahashi's beautiful workspace and I spotted a mini quilt I made for her a long while ago in the top right corner, and the rabbit I made for when her daughter was born!  Small world!

You can set yourself a 'spark' a day or a 'spark' a month- whatever works for you.  I plan to visit it regularly so weekly seems good for me.  There's no required order, just jump in wherever you feel the pull.  My first choice was for 'Inner Kid Care'.  I was a very creative child, always drawing, painting, making.  I attended a creative school where that was valued and encouraged- this was just luck, it was my local primary.   So for this exercise, I revisited my 10 year old self: the photo is summer 1981 and the calligraphy, sketches and embroidery are from the same time.  I usually meditate each day for 10-15 minutes so I replaced my usual meditation with this and unearthed a wealth of thoughts and feelings.  It made me think about my creative approach then and now- still many similarities, and also the negative messages that creeps in with age.  The experience was a deep clean of my creative mind- brushing the dust and dirt out, lifting up the cover sheets and letting light in.  I'll happily admit, I am a bit of a hippy at heart.

Lighting that spark can be a challenge.  Carrie's tone is positive and upbeat but she challenges you to look within and dig deep.  As I read I could see Sparks that are already happily part of my creative life as well as Sparks that I try and avoid- those are the ones I need to work on.
1. Break your own rules.
2. Doubt
3. The pleasure principle
This is a practical journal as well as a book.  To get full benefit and embrace a life of passion and creativity, you need to write in it, do the exercises, dig deep and address the hardest questions- try this one:

'Use one word to describe what your unique creative path looks like:'

Just one word!  I found that hard- as with fabric, my usual approach is why use one when I can use ten!    By the end of next year, I expect my copy of The Little Spark to be tatty,  torn and well thumbed.

Bonus giveaway time!  Carrie is giving away five copies- click here to comment at her blog to be in with a chance.  

sib blog


  1. Sounds brilliant and how fun to have seen things you've made in it! I'm a bit hippy too and would love to read this book, thanks for the heads up in the giveaway :)

  2. Oh, the "small world" thing is fun!
    I love the pictures you made.

  3. I'm not at all hippy so I think this book would be really good for me!


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