Sunday, December 7, 2014

"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, (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!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winner of The Ft. Worth Fabric Studio Bundle

Congratulations to Sarah, who is the lucky winner of the Ft. Worth Fabric Studio bundle. I sent you an e-mail.  When you receive it, please send me your snail mail address, so we can mail that out to you. Enjoy!!

Happy Quilting!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday Give-a-Way From Ft. Worth Fabric Studio

Tomorrow is Cyber Monday!! Ft. Worth Fabric Studio is offering a fabulous give-a-way. See the incredible deals they are offering for Cyber Monday

To win this holiday batik bundle, please leave a comment in my comment box, telling us what your favorite bundle is on the Ft. Worth Fabric Studio web site.

This is a great way to kick off your holiday season. Thanks to Jodie and her wonderful staff.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Interview with Ft. Worth Fabric Studios and a Give-a-Way

I am a big proponent of small business. And Ft. Worth Fabric Studio, owned by Jodie Heinold. It is a fabulous online store that offers great deals all year around, as well as special sales. They are actually celebrating with a Black Friday Sale, A Small Business Saturday Sale, and a Cyber Monday Sale.

I am happy to introduce, Jodie Heinold.

1. Tell us when you became interested in sewing, and how that happened? Did someone influence and teach you?     I have been interested in sewing since I was a young child.    As long as I can remember, I loved color, and all kinds of arts and crafts -  it’s always been a part of who I am.   My interest in sewing was further sparked by my Grandma Teegarden, and although I only saw her once or twice a year, she instilled within me a love of sewing!   She was seamstress, a quilter, and worked in custom drapery as a trade.    A high school home economics class got me started on making my own clothing – something I did through high school and part of college.

2. How did this lead to Ft. Worth Fabric Studio and how did it begin?   I earned a BS in Business Administration in college, but never forgot my passion for creating.   For a number of years I designed and sewed custom children’s boutique clothing – to be honest, it was the color and the coordinating of fabric that I enjoyed the most in this process. In 2009, I decided to combine my passion and my business degree and I opened Fort Worth Fabric Studio.

3. How did you decide to become an online only fabric store?  My children’s boutique clothing  business was an online business, so I was very comfortable with that venue and I loved the idea of FWFS having the ability to service clientele all over the world.

4. How big is your staff? And what do the other staffers do at Ft. Worth Fabric Studio?   We have a staff of 6 in addition to myself.    It truly is a family business!   

-Lindsey Weight is our blogger, sample maker, tutorial writer,  and head pattern designer.   

-Holly Humbert is our customer service gal, order shipper, and social media expert.

-Kurt Heinold (my husband) is our main cutter.

-Nick Heinold (my 20 year old son) takes care of loading most of the product on the website; he also cuts, packages, and ships orders.

 -Clayton Heinold (my 18 year old son) is our main FQ Bundle maker, and is also heavily involved with marketing.

 -Mitchell Heinold (my 16 year old son) is our all-around help – he helps cut orders, label packages, and keeps our supplies stocked.

5. What makes your online store different than other stores? Please Include details about including fabric lines you carry, sales, Friday Bundle Batch and anything that makes you unique and special.    Our FridayBundle Batch and our custom bundles are a unique niche for FWFS.  I thoroughly enjoy putting together the weekly bundles as well as our custom bundles – it is a fun challenge to match colors and prints across manufacturer lines to create something truly unique. Since I currently don’t have much time to sew, the bundles are my creative outlet.

6. Your site has a great feature; the color picker. And a buyer can pick secondary colors through that tool. Tell us about it and how it works. (I love it)!!  This tool was added to our web site a couple of months ago, and it is a great asset if you are searching for a particular color. You will find a wide rainbow of options – just click on the color you are searching for and the system will compile thumbnail images of all the fabrics it deems as matching.   This is a great time saver if you are searching for a particular color and don’t want to sort through an entire online catalog of images!

7. The "Coming Soon" and"What's New" features on the menu bar are great tools for any shopper. I know this isn't an exact science, but approximately what is the time difference between the two?  What's New are the items that just arrived – this category showcases all the new goods added in the last 90 days. They are sorted by showing the newest items first.

Coming Soon is our section of pre-order fabrics – these items are not yet in stock, but will arrive as indicated.  We accept pre-orders on all of these items – you can order these fabrics just like any other in-stock items, but we will not charge you until the fabric arrives & we are ready to ship your order.   It’s a great way to reserve your favorites!  We always cut the pre-orders off the bolts first!

8. You always offer great ongoing sales. Are there any special ones shoppers should be aware of?   We have fantastic weekly sales on one or two fabric lines – all sales are advertised in our newsletter, along with the coupon codes needed!   Our sale section is also kept fully stocked, so you can always find a bargain!

9. Are you offering any special discounts or sales for Small Business Saturday and Cyber MondayWe have 30% off all Holiday House (Christmas/Winter themed) fabrics, bundles, kits, etc. And 20% off all (non-holiday) Bundles, Pre-cuts, and Kits!  These discounts will be automatically reflected in the shopping cart and are good through Monday, December 1!

10. What fabric trends do you foresee in the next six months?   I believe the trend for low volume prints will continue: low volume in color such as the great text background pieces you see in gray & white/cream, as well as tiny prints with color that can be used as background for quilt blocks. There are also a growing number of vintage-style prints being shown by the fabric reps and I believe these are also going to have a presence.

Jodie, thank you so much for sharing some pre-Thanksgiving time with us. It was a pleasure getting to know you better, and Ft. Worth Fabric Studio.

Jodie has generously offered a holiday fabric bundle, as a give-a-way.

To enter, please leave a comment in my comment box. Tell us the name of your is favorite bundle in the Bundle Section.
Or click on this link

I will announce the winner on this blog on Monday, December1st, at 9:00 PM, EST. Please make sure to leave your e-mail address.

 Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy this big sale weekend!!

Happy Quilting!! And safe travels.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"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!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What's Trending From The Fall Quilt Market in Make Modern

Please look for my article about "What's Trending," from the Fall Quilt Market in Make Modern; the January/February issue. And if you haven't seen the November/December issue, check it out. I just received my copy, and it is full of great articles and fabulous patterns.

Happy Quilting!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Quilt Market in Houston - 2014

This was my first quilt market, and I've been struggling with this post.  Why, you might ask? I learned a lot which I want to share.

1. There is so much to absorb.
2. The facility is huge, and so much to see in 4 days.

3. My feet hurt for a few days after I came home. Tip: I wore comfortable, professional looking shoes. Eventually, I had to change into sneakers. 
Bring Both.

4. When I arrived home - I had a lot of stuff.  No, a really, really lot of stuff. Catalogs, brochures and information. (Only purchases - Two pairs of scissors, a book, which I can't wait to review, and a pattern).
5. And I had to catch up on mail, e-mail, unanswered phone messages, do the laundry, take care of a pet issues, get a least one really good night's sleep, and then....
6. Process the experience.
I took tons of photos and collected lots of literature and business cards from so many people. Fortunately, I was organized.  Every night when I got back to the hotel room, I sorted out all the papers and cards, and coordinated them with the map of all the  booths. 

I have no idea how large the space was where market was.  But it felt as large as a football field. The area of the center where The International Quilt Festival was seemed even larger.

Market itself was certainly a feast for the eyes. Every fabric booth looked beautiful and colorful. You could say some of the booths looked like little presents, each with their own themed wrapping paper. Each one was different and reflected the personality of that company. I was mesmerized at times.

Publishing houses set up little mini bookstores. When it came time for Angela Walters to sign her books, the line wrapped all the way around a few booths.  My calculation was that the end of the line was at least in for an hour wait. 

Sewing machine companies, including longarmers were busy all the time, and there was a noticeable hum from them in the air. I noticed booths from Spain, Australia and Brazil. I'm sure there were others from more foreign countries

I visited the Kona booth more than any other booth. They had a match game going, and I tried to beat my score everyday.  Each player had 2 1/2 minutes to try and match the name with a Kona solid.  There were four different boards, and I tried each one, which became progressively harder.
Then the player spun a prize wheel. There were fat quarters, canvas bags, color cards and charm packs. ( i may be missing something). For me it was less about the wheel, and more about seeing how many colors I could get right. 
 One of the most intriguing things for me was before and after the "official market." I wrote a bit about that and posted a lot of photos on facebook about that. The day before market begins, everyone is in jeans or shorts and sneakers, working hard to put up their booths. Small truck lifters are driving carefully through the aisles with huge crates. Thick yellow electrical cords are being snaked through curtains and hidden from view.

The next morning when market opens, every booth is finished and looks like it just had a perfect makeover from a fashion stylist. Nothing seemed out of place.  Then on Monday at 4:00 PM an announcement comes through a PA system saying that market is officially closed. It reminded me of when the clock struck 12:00 AM and Cinderella's beautiful gown disappeared. But at market, everyone quickly changes back into work clothes and the booths come down and are packed up again. Some of them stay open through Quilt Festival.

Speaking of Quilt Festival we did get to see it before it was open.  It is enormous with amazing work done by quilters all over the world. I can't post any of them here, except the red quilt display that has been travelling in many festivals.  If I post any quilts, I must write who made it, and I forgot to take note of that. I will not forget next time.

All in all it was an incredible experience I will never forget.

Happy Quilting!!