Wednesday, 15 January 2014

2014…The year of the joy blog…?

So another year has passed and I again failed to write a lot on my blog.
It seems to be a habit I am not very good at getting into, I think partially because I use Facebook/Instagram so much and they are just basically micro-blogging it then sometimes becomes a bit of a weird thing to the re-write everything I wrote over a week or so in one big summary blog post.
So I will try and blog more I do some big things sometimes and some little things that add up over time and perhaps it will help me to write more. It's been a long time since I wrote anything substantial, probably my dissertation in uni (in 2010!) was my last big writing job.
I read on Facebook that Anna of the brilliant Buttonsy Jewellery is doing a 'Jar of Joy' so each time something nice/positive/happy happens she writes it down on a piece of paper and puts it in a jar so then at the end of the year she can reflect on it and also make a point of each time something good happens being able to focus on it. So perhaps my blog could be a space for that too. I would probably end up mixing up my scrap and joy paper and throw my joy away!
So here is my joy for the day:
Three customers are excited about their pieces being made soon!

2013 summed up:
By Charlie's Hand got more likes on Facebook and orders/interest increased.
I increased my income and profits substantially to the point where I am having to pay tax which is slightly horrible but a really weirdly good achievement.
I didn't have a complete meltdown and managed to get all my work done!
I made approximately 120+ commissioned papercuts a long with 19 original works.
Expanded my product range to include screen prints, cotton tote bags and tea towels!
I reached over 500 sales on Folksy.
Took some time off for Christmas and went to see The Postal Service earlier in the year who were amazing.
Have lived with the Trucker for over a year and not killed each other/broken up and when you consider we pretty much spent the first 5 years of our relationship seeing each other once a week it's a fairly big deal to start living together and adjust to seeing each other every day and not argue too much over who cleans the toilet and cooks.
I turned 26 and have been full time self employed for over 2 years and run a profitable business.
I didn't attend any funerals, which after our little spree in 2011 this is a nice thing.

Plans for 2014:
BCH plans to become bigger, better, more products, more original work, more designs on existing products, sort out a separate BCH website, blog more, just grow but be organic and make it sustainable and manageable.

Do my tax return earlier than the January in which it is due by!

Go on holiday and have more time off like a normal person job! Even f it's just a day here or there I need to take more 'me time' and not feel guilty for not checking my page/email every 10 minutes!

Personally I do want to start the process of owning my own home, I've been saving hard in general because being self employed I always want to have a safety net that if I can't work for whatever reason (touch wood nothing bad happens) I and we as a couple would be financially ok for a period of time and it wouldn't be a massive strain on the Trucker to support us both. But I do also want to own a house, so I can paint the walls if I want, put a picture up on the wall and not have to worry/ask my landlord if it's ok or if they can fix something that's broken/not working properly. I don't want to spend my life paying for someone else's mortgage as lovely as this house it it's not really ours, it's home but not in a way that is really permanent. Renting has been good in that it commits me and the Trucker together but not too tightly as moving in together was an experiment as I have always described us as two very independent people who are in a relationship together so it's allowed us to figure it all out and fall into a set up that works for us and if it all went to hell we didn't throw our life savings and finances in together which would have been harder to detangled with a mortgage/house sale etc. So that's in the future plans of stuff to do.

Be an AWESOME bridesmaid for my best friend Joanna who is getting married in August!
Fit into my size 4 bridesmaid dress!

Exercise more because I sit on my backside working so much that I am going to get really fat and unhealthy if I don't move around more!


Monday, 24 June 2013

And the Winner is!!!!!


Number 329 Janet Moran!
Congratulations Janet!
 I will get in touch with you soon to start making the arrangements.
Thank you to everyone who donated! Total so far is £751 which is so amazing I cannot thank everyone enough for donating their hard earned pennies and we are planning on doing the race again next year and I will be sure to run the same or similar giveaway then!
Yesterday was tiring, emotional but most of all so feel good (after the panting and slight case of exhaustion was over with) it is something I plan to make an annual event and fundraising opportunity!
Here I am biting my lovely medal!

Thank you again you are all awesome!
Papercut Love,
Charlie xxx

Monday, 17 June 2013

Race for Life - Family Tree

I run Race for life in 6 days time!
As many of you know I sadly lost my Nanna in September 2011 to cancer, I ran Race for Life in the July of that year before she passed. It was a very emotional, moving but inspiring day so many people running in memory of, for someone who was currently fighting or for their own recovery and battle against it. They showed a film before we ran which showed how survival rates for cancer have improved so dramatically in the past few years due to the fundraising providing so much more money for research into better drugs, more effective treatments and earlier diagnosis techniques...Sadly Nanna's illness was not going to have a happy ending as her cancer from first diagnosis was terminal and all we could do was wait and make sure that her life was as normal and comfortable as possible.
So this amazing lady is the main reason I am running:

I will run again with my friend Joanna, her Nanna also had cancer but beat it even though she has since passed we run in her honour too, along with our Bampi's who both passed when we were young from cancer and for our friends and family who have all been affected I think it is very rare to find someone who has not had a loved one or friend who has faced this. The photo above is me (the little baby) my Nanny, Bampi and my brother Iain, Bampi passed when I was 6 months old so he was ill at the time this photo was taken and I sadly never got to know him properly.
This is me (note the nicely ordered number 23451!) then L-R Joanna, Sara and Sian who ran in 2011.

This year I am trying to raise as much money as possible, our current total stands at £309.50!
So as an added bit of loveliness I am offering the chance to win an A4 personalised, unframed, round family tree papercut hand drawn and hand cut by me. 
Like one of these!

For every £1 donated to our Race for Life Just Giving page you will be entered into a draw to win a tree, so if you donate £1 you get 1 entry, £5 would get you 5 entires and so on so the more you donate the more chances you will get to win a tree!
So all you need to do is pop along to our Just Giving page on the link below and donate the pennies you have to spare every single £1 makes a difference and would mean the world to us and Cancer Research so we thank you so much in advance for your generosity and I wish you the very best of luck in winning a tree!

The winner will be announced on this blog in the week after the 23rd of June which is when we run and the tree will be made during July.
As many of you know slots are very limited and they are very hard to come by so this is a brilliant chance to get a family tree and for as little as £1 and to do an amazing deed for charity!
I have a lovely pink t-shirt and all my numbers and am going to papercut my 'I race for life for' sign like I did last time too!

Thank you very much.
Papercut Love
Charlie xxx

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Being more upbeat!

So it's been over a week since I had a weekend off...
I feel better for it and I also have new ideas and a new mind set as to what I want to do and how I am going to work.  I've relaxed a bit, decided to try not to let anyone get to me, if there are emails in my inbox I will reply to them in my own sweet time, that drawing can wait a few extra minutes, I will drink that whole cup of tea whilst it is hot.
I've cut the crap basically!
I've also done a lot more of my own originals, I've always tried to fit them in as and when I could but now I am making a more specific effort that I will have 'me time' or a 'me day' not in the sense of a day off but a day off from other people's commissions. Don't get me wrong I have created some pretty cool things from other people's ideas and I have earned a good living so far from doing commissions and tress but it has stifled me as an artist in many ways.
I went from 3 years of glorious self expression (well within the confines of an assessment/marking criteria) in university, to working at River Island which I can tell you is not the most creative environment when you are dragging boxes around, putting security tags on items and serving customers, sometimes the most creative thing I did was rearrange the bags/jewellery/belts on display, to then discovering I could cut paper quite well but that doing my own work wasn't going to earn me what I needed and so commissions needed to be taken on in order to progress to it being how I earned a living. Now I have a bit of a reputation and following, people want to buy my prints of my originals, I have other products and putting my own designs on them is great so taking time to create new things is something I can do as I can do more things, but kind of work less for others and keep things exciting and fresh.
I can afford a little time off, so I had my trip to Manchester with the Trucker which was a whole glorious weekend off, I have had today off pretty much and I will also be taking tomorrow off to go shopping with my friends but then the order book reopens on Friday and I will be making a start on the June orders so it's all go but with a refreshed and relaxed but not too lax attitude to work. Not worrying too much if people cancel orders or don't reply to my enquiries as I know I can fill those spaces very easily :)

Making new things is so much fun!

So here is to working hard and playing hard and being a better, brighter Charlie all round!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Time Off!

I took the whole weekend off...well almost I did do some drawing on Sunday once we had arrived home for some original work, but I signed off at 9pm on Friday and didn't come back to work until 11am-ish on Monday morning (had a bit of a lie in oops!)
I feel better, I feel more relaxed, more focused and fresher.  I went to an amazing gig, The Postal Service were amazing I cannot say how much I enjoyed them, they sounded fantastic and their light show and whole performance was incredible and was probably the most relaxed gig I've ever been to. People didn't mosh or jump around they danced and swayed and nodded heads it was totally chilled and probably just what I needed.
I also went to Manchester Art Gallery, we saw some beautiful things, an Antony Gormley who I adore,  we also saw some things which you can appreciate but sometimes don't always like.
I love galleries but I am more of a speed viewer, I see people in galleries stood intently looking at images for some time and I can't seem to do that, I don't feel an urge to stand in front of something for long periods to appreciate it I like to look and go to the next piece quickly. Perhaps in time I'll stand and stare there are certain things I have stopped to look at but not every single piece in a room in the same way that others seem to...
Anyway that's my small view on looking around galleries.
I work hard, most people seem to think too hard, I kind of agree with them I need time off and I need to do more of the above to take time for me, to enjoy life, to experience more, I cannot live to work as much as I love my job it cannot be all I do.
I am terrified that I may damage my relationships, I don't want Rob to feel neglected or that I care more about other things than him. I want to see my friends and go out and be young, I'm nearly 26 I have a good few more years of youth in me to go out and see the world in all it's glory. I don't want to grow old and discover life passed me by whilst I worked and regret that. So things have changed the past 2 days I have relaxed more, made time for food, exercise, I saw my parents, I took more breaks, I worked less did more :)
Here are a few photos from the trip:

Friday, 17 May 2013

Changing a few things...

It's taken time but I have come to realise my mindset is well, to put it mildly, screwed up.
I promise this blog isn't going to turn into a complete grumble and misery fest but to start there are a few things that need to be exorcised before things can move on and change.
I feel an inordinate amount of guilt for going to have lunch, for taking more than half an hour for myself, for waking up late, for not getting back from the post office in less than 2 minutes flat...
I had a small breakdown yesterday, I stood in my kitchen and cried because everything was just weighing me down.  I had my haircut on Tuesday and chatting to my hairdresser I said I felt guilty for sitting there instead of working when nobody else feels guilty for having time off and for treating themselves to a haircut or shopping or a sit on the sofa with a good book for half an hour.
So after my crying session and Rob (The Trucker) chatting to me about how I have to change things, I didn't work, well I did some drawing but I sat in front of the TV and drew for me, for my own originals, for which I have no deadline, for which I can enjoy and it felt nice as there is no pressure. I went to be at 11.30 and read for an hour before Rob came to bed too. I am having today for work and then tomorrow I am going to Manchester to see The Postal Service and spend some time away from work, for me and for us as a couple, for my sanity and for a break.
On Monday I will return and things are changing. I will have an hour for lunch everyday I will walk out of my studio and have a whole hour where I do Wii Fit, I drink a whole cup of tea whilst it is still hot, I will eat a decent lunch, I will not return to that room until I have had that hour to turn off and just think about that show on TV or the bridesmaid's body I will have for my best friend's wedding next year. In the evenings at 9pm I will leave my studio, I will not check my facebook page until the next day, my emails will not be checked, I will not reply to anything. Because I don't switch off I don't have a physical separation from my work, I don't leave my work place and go home because home and work place are the same things so I have to mentally separate them even more.
I will have a day off just for me either once a week or fortnight, where I sit and read, watch TV, do Wii Fit, go for a walk, go shopping, eat loads of food, sit and think about nothing, do some housework (because that falls by the wayside more than I like) Do everything a normal person with a normal job would do on their day off.
Aslong as the rent and bills get paid and I have some spare cash to do some nice things and buy new clothes and pretties for myself everything will be ok. I don't need to work myself to the bone 24/7 because I do earn enough to live comfortably without going mad from having a messed up mind set towards my work.
So happier, brighter, more energised and focused on my return from Manchester and less regular, mini mental breakdowns from here on out!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sometimes it's not easy

It's not easy being a one woman show, it's also not easy referring to myself as a 'woman' I don't feel like I'm going to be 26 in about a month and feel like I should be more mature I still feel very much in 'girl' territory.
I do everything myself and sometimes I forget that there is only so much that my brain and body can take. I have cried a fair amount recently, I have gotten bogged down in thinking too much about things, I forget to enjoy what I do and that if I don't quite get that done today there is always tomorrow!
I compare myself to others when I shouldn't, I should be content in my achievements and what I have planned and allow myself some time off once in a while.
I think most of the self employed creatives I know feel the same, we throw out heart, soul and guts into what we do and at the end of the day we feel like failures if we didn't quite get that piece finished that day or we haven't replied to that email as quickly as we would like.
There is only so much one pair of hands and a single brain can do in 24 hours and we need to stop beating ourselves up and ease up the pressure that we place ourselves under nobody else is telling us off for not finishing/doing something that day. I am a firm believer that 99% of customers are patient and kind and will wait for a (reasonable) period of time for what they want because they believe in our work and are likely to ok if we say it's not always possible to do because they watch us work hard and know there must be a breaking point even if we don't give in to it ourselves.
We should not feel guilty for taking a day or hour off, to read a book or watch some appalling daytime TV, to see our children, family and friends. What other person leaves their job and feels guilty for not being at work? Most people can't wait for home time, I remember wishing those few hours at my old proper job would fly by so I could get the hell out of there and I never felt guilty for leaving and having the next day off! I didn't feel guilty that I didn't complete that task in that day, but that's probably because someone else could finish it if I wasn't there but in turn we shouldn't feel guilty because there is no one else to do it for us!
I love my job, I love that I get to fulfil my ambition and dream since the age of 14 to be a professional artist but I cannot allow it to fall apart because I think the only way to succeed is to almost kill myself by over working.
This is some of the work I've made in the past 2 months...I really need to cut myself a break as if I can do this I can do anything: