Hello and welcome to All things card and paper at Evelyn Mae. A place where I get to wax lyrical about all things to do with card making. From stitching to glitter, to history to whims of fashion ...

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Shelly X

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

guest blog at Imake ...

As I mentioned towards the beginning of the week, I have been working hard writing towards the great blog over at Imake; I can now announce that the post went live last night, and you can view the post here. 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”…

At the age of 7, a friend and I would sit with our array of felt tip markers, and in our lunch breaks draw greetings cards.  We called ourselves ‘Rainbow cards’ and we gave them to anyone who would take them! I was always using sequins and scrap paper, glue and string, and as many egg boxes that my mum could provide me with.  My parents’ loft is covered in glittered angels and cotton wool snowmen, and I still have teddy bears with holey little knitted jumpers that I made them.  I loved to perform; I was a tap dancer, and I took singing and acting classes.  At 7 I got my first role in a play as a caterpillar, and that was it, I was going to be a professional actress.  And indeed I was, for a number of years.  I continued performing with a passion right up until a few years ago.
So you could say that I was creative.  I had lots of other interests too, many completely unrelated to the creative arts, but the artistic interests predominated.   I went on to study at art school, followed by musical theatre, a Degree in music and finally a Masters in Theatre.  During these years I undertook a post as a lecturer at a college, I loved sharing my passion by teaching performance skills.  And from there, I went on to carve out my career as a professional actress. 
I say all this to highlight that I had another career all mapped out, creative, yes, but a totally different career none the less.  I was determined to succeed, and sometimes I did.  I had a variety of engagements, within a variety of genres, and I loved it.  However, the down side of a career in performing is that a great deal of the time, you are out of work.  The phrase ‘resting’ is completely misleading; although you are not acting, you are job hunting and doing admin.  And it’s tough; the actual time being creative is so slim, and no amount of additional dance classes or vocal sessions make you feel more creative, as they only highlight the fact you are not working!!
During the later years, I became increasingly aware that I was waiting for my life to start, instead of living the one I had.  I was heading for 30. I was also very sad that because of the nature of the job I couldn’t commit to big events like weddings and holidays as I might just get the job.  On top of that, I had made some sacrifices; I was still living at home, and not at all in a position to support myself financially.  So, returning to one of my first loves, I went back to making cards, in the hopes that I could fill my day with creativity while I was hunting for that dream acting job.
In fact, what actually happened was that it was like lighting a candle in the early evening-you don’t even know it has got dark until you light it… I found the passion that I had long since lost, each day had a product at the end of it, each day had a purpose and I could see what I was achieving. I could talk for hours about crafting. (My husband could testify to that!)  I found myself wanting to stay in making cards, rather than going out! At 28!!  This certainly gave me a whole lot to think about.
A year later having kept up acting, diving headfirst into card making and continuing a job working in a kitchen, I met a chap who was to become my husband. He had a job lined up in Margate, and once we were married we would be moving.  So I had a new home, husband and a new city.  A time of natural reassessment I suppose, and I decided, after a few years of thinking and deliberating with friends over tea and cheesecake, and not a lot of doing, I would have a break from performing. 
And so Evelyn Mae was born. I was lucky in that we had space for me to have a workshop in our house, and a husband who has been completely supportive in me becoming a designer as a profession.  It has not been straight forward, although it has been exciting and totally fulfilling.  Dealing with tax returns is something I had experience in with performing, but Company’s house, customer accounts, online selling and Paypal buttons were all alien! 
I love to learn, but there is a tendency that when new stuff goes in, old stuff goes out! And sometimes, old stuff goes out and the new stuff still will not go in!  So it has not been without its challenges, but having said that, it has been very rewarding.  My craft business is not a job; it’s a vocation- I’m sure many of you will relate to this!  It pervades day to day life, inspiration for projects doesn’t just happen within ‘work hours’, and nor does the creative spark to make something! Sometimes I end up in bed with a note pad so as not to forget a design, or getting up at 6.30am to work on the computer putting together an invoice or a blog post!
I write all this to share with you my passions and my journey; to share with you my choice- one which I am happy with, every single day.  I still cannot watch x-factor without shouting at the feedback, but my decision to pursue crafting has been the best one I have made.  I think the trick is to find a way to make every day a creative day.  Whatever job you may do, however crafting fits into your life, if you can make everyday have a little productivity and fun, creativity and friendship, tea and cheesecake, then I think you are on the right path.

Martine at Imake will be doing a give-away towards the end of the week- you will be able to leave a comment  on her blog and be in with a chance to win a prize of four handmade greetings cards, so watch this space for news.

Shelly X

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Love Shelly X