It's been a little while.
But things are happening. Things have happened in fact. I remember, through the mist of baby brain, at some point saying I'd only write a journal entry if something interesting happened.
Also, this time round I believe I have a good excuse of absence.
Blame a little lady named Amber. She is not only a masterful time waster, she has also proven to be a profound motivator. I feel fired up like never before. So thank you Amber for giving me the grit and evenings in to bring this new venture into fruition.
Staying in is the new going out.
I have embraced the limitations of my sofa. A sofa which I wish we hadn't spent a year paying off. It would more transparent if Habitat included a cat clawed blotchy style way amongst its shiny images, to show a realistic view of how a sofa looks like one year in to having a baby, and two years in to having an only-stupid-when-suits rag doll. I wasn't nearly prepared enough for the more wet than dry early days.
I have ventured into the world of wax. Blinkered by my love affair with silver, I have avoided wax until now.
Squishy. Messy. Melty.
I've always looked down my nose and thought it a copout. I've always thought that I should be able to make everything in metal. Why? Who exactly is policing my making process?
It turns out that wax carving is quite an art form. I love the beauty of it being a process accessible to complete beginners but also allowing the intricacy of highly skilled finely crafted and detailed work.
The real bonus, given my current work-home-life-baby balance, is that wax carving is a medium I can work in from the living room. No childcare necessary. Bluey is all you need. And melty puffs. And noodle planet. And stacking cups. I say all you need because if you're the same as us, I'm pretty sure we like it more than Amber. Dad has made me cry twice already. They are the perfect family.
It goes without saying, every family has it's own set of sticky foot holes and rickety fencing to navigate, but simply put - I have had the best year of my life. Long nights are washed away by morning giggles. They sure teach you to live in the moment. There isn't the time to dwell on what's past. A new day of new opportunity awaits.
I fully revelled in entering phase baby brain. Re-program away. I give permission for timekeeping, sentence forming and memory to be bulldozed and thrown in the skip. Room is needed for changing bag packing lists and bottle timings.
To switch off completely from work was the dream. There was no space in my mind for anything but Amber. It was a strange but welcome feeling and one that I never could've imagined feeling in pre-baby life.
I could quite happily remain in that headspace, but when snippets of time began to resurface - for activities other than showering, eating or emptying the dishwasher, I wondered when or if my creativity would ever come back.
I needn't have worried. It is now back with a vengeance.
Having a baby and increased productivity levels was not a combination I thought compatible. The amount you can get done in 30 minutes is really quite startling. It makes me wonder what an earth was I doing with my time before?
Faffing. An awful lot, mixed with self doubt and sprinkling of idleness.
There is no time for faff. Nap initiation - reverse - tip toe - stairs - ready - go go go. Get it done. Take photos. Schedule posts. Make a flower. Make some muffins. Brush your teeth. Throw the nappy out. Send that email. Reschedule that smart meter. Make a cup of tea. Sit down for thirty seconds. Three, two, one - go get Amber up.
The 'done is better than perfect' motto has never been more apt.
Another unexpected but welcome symptom of motherhood has been the freedom from self doubt. If there is ever a boost of confidence, it is a tiny being beaming up in awe at the very sight of you. You are the hilarious centre of her universe.
This freedom took some time to barge stubborn barriers aside, breaking through soon after the anxieties of public crying dissipated. Babies don't do that, they are perfectly behaved, especially in busy cafes, on the train and in Morrisons, at all times. They know better than to disrupt the social norms of awkward silence and weather talk.
Since noticing it's absence during a Sunday lunch, the general background anxiety I felt in everyday life has slunk off too. They must be friends. I came to this realisation whilst sitting at our dinner table in the front room with Matt, my Mom and Amber. It dawned on me that I hadn't once thought about the blinds being up. In life pre-Amber I would have been so worried about being visible through the window that it would have been the main focus of my thoughts throughout the whole meal. A constant feeling of being watched. This feeling has been with me since I can remember. It's always been there. I never remember not feeling it. But now I feel it's absence. It is wonderful.
I have to be the same with Amber in public as I am at home. Stupid faces and squeaky baby voice included. It's been liberating. I also managed karaoke sober. It is the same feeling. Release. At last. I don't care anymore. I don't have the time to care and Amber needs me to not care. I am free! I have also realised that other people don't care. They don't care if your baby is crying. They don't care what your instagram caption says or doesn't say. They don't care much for you or your life because they are busy thinking about their own world. I remember reading a quote at some point - what other people think about you is none of your business. And quite rightly so.
*I just have to add a quick note about the one and only previous time I did karaoke - for Otto's Christmas party - I got so drunk I fell asleep on my knees in the middle of the bed because it was the only position that my head stopped spinning in. Another bonus to perfecting the art of not-giving-a-f*ck, karaoke is now available hangover free.
Since most evenings my view is of furry slipper socks and a beige corduroy bean bag, I have set myself the challenge of carving one flower per episode of Clarkson's Farm. I didn't keep up that schedule for long but I have managed to create a modest bouquet - so far we have a daisy, a daffodil and a sunflower.
Daisies and sunflowers being my favourite flowers and a daffodil because because Mother's Day is fast approaching.
I am enjoying making pieces that are not wearable. The crux is that I love to sculpt 3D forms. Being a jeweller by trade and trying to earn a living selling to a mainstream market where jewellery is generally perceived as being a certain form and size has been the harness.
I have so enjoyed making these flowers and although I'm not entirely sure where this project is headed, I'm going to keep making them and see where they take me.
So far they have led to The Hedge.
Which brings me to the very first wax carving workshop! I've never been great at selling. It's icky. I could quite happily make things, take photos and create websites but hide from the world - if a customer happens to stumble across a rather lovely silver miniature border fork at the bottom of an internet hole that's a bonus. Probably why I'm not a millionaire yet.
I've wanted to move away from a purely product based jewellery business for some time. Real life human connection is what I crave. I loved meeting you at craft fairs, I loved our long email chats and I'd love to meet you at a workshop and carve a flower with you. Less text, more talk. Gosh I sound like my Mum. That's okay, I suppose I have entered the next generation now.
My grand-return-from-maternity-leave-plan is to host a series of wax carving workshops in which we will make a flower in wax. The flower will then be cast in the Jewellery Quarter and I will solder a stem on and finish it off.
Then once finished I will post your flower to you or you can collect it from Rachel at The Hedge. I first met Rachel back when she had her wonderful shop in Harborne. We lived just around the corner so it was a regular stop on our strolls. I am very excited to be hosting the workshops in her beautiful store.
The first one is Thursday 23rd February. If you would like to come along and try carving a a daisy, please do. Tickets are available here: https://ellenlou.com/products/wax-carved-cut-flower-workshop-the-hedge
If you are local to Stirchley then you may have spotted a poster in Caneat's loo or Yogaborne's pinboard. Embracing the analogue and reliving my youth I went up the High Street, Blu-Tack in hand. God knows how you are meant to get anywhere with social media these days. Although I do have an absence of approximately five years to claw back from the algorithm.
I will let you know how the workshop goes.
Wish us luck!
If more than one ticket sells without bribing and if we make something that resembles a daisy we can call it a success.