Opening the studio doors

Opening my studio doors to the public was a big milestone! Last month I took part in the Open Studios event at Wimbledon Art Studios where I've had a room of my own for just over a year. 

A note about my branding: I work under my own name, Kelly Harcus, and under the business name, Everyday Joy. I started using Everyday Joy 8 years ago as a collective name for selling crafts and like a publisher's name for my artist books. It continues to feel like a good fit, although I do use my own name more than I did in the past. 

I'm sure I'll be reflecting on the lessons of that weekend over the coming months, but some first thoughts:

  • You might feel vulnerable and that's okay. Your work and your space feels very personal. Some of my happiest moments were with people who were interested, even if they didn't buy a thing.
  • The room: tidy and welcoming, but show signs of work in progress. People have come to see studios, rather than going to a shop or gallery. Seeing a working is part of the interest I think.
  • Display: it depends on you and your work. I had more out, but it seemed to confuse people, and I think it can look a little jumble sale-y. Lots of space and clear labels so people know what they're looking at, especially if you do a lot of different work.
  • Keep in touch: have cards ready to give out, and be brave and actually give them out! I think it's better if they show the type of work you have out, so that people can remember what they saw and liked. Make it easy to sign up for a mailing list - I used Mailchimp's app because I find it easy to use and they are clear about what is okay and what is spammy.
  • It is tiring, even if it's quiet. Have some work you can do, it's more welcoming than playing on your phone or even reading and I find it draws people in. Be prepared to be exhausted afterwards, but also be prepared for feeling super hyped up and inspired.

What stops you blogging

I know for me, it can be a number of things:

  • maybe I'm feeling brave and putting a lot of things in motion, but I'm not ready to tell the world
  • maybe I've had a period of expansion, and now I'm contracting - this one is big, I invite you to notice if this appears in your life too. In my life, this usually looks like hibernation and I tend to be very non-verbal
  • maybe I know what I want to post, but I want it to be perfect and I'm waiting until I have enough time to sit down and write an awesome in-depth post. (Clue: there's never enough time!)
  • maybe I know what I want to post, but I need to get the photos taken, edited, etc
  • maybe I just got busy
  • maybe I got out of the habit

What is it for you?

Don't you just love vintage fabrics?

You'll have to wait until the autumn to get your hands on these, so I wanted to give you a peek at what I'm working on. I was lucky enough to get a beautiful stash of vintage cotton sari fabric and I'm busy sewing, wrapping and tying it into a range of similar-but-each-unique loveliness for you.

Big zipper pouch from vintage sari cotton and velvety soft denim notebook with woodblock print

Big zipper pouch from vintage sari cotton and velvety soft denim notebook with woodblock print

Boho fabric garlands from vintage cotton saris

Boho fabric garlands from vintage cotton saris

Hand-bound books from aged denim and vintage cotton saris

Hand-bound books from aged denim and vintage cotton saris

Beach stones flat zip pouch

Beach stones flat zip pouch

I just remembered I haven't finished that apple!

I've been there and everywhere... except here!

You know that neighbour down the road? The one whose name you can't remember? You might have known it once, but now too much time has passed and it's just too awkward. That's how I feel about my poor blog, and you, kind souls, who have stuck around waiting.

A lot has happened since I saw you last. I've been away several times. I've worked every hour of the day for six of those weeks. I've been ill. I've been well. And I've been just plain exhausted.

Remind me to tell you about:

  • book-binding in Edinburgh
  • my super-secret project that I am at least free to reveal
  • Shetland
  • what I've learned about business
  • New Mexico and Ghost Ranch
  • Upcoming retreats
  • Blogtacular
  • e-courses

Okay? Good. See you soon!


Is your pretty planner half empty?

Admit it, you started a new planner this month, right? Maybe you even have a planner board (or two) on Pinterest? Are there a few gaps appearing now, as we approach the end of the month? Documented Life Project, bullet journal, Filofax lust, Hobonichi techo, Moleskine hacks - I've tried them all. Some years they've worked and some years they haven't. I know a few reasons why.

From top: Hobonichi techo, bullet journal in a Leuchhturm1917, Get to Work Book by Elise Blaha Cripe. Pens are absolute favourites: Pilot's Frixion Ball 07 (Erasable! I like a medium nib, but they do thinner ones).

From top: Hobonichi techo, bullet journal in a Leuchhturm1917, Get to Work Book by Elise Blaha Cripe. Pens are absolute favourites: Pilot's Frixion Ball 07 (Erasable! I like a medium nib, but they do thinner ones).

Build it in to your day

I resist routine.  (Insert pause for the people who know me in real life to fall about laughing.) You know what though? Your draw-every-day notebook, your #100dayproject and your bullet journal are all doomed to fail unless you build it right into your day with some kind of routine. Yeah. Sorry about that. Just ask me how I know.

Things to think about: 

How am I going to fit this into my day? How can I keep the things I need for this process together? Do I need to carry everything with me? Is there something already in my day that I can use to pin this down?

For me, I've promised to touch my main planner once a day. It has birthdays, diary dates, daily to-do lists and my gratitude notes. I check it in the morning with my cup of tea, add any tasks for the day. I can carry it with me, and I only need one pen. More pens are fun, but if you don't write stuff down because you don't have your pale mint limited edition fine liner from Japan, the system will fail. I check in again at bed time, after all the screens are off. I cross off anything that needs it, jot down anything on my mind for tomorrow, and write down  two or three things I'm grateful for today. This last bit really helps me wind down for sleep, but if I don't beat myself up if I don't get to do both check-ins - one will do.

Planners are tools not goals

I hate to admit it, but this is exactly what has tripped me up before. If having a really cool planner is the goal, rather than the process, you will probably fail. I've seen this in Facebook groups for Documented Life Project and for Bullet Journalling. It's easy to get bogged down in perfection and making it pretty. This is the old style over substance trap. I love DLP and I love some of the bullet journal stuff I've seen (especially Boho Berry's). They can work for you, absolutely, just watch out for road blocks.

Things to think about: 

Am I writing everything out twice (once as a draft and once in pretty form)? Do I want to do that 366 times this year!? Will I be able to add stuff to my planner during the day without carrying around five pencil cases of equipment? Will I feel that I've ruined it if I use my normal handwriting by mistake? Where will I be sharing this (and honestly now, how much will that affect how I fill the pages)?

I've had times when I was filling in stuff after it had happened, which is fine of course if you're adding photos or notes, not so much if you're adding your dentist appointment weeks afterward. I've had times when I let comparison come creeping in and stop me in my tracks. I've had times when I didn't have time to use my planner, so I went back to writing things on my hand and on envelopes. If you're spending more time on your planner on the stuff you're planning, it's time to rethink.

Keep it simple

Be clear about what you want from your planner, and what that involves. If you are spending an hour a day tracking every little thing and making your planner just so, you might not have enough time to work on your dreams! If you can't arrange a coffee date with a friend because you don't have the right supplies, you might need to simplify your system. If you have five planners, and end up writing the same thing in three of them and can't find the ticket info that you're sure you added somewhere, you might need to get really clear on what you want.

Things to think about: 

What do you really want to track? How will that help you? What do you love about the pretty planners you've pinned? How much time a week do you have to spend on the fun part of making and decorating spreads? How much do you want to carry around? What do you want to plan for and when and where will you need that information?

This is my system at the moment:

Daily planner - all important dates like appointments, tickets, birthdays; calendar overviews; daily to-do lists. There's space for doodles, notes of memories or ideas, daily gratitude and stuff I want to remember. I do use some bullet journal techniques in this. Remember, it might make sense for you to do this in your phone. I carry it around most of the time.

Bullet journal - personal goal setting, tracking new habits, lists of books I want to read, useful details gathered together (I recently did this to keep track of magazine subscriptions). It's pretty, and it's fun, but I don't want to give it a lot of time daily. I aim for a five minute check in on the habit trackers. Then if I want to spend an afternoon creating pretty lists, reflecting on my goals, or journalling, I can. It mostly lives at home, but might come to a coffee shop or a getaway with a pencil case of lovely pens and some washi tape.

Get to Work Book - I love this. There is space to reflect and dream big, space to plan the nitty gritty of your next project, and space to plan your days, weeks and months. The structure supports structured thinking which I like. It works for me to have separate planners for work and life. That's what I did with the 9-to-5 and it keeps me focused now too. I use it to plan my studio time, my home-based admin and blogging. It mostly lives at home, but sometimes comes to the studio or to a meeting.

It may not even sound simple to you, but it works for me. It started coming together for me when I really looked at how I work and what I'm working toward. For example, I recently abandoned my blogging Filofax, in favour of some tracking and lists in my Get to Work Book.


I haven't received anything in exchange for mentions in this post. Sad times. They're all just things I like. 

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin This book really helped me understand how I've kept the habits I've kept and why I didn't keep all those other ones.

Breakfast in Bed playlist by Spotify

Bullet Journal original site

Bullet journalling by Boho Berry

The Documented Life Project

Get to Work Book

Hobonichi Techo


If you are running a creative business, I suggest you check out the wise and wonderful Jenny Hyde's new course, Planning with Purpose  

I'd love to hear about your favourite planner. What works for you? So many of you have mastered this planning lark; I want to see , so share blog posts if you want. Or planner disasters... Are you a January through March girl, year after year?

Bravery is a rubber band

Or, if I'm so brave, why do I feel so scared?

Or, a tale of expansion and contraction.

Or, everything is a cycle.

One of the bravest things I've ever done - first steps into my own studio

One of the bravest things I've ever done - first steps into my own studio

It's natural to feel tired. This is something the 'coven' and I have talked about a lot. I'll tell you more about them another day. They're awesome.

Society sells us the myth that sleep is for the weak. Not exercising? Wake up an hour earlier. Want to write a novel? Wake up an hour earlier. Look at your heroes, they only need four hours and wake up fresh as a daisy!

Nope. Not buying it. Medicine tells us that most of us are chronically sleep-deprived. Anxiety and depression seem to be on the rise. Sure, some of the perceived increase may be increased reporting; we feel more able to talk about mental well-being these days. Even so, the increase is real (2013 Salon article with sources). People need rest. It's not a choice and it certainly isn't a weakness.


Flowers bloom in spring. Fruit follows the flower. Seeds follow the fruit, and hopefully, they travel. Then nothing happens, or so it seems. The seeds find somewhere to land and settle into the earth, waiting until the conditions are right. They soak up moisture and the goodness of the earth. They wait for warmth. And so it all begins again.

You're the same. I'm the same. We push and grow and create this big, wonderful thing. I'd love to hear about it, your last big thing. And then sometimes, we collapse in a heap. Maybe disappear into a book. Maybe binge watch something you'd hesitate to name aloud. Maybe sleep and wake and eat and be with family and then sleep again. It's natural. It's right. It's what the seeds of the next big thing need. 

And yet we question it. After a big push toward the deadline, we are wiped out. In the wee small hours we question whether we can even hack it. Come on, it took so much out of us, we're exhausted. At least, I know that's how it goes for me. The thing is, hard work is hard. It can be fulfilling and inspiring and even energising at times, but it is hard. Rest is the flip side of work. It's a cycle.  

Bravery is like that too. The energy it takes to take that step, make the leap and feel the wind on your face needs a counter. For you that might show up as fear, as questioning, as a few faltering steps after the big one, while you second-guess yourself. For me it showed up as hibernation, in the form of a lot of rest, and feeling unable to deal with much social activity at all, for months. 

It took friends to point out (and yes, more than once) that in the past few months I had expanded in a number of ways. I'd accepted work that was new to me, signed up to opportunities that felt outside my reach, committed to renting a studio, travelled a fair amount, opened my heart completely to experience Squam without holding myself back in my typical ways. I even fought a feral cat in the interest of getting him to the vet (and he won round one - I have the scars to prove it, and yes, I took my antibiotics too).

So yes, I see it now. The cycle of expansion (bravery, action, being seen) and contraction (rest, doubt, stepping back). It's part of the great glorious way of things.

I want to hear how it is for you. Are you in a resting, fallow place right now? Or are you bursting with the energy and creative push of the next big thing? Either way, you've got this; you're right where you should be.