Friday, 28 November 2014

The New Star

A last word. From the diary of Grey Rabbit - late November 2014

Here we are again, the same swift straight to the end of another year. And what a year! In my own burrow we have swept the floor - we recognise not ourselves of December last. In my haste for enterprise I have leapt alongside smaller paws as they reach and stretch and find their own.

And I see much change within the wood. We are indeed grown. We have weathered our paths and lit our lanterns these last months. Should you crowd us together (and what burrow could ever be big enough for that?!) many a story we could swap.

We have - none of us - passed a year without challenges and triumphs of our own.

(I write as sleepy headed rabbits doze).

But the hearts of this wood know no greater triumph than yours. New life sleeps, breathes and fills your walls. Your home will never again be the place it was before.

Whilst it has taken the greater part of 24 months - to realise I can answer your questions not. I can search the sky, the stars, the universe beyond...

And in my journey - for it is that - I accept your peace lies not in my action, words or thought. As these days go by I face again familiar walls, floors, cotton cloth...

I come back to my own.

For there is much - in both our stories - yet to come.

But beyond snow laden sills, I hope you know - no matter what - I have half an ear, half an eye and half a paw. Half a scent on the wind which blows over our meadow from the north, a tenth of my concentration and a fundamental part of fur and claw - to year on year, light my own torch.

Not one of us in this wood has forgot.

And in your story - perhaps the cruelest lesson is that life goes on. In season and in growth. In her new rosy cheeked, bright eyed gaze each morning. She is your triumph despite grief, despair and loss. She is a miracle of her own.

And past Christmas, in the new year - in the wake of paper chains and tinsel laden green - when the wood falls quiet and you fall bleak - when the earliest part of 2015 is the last place you wish to see...

In my kitchen, I'll gather woollen folds and fancy - through January gloom - the bright place I'd rather have you see. I'll light a candle and remember your Star of the Sea.

It is that day - swept of glitter, gold and tree - I'll wish you (and all of yours) the best for another year.

Moonlight and Hares - Original artwork by Karen Davis

The Lucky Star - April 2013
The Christmas Star - December 2013

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Wide step, quick feet.
Breath held, heart thump, wake now please.

“Did you hear?”

Not as clear as me.
Not as quick from heavy cloak
of still and blackened deep.

Remember now - to breathe.

"Try and sleep."
Drift and ebb with heavy head
to blanket quiet ease.

Nothing there while unaware you skim and shallow dream.


Shifting ink climb vacant stair
and I don't want to hear.

Come morning light this benign house holds nothing dark for me.

But at 1... but at 2... but at 3...

Ownership of more in wit than stone and wood and deeds.

We live in a very old farmhouse cottage and have been woken in the early hours of the morning more than once. I'll be reading 'Creak' live as part of the Halloween Virtual Open Mic Night on Wednesday 29th October from 9.30pm.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

I haven't blogged in ages. I haven't read anyone's blog in ages. I've been, quite frankly, too busy. But earlier this evening I read this inspiring post by Sarah Miles of Paper Swans, and was reminded of a quote which I love by Sara Henderson...

"Don't wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel. Stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself".

And that's it isn't it? The difference between luck, serendipity - and actually making things happen. It's the difference between deciding to do something - and getting on and getting it done.

And perhaps the best ideas are those borne of a fundamental desire to change - met with circumstance which doesn't absolutely fly in the face of ones enthusiastic schemes, hopes and plans.

Because I don't believe there is ever really a 'right time' to do anything. If we waited for that moment we'd in all likelihood be waiting till the day we died. I started working for myself - designing and crafting bespoke items of jewellery - when my daughter was little over 6 months old. There was nothing right about that timing whatsoever - but twiddling my thumbs creatively, I happened upon an idea, the basic skills to begin to put it together, and the self belief that if I knocked on enough doors, somebody would give me a break.

And they did - small scale local business happy to support small scale local craft. Handmade and locally made is currently very much in demand -  the craft industry in the UK is enjoying a renaissance the likes of which we've never seen, as consumers become sick to death of mass market and mass produced. For those in the handmade/homemade/organically made market - now - more than ever before - is the hour.

And once you've knocked on the door to find it hasn't been automatically flung shut in your face, the laws of cause and effect tend to dictate that more doors will open, as long as you simply keep marching across the room. What began as personalised costume jewellery has within 2 years catapulted a decision to leave my career of 12 years and set myself up at home, on my own, as a freelance graphic designer and storybook illustrator.

That journey isn't a completely random one. I've worked within agencies as a graphic designer since graduating from university. But for the last 5 years I've been treading water, unmotivated, uninspired, daunted by the changing nature of industry technology, and rarely - from one month to the next, learning anything new. Maternity leave, a daughter who napped a lot during the day, a desire for change, and a simple basic idea - together kickstarted a small but profitable cottage industry which reminded me I was creative, I was hardworking and I was capable of taking matters into my own hands. I dreamt of being able to leave the job I'd outgrown. Making a small success of a small jewellery enterprise, gave me the confidence to take the much bigger step of leaving a salaried position, launching my own business, Ellie Illustrates, and utilising the skills I'd been practising for years.

It's not rocket science. I'm not the most talented artist in the world - and I don't need to be. I've learnt the skills to produce a creative product in a contemporary style. And the more I doodle the better I'll become. The more books I paint and illustrate the more I'll learn about the painting and illustrating process. The more doors - in all logical theory - will open.

It's hard work. Yes - of course it is. I'm no longer a cog in a machine. I'm designer, artworker, salesroom, admin and accounts. I see a lot of my apple mac and I no longer have the luxury of leaving the office at 5pm and totally switching off.

But it's my office. It's my hours and it's on my terms. The responsibility may be all mine but so is the credit. And it's very early days. If tackled well this steep, sometimes stressful learning curve, could in time level out to a happy, manageable plateau which I'll have carved out to suit myself.

I'm 38 years old and a mother of 2. And motherhood teaches us a plethora of valuable skills. We become flexible, expert multi-taskers - we recognise strengths and colours of our character which we didn't know were there. At no other time in my life have I been surrounded by so many talented women who are taking chances, opening doors and making things happen for themselves. My friend Joanne bought one of the very first customised necklaces I ever made. She told me she was in awe of how I'd created a product and created a brand with a daughter who was only 6 months old. Joanne is a mother of 4 and in the last 12 months she has launched her truly inspirational Little Art School which has recently been short-listed for 'Most Innovative New Start Up' by the Association of Scottish Businesswomen. If Joanne isn't in awe of what she has achieved for herself, then she absolutely should be.

My mother once told me 'this is no dress rehearsal Helen - it's the real thing'. For those of you with a glimmer or spark of an idea - but too many closed doors in the way of making it happen - remember it only takes for you to tentatively nudge open the first. All bright futures begin with baby steps. We needn't let the lack of a finely-tuned masterplan prevent us from lighting our very first match.

It's not about luck and it's not about waiting till the time is right. It's about self belief and deciding today, right now, to let your ideas fly. 

The light at the end of the tunnel is a damn sight closer than you think.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Sea House

Not of the sea,
blood and bone and gravity,
horses drag on skirts which billow wet away from me.

No-one asked me here.

Yet I walked,
fell from leaden, sullen, sorry concrete corridors,
fell from trees in fields of green and fell from that I know.

It felt like home.

And fish?
Out of water writhe and roll and gasp and gulp and twist,
slam and thrash and glass eye arch of bruised and burning gills.

While time ticks.
I'll make it,
I will.

Sea and sweep and tidal creep by creak of taller ships.

You can watch me read this poem as part of the monthly Virtual Open Mic Night
hosted by the lovely Stephanie of Beautiful Misbehaviour.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ellie Illustrates Blog Design Giveaway!!

*Updated 12th May. This giveaway is now closed and the winner @susankmann has been notified. Many thanks to all who entered!*

Since I left my job of 12 years and launched my Graphic Design and Illustration service Ellie Illustrates, I've been delighted by the positive response from the blogging community and some of the exciting work opportunities that have already come my way.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Writer

I'm missing you,
one of a million things to do,
the order of I'm ticking off the way I please and chose.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Marriage was not important to you,
so you stood at the aisle and said 'I do',
caught your breath at girl in dress and shed a tear or two.