Introducing our new Personal Size Organiser

We’ve had customers asking us to start making a smaller 6 ring binder so, at long last, here it is.

This is our Personal Size Filofax compatible organiser. At the moment we only have it listed in black but we can also make it in brown and dark brown:

Personal Size Organiser – Black

As always, when we introduce a new item to our range we offer a discount. So, we have a 10% discount on this and all other binders and organisers on our website over this weekend (ends Midnight 3rd July 2017).

PERSONAL SIZE ORGANISER - SALE ON ALL BINDERS AND ORGANISERS - EARTHWORKS jOURNALS

The Quiet Before The Storm

Every year in the Earthworks workshop, sometime around early to mid-October, it all goes very quiet. The email inbox seems strangely empty, the number of sales drops off considerably, even the amount of questions we receive goes down in number.

In the early days we would often worry about this and think “Oh no, nobody loves us anymore!”

But nowadays, we’ve come to recognise the signs and we fully understand the cause. It’s the pre-Christmas lull. We know you’re all out there, mulling over what Christmas presents you’re going to buy for who but it’s perhaps just a little too early to commit to anything just yet. And, of course, you’re not buying anything for yourself because you’re saving your hard-earned cash to spend on your loved ones.

So, now we know about this temporary period of quietude, what do we do with the time? Of course, we use it wisely and spend it doing our own Christmas shopping! We plan our present buying with military precision and try and get as much of it done as we can now, this is because we know that very, very soon the chaos will begin.

Stocking up on leather for the festive season.

Stocking up on leather for the festive season.

Towards the end of October we’ll see a steady increase in sales and, as the items will be intended as gifts, we’ll get more and more requests for personalisation.

By the beginning of November it will start to get really busy. We usually do all of our office work, processing the sales, answering questions, etc. in the morning. This usually takes around an hour, but as we move into November it will start to take around a couple of hours. Every year without fail, with it being busy like this, we say to each other “Well, this isn’t too bad, don’t know what we were worried about.”

Then we get towards the end of November and things get really busy. Our Christmas waiting list is almost full, the morning office work takes up most of the afternoon too, which means we’re working late into the night making the journals. We find we’re working from the minute we wake in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night. We’re living on a few hours sleep and whatever meals we can prepare and eat quickly (usually standing around discussing what we should do next).

Of course, if we were producing the journals and binders on a machine then none of this would matter, we could just churn them out like a factory. But we don’t, we like to make sure that each hand-made item is perfect, and you just can’t rush things like that.

Personal message on back cover of Brown Journal

Personal message on back cover of Brown Journal

And then, sometime around the beginning of December our Christmas waiting list is completely full. All of the orders are booked in on the respective dispatch dates, each and every customer has been informed when they will receive their parcel. But still the orders keep rolling in and our January dispatch days start to fill.

The busyness continues relentlessly, every waking moment a continuous whirl of paperwork, leatherwork and dispatching until the very last posting day before Christmas. That last bag of parcels goes to the post office, we contact each of those customers to let them know their journal or binder is on its way and to give them their tracking number.

Then that’s it for another year, we collapse in a heap on the sofa in front of a roaring fire and, more often than not, crack open the first of the sloe gin (which is coming along nicely as I’m writing this, by the way).

Our sloes steeping in gin.

Our sloes steeping in gin.

We look at each other and one of us will say, “How did we get through that?”. But, of course, we’re fully aware that the cycle will carry on and next October the quite period will arrive again and at the beginning of November we’ll say, “Well, this isn’t too bad, don’t know what we were worried about.”

And so it goes on!

 

p.s. And if you think this post was written in a blatant attempt to get you all to buy early for Christmas then yes, you’re absolutely right. As you know, all of our items are handmade and we offer a personalisation service, this means we cannot make them in advance. We really hate to disappoint our customers, especially over the festive period, but every year we get lots of people who unfortunately leave it too late and we’re unable to make them something in time.

Looking forward to those bright winter walks with Tanner the Earthworks Mascot in the Xmas holiday!

Looking forward to those bright winter walks with Tanner the Earthworks Mascot in the Xmas holiday!

“How did this happen?”

Sometimes, on a day like today, when I’m at my workbench with the sun streaming through the open window and the birds are singing in the garden; when I’m tooling a customer’s own beautiful design onto the cover of a journal; when Samantha’s working next to me and Tanner the Dog is running in his sleep by my feet; I smile and think to myself, “How did this happen? Work isn’t meant to be like this!”

I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s not all roses. There are other times when we’re still working at midnight after a 14 hour day because we’ve got a deadline to meet; or when there are barely enough orders coming in to pay the bills; when I’ve just tooled a customer’s own design onto a journal and discovered there’s an ugly scar on the back and the whole thing has to be scrapped (the perils of working with natural materials); when I scowl and think to myself, “How did this happen? Work isn’t meant to be like this!”

I suppose it’s a bit of an odd life we’ve chosen together, both of us working from home making leather journals for a living, but I can pinpoint the exact moment it happened. When I first met Sam I was a temporarily unemployed lad from Northampton who was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with his life; Sam was an art student living in a village just outside Northampton. Not long after we met Sam took me for a walk along the canal towpath near her home; it was a glorious day in mid-summer and she was telling me about how much she loved Canal Folk Art. We discussed the techniques of this and who the artists were and, due to us both being skint at the time, we toyed with the idea of spending the summer painting up some tin buckets, watering cans, plates, mugs etc. etc., setting them down on a blanket on the towpath and selling them to boatmen and tourists alike.

We didn’t actually do this, it was just one of those idle summer conversations, but that conversation never really left either of our heads. It appealed to the vague dreams I had as a child of being able to do something I loved for a living rather than that terrible and terrifying prospect of growing up and getting a ‘proper job’.

So, we devised a plan. While Sam was studying Fine Art at University I would work any jobs I could get. At the same time we would be practicing all manner of traditional crafts in our spare time. Studying art, Sam was already incredibly visually creative, so that gave us a bit of a head-start. We played with all sorts of crafts, woodcarving, pyrography, lace-making, crochet, walking stick making, an ill-fated excursion into the world of making didgeridoos, and, of course, bookbinding! During this time we had stalls at all manner of craft fairs and country shows, starting off small with little church-hall type fairs until we earned enough from these to attend the huge and fancy stately-home based design shows.

The plan was that within five years one of us would be working on the craft business full time while the other was sensibly employed elsewhere to help support it in the early days; that person would then go down to part-time hours in that job until, within ten years we would both be gainfully employed in our very own fully formed craft business. How’s that for a business plan? It’s almost like we’re proper people or something.

And we did it!

~ Us, The Early Years ~

~ Us, The Early Years ~

That ten year deadline has long since passed (it’s now almost twenty five years since that day of sunshine by the canal) and we’re still here, somehow that ragtag pair of misfits managed to grow up and become a proper craft business.

And I still often think to myself, “How did this happen? Work isn’t meant to be like this!”

…and I’ll leave you to apply your own meaning to that phrase.