Hello March and hello Blog Gem time! This month as part of my Blog Gem series we get to find out about the lovely, talented Ruth - the face behind Blue Eggs and Tea, an utterly gorgeous blog I discovered recently. Ruth not only runs a blog but she also runs an Etsy shop, full of her beautiful illustrations. I simply want to buy everything in it!
So, lets find out more!
Hello there Ruth, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I daren’t call myself an artist or a blogger – I just happen to pour myself into both, whilst also juggling my career as an academic adviser in Higher Education. I’m recently married with two cats and fish, and I just moved out of the hills and into the flat lands of England. I have an on-going love affair with Scotland and the mountains. I’m a geologist by training. I’m allergic to aubergine, pathologically fearful of Ginger but also, ironically, a redhead, and I long for a small herd of Alpaca. Oh, and I love birdwatching!
What's your creative space like?
In my old house I used my spare room, which was a fit-all room for everything that didn’t fit into ‘kitchen’ ‘lounge’ or ‘bedroom’. But moving was a great chance to go out with the intention of finding something bigger, which we did. I now have a spare room, which is solely for Blue Eggs and Tea and I’ve really relished filling that with all my stuff. I have a long desk of about 2 metres where I can do general stuff including packaging orders, and then there is my computer desk where the main work happens. I also have my sewing machine in there, a load of plants, a load of books, and a load of pictures. I am obsessed with buying other people’s art work. I don’t think it’s massively important to have a dedicated space – it can become another form of creative snobbery and I don’t go in for that. You do what you need to do in this life, and find the space you need however that comes.
If you had to take only one art or craft tool to a desert island, what would it be and why?
I love craft, but if I was on a desert island I’d be far too excited about the rocks, and the plants and the birds to bother with crafting! Seriously though I’d take some sort of knife and get down to some woodwork. I’ve always wanted to carve my own canoe!
How do you work and get inspired?
I work when I can, however I can, in every available scrap of space I can find around the edge of my full-time job. This can be hard work, especially as they are so different, but I try not to moan because I chose this life and it’s a privilege and a joy to have the choice. My major creative inspirations and the True North for my work are Dr Suess and Quentin Blake with a myriad of other people popping in and out at different times. An average day on twitter will leave me inspired. Who can be more inspiring than the people we choose to spend on this planet with? Day to day it’s all about people and places and the world we live in. Clearly, I love birds. Animals generally. But I also love people and believe in the goodness and kindness in the human spirit. So the birds become a vessel for conveying the message of what I am feeling at any given time about people and our relationships together. I tend to feel something, and then I go out and surround myself with nature and let the idea ferment into something bird-orientated and colourful. Something uplifting. I’m a huge believer in positivity. I’ve had some bad times in my life, periods of darkness, but I also know the transformative power of time spent working on your personal outlook in life. Working on recognising happiness, and accepting pain as normal, which is a skill that needs developing in us all.
What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog and online shop?
When it comes to blogging I am all brand new. It’s been less than a year, and I didn’t really pick up any momentum for several months. I think you need to find your voice and then run with it – I learned this a few years ago when I did a writing MA. I try and keep the focus on things that ‘speak to’ Blue Eggs and Tea. Topics that relate to the underpinning values: kindness, happiness, triumph over adversity and fun! I don’t want to portray a fake life on my blog because I find those sorts of blogs intimidating. So I write the blog I would be happy to read. Another tip is to let your blog grow organically – don’t be worried about followers. Just be authentic.
When it comes to starting an online shop there are so many tips I could give, and I try and put these on my blog if you have a raid of that, but primarily it has to come down to this: just get on with it. You’ll regret what you didn’t try more than you will regret what you did. If you have a passion chase it. The worst that can happen is that is doesn’t work. Don’t waste time wondering exhaustively about the pro’s and con’s. These days you can make your choices low risk, by testing the water through free social media, you can invest a little money with new ideas without going bulk. Social media has made this possible so why wait? Bravery and risk taking is rewarded in this life: the research proves it.
Is there a story behind the name 'Blue Eggs and Tea'?
There sure is. My all-time biggest influence is Dr Suess, it’s the combination of moral issues, picture and word rhyme. As a kid we read them aloud with my parents all the time. My dad’s favourite was Green Eggs and Ham and so the name came from that. My dad died suddenly a few years ago and I’ve found that lots of things that I’ve done since have connected with him in some subtle way. I find it’s a good ‘way back’ to my memory of him, as the years pass and I get scared of losing the memories I have in photos. I also love blue eggs. It’s that banal.
If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose?
Let’s assume Dr Suess and Quentin Blake are busy that day. This would leave me with a longlist that’s still too long! Ask me on any other day and I would probably say something different but let’s say for now: Margaret Atwood (I love her books, Life Before Man in particular), Captain Scott (Adventurer and all-round hard man. We’d discuss the strength of the human resolve), the Head of Dept. at Nottingham Veterinary School (so I could persuade him to let me study with them part-time for free and fulfil the one dream that will always be the one that got away), Aung san suu kyi to discuss how she has stayed so brave and focused in her fight for the liberation of Burma, and then finally, my Dad. There’s lots I never said; I think we’d get on really well these days. A weird mix, and as I say I could switch some of those out for a chinwag with Neil Armstrong, Philip Larkin, Germaine Greer, Hazel Irvine….haha.
And finally...book & tea or film & wine?
I’m a hideous cliché. Book and Tea please. I’m not a big drinker to be honest, though I do like Rekorderlig cider a lot. And Rose wine. Oh, and Baileys….ok, maybe I lied. Still tea though. Ceylon preferably. And the book needs to leave me with something. I need to come away better for reading it. Saying that though I seem to rarely finish a book these days, if only books were 110 minutes long…
Wow! What inspiring words! I wholeheartedly agree with your tip for those thinking of starting an online shop: just go for it, there's no time like the present! Thanks so much for stopping by, Ruth. It's been fantastic hearing all about what inspires you and of course who would come to that Creative Blog Award dinner!
I hope you all enjoyed reading about Ruth's creative world. Stay tuned for next month's Blog Gem and until then happy blogging!
All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Ruth at Blue Eggs and Tea. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.