Ever Wondered What Goes on Behind the Scenes?

A comment that I hear from time to time is ‘You’re nice and quiet in here so you can relax’. It’s a lovely thought and I would love nothing more than to sit at the desk and stare at the side of the church opposite all day (or I could watch some paint dry very easily as I have the resources at my fingertips). The truth is that we’re always busy here at Crafty Monkey.

This time of year, believe it or not, is officially Christmas! Towards the end of September, we have many mums booked in to get their babies’ hand and footprints onto baubles (we love their organisation!) and mums’ group bookings become especially popular. By the end of October, we book our customers in back to back so that we can keep up with demand. We can eat lunch and have a wee in January- until then, we become super-human!

So, what goes on behind the scenes? Lots.

The most obvious thing is the production line. More than half of our customers will ask us to decorate their pieces for them. This means that every day, I have piles of stuff that need some love. Last year, I painted close to a million (give or take) antlers and red noses on footprint reindeers and I have written ‘Happy Christmas’ more times than Santa’s Elves have.

Our kiln is on most days during this period. Loading and unloading is something of a mammoth task and can take a couple of hours each way. It’s a top loading machine, meaning that we use heavy shelves and posts and it’s a bit of a balancing act…not for the faint hearted to say the least!P1070104

We then need to gather people’s orders together and organise them for collection. This is more difficult than it sounds as we have so much stuff constantly rolling in and it can get very hectic. We also struggle for space during Christmas as we are heaving with pottery and can’t fit it all into our usually ample window display space.

Other than that, we are packaging things up to post, dealing with the creation of imprints/outprints, painting commission pieces, receiving mail to be dealt with, ordering stock and battling with huge pallets when it gets delivered, keeping the shelves plentiful, answering the phone as it rings off the hook and attempting some form of tidiness in the studio. And the most time consuming and arduous task of all? Filling the little paint bottles up on the tables. If somebody could invent self-replenishing paint bottles, I’d be all over it!

That’s a brief synopsis of what goes on behind the scenes…there’s actually a lot more happening but I’d be here all day if I listed it all!

So that’s us until December 22nd. The rest of the year is similar but we’re slightly more time rich and we get to eat lunch. If you’d like to pop in and bring us a mince pie, we’d be most grateful. And if you wouldn’t mind liquidising it and feeding it to us intravenously, that’d be great…

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Crafty Monkey’s FAQs!

Either by phone or in person, we’re used to being asked a range of questions by customers or passers by. Some aren’t sure that they’ve got what it takes to come in and create and others don’t know what we do in here at all!

Below are a range of questions and answers to help you figure out what it’s all about!

I’ve got no artistic talent, can I come and paint?

Yes of course! We will guide you through and be on hand to assist you. You don’t need artistic talent as we have plenty of pieces (such as ornaments) that simply need the colour adding to them and it’s really easy!

My child is only a year old, is she too young to paint?

As long as your child can sit up and hold a brush- she can paint! It doesn’t matter what the end result is- it’s their very own artwork and you can cherish it forever! If your child is a small baby, come in and make something with their hand and footprints on! We also do other keepsakes to capture your child’s prints, such as Silverprint jewellery and imprints and outprints. P1030377.JPG

What other activities are available at Crafty Monkey?

There’s plenty of fun to be had here! You can build your own bear, have fun with Foam Clay or create with decoupage.  We also run workshops from time to time (keep an eye on our facebook page for details). Adults evenings are on Thursday, by appointment.

Do you have a price list?

We don’t. This is because we have hundreds of different pieces of pottery and they are all priced individually. We often have new ranges of stock too. Everything has its own price and our studio fee is just £4, so it’s easy to come and browse and work out how much you’ll be spending. As a guide price, our average sized mugs start from £11.

Do I need to book an appointment to come in?

We always prefer it if you book. From October to December, booking is essential as it’s incredibly busy. The same goes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and school holidays. If you’re coming as a group, always ring and check that we have space for you.

How long will it take for my pottery to be ready for collection?

Your pottery will be ready a week after the day you finish it. If you’re in a rush to get it back, we may be able to get it ready within three days for an extra fee of £3.

Can I do something to take away the same day?

Yes, you can do foam clay, build a bear or decoupage and take your creations home the same day! It’s also possible to paint ornaments in acrylic paint (not recommended for young children).

I need a special gift for somebody- can I get a commission piece made?

Yes, give us a call or come and see us and show us your ideas so that we can give you a quote. Alternatively, you can order a gift from our website where you’ll find a range of designs to choose from.

Is my baby too young to have handprints done?

No. We know that some studios have age restrictions, but we don’t! Our youngest customer was three days old…if you can beat that, we’d be happy to accommodate!

My baby won’t open his hand, does that mean I can’t have a print?

No, we have ways and means!

Do you sell refreshments? 

Yes we have hot and cold drinks and a range of small snacks.

Do you have baby changing facilities?

Yes, our bathroom is equipped with a changing station and mat.

Can I have a party at Crafty Monkey?

Yes, we’re party experts! We have a range of party packages for all eventualities- from kiddie’s birthdays to team building outings. Contact us or check our website for more info.

I am astonished that you managed to get my baby’s handprint. Are you magic?

Yes.

Do you sell knitting needles/gold plated buttons/fishing equipment/wallpaper?

No.

Do other babies make this much noise?

Yes. We are immune to it, don’t worry!

 

Time to re-group

Time to regroup

 

It’s a well-known thing that women are the more organised of the sexes, right? I’m sure we’ve all heard the joke about the nativity…

 What would have happened if it had been three wise women instead of three wise men who visited Jesus?

They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole and brought practical gifts.

Perhaps that’s why, at Crafty Monkey we are inundated with bookings from groups of mums who are getting their Christmas gifts organised en masse.

These wise ladies know that if they book in with us as a group of six or more, they not only save on the studio fee, but they get to get a catch up with the other mums and sort all their Christmas gifts out in one fell swoop!

And we love having groups of mums and babies in as the studio fills up with laughter and love and makes us feel ultra-Christmassy!!!

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If you want to get those little hand and footprints turned into robins and reindeers

 for the grandparents’ Christmas plates- or make a mark on some extra special baubles to treasure forever- round up your ladies and call us to get booked in!

And despite our little joke- dads are also welcome…

 

Check out our website for ideas of what you can make. 

 

Animal Crackers

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We’re all fans of creatures great and small here at Crafty monkey (except mosquitoes- nobody wants to pet a mozzie). Many of our customers are like minded and our range of animal pottery is very popular. From the crazy cat lady (a self-awarded title, so she won’t be offended) to the little girl that has exhausted our entire horsey range- we have something for every animal lover.

Often people will come along looking for gifts for their friends; we can usually accommodate their requests for various creatures to paint up ready to sit on the shelf with the rest of their collection.

The lovely thing about our animal ornaments is that they can either be painted or decorated with foam clay, which is a lovely squishy material for younger customers to really have fun with!

We especially love the animal creations of the kids because they break the rules and make us smile every time. Currently, I’m looking at a display of animals ready to be picked up by their owners. These include a purple koala and a green horse with pink hair…and why not!

Another animal related offering that Crafty Monkey is famous for are our parties. We have a huge range of party animals for the children to choose from and our Build a Bear parties are a big winner every time!

Come and have a look around the studio and see what animal antics you can get involved with-  whether it’s paining a horse for your neigh-bour, having a hoot with an owl or monkeying around with, erm, a monkey; we’ll be pleased to see you!

Talk like a Pirate Day – 19th September

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Ah me hearties, at Crafty Monkey we love the theme of Pirates and Princesses so when we found out that 19th September is talk like a pirate day, our timbers were certainly shivered!

We always have in stock a range of pirate pottery pieces to paint, which range from skulls to parrots to actual pirates, arrrrr matey, or you could pick a mug or a plate and paint a pirate theme onto it! We can always arrange for a pirate and princess themed party. Or if build a bear is your thing then you could treat your build a bear to a pirate outfits!

Also coincidentally,  I will be hosting a Birthday party soon which will be pirate themed so pin the eye patch on the pirate, walk the plank, pass the booty among other piratey games with the winners being able to take a dip in the treasure chest.  In order to get into the spirit I will certainly be brushing up my pirate accent (currently my pirate accent is somewhere in the middle of a farmers accent and an Irish accent!) and I’ve found a great little pirate talk translator tool which I will be making the most of!Pirate Plate

So why not release the inner pirate in you and what better excuse than on talk like a pirate day aye!

For more information on talk like a pirate day visit their website.

Gather up Your Groups!

From Brownies to Cadets, schools to WI ladies; we’re all about the group activities at Crafty Monkey!

If you’re looking for some arty activities to inject something a little different into your session meetings, then why not give us a call to discuss what we can offer you? You can book a session to bring your gang along to the studio or if transport is an issue- we can come along, bearing all manner of arty bits, to your venue!

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We can have a chat about your requirements on the phone; we’re flexible yet full of ideas, meaning that you can either arrange to set a budget to let folk paint items of their choosing or you can opt to have everybody paint the same items and include a theme. If your intention is to tailor your visit to work alongside the curriculum or an award/badge- then we are more than happy to chat with you and decide upon an appropriate focus for your session.

Remember that it’s not just pottery painting at Crafty Monkey– we also offer a range of other crafty activities including decoupage, foam clay and Build a Bear– so there’s something for everyone. We can also open out of hours for groups (minimum number of participants apply).

Have a good rummage on our website and facebook page for inspiration as the possibilities for your group projects are virtually limitless!

See you soon!

Round up the Mums for Fathers Day!

Did you know that if you come along to Crafty Monkey in a group of at least six mums and tots, you’ll all get a free studio fee? Lots of people take advantage of this offer and we’ve had many NCT groups and gatherings of friends who all have children and want to come and get Crafty together while saving money.

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There are two occasions in the year when this offer is especially popular to get making special gifts– Father’s Day and Christmas. If you don’t fancy tackling the Christmas list just yet, then why not come along and make something lovely for the daddies? And don’t forget to make a giant mug or a beer tankard for the grandads (especially if it’s their first Father’s Day as a grandparent!)

There’s loads to choose from and we’re experts at getting those clenched fists and wriggly little toes onto pottery! If you have slightly older children- they may want to paint Daddy a mug or a plate all by themselves.

If you want to take advantage of this great offer then round up your pals. agree a date and then give us a call to book your group in on 01480219222