Goodbye Sunshine… Hello Baubles!

Baubles

Well, what an amazing summer break we’ve had…or let me re-phrase that to ‘What an amazing summer, erm…time we’ve had!’

The monkeys in the studio have had very little in the way of ‘break’ time as many of you who have been in recently will have seen! We’re not complaining though, we like to be busy as it stops us from eating sweeties and complaining that we’re bored (does that sound familiar, mums?)

So now that the summer holidays are coming to a close and our kiln has cooked its fair share of ice cream cones and cup-cakes (pottery ones, not real ones, that would have been messy), we shall be getting a well-earned rest as the children go back to school…albeit for about two days until the inevitable Christmas rush starts!

Yes, I can hear your collective sighs as I type this, but I’m afraid it’s true- Christmas at Crafty Monkey starts early as folk clamber to get their little ones’ hand prints on baubles and mugs painted up for Grandad’s Christmas present. Christmas of 2014 surprised us by creeping up as the leaves had barely fallen off the trees, but this year, some baubles have crept into the kiln already…while we’re all still smelling of after-sun!

The old saying that ‘Christmas comes earlier every year’, really does seem to ring true here in the studio as the popularity of handmade pottery gifts rises and rises. So, with that in mind, if you visit us again soon and notice that our shelves are lined with jolly looking Santa plates and snowman cups before you’ve even put your barbeque back in the garage; please don’t be alarmed!

Please remember that although it is often fine to pop in on a whim at quieter periods, the run up to Christmas does get incredibly busy and we hate to have to ask people to either wait or return if there’s no free space. With that in mind, please call us in advance to book in- even if it’s just a few hours before you intend to come and we will do our best to accommodate you. Call Crafty Monkey 01480 219222

Why not show off your Left Handed skills

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Today is the day where those of us who are in the ‘left handed minority’ get to have a bit of fun with our right handed friends and family members!

The idea behind ‘International Left Handers Day’ is that right handed folk are asked to spend the day going about their daily tasks using their left hand to perform every action that they would usually use their right hand to carry out; such as cutting with scissors, peeling vegetables or using a mouse with their PC. By the end of the day, the ‘right handed majority’ will have encountered all kinds of inconveniences and difficulties as a left hander, which in turn brings the realisation of how difficult it can be for their left handed friends as they go through life having to adapt to tools and equipment designed for use with the opposite hand!

We’re definitely up for joining in at Crafty Monkey, so we’re going to have a go at painting a design on a plate with our left hands (let’s hope it’s not one of your commissioned pieces 😉 )

We’re all for inclusion at Crafty Monkey, so for those of you reading this that happen to be a left hander- fear not, as you will find that life is made easy for you in our studio. We are fully equipped to accommodate your needs with a selection of left handed paint brushes and left handed bottles of paint…we even stock left handed stuffing for when you Build a Bear…

Happy Left Handers Day!

How To Make a Clay Imprint

Ever wondered about the process involved in making our splendid clay imprints? If you’ve had clay imprints done at Crafty Monkey, or indeed anywhere else, then you’ll be aware that it can be up to four weeks before they’re ready for collection. Read our step by step guide to find out why!

 

STEP 1

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First of all, gather your equipment. For the first part of the process, you will need:

a. A happy baby

b. Clay

In fact, it’s not essential that the baby is happy, any baby will do. By the time we’ve pressed their little hand and feet into clay, we can quite often transform ‘happy baby’ into ‘utterly bewildered’ baby, but that’s just part and parcel of the imprint fun…

STEP 2

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Cut a lovely piece of earthenware clay with a wire cutter. It needs to be about 2cm thick and around 20cm squared, depending on the size of the child’s hands and feet. Roll it out beautifully, taking care to watch out for pesky air bubbles and general bits of fluff that may fly out of nowhere onto the clay.

STEP 3

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Hold baby in a peculiar ‘Superman’ type position and get those little hands and feet pushed into the clay, taking care to roll up sleeves and trouser legs beforehand. You need to press quite hard to get a decent imprint and although it may look like you’re torturing the poor child, it doesn’t hurt them as they’re being pushed into a soft surface (honest!)

STEP 4

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Check for any imperfections and smooth them out with a little water on your finger if required. Cut the clay into a shape. Most of our imprints are cut into a rectangle with rounded edges, but some people prefer a wavy or square shape. Use a sharp craft knife and finish by wetting your finger and running it around the edges to smooth down any bumpy bits. If the piece isn’t to be framed, then pop two holes in the top using the end of a paint brush so that it can be hung on the wall with ribbon or wire.

STEP 6

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Leave the clay to air dry on a flat surface for around 10-14 days. You can do other things during this time as it doesn’t need watching or petting, it just gets on with its own thing.

STEP 7

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When the clay has lightened and is completely dry, pop it carefully into a kiln and cook it!

STEP 8

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Anytime after it’s been removed from the kiln, it’s time to get on with painting it with pottery paint. This is the real fun bit and you wrestle with trying to get rid of brush strokes and get the colour even all over the prints! It’s a good idea to use two coats of watered down paint and then use a wet, very soft brush to get rid of any brush marks and even out the colour. Do this approximately a million times until it finally looks splendid. Decorate with a sponge border or whatever you require. Use a pottery paint pen to write the name and age and anything else you may want on there.

STEP 9

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Glaze the piece with specialist bisque glaze and pop back into the kiln for the second round of cooking!

STEP 10

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If the imprint is to be framed, then choose a lovely deep set box frame. Cut a piece of thick card and stick the imprint to it using specialist strong glue. When it’s dry, clean the glass of the frame and pop the imprint in and close the frame catches. It’s essential at this point that you undo the frame and do it back up again at least ten times owing to various bits of fluff and streaks on the inside of the glass.

STEP 11

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Pop your finished piece onto the wall, prepare to astound your visitors and lap up all the compliments about your amazing work of art!

See our blog post on clay imprints and plaster outprints.

 

Pottery painting, fun for everyone!

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Whether you want to create a unique gift for someone special, have a party to remember for kids of all ages, or something a little more grown up for a stag or hen party, then pottery painting is the fun and creative way to mark an occasion. Perhaps you want something fun to do with the kids at the weekend or in the school holidays – there’s nothing to inspire creativity and artistic passion in a youngster like getting hands-on and making something which they can use at home to remind them of the fun they have had.

It’s a great way to encourage kids to get their hands dirty and appreciate what they can do with their talent and kids love being able to paint something different and choose their own design for a piece of original artwork.Maybe you’d like to create a family treat to give to a loved one? How about a hand painted plate or bowl with a contribution from everyone in the family, whether that’s a personalized message or a tiny hand print. It’s definitely a great way to commemorate a special occasion and create a piece of original art work which is sure to provide years of pleasure and provide wonderful memories for everyone involved.

So why not let loose and try some pottery painting – it’s a great way free the inner child in anyone and an opportunity to add a fantastically unique piece of crockery to your collection. You can paint a pattern, write something special or just go crazy and create something which reminds you of how fun it is to express yourself artistically.

To book with us at Crafty Monkey call-01480 219222

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

Treasure the Tiny Hands and Feet of Your New Little Life!

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Spring is in the air (kind of !) and it’s this time of year when we look forward to seeing baby lambs and chicks are popping up left right and centre! At Crafty Monkey, we’re more than familiar with the wonder of new life as we have so many brand new little babies coming to see us.

One of the most popular keepsake choices for new parents (and gifts for their family and friends) are imprints and outprints. If you’re not familiar with these, then come by and take a look at our examples as we’ll sure you’ll be impressed. They can be presented framed and ready to hang or unframed to pop on a stand on your mantelpiece for all to admire!

Give us a call on 01480219222 to find out how you can bring your new little life’s hands and feet to life!