Art therapy for beginners

Therapy for beginners

 

Being a grown up isn’t easy. Along with having to do day to day ‘adulting’, there’s a whole bunch of life events that get thrown your way that can really knock you in the worst way possible. We deal with a lot, from every day stresses and pressures to heartache and grief on many levels.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get escape from the whirlwind within your own brain. That’s when you need a distraction. It can be difficult to motivate yourself, especially if you’re feeling a bit low or ultra-stressed.

But a spot of artsy stuff can do wonders for the soul.

We have many adult visitors who will come along alone or sometimes in pairs or groups, just to escape from the outside world and get stuck into a spot of art therapy. The lovely thing is that the majority of them are not experts at painting and for many people, it’s their first time. Sometimes just zoning out is just what they need to do. They know that we’re always on hand to give advice and make their experience as pleasurable as possible so that they get to relax and forget about everything else for a few hours.

It’s worth noting that we are open until 9pm on Thursday for our adults’ only evening (by appointment only). You can even bring wine with you if you fancy a tipple while you create!

 

Give us a ring or pop along to find out what we’re all about and how a spot of pottery painting can work for you and your inner peace. And just remember- you’re doing great, after all, your success rate of getting through bad days is 100% so far!

 

The Colours of Summer.

The colour of Colour

Well, we’re somewhere in between spring and summer, but somebody really ought to try telling the weather that! Most of us have still got the heating on in the evenings and the factor 30 hasn’t yet been pulled out of the cabinet.

It’s entirely possible that the wonderful outdoorsy inspired pieces that have been painted recently are reflective of the fact that our customers are desperate to enjoy the delights of our green and pleasant land once again.

 Some wonderful pieces of artwork have been produced at Crafty Monkey, including beautiful sunsets, rolling fields and little feathered friends on branches. For those that don’t want to create their own scene- we have plenty of tiles and coasters that are already painted with an outline (so it’s a bit like colouring in with paint!) so people can create floral masterpieces or sunny beach scenes without having to craft their own outlines!

While there’s plenty to bring the outdoors in- we also offer the reverse! We have plant pots, gnomes and birdhouses. All crying out to be embellished with lashings of love and set out into the wild!

If it’s still cold and windy when you read this- why not come along and visit us and we’ll do our best to bring a little sunshine into your life!

Socks for Father’s Day…Again?

Socks for Father’s Day…Again?

Everyone who’s ever had a brother, dad, grandad, boyfriend or husband will know the difficulties we face when trying to find a perfect gift for a man. Unlike ladies, who are generally happy with all sorts of items that look or smell nice; our male counterparts tend not to appreciate the same vast array of pretty bits and pieces. So how do you go about attempting to conjure up an idea which reaches beyond something more original than socks for the tenth year running?

Fear not as this is where Crafty Monkey dons its superhero mask and cape and swoops in to save the day!  Not only do we have the good grace to stock some ‘manly’ bits of pottery such as beer tankards, king sized mugs and footballs cups- we have a whole bunch of plain pottery which is crying out to be personalised especially for daddy! 

Over the last few years, we’ve helped all manner of little ones and mums create a gift for daddy. You’d be surprised what you can do with a hand and footprint! If dad has a favourite hobby/sport/food- we can pretty much incorporate your little one’s print into some relevant work of art on a plate, plaque or whatever takes your fancy. You may have already seen our ‘Daddy’s Little Cookie Monster’ plate which proved very popular last Father’s Day!

Pop in or give us a ring for a chat and we’ll help you create the perfect gift for a daddy that deserves it!

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

this one

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

Feeling-Bored

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!

fun for everyone

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

Olympic Fever and how a local school has commemorated it!

Olympic tiles

What an awesome Olympics London 2012 is proving to be!  Not only have we managed to build an impressive Olympic Park which hopefully does it’s bit for urban regeneration in the East of London, but we put on a pretty awesome Opening Ceremony which kicked off the games in great style.

As if that was not enough, Team GB has definitely done us proud and seem to be storming many different sports picking up all colours of medals left right and centre in sports where GB traditionally are not strong.  It’s also a great feeling to know many of the medalists are from our region and even from our town – Well done Robbie Grabarz from St. Neots who took Bronze in the High Jump and Louis Smith from Huntingdon who was so so close to the gold but graciously took a silver medal for the Pummel Horse.

We have also seen some other awesome GB athletes that really do make you feel proud that they are British.  Two ladies that stood out to me, both gaining gold and making Olympic history are Nicola Adams, the first ever Gold for Women’s Boxing and Jade Jones who did a sterling job of scooping gold for Taekwondo – both girls came across so graciously, such lovely girls and they really deserve their medals!

Well done Team GB – you rock and have made us proud!

It was also great watching Bolt get the 200m – it seemed the whole stadium temporarily changed their nationality to Jamaican for that 19 seconds!

So…

One way a local school got their pupils excited about the impending Olympics while also marking this momentus occasions os London 2012 was by painting a tile mural which will become a permanent feature of the school.

The younger children were given a country who are taking part in the Olympics and the older children were given an Olympic sport.  The children then went onto drawing their design on a piece of paper.

Crafty Monkey then went into the school armed with pottery paints, brushes and a stack of tiles and after an explanation about how to paint pottery the children got underway to recreate their drawings onto the tiles and I must say the results were very impressive.

Pre glazed and pre fired tile

Some of the children also painted the Olympic rings onto tiles and London and 2012 on another tile.

Back at the studio, we wrote the name and year of each child on the tile before glazing and putting through the kiln.  The finished tiles were delivered back to the school for an eager DIYer who is on the school PTA to attach the tiles to a board and mount.  This beautiful mural will become a permanent feature of the school to be admired for years to come.

Here’s a picture of some of the tiles put together in the studio – the finished mural is sure to look great!  Spot the tile with Bolt on!

Some of the tiles assembled together before being delivered to the school

Tile murals are great projects we can take into schools, clubs, groups and the theme could be anything.  It really is a great way to mark an occasion!

What idea’s do you have for a mural?

Olympic Fever

Are you getting into the Olympic spirit? We are!

Cambridge, Huntingdon and St Ives have been announced as three of the places through where the Olympic Flame will be carried as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Route and will arrive in Cambridge on 7th July, there’ll be celebrations as part of The Big Weekend on Parkers Piece in the evening before Early the Flame will make its appearance in Trinity College’s Great Court (featured in the Chariots of Fire film) and recreated by Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram in 1988).

Before leaving the torch’s visit to Cambridge would not be complete without a ride on a punt! The Flame will then depart for St Ives and then Huntingdon. At Huntingdon it will be visiting the Olympic Gym – now named Huntingdon Gymnastic Club, which is home to many Olympic hopefuls.  The next stop is Bedford and the flame will be passing by St. Neots so will be within a mile or two of Crafty Monkey!

Check out the Olympic website and local news  for more information.

Are you getting into the Olympic spirit? This week Newton Primary School in Eltisley have been doing just that with all the children painting tiles that once glazed and fired will be put together to make a big tile mural to be displayed in the school as a permanent feature for years to come.

The younger children have painted a flag of a country that will be partaking in the games and the older children have painted an Olympic sport with some children painting the infamous Olympic rings which will make up the centre piece.

The kiln has been working overtime this week to process the tiles and I must say the results are rather impressive and every child that has taken part should be extremely proud of their efforts and what’s great is that perhaps in the future if their children go to Newton school they will be able to marvel on a piece of art their parents created!  Congratulations Newton Primary school on a great project that has really engaged and excited the children.

If you feel inspired by Olympic fever that is sure to build and build over the coming weeks then you could always come to Crafty Monkey and paint your own commemorative pottery piece.  I am planning on painting the above on a plate for the window display so am looking forward to that.

Another way to get your children in the spirit is by letting them make their very own Olympic mascot with our Build a Bear workshops where your child can pick an animal, we have a large range of different animals from Apes to Zebra’s and we will guide them through the making and adoption process – it really is a lot of fun, and includes designing the animal a personalised t-shirt with our fabric pens, we have all the colours of the Olympic rings so maybe that could be the design?

Or if your child has a build a bear already they could always come shopping at Crafty Monkey for a suitable Olympic outfit that most represents the sporting category they are supporting. We have a varied range from Basketball to Karate so your furry friend needn’t miss out on looking the part!

If you really can’t stand the Olympics and you are over it before it has even begun, why not escape for a while. Let the other half hog the TV and come down to the Studio and relax and escape. Our adults only Thursday nights are perfect for that. Why not host an Olympic Widows night? Bring your girly friends and grab a bottle of wine and pop along.

And if you are going to watch the torch relay or are lucky enough to see the Olympics, then please take Charlie, our travelling monkey, with you. I am sure he would enjoy, no wait, I know he would enjoy that very much and we would love to see the pictures of him having fun. Charlie has his own Facebook page where people post pictures of what he’s been up to – Like his page to be kept up to date on his shenanigans! You could even be a Crafty Monkey guest blogger telling us all about the Olympic adventures you and Charlie got up too.

Are you doing anything to celebrate the Olympics?  Or are you even one of the lucky one’s to get tickets?