Let ’em Loose!

let em loose

It goes without saying that we see a lot of little artists here in Crafty Monkey. As soon as a child is able to hold a paintbrush, they are able to make their own pottery creations and that’s what many of them do.

Sometimes they are painting things for their own bedrooms, other times they are making gifts for grandparents or other relatives and it’s wonderful watching them put their heart and soul into their work (or sometimes slapping a few strokes of one colour on and then wondering off) and then admiring their work. They are always delighted when they collect their pieces a week later and they see the transformation as their item is all shiny and bright!

With this in mind, we’d like to extend our favourite piece of advice to you as parents…please let them create with as little assistance as possible! There have been many occasions where we have watched as mum or dad will paint over their white bits or tidy up parts that they think look untidy. It’s so refreshing for us when the children are allowed to create whatever they wish and really put their own personal mark on it; especially when making gifts. Think about it for a moment- when granny receives her plate which will be proudly displayed in the kitchen- does she want to see a work of art that her thirty year old daughter has painstakingly tidied up and painted over to perfection or would she prefer to own the pink and purple musings of her three year old granddaughter which she’s filled with her own character?

If you think that you will be tempted to interfere with your child’s creations- there’s a couple of ways you can deal with this. You can either paint a separate piece each (if you think they will get bored easily, get them a small pocket money piece to start with) or you can share one larger piece and let the child have their own designated section.

We hope to see you soon with your little budding artist in tow!

 

Congratulations to the Happy Couple!

Well, chief monkey finally said ‘I do’ a few weeks ago and it was a day to remember with no stone left unturned!
The sun was out and didn’t we know it! It was the hottest day of the year so far at that point and us, as guests in all our finery and heels were clammy before the bride even reached the church.
We waited excitedly in the church for the bride to arrive, using our ‘Wedding passports’ as fans. The wedding had a ‘travel’ theme that ran throughout and our passports were the introduction to the day’s events.
The ceremony was wonderful and Chrissy looked a million dollars. Needless to say, I didn’t as on top of being a bit sticky, I blubbed as soon as she walked down the aisle. A perfect day for a fantastic celebration but not a good day for make-up preservation! A slight show stealer during the ceremony was Coco, Chrissy and Danny’s dog, who, as ring bearer, was looking very glamourous in her little bridesmaid dress!
Following the ceremony and photographs, we made our way to The Priory Centre where we waited by the river for the bride and groom to arrive in style…by speedboat! Our beautiful Raffan Rivers provided the entertainment with her guitar and hauntingly beautiful voice- romance was most definitely in the air!

At our tables, labelled as countries- we found that each of us had been treated to a very special wedding favour. A little box decorated as a map and labelled with homemade clay luggage tags, contained a cute little chocolate with a miniature beach picture! Given the weather, it seemed quite apt! We were soon to learn that many of the finishing touches of the day had been lovingly hand- made by the blushing bride and those lovely little touches made the whole day extra special for the guests.

The wedding breakfast wasn’t your traditional run of the mill meal. Sticking to the theme of the day, we were treated to a number of dishes from around the globe, from Thai to Italian; and an array of wonderful desserts that were so tempting, we were compelled to eat them, despite being stuffed from the main part of the banquet!

The top table had some very special drinking receptacles as Chrissy had painstakingly hand-painted some amazing goblets and wine glasses, especially for the people who had played an important part in the day. The cake topper had also been hand-painted and featured a cute little bride and groom all ready to jet set around the globe!

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As the guests enjoyed the evening’s entertainment, we were given the opportunity to get involved with some mementoes of the special day. In the foyer, amid a huge pile of sweeties, there was a huge signature plate for all the guests to sign (you guessed it- Chrissy had painted it herself!). Another fantastic feature was the ‘Message in a Bottle’ which was a large bottle, decoupaged in map paper by Chrissy. Guests were invited to write advice for the bride and groom and pop it inside the bottle for them to cherish forever.

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With all the special touches that decorated the day, it truly was a day to remember. And after all the hard work that Chrissy put into her travel themed wedding, she really did deserve to climb aboard a plane with her new husband and fly off into the Maldives sunset!

Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Bennett!

Chrissy’s cousin, Lesley, a photographer and guest at the wedding, captured some wonderful images if you’d like to take a peek. You can view them here https://lesleythomasphotography.pixieset.com/

 

Click on Chrissy and Danny’s album and use the password Bennett.

Animal Crackers

animal crackers

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!

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

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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

amazed

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.