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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From Bare to Beautiful- a Pottery Make-Over

We’ve all seen the endless blogs, articles and videos on ‘make-overs’, but we’re used to seeing lackluster hair transformed into luscious locks and pale pallors brightened to supermodel standards.

But did you know that at Crafty Monkey, we’re the master of make-overs?

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This poor old mug was feeling properly dowdy and under-dressed. Our idea was to turn it into a unicorn mug. I think you can see for yourself how happy the mug was with the results!

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Usually, the client expects somebody to do their make-overs for them…not at Crafty Monkey! If you come here, we encourage you to do your own make-overs! One of our customers carefully applied this owl’s make up and now look at him!

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‘I want to look like a princess riding a unicorn’, she said. ‘No problem’, we replied. She was merely a shadow of a thing- now look at her transformation!

If you’d like to visit us at Crafty Monkey and learn how to perform make-overs yourself, we’ll show you how, it’s easy!

Call us on 01480219222 to book…see you soon!

 

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!

 

Do your Bit and Ditch the Plastic!

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll be aware of the current concerns about the amount of plastic that the UK currently produces and wastes every year.

The plastic bag charge has been in place for almost a year now and has had some considerable bearing upon usage and wastage. The government are now currently addressing the issues surrounding the remaining production and disposal of other plastics.

275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK. That is around 15 million bottles per day which are classed as ‘single use’ and then thrown away. Between eight and twelve million tons of global plastic waste ends up in the ocean and this is obviously a huge threat to our ocean wildlife.

While a long-term solution is being debated by the government, what can we do to do our bit? Well, obviously, plastic bottles and coffee cups are a fairly big deal in terms of our disposable receptacles.

This affects all of us and we can all make small changes to help out. We can help you to do your bit for the environment at Crafty Monkey as we have a range of mugs and cups for you to choose from. Come along and paint one, collect it a week later and ‘voila’, you have yourself a ‘forever mug’ and can feel a bit chuffed with yourself!2011-07-14 11.27.46

Call us on 01480219222 to book yourself an appointment and take a small step towards ditching the plastic and saving our seas!

While we’re on the subject of being more environmentally friendly, another way is to use planet friendly utility companies for your electricity and gas and don’t think that it will cost you more.  There’s a new company out there called ‘Pure Planet’ – they bring you fresh, clean energy for less than the price of power that pollutes. All their electricity is renewable, created by water, wind and sunshine and their gas is carbon offset. You win. The planet wins.  What’s more if you sign up to them through this link then you will get a £25 Amazon Voucher! Worth seeing if you can save yourself some money while gaining some great Eco Warrior points!

 

 

If Painting be the Food of Love…

The quote doesn’t quite work as well as the original, I know that, but like music, art is a great creative stimulant and you may just find that a pottery painting session with your other half is an ideal Valentine’s activity!

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If painting as a couple isn’t up your street, how about making a lovely treasure with your baby’s hand and footprints?

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We’re absolutely certain that every mummy and daddy would love a piece like this as their special Valentine’s Day gift.

If you’d like to put your heart and soul into personalising some pottery for somebody you love, drop by the studio and we’ll show you how!

Let ’em Loose!

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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!

 

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!