Make a Gift Day!

 

family bauble plate

Today is National Make a Gift Day and coincidentally it also happens to be one of our busiest days of the year!

We’ve had a very busy Christmas period as those of you who have been in over the last few months will know! Fingerprint Christmas Bauble

As usual, baubles have been our best sellers with hundreds of hand printed festive beauties having passed through our hard working kiln in the last four weeks alone.

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But we’ve also seen some other wonderful creations, including mince pie plates, Santa mugs and snow man tea pots. The loveliest thing for us is knowing that around 90% of the painted pottery leaving our studio is on its way to surprise a lucky recipient as a Christmas gift! There are many lucky mums and dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends out there that are about to become owners of super cute baubles where tiny foot prints have been turned into reindeer or plates featuring a Christmas tree made from little hand prints. P1030713.JPG

If you’re stuck for something special for a loved one- then there’s still time to make something at Crafty Monkey and have it ready in time for Christmas day.

 

Booking is essential at this time of year, so don’t forget to call us on 01480219222 to reserve yourself a table.

How to use silkscreens on pottery – a Step by Step Guide

2016-02-1013.21.19.jpgWe’ve produced some lovely items lately using silkscreen and we’re so pleased with the results that we thought we’d be kind enough to share our secrets with you in our step-by-step guide!

Here’s how we made our funky Lambretta plate!

 

STEP 1

Begin by choosing the base colour for your plate. We chose white because we wanted to give our plate a stripy background so used it as a nice light colour for our first application of paint. 2016-02-10 12.53.01.jpg

STEP 2

Using a sponge, cover the plate in three coats of underglaze. You’ll need to work quite quickly as you don’t want the paint to dry out completely just yet.                                                                                                                                                     2016-02-10 12.53.32.jpg

STEP 3

If you’re making a stripy plate like we did, tear up some strips of paper and dunk them in cold water. If you wanted nice neat stripes then you can cut them beautifully, but we liked the idea of having a slightly rougher effect.2016-02-10 13.02.49.jpg

STEP 4

Lay the strips onto the plate to form stripes.2016-02-10 13.04.15.jpg

STEP 5

Using your second choice of colour, dab the underglaze over the plate, again do three coats. You could also brush the paint on, depending on whether you want a mottled or a block colour effect.2016-02-10 13.05.53.jpg

STEP 6

Carefully pull the strips of paper away.2016-02-10 13.11.14.jpg

STEP 7

Time to watch paint dry! Ensure your base coats are completely dry before you attempt the next stage.2016-02-10 13.11.47.jpg

STEP 8

Take your chosen silkscreen (in our case, a Lambretta) and lay it onto the plate, fixing it into place lightly with low tack masking tape. 2016-02-10 13.21.19.jpg

STEP 9

Before using a silkscreen, you need to thicken the underglaze up. You can buy professional thickening agents, but we mixed in cornflour which is just as effective. It needs to be the consistency of toothpaste.2016-02-10 13.23.46.jpg.

STEP 10

Apply your underglaze by dabbing it on with your finger. You can also use small dabbing sponges for this if your prefer. Different colours can be applied to different areas of the silkscreen if you prefer.2016-02-10 13.25.23.jpg

STEP 11

Carefully lift the silkscreen to reveal your design underneath.2016-02-10 13.28.33.jpg

STEP 12

Your plate is now looking fab and is ready to be glazed and fired in the kiln!2016-02-10 13.30.45.jpg

 

National Gingerbread Decorating Day!

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It’s not a well-known national celebration, but we think it’s one that’s worth embracing because at Crafty Monkey, we’re friends of the Gingerbread Man!

Yes, today is National Gingerbread Decorating Day and we’re up for participating with our offerings of hanging Gingerbread decorations and cute Gingerbread plates! These particular items are so very popular amongst our painters that they don’t get shoved into a dusty cupboard at the end of December- we love to celebrate the cheeky little chappies all year round!

If you fancy trying your hand at painting a Gingerbread plate for your festive table or a mini version for your Christmas Tree, then come along and we’ll show you how!

Remember that booking is essential during the Christmas period as our studio is permanently full of festive painters making gifts and keepsakes in time for Christmas.

See you soon!

The countdown to Christmas begins!

Well today is the start of advent, how will you start counting down the days? We can’t believe that December is actually here. We have been talking about Christmas since September when the Christmas stock arrived and now we are panicking that there really aren’t many days left. Arghhhhh

Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet? Fret not if you haven’t even started. Crafty Monkey is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 5pm and Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm where you can come and purchase a gift voucher, make a bear, buy bear outfits, make silver print jewellery or paint pottery. There really is something for everyone.

2013-11-20 18.10.20.jpgMums, why not book in for the little one and we can take an impression of their hand and foot print and you can take a leaflet home to pass to Dad or the Grandparents who can give us a call to order your special jewellery piece. Easy peasy for them and you get a perfect present too!2013-11-15 19.54.46.jpg

We are open on a Thursday evening until 9pm (by appointment) for adults only to come and paint in a relaxing atmostphere. We have mellow and calm tunes on the stereo and there are no kiddies so you can come along, chill out and get away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas craziness and paint something either for you or as a present. Our Christmas range isn’t just for kids you know, after all you do need a nice dish for your peanuts don’t you! We sell hot drinks to keep you warm from the winter chill or you could always bring a tipple with you and your pals for a little Christmas get together. Perfect we say!

See you soon!

You Can be as Dotty as Us!

You may or may not know (probably not!) that today is International Dot Day. You’ll probably be thinking that there’s not much that you can do to acknowledge such a peculiar celebration, but you’d be wrong because at Crafty Monkey, we’re dotty every day!

Popping dots on pottery makes for an excellent way to embellish your piece and can be a wonderful finishing touch to personalised hand and foot prints.P1040975.JPGP1050655

Or it’s possible to decorate your entire piece with dots to form patterns and pictures (also known as Pointillism). image(1)dot

Getting dotty on pottery couldn’t be easier! All you need to do is find a paintbrush with a nice round end (as in, the opposite end to the brush part!), dip the end in pottery paint and press it onto the pottery surface. Voila! Quick, easy and super effective!

Why not pop along to give it a try?

Twit Twoo!

Owls for some reason always remind me of Autumn time, as well of course of being wise old things, so are relevant this time of year as new school years have just started and we are heading into Autumn.

At Crafty Monkey we have a large range of owl related pottery. There really are some lovely pieces in the way of ornaments, plant pot holders and cookie jars. If you haven’t seen them you’ll have to pop in as they are very popular and we know you will fall in love with them as much as we did.

Before and after our owl pottery has been painted and fired.

Crafty Monkey fun with the Grandparents

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”

Alex Haley

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Here at Crafty Monkey we see lots of children coming in to paint Granny or Grandad something special for birthdays and Christmas etc but we also get Grandparents who treat their grandchildren to some Crafty Monkey fun.

We have had lots of great comments from grandparents about how much they themselves have enjoyed the experience and how it’s a great place for them to spend quality and relaxed time with their cherished ones.  Some grandparents join in the fun and paint an item themselves while others enjoy watching their grandchild or grandchildren create their masterpieces.  I am sure they also enjoy the joy and contentment on their grandchildren’s faces.

With the Summer holidays fast approaching, we have had an increase in Grandparents why not let the Grandparents bring your child to Crafty Monkey for a few hours. Not only will the children and Grandparents enjoy spending the quality time together but it gives you a bit of a break too! It’s hard to know what to do with the grandchildren sometimes, especially if they are an energetic bunch and your mobility isn’t as you would like it to be. Here at Crafty Monkey it can be a relaxing and calming activity whatever the weather and children and the young at heart can have fun creating something together. Here at Crafty Monkey we clear up the mess and Grandparents can hand them back at the end of the exciting day all tired and ready for bed. Win win situation all round!

To book in with us us at Crafty Monkey call- 01480 219222

Everyday is a Fairy Day at Crafty Monkey!

Today is National Fairy Day and at Crafty Monkey, we’re more than well equipped to get involved!
As many of you will know (especially those of you with little girls), our shelves are full of pretty fairies (and we even have some pottery ones).

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If you’re looking for a way to show your appreciation of our dainty little milk tooth collecting friends, come on down to Crafty Monkey where you can paint your own fairy from our selection. And for those of you that prefer to think outside of the box a little; there are fairy princesses and all things mermaid and doll related.

Come by and talk to us about the prettiest fairy that you’ve ever seen…and if you haven’t, take a stroll down to the bottom of your garden, but don’t blink as you may miss them…

Forest Sprite

There was a little fairy
Sat beneath a tree –
Humming to her tiny self
A haunting melody;
Just a little tinkle
Was all that I could hear
Floating on the evening breeze
High and crystal clear;
Surrounded by a rainbow,
Sparkles lit the air –
Tiny wings did flutter
Sprinkling gold dust in her hair;
A tiny little forest sprite
Had slipped the bonds of space,
Perhaps a mere imagined thought
Had brought her to this place;
How sweet the sound she echoed
Within this forest spot –
Though I had never seen a sprite
Her image now I caught;
This tiny little fairy
Sat beneath a tree –
Humming to her tiny self
A haunting melody.

Linda Ori

To book with us at Crafty Monkey – 01480219222

Great gift for your Teachers!

teacher plate

The end of the school term may seem like a long way in the distance, but before you know it, the summer holidays will be upon us (yay!) and you’ll be thinking about all the wonderful activities that you can get involved with at Crafty Monkey! But have you decided what you’re going to give to your child’s teacher as a ‘thank you’ gift?

If not, then there’s no time like the present to put on your creative thinking caps. Teachers spend their lives getting hands on and creative with your children, so now it’s time to give something back and there really is no better place to start than Crafty Monkey.

We can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find something for every kind of teacher here. We have items starting at £4 with no studio fee which proove popular, we have tea sets for the tea lover, latte cups for the coffee lover, cake stands for the cake lover and trinket pots for the… er…trinket lover! As most of you will know, our studio is bursting at the seams with a huge range of pottery and your creative gift doesn’t necessarily need to painted- remember that you can also decoupage your way into fashioning something lovely for teacher to display!teacher

Or perhaps you want to do a collective gift from all the teachers pupils

– we’ve done lots of great plates, vases and plant pots where the children put a fingerprint on and their name, the fingerprints can be made into all sorts of things – a favourite is where a garden scene is created with fingerprints and inscribed onto the piece is ‘Thanks for helping us grow and bloom!

We can help you with ideas if you pop in and see us at the studio, but we know that many of you and your children create fantastic things independently. From the elaborate masterpiece, to the downright barmy- we’ve seen it all at Crafty Monkey! However, our personal favourite teacher gift from last year has to be a dog bowl painted by a little boy for his canine loving teacher, on which he had inscribed the words ‘Teacher’s Pet’. Full marks to that pupil for inventiveness!

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

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.