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!

 

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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!

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.

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.

 

Personalised Signature Wedding Plate

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Weddings are one of the biggest days of your life and while the bride and groom are desperate to hang onto and cherish every moment they all too often speed on by and are over in a flash! Luckily, modern technology helps us record our special days with the use of cameras and videos but there is also the tradition of the guest book where guests can record little messages which you can later go back and read helping you to relive the wedding.

While traditional guest books are still proving popular, brides to be are continuously searching for something a bit different at their wedding to make it extra special. There are several different ideas to replace the perhaps outdated guest book which perhaps gets put in a cupboard to gather dust and never to be read again.

One contemporary solution to a guest book is a personalised signature wedding plate or a dish that will take pride of place on your wall at home for all to view. You will probably find it will become a talking point. It will provide you with a constant reminder of your happy day and of all your friends and relatives who helped make the day so special.

Pesonalised signature wedding plates are very popular and add a novel touch to your day. You can get a bespoke design of your choice hand painted onto any size plate or choose from designs which can be personalised to you including the colour theme of your wedding.

If you don’t fancy a plate on your wall then a big bowl on your dining table makes a great centrepiece, or perhaps a wine cooler. There’s a whole choice of pottery items that can be practical as well as decorative.

Once the plate has been painted it will be glazed and fired in time for the big day. On the day guests can sign and write messages on it for you with a special ceramic pen. It will certainly make a great talking point!

If you are a traditionalist and wish to stick to a guest book then you could still have a plate hand painted and personalised to commemorate your day. These also make great gifts so if a friend or relative is getting married and you want something unique, personal and different then consider commissioning a plate.

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Hand painted pottery is also a great idea for special personalised gifts for the wedding party such as gifts for bridesmaid or gifts for the best man, parents etc. We have a range of different pottery shapes from trinket boxes to wine goblets – something for everyone.

Feel free to get in touch if you want a chat about what we can do for your wedding.

Anna Brim makes a Father’s Day mug at Crafty Monkey

Let me introduce Anna Brim who has written a guest blog below of her experience of painting a mug for Father’s Day at Crafty Monkey.  Anna is always looking of ways to live an Eco friendly life, you may want to read her ‘Our Eco Journey‘ Blog.

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I am very mindful at the moment of the importance of shopping locally, supporting independent traders, buying something unique, something that is not mass produced and that everyone has (this really hit home to me when I was shopping in Italy at a well known home furnishing store, that they had exactly the same products as back home in Blighty. Homes all over Europe could be furnished with exactly the same stuff, aghhhh!). It was with this in mind and with Father’s Day fast approaching that I started to rack the brain as to what to get for our Dad’s. Now the Mum’s are fairly easy to buy for but the Dad’s…not so much! In their 60s, not wanting just “stuff”, having most things they need and want it starts to rule out quite a lot of options.

OK so the list so far to cover for Father’s Day present:

  • Not mass produced
  • Handmade where possible
  • Unique
  • Locally sourced
  • Not just “stuff”
  • Something useful and not just clutter

What to get? Where to go?

Of course Crafty Monkey covers all of these points and what’s more, it is an activity for me to do so not only is it a present for Dad but also a lovely leisure activity for me to enjoy knowing that I have created something with love to pass on.

I decided to paint a mug. He loves tea and of course uses mugs. He loves his Morgan cars so I thought what a nice gift a personalised hand painted mug would be, with the all important Morgan logo design on the front and a bit of text so everyone else in the household knows whose cup this is so hands off!

So I started with my white mug. No scratch that, I in fact started by searching the internet for the Morgan logo, downloaded it and printed it out to the size that I wanted. I then took my mug, and laid carbon paper over the top and traced my design onto the mug. I’m sorry, I had to do this, there was no way that I could paint it free hand. It may be seen by some as cheating but not to me. I knew it would look better that way.

Once the design was on, I then began to paint. Blimey it was intricate. Of course you need three coats of the paint so it will be really bold and some where around coat two I wondered why on Earth I had chosen such an intricate design and I am sure I, at times, forgot where I was at! I painted the mug at the Thursday night adults session which was really nice and relaxing so intricacy and fine lines were not a problem.

After I painted the design, I used the end of a rounded brush, dipped in paint to create nice dots all over the mug. I just thought this finished it off a bit nicer than leaving it plain white. I also used the black writer pen to write “Dad’s Mug” on the side.

I can’t wait to see the glazed result.

I really enjoyed painting the mug and I know he will like it, not just for what it is but for the appreciation of the time and thoughtfulness that went into its creation. It is not just another mug bought from a supermarket and I am sure the tea will taste all the much nicer for it.

Anna Brim of Aloha Photography

Latest going’s on…

Blimey, where do I start?  Maybe if I updated my blog regularly I wouldn’t then have 101 things to say each time I go to write an update.

Lots going on at Crafty Monkey at the moment and I’ve been working on putting together some great new workshops that I hope will be popular.

New workshops introduced this week are:

Ceramic Painting Workshops

Project One - Chequers and Hearts

 

This will hopefully run on a regular basis and we hope to create a friendly and fun group where you can get together on a monthly basis and learn new techniques for pottery/ceramics painting or even try pottery painting out for the first time.  It will be a different project each time so you can just do the projects you fancy.  It will be a two hour instructor led class and you will be guided through the steps to get to the final design.  No artistic talent or pottery painting experience is needed and you can simply follow the steps or let loose your creative flair and personalise the piece to your taste.

In our first workshop which is on Thursday 10th March at 7pm, you will be painting a mug, plate or bowl with the design shown in the picture, obviously you can customise it by using your favourite colours and change the heart into another shape to suit your taste.   The workshops will be run on Thursday evenings.  Book your space now on the workshop.

The mug in the picture was painted by one of our customers Othelia after she consulted our design books to get idea’s.  The mug has not yet been glazed and fired so the results will be a lot shinier when complete.

If you have never painted pottery before then I highly recommend you come down and try it out as it is incredibly enjoyable while being relaxing and therapeutic.  It’s also a great way to spend quality time with friends and partners.

If you have a group of people who would like a bespoke or workshop then we can put on workshops for your group.  We can also do team building workshops.

Card Making and Paper Craft Lessons

Card Making and Papercrafts

Introducing another new workshop to Crafty Monkey.  Card making and paper crafting has become increasingly popular over the past few years.  You only need to go into the crafts section in Tesco’s or other big retailers to see how their craft section has grown. While you would think card making seems to be a fairly simple craft that you can learn yourself at home, there are a variety of specialties within this fun hobby and lots of techniques to learn.  This class will look at perhaps the more elaborate one of a kind cards you could make and also other items you can make with card and paper such as small gift bags.

If you fancy your hand at card making or currently make your own but want to learn some new skills or perhaps meet like minded people to share ideas then this class is for you.  There will be different projects each month kicking off with a card and gift bag that would be suitable to give mum on Mother’s day – this is just an idea and you can use for whatever purpose you want.  This class will take place at Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting and Craft Studio at 7pm on Thursday 24th March and will cost £12 for a two hour session.  All materials included. Book your place now!

New workshops that I hope to launch soon so watch this space:

Cupcake Decorating

Really Wild Workshop

Fancy Pants – personalise a pair of knickers (great fun for a girly night out or hen do idea!)

Felt Flowers

And there’s more but you’ll have to keep checking back or why not subscribe to the Crafty Monkey Newsletter and we will update you with the wonderful new workshops we launch.  We promise not to bombard you with emails and generally email out about once or twice a month.

Until next time…

Chrissy the Crafty Monkey!