Monday, 28 February 2011

Handmade Monday: Campervans!

It's handmade Monday again - sorry I missed last week, but it's been rather busy here with lots of wooden letters needing painting, covering, varnishing, posting out.... whew!

Anyway, don't forget to check in on Wendy's blog 1st Unique Gifts to see what she's been up to, and to have a browse through the other Handmade Monday blogs.

I've also been busy with baby impressions - here's one I finished this week:

Little Impressions: hand casts of 3 sisters
So you might be wondering why this blog post is called 'Campervans'!
Well, as part of my business is dealing with cute cuddly babies, I'm often browsing the internet or looking on twitter for great and unusual baby products - anything I can talk to my customers about whilst I'm squashing their baby's hands or feet in clay!

This week I came across some fabulous little baby shoes - they just made me think "Oh wow! How sweet are these? I wish I'd seen them when my daughter was a baby." So here they are:

Campervan Baby Shoes!
They are made from lovely quality leather by the British company Pre Shoes . There are loads of lovely designs, including a blue/red campervan design for boys too!

Following on from that, I thought I'd have a browse on Folksy to see what else I could find with campervans on! There are loads of things!! However, some of the nicest I found were these cushions:

Handmade Campervan cushion
They are made by Kindred Rose and there are other lovely cushions in gorgeous colour combos. She is patiently waiting for her first Folksy sale, so please do visit :)

That brings me nicely back to Wendy at 1st Unique Gifts who, of course, makes these which you can buy here

Personalised Campervan wall canvas
Wendy very kindly nominated me for a 'Stylish Blogger' Award as did Angels and Diamonds . Thank you both very much! I haven't had much chance to return the mention and nominate my 15 blogs, but I haven't forgotten....

Perhaps, once I've got through my piles of painted letters, unframed baby impressions, bags of knitting wool etc. I'll be organised enough!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Handmade Monday: Happy Valentines Day!

Another week gone already - here is Handmade Monday again! There seem to be quite a few of us now sharing what we've made recently, so please visit the 1st Unique Gifts blog to see more links, and read about what Wendy's been up to over the weekend.

In case you've just arrived from another planet, today is Valentines Day so I couldn't resist knitting this when I found the pattern on Ravelry, the knitting/crocheting website! I think I might do one in cream, perhaps with some sequins or beading - might make a nice wedding gift idea. What do you think?

Knitted Valentine message

Hubby and I got a lovely handmade card this morning - from my daughter! She must have sneaked off and made it sometime over the weekend - it brought tears to my eyes, but then I am a bit of a softie where my kids are concerned.

I was at a local crafts & collectables market at the weekend - the first one of the year. It was a bit of a shock to the system having to get up so early on a Saturday!! I mainly specialise in baby and young children's items so Valentines Day isn't a major selling event for me, but I did sell one of these to a gentleman looking for a last-minute gift. I hope his wife liked it :)

Romantic wooden hanging heart

Also at the market were the lovely ladies from Caramel Ocean who make gorgeous things! I took this quick pic when their display of Union Jack items caught my eye.

Items by Caramel Ocean, Stone Market
And finally, I know lots of you loved the bunny nuggest last week - I found time to make another, extra fluffy one who might have a new home soon ;-)

I think that's it for now - don't forget to have a look at the other Handmade Monday blogs. I'm off to have a look!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Baby Casting - (or how to turn little fists into handprints!)

You may (or may not!) know that when I'm not busy painting mdf, crocheting or running about like a headless chicken, I run the Little Impressions franchise for the South Staffs area. It is a professional baby casting service, making lovely keepsakes for parents and grandparents.

Having casts or prints of your little one's hands or feet is such a great way to preserve at least a bit of their 'babyness'. I've been trading since 2004 (oh my, is it really that long??) so have reached the stage where some of 'my' first babies are now at school, with little brothers or sisters too!

There is a huge variety of casting kits and services available to parents now, for all tastes and budgets - here are just a few:

DIY kits

This is a flat print - which can be done with paint or ink, and you can get 'inkless wipes' too, making it all much less messy! You can get paint prints put onto plates, mugs etc. at many local pottery studios.

This is the sort of thing you can buy on the High Street quite cheaply - you take the print in a white clay. The resulting print is indented into the clay. The quality can be quite variable, and the clay may need softening by kneading it. Make sure you read the instructions!

Professional Castings
These are for those that don't want to 'have a go', and want a good quality product without all the mess and stress!

These are clay impressions - notice they are indented into the clay - which are glazed and fired, and then framed. They are available from some pottery studios and also some large department stores.
Very sweet :)

These are '3D' casts - you can get them as DIY kits or have them professionally made in plaster and also metals like bronze, cast iron and also lead crystal (beautiful, but not cheap!)
These are lovely as a life-size, tactile reminder of those tiny fingers and toes.

Finally, here is a Little Impression (not one of mine, but off the website). We use clay to take the print, and then cast it in plaster - so the print sticks out giving a raised impression.
There are other processes involved in making them look so gorgeous, but I'm not allowed to divulge them :)

My Top Tips
If you're planning on trying to take some prints from your baby, either by yourself or by arranging to see a professional, there are a few tips I've picked up over the years.
  • A contented baby makes life easier - seems obvious, but if your baby is clean, well-fed and not over-tired the whole process will be much easier and enjoyable for all.
  • For very tiny babies (under 4 weeks) I find it easier to lay them on their backs and move their arms down to their sides to take the prints - rather than them being held and 'dangled' over the clay, which they find rather alarming!
  • For older babies (8 weeks to toddlers) - lots of eye contact and 'baby talk', lots of encouragement, and have some toys to hand in case you need to distract them. Singing songs sometimes works well too.
  • Toddlers (12-24 months) - good luck!! No, seriously I find this the hardest age group. If they don't want to do it, they just ain't gonna do it! You can try bribery, and sometimes they like to just mess about with the clay on their own first, to get used to the feel of it. You can also try counting their fingers while you take the prints.
  • Older children (age 2+) - generally not a problem unless they are tired, so avoid evenings or naptimes. As above, they might like to count with you whilst you take prints. Usually I find they're quite excited about the whole thing, and are keen to show Mummy/Daddy how clever they are!
I hope that you might find those tips useful. Of course, each child is different and what works for one doesn't work for another. Sometimes you just need to be patient, and other times just get on with it!
Hopefully, though, you'll eventually end up turning this:

Handprint in clay

in my case, into this!

Finished Little Impressions cast!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Things to brighten up a blustery day

I don't know where last week went, but it's Handmade Monday again! It's all thanks to Wendy at 1st Unique Gifts who came up with the idea -so please have a look at her blog and all the links from other lovely craftspeople who have been busy creating.

This week has been mostly taken up with finishing off orders for my Wooden Name Letters, which seem really popular at the moment!

Decorated Wooden Name Letters
I love making these - they are all either handpainted, or decoupaged with patterned paper. There is a huge pile of them on our dining table waiting to be finished, so I suppose that's an incentive to get them done before dinnertime!
I've made a start on my (currently very basic) Gifts by Jenny website, so they are now available to buy there, as well as direct from me at craft fairs.

As usual, I've also spent some time knitting in front of the telly. I sold this little cutie a while ago, and have had a request for another so have nearly finished and I think I'll do some more in lovely spring colours, all ready for Easter!

Knitted Bunny Nugget
Lastly, I popped along to the Spring Fair in Birmingham yesterday - mainly to have a good nosey and get some inspiration, and also to look for any lovely items that I can stock and sell online or at markets.
So, in keeping with the general Valentines theme (only 1 week to go) here are some gorgeous little hearts that I saw.

Fair Trade papier-mache hearts
They are made from papier-mache, and imported by a fair trade company. They come from Kashmir where they are made by local women - the quality of these was absolutely amazing and I'm looking forward to stocking some of these as well as their other lovely decorative items.

That's it for now - I'm hoping my next post will be about my baby casting business. I took some great photos of some baby footprints that I'm saving for you...

Enjoy the rest of Monday & see you soon. xx