The 11th May marked a special day in our daughter’s life – when we took Erin to get Christened in the presence of friends and family. We wanted something unique and special as a memento of the day, so that Erin could look back on it in years to come. Having heard about Crazy Kiln’s range of signature plates (also used for weddings as an alternative guest books) we thought this would be the perfect solution. We decided it would be a lovely to do a plate featuring Erin’s hand and footprint, whilst leaving room for her godparents and key family members to write messages of love for her to read when she is older.
About Crazy Kiln
Crazy Kiln are a mobile pottery and painting studio that come to you, or a location of your choice, within South Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull (within 25 miles of either Leamington or Kenilworth)
Diana Fallowes, the owners of Crazy Kiln, studied ceramics at Warwickshire College and ran a successful pottery business for over 5 years in Kenilworth before more recently launching a fully mobile pottery service.
With a range of products and packages available and a minimum spend of just £40 for home visits, Crazy Kiln provide an opportunity for people of any age and ability to express themselves in both creative and loving ways.
- Handprints in clay and outprints in plaster (Crazy Kiln Speciality!) – Single prints £25, Double prints £40 – ready in 4 weeks.
- Pottery painting – prices start at just £5
- Children’s parties – Crazy Kiln offer two children’s party packages - Party to Go (for those more confident coordinating the activity themselves) or Crazy Kiln at Home – where Diana will facilitate the party at your home or venue of choice. In both cases, there are a variety of pottery options available, and products are fired and available within 7 days (Full party options are available on the website and include lots of added extras!).
- Pottery to Go – Collect and return your painted piece within 48 hours, and your fired masterpiece will be returned within 7 days. Wide selection of pottery available. Minimum spend £50
- Commissions for special occasions – births, christenings, anniversaries, retirement, farewell plates etc – from £45
- Silver keepsakes and fingerprint jewellery from £65
- Community, pre-school and educational groups at discounted prices for over 12 painters.
We went along to meet Diana from Crazy Kiln at the Wyndley Garden Centre in Knowle.
Whilst Diana would have come to our home, we chose a central location as it meant that we could take Erin out to a different environment, and we could enjoy a breakfast and some fresh air whilst we were there. To have the option to be able to do pottery anywhere (within reason!) is a real bonus, and Diana has a wealth of knowledge of the Midlands and potential locations that would be suitable.
We met Diana within the café area of the garden centre, where there was plenty of space for us to stow away Erin’s pushchair and set up everything we needed on the large tables, whilst treating ourselves to a cappuccino as a reward for our efforts!
Diana bought all the equipment with her, including a range of ready fired plates for us to choose from, as well as all the paints in a variety of different colours. She talked us through all different options and techniques we could use for our plate, making sure we knew all the options that were available before making a decision. After a bit of umming and ahhing (they were all so nice!) we opted for the medium square dinner plate, which cost £45, and could have a mount on the back so it could be hung on the wall. We felt this would be a great way of displaying the finished piece.
Diana is very friendly with a beaming smile, and so Erin warmed to her almost immediately. It is obvious that Diana has spent a lot of time around children, as she has a real knack of getting even the most wriggly of babies to stare at her in fascination as she helps them create your masterpiece!
My partner held Erin on his lap, whilst Diana gently used a soft brush to add paint on to her foot. She explained to Erin what she was doing, and although she is probably to young to understand, Erin looked back at her with wide eyes and fascination as she watched the paint being applied! Having done a few prints at home with her, she is relatively familiar with paint, and is no stranger to having her prints taken!
Mike and Diana then worked together to stamp her footprint on to the plate. As Mike is a “printing novice”, he didn’t remove her foot quite swiftly enough on the first attempt, and so the print wasn’t as clear as we would have liked. This wasn’t however a problem. Diana was able to quickly wipe off the print from the plate with a damp tea towel and let it dry so that we could try again. This was something I wasn’t aware could be done, and was reassuring as we all know how wriggly babies can be! Footprints and handprints don’t always go quite according to plan, so it was great to be able to have a second attempt!!!
Once the print was done, Diana quickly but gently wiped Erin’s foot with a damp towel to remove any excess paint before she started touching anything, or getting paint on her clothes. It was however reassuring to know that the paint is fully washable so would be easy to remove even if she did manage to get some anywhere she shouldn’t!
The process was repeated with Erin’s hand, which was of course a little trickier as babies, and Erin in particular, love nothing more than scrunching up their hands - particularly when covered in paint! Diana was able to show us techniques she had mastered over the years to get a really clear print, and made the whole process seem a lot easier than when I have tried it at home!
Once the prints were done, Diana asked what message we would like to write on the design and made a note ready for her to work on when back in her studio.
One week later, and Diana arranged to meet with me to deliver back our finished design. I was so excited to see our creation bought to life! It arrived wrapped in purple tissue paper and was just perfect, everything we could have hoped for. The finished prints looked even better than I expected after they had been fired, and Diana had managed to tidy up a few of the areas where the paint had slightly smudged or had been a little untidy around the edges. The writing was neat and in a beautiful feminine style, framing the prints perfectly.
Whilst dropping off our plate, Diana also showed me how to use the pottery pens, which dry very quickly and become dishwasher safe after 30 minutes (not that I would want to risk it with something so precious!). Now that the plate had been fired, my family could write directly on to the plate with these pens as if it was a sharpie marker!
At the christening, we placed the plate on the table with pride of place next to her christening cake and balloons. We had some lovely comments from guests on what a great idea it was, and as people were leaving, we asked them to sign a little message for Erin.
We could have asked all our guests to sign, but due to there being around 50 adults present, we decided to limit it to messages from parents, grandparents and godparents, meaning they had more room to write something a little more personal. Again the pen could be wiped off quickly after application if anyone made any major spelling mistakes or errors.
The piece is now almost complete, with just a few signatures remaining. We found that some people wanted time to think about what they wrote with something so special, and therefore didn’t like the pressure on the day of having to think up something inspirational!
We are really pleased with the finished design, and feel it was the perfect addition to Erin’s special day. Something a little bit different, I am looking forward to showing Erin when she is older!
- A great alternative to a pottery barn – Crazy Kiln comes to you or meets you in a location of your choice.
- A wide range of products available, with prices starting at just £X – (minimum spend £40)
- Diana is great at helping make your ideas come to life – want something that you haven’t seen done before? Diana will work with you to try and match your requirements!
- A great idea for a childrens party, Crazy Kiln Pottery to go kits are a great way to get creative and keep them entertained!
- Diana is a friendly and helpful lady who is clearly passionate about all things pottery. Great with children, Diana makes little ones feel immediately at ease and gains their trust – something really crucial in getting a good design!
- A perfectionist, Diana will also go the extra mile to ensure you get that perfect print – allowing us to reprint Erin’s footprint to get a stronger result.
- There is something very exciting about waiting for your finished designs to be returned to you – I can picture older children staring out the window waiting for Diana to arrive!
We struggled to think of any cons because we really enjoyed our Crazy Kiln experience, however a couple of things perhaps to be aware of -
- Firstly, as with all pottery designs, you will never get 100% perfection, unless you child happens to be a Monet in the making! You should also be aware when choosing colours that they will come out slightly darker once the design has been fired.
- We loved the signature plate idea, but some of our guests didn’t want to rush deciding what to write and as such preferred not to write something on the day. For us this isnt a problem, as all our family live close, but people may have needed more encouragement if you weren’t going to see them again for a while!
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