Friday, October 5, 2012

Everyone needs a creative break!

Although I wouldn't recommend surgery if you can help it, there is nothing like having a forced break to recharge your batteries.

These last 2 weeks have been the first time in over 2 years I have had a 'mental' break from work. How crazy is that?  Even when on holiday or camping etc, I'd still 'work' in my mind... always ticking over with Mudbird and thinking ahead with work, planning markets, designs and such - but when I wasn't actually physically able to work something happened!!

I sat and spent many an hour looking at lovely creative & fun ideas (I think you may have seen some of those on my last blog) and I have to say it really helped to re-charge creativity. I got my fix of crafty goodness as my eyes devoured blog after blog. Nothing ceramic related at all, in fact I never even came across any ceramic artists at all in my search. There is this great app called Stumble Upon and it just takes to you to random webpages, therefore giving you an opportunity to find things you might not in a normal google search!

I loved every minute.

Before Mudbird was born, I created everything under the sun. I made, sewed, built, photographed, soldered, painted, cooked, hand stitched, planted, assembled, constructed it all. You name it, I probably made it. Every year I designed some new product and usually my family where the 'lucky' recipients of those ideas for each Christmas. I have boxes of supplies left over from all the projects I did, I could probably open a craft shop! After Mudbird was born, clay was my creative outlet and I loved it... still LOVE it. 

But I have to say, seeing all these other lovely handcrafts really got me wanting to make more fun things. I know I can't do it all ( really? lol... ) and I'm not about to start another business but I do have a few ideas that I'd like to do. I went out and bought a few of the materials this week for my new EXCITING project and made a few prototypes. I then floated this idea past my lovely husband, who looked at me like I was a bit mad (not about the idea) and promptly asked me where I would acquire the extra time to make these ?!?!?

To which I replied... 
"Don't ask me about the time, I'm still going to make it - don't worry dear"... 
Him: "but you already have so much to do and catch up on (leading up to big markets)"..
Me: "Yes, but I can do it in my spare time?"
Him: "hmmmmm, what spare time?"
Me: "like when the kiln is firing, or clay is drying"
Him: "When are you going to rest?"
Me "Look, you can't stop me now, this idea is GREAT (and I'm going to make it)"
Him: "ok, well I don't want you to get to busy with another project that you run out of time"
Me: "Oh don't worry about that... that's how I LIVE baby!"

The conversation ended well, because my lovely husband knows me better than myself. Yes I'll get super busy and work till 2am, get a bit crazy, tired & cranky. and then get a boost of energy when I see the fruits of my labour! I'm the kinda gal that works under pressure. I never completed my homework till the night before! and although I DO plan now as a 'mature adult', I thrive on pressure and I always come through if I'm working to the beat of my own drum.

It's all to easy to get busy doing what you do and become SO focused you don't tend to stray. And of course when you have 3 children life gets even busier. My eldest is about to turn EIGHT and my time to make craft in my spare time has dwindled to zero. Sad eh? But I realize I need to make and do other things from time to time. I mean... I can't give Ceramics to my family every Christmas forever can I?

So my new "October" resolution ( why wait till New Years') is to make time to craft!

Here is a sneak peak of what my new project is constructed with. And I'm happy to report that while I was watching TV for a couple of hours (next to hubby on the couch) I whipped up the Flowers.. 

Therefore.. Making in my spare time! 
                       (insert slight smirk of "I told you so"!)

Grey & Red - Mmm mmm LOVE!

Seafoam & Charcoal... Yummy Colours!

All will be revealed in due time I promise. I have a couple of things to get to finish the project. *Spoiler alert to my Mum & Sister.. sorry!* And no.. there is no knitting required here!

So let's just all agree... my itch got scratched and I'm back on board - rearing to go!

Monday, September 24, 2012

An itch to scratch.

On Tuesday 18th September, I was acutely admitted to CHCH woman's hospital and booked for surgery at 8.30am the next day. Let's just say I was quite nervous and didn't sleep much the night before with the constant monitoring and noise. I had a longstanding issue that I could no longer ignore due to intense pain, and had a laparoscopic cystectomy done (yeah... go look that up). I'm not prone to Dr's visits, and am not a fan of pain killers or hospitals, but I could no longer ignore this one. 

It was a pretty major surgery removing a huge cyst (think large grapefruit size filling the left half of my pelvis) no complications on the day so that's good! (There have been a few hurdles since but am working through them!) The last thing I remember before falling asleep was looking up at the theatre lights. Then I woke up in recovery 2.5 hours later mumbling to the nurses some nonsense about a dream I'd had about surgery. (eek...was I awake for some of it ?) I can imagine they hear some funny things when people wake up! So 4 holes in my tummy later, I am resting up on my 5th day, and recovering at home in bed. It was my first surgery and hopefully my last! 

Hence this post. I'm itching to be creative, to do something fun or at least get some work done, but I can't. I'm confined to bed while I heal, and even if I wanted to get up and sneakily do some work when my hubby isn't looking, I can't!  I tried a quick trip to the kitchen to make a cup of tea today, and that had me back in bed dizzy & tired, for the rest of the afternoon. I've also got 3 kiddies whose new hangout spot has become my bed and so in between listening to stories about lego men or checking out new doll outfits,  I'm trying to stop my 2 yr old from kicking me in the tummy, and trying not to catch his vomiting bug (which he got the day I came home)

I'm just not used to sitting still or laying in bed for so long. I've read a wonderful book by Nancy Atherton, trawled through stumble to get a creative fix ( couldn't live with out my iPad right now!) and slept 100+ hours & even folding washing. It's times like this I wished I knitted, did crochet, sketched/ painted or something easily done while lying or sitting up in bed. Any ideas? I could be in bed for another week or so! 
I could do boring things like paperwork, and probably should, but that's not very exciting is it! ( and quite frankly I'm lacking the motivation to do that... and this post along took quite a while to write with regular breaks)

So in the meantime while you or I dream up things for me to do, here are some things I found over the last few days -to do with the kids or for yourself or just to inspire.

Incredible artwork by Abby Diamond

Chocolate bowls by Bakerella

String balloons
(wrap string coated in PVA glue around a balloon)

Gorgeous Hand stitching by Freckled Nest

Paper Cup Garland from Hello Gorgeous

Map Garlands from Bookity

Most of these ideas are pretty self explanatory, but if you need any help with how to get started just ask.

So in the mean time, I'll continue to look at lovely things and try not to panic... I'm making my debut at two HUGE Christmas Fetes starting October 25th (Culverden Christmas Fete and the Geraldine Summer Fete) they are only 1 week apart and I really need to be rolling, cutting, shaping, smoothing, firing and glazing right now! Not to mention there is only 1 week left before School Holidays start, and I'll have 3 young kiddies with boundless energy bouncing around the house.

I didn't have any control over the timing of this surgery, but I guess it is better that it is over and done with, rather than living with the pain for a couple of months.

Talk soon x Gill

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hey Hey - Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Giveaway - there were 5 lovely pieces being offered and we have 5 lovely winners!

I hope you all enjoy the goodies I shall be sending your way. There were 62 entries in total. 

And the winners are...

Tatting Cloud  - Karen McNair
Thistle Cloud - Amanda Joblin
Lego Plane - Charlotte Dunning
Heart Brooch  - Alison Kroon
Mini Square Dish - Fiona Ranchod

xx Gill

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ready, steady, GO!

That's right, it's time to start entering this awesome Giveaway! 
5 lucky folk will win one of the following handmade ceramic pieces, made by me... Mudbird ( Gill )

So here is what's on offer.

Land of the long white cloud... Wall Art in Thistle pattern
(17.5cm x 8.5xm with wall hook on back)
Also available in my Felt shop HERE

Fluffy clouds not to be left out... Wall Art in Tatting Pattern
(15cm x 9cm with wall hook on back)
Also available in my Felt Shop HERE

Dusky Pink heart Brooch, impressed with a real leaf.

Little Boys Love Lego... and Planes, so I combined them both.
This little plane can hang on your wall - approx. 10cm

When you need a teeny tiny dish - this is for you!
Approx. 5cm

You can enter over on my Facebook page by clicking HERE... 
it's really easy and all the details are there too!
 Entries open to New Zealand and Australia only.
Closes 23/9/12 Drawn 24/9/12

So if you won... what would you choose?

x Gill

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wait for it.... Goodies to come!

That's right, if you know me, you'll know I LOVE giving things away. I love my business and it has blessed me so much. I get to do what I love, to create with clay and play with gorgeous glazes... the ideas are endless. 

Without all you lovely folk, my friends, supporters and customers I wouldn't be here today ( I know I've said that before but I truly mean it!)

So...I'm gearing up for a hugely busy season with stalls at big fetes like the Culverden Christmas Fete & the Geraldine Summer Fete (quietly panicking as they are a week apart!) and then Christmas markets in December and before it gets all mad around here I'd like to do something fun.

[All my markets are listed on my website HERE ] My next one is THIS friday  -  The Paparoa St School Hall Shop me Pretty.

 Entries will be open this Saturday for the giveaway and all the details will be up in a new post. I'll put the link up on my FB page Mudbird when we are all ready to go!

In the mean time... here is a taster with what's on OFFER :-)

xx Gill

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fine Fashion & Flair...

This week's 'Friday Finds' is a showcase of some fine New Zealand designers. These 3 ladies are an inspiration, and I know just how amazing their work is as I am lucky enough to own a piece or two!

When I look at the stunning handcrafted jewellery that Julia makes at Relique, I want it all! I LOVE her combination of Silver and Copper, all 100% handmade in Christchurch. I am lucky enough to have done quite a few markets alongside Relique Jewellery and have no problem helping to promote her beautiful work... 
(and am lucky enough to own a few pieces!)

These beautiful Forget Me Not Copper & Sterling Silver earrings are my new favorites.
Available on

 The label 'shelley d' is by Auckland based designer Shelley Dunn and her range of products are top quality. Shelley uses premium leather and other high quality fabrics in her designs and her craftsmanship is beautiful. I have one of her card holders.

This beautifully made Patent Nude Pink Clutch is just gorgeous, I haven't seen anything quite like it! 
Available from

Over on the West Coast of the South Island, Artist and Jeweller Fiona McDonald from Brightonmine creates stunning 
Enamel, Copper and Sterling Silver Jewellery. Fiona also paints, and I've seen a few of her paintings up close and I'd love one for my home. I have a pair of earrings like this in a deep blue.

Till next time x Gill

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Paua, Purses & Prints

Friday finds is a wee bit late this time. Started early but just didn't make it before midnight, but it is here anyway! 

Mel from Wildflower Designs makes the most stunning jewellery with a twist. Her use of beautiful New Zealand Paua shell and gorgeous pearls, polished beads and crystals is just stunning. 

Sweet Matilda's Felt shop is loaded with gorgeous upcycled goodies like this sweet crop jacket, There are also sweet aprons, dresses, bags, skirts and super cute clutch purses.

Cushions by Stacey have some wonderful fabric range, ready to  enhance your couch, chair or sofa! I'm particularly drawn to the Turquoise Bird prints... I wonder why! You can see all her fabrics on her Facebook page and ready to buy cushions in her Felt shop.

You can find links to their shops in the comment below the photos, and Facebook links here:


Not sure if I'll have time next Friday to blog... I'll be up to my ears in last minute prep for the Spring Encraftment Market - I can't wait. I'll be outside in my white gazebo near the main entrance. I've got a whole lot of new glazed birds, Christmas ornaments, jewellery & more ... so much fun getting ready for this one. If you do come down, please say hi. If you mention you saw this blog, I'll even give you a wee gift!

Spring Encraftment Market - Saturday 1st September, 10-3pm 

x Gill

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crochet, Cosies & Cute Finds!

Welcome to Mudbird's Friday Finds, edition two.

A different selection of handmade this week. Amazing sewing crafts using nostalgic old and new designer fabrics, lovely crochet handwork and Pretty Jewellery. I love that crafters re-use and give life back into vintage fabrics, there is something about these old patterns & colours that bring back memories of childhood. And let us not forget the humble crocheted granny square, if you like bright colours or muted tones go and check out the Hottie cover! Perfect for this wet and wild weather we have been having.

Recognise any of these patterns from looooong ago? I do!
(I have a set of sheets in that top pattern!!)
Wonderville upcycles fabrics into lovely Arts & Crafts from Nelson

RuthsPatch makes these wonderful Bodum Plunger Cosies in gorgeous fabrics plus other goodies like Jackets and Bags.
If you love to sew and are after some inspiration, Berry Patch Cottage sells the most amazing fabrics and even a few patterns like these super cute Bella Pants.
I love the 'Pear Tree - Blue Trees' fabric, wish I had a project on the go so I had an excuse to get some!

How cute is this! Emilie Berri Switchblade makes these quirky
and irresistible Vintage Plush Monsters, available on Felt & alot more designs on her Facebook page.

It was hard to pick a favorite from the range at Pretty Birds -
so many lovely designs & options.
I thought these four Robins were pretty sweet.
Oh I LOVE the colours in this cosy granny square hottie cover
from Alexandra Mackenzie. Go and check out all her amazing crocheted creations - available on Felt.

Paula from Slipstitch makes these gorgeous Little Red Riding hood pinafores  and other very cute kids items. This is a size 2-3 and available on Felt and also check out her wares at the Spring Encraftment Market coming up!

And to finish off - a wee shout out for a new Fair coming up.
Crafty Christchurch is a boutique craft supply and quilt fair running from the evening of 23rd August to the 25th August 2012 in the Geodome at Hagley Park. This fair will include stands from local craft suppliers, exhibitions, and demonstrations.
General information
Thursday August 23rd 5-9pm (Opening Night)
Friday August 24th 10am-6pm
Saturday August 25th 10am-6pm

Profits from this event will be donated to Bellyful Christchurch.

Check out the links to their Facebook pages if not listed above in the photo comments links:



If you want to be in the next blog, keep an eye out next Thursday night on my Facebook page - be in quick, limited to the number of pages listed that day.

x Gill

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ideas, ideas, ideas - put your mark on it!

We all have ideas - right? Little thoughts that keep you awake at 2am, when you should be asleep. Instead your brain is going full speed as thoughts take shape, ideas evolve and creativity sparks new processes.

Well my brain has been a prisoner of late of those exact things ( actually it always has been).

It's been a pretty exciting time for Mudbird lately with the creation and completion of a new Logo :-) I've been working alongside a long time designer friend who worked her magic on my brand. I wanted something that could stand alone as an icon, also to use a design in my products. I have yet to make up new banners for my website or my blog but I will... so here goes... this it it!

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it... yes, I'm excited.  Gail did a great job didn't she?  {The colors are a bit brighter in these jpegs than actual colors}

This is the nest element that I'll be using on its own. I've already made dishes, earrings, brooches and necklaces!!

So back to ideas. Being a creative person, I find my brain coming up with ideas at the craziest times, the worst times ( like a parent/teacher conference when I'm supposed to be paying attention ) and also at the best of times.

As a designer ( of Ceramic Art ) I really strive to come up with original Mudbird designs. I don't copy others ideas, but this world isn't exactly small, you do tend to see the same thing out there. Sometimes seeing designs similar or the same just breaks my heart!  There has been a lot of talk in the Handmade/Craft circles of late of other people stealing ideas/patterns/designs and going on to create/sell them.  My friends have worked so hard to create their ideas, invested a lot of time and money into their product, then someone else comes long and rips it off. Not cool. It has got me thinking a lot about that in the past 2 weeks.

Sometimes I make something, get it out there, take it to market and am 100% confident that NO-ONE ELSE HAS DONE IT... yippee... then, oh oh - someone else has. But that's ok, I always put my stamp on it, to make it mine, to make it different...  Great minds think alike right?
I've even had people send me links saying...  'so in so' has copied you, but that's so hard to prove right? I've been told its the greatest form of flattery when someone copies you, but it still has an ouch factor! And then there are the days when people claim to be the inventor of that design, that just makes me chuckle!
Sometimes people ask me to copy a ceramic design, which I am firmly against.  Other artists work hard to create their designs and I don't want anyone copying mine so I won't copy theirs.

That's why I try to use as many original textures as I can to create my designs - like my collection of 10 antique Song plates from 1920's - they weigh a ton and were used to print the actual books. They are as much of a treasure to me as a tool.

And my grandmother's tatting lace, or my antique carved indian woodblocks - creating textures that *hopefully* no one else has.  I found a gorgeous antique French madeline tin in Akaroa, that is wonderful to display... and also to use as a mould!
In fact many of my textures and patterns are from my personal collection of antiques and treasures. I have collections of Keys, bottles, books, carved wooden blocks, metal type... I search high and low for things to use, digging through 2nd hand shops across the countryside. I even used part of a ring that my Husband bought me in Italy to imprint the heart into my Emerge Earrings... I've got stories about all my designs.

I'm pretty excited about what is in the pipeline - I've got a lot in the drying stage, the bisque stage ( first firing) and also lots of lovely pretty glazed things waiting to be shown off. A coupe of months ago I was in the middle of finalizing my Christmas DOVE decoration shape to me made up, and another idea popped up into my head.  CLOUDS... I have no idea where they came from, but I could see them, cut from thick slabs of clay, imprinted with lace or my wood block. Then suddenly I remembered all my photography of clouds over the years - maybe thats my inspiration. So I spent ages ( and I mean AGES) drawing up cloud shapes, who new this could take so long. I didn't went just a generic clip art cloud shape, I wanted ones with personality.

I wanted to increase my wall &  hanging art range - funnily enough I was forced into exploring new ideas when I had to step down from taking my jewelry to a market ( jewelry roster) so I though.. oh no! What can I take to fill that gap? So I got thinking and making up new ideas to take... hence the CLOUDS and new Christmas Decorations.

Then I realized, cutting everything with a scalpel is just plain silly. So I got some metal cutters made up, not only of the clouds, but also of my other signature shapes/designs. This way I can improve on productivity. Although I loved the hand-cut aspect, there comes a time when its better business sense to make life easier. I still hand-cut some designs, but hope to build up my cutters. They take time to make and are not cheap.

I still use the old plastic cutters, had a lot of fun making these last week and exploring new glazes too!

So I've been in the Studio - rolling, cutting and pressing textures into my new ideas and its been a lot of fun. They'll be on sale in Christchurch at 2 markets next week: Shop me Pretty &  Craft Invaders Market. I'll then make more and load onto my website.

I've got a LOT more to show you - next time ok?

x Gill

Monday, June 18, 2012

And the winner is....

Lucky #72.... which is indeed....

Prue has won her choice of some LoveBird Earrings or a Necklace, and she choose a pair of Blue Lovebird earrings and decided to give them to her Mum in Christchurch as a wee pick me up! How lovely is that. I love it when things like that happen, the prizes always seem to go to the best people. 

Thanks to all who entered and showed their support - we had 75 entries in total.

Till the next time.... Gill

Monday, June 4, 2012

LoveBird Giveaway!

** Giveaway has closed now **
 Thank you for entering. Winner will be announced 18th June, 7pm.

I love to make new designs, I have so many ideas in my sketch book begging to be rolled out, cut, stamped or pressed, fired and glazed. And usually when I am supossed to be adding to my current stock, the new designs are born. ( That's when most creativity happens doesn't it?)

Over the last few weeks I have made a new Robot necklace design in Turquoise & Green (Which was a big hit with my 5yr old son!), tinkled with my '2012 Christmas Dove' decoration, made some Twinkling star earrings, a cute 'wall art' Horse, and started on a new range called 'LoveBird'. I've made necklaces and earrings with a impressed design of a pair of sweet birds, perching on a branch, into a 3D raised heart necklace and simple circular earrings, glazed in Red, Royal Blue, Turquoise & Distressed Eggshell Blue.

I thought it was time for a Mudbird giveaway for all you amazing supporters here and on Facebook, so when the number of 'likes' hit 1100 on my Facebook page I though it was the perfect time!

So... would you like to win a pair of my Lovebird Earrings or a Lovebird Necklace?

Head over to my Facebook tab, click here for the GIVEAWAY tab, enter your details and be in the draw.
Entries are open WORLDWIDE, so there is no excuse not to enter.

Entries closed 17th June 2012

Good Luck 

p.s Here is a photo of my cheeky boy (who is growing up far too fast for my liking) and his Robot necklace. He has been begging for me to make him something and I love it so much!

p.p.s Leave a comment here about your favourite colour in the LoveBirds range for an extra entry!