Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mudbird website service announcement

Hello friends, if you've been looking for my shop website you'll find it's not there. For most of this year I've been a bit unwell & since June I've had to stop making ceramics... I know, I'm really sad! It wasn't expected and hopefully only a season. Every now and again I'll hold some sales on my Facebook page with my remaining stock. I do have a limited amount of Emerge jewellery left so if you are in need, please email mudbird(at)

 xx Gill

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mudbird & Tiny Eyes, a winter collaboration.

 I'm proud to introduce my Mudbird doll, made by the incredibly talented, homeschooling Mum of 5  ... Dee from Tiny Eyes. A few months ago Dee asked myself and 6 other creative people to design a doll as part of her Winter 2013 Collaboration, to be auctioned off for sale!!  I showed pictures of my fabrics and ideas here ( if you need to refresh your memory) I was honoured to be asked, and I hope I have done her Doll designs justice.
Piece by piece Dee made each detail of the doll designs come to life and I just love them all.  The details on mine are fabulous, the mini puffed sleeves, the tiny little collar - so pretty dont you think? And the glasses.... so cute!

 I also made 3 mini Doll sized dishes for my doll, made with the same woodblock design I used to 'print' onto the denim for her skirt. These wee dishes can be used for tea parties... or Mum can use them in the kitchen or anywhere in the house! ( they made beautiful little ring dishes next to your bedside or sink.)
To get an idea of the size of the doll, my dishes are 2.5inches wide!
So... how do you get to buy this doll or any of the other designs? Dee is running an Auction over on her facebook page that starts TOMORROW at noon. Details below...

If you already follow Tiny Eyes on FB, you'll have seen the special event Dee has created. Once you join you can bid on the Mudbird doll, or any of the other beautiful dolls. The auction starts on Friday lunchtime ( 12pm, NZT), and finishes on Sunday at 12pm. I'm absolutely sure it will be a very exciting event, I've got my eye one particular doll... so watch out!

The dolls are also on display at the Walton Street Cafe in Te Awamutu TODAY, from 8-2pm. Dee has created a stunning exhibition, so if you live near by, please pop in for a visit.

I also want to say a HUGE Thank you to Dee ... you have done the most beautiful job and I'm in awe of your talents. I hope my doll does you proud and goes to a loving home.

xx Gill

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A little parcel of happiness

Last week I was captured by a mini journal & 
treated myself to one of a kind treasure.

It arrived just as I imagined... 
A visual feast of the senses.
Emerald green leather, tea stained pages.
Beautiful vintage lace...
Details of an ornate verdigris patina frame.

Florentine paper, Linen, leather & lace
Ready to fill with mini thoughts or leave blank...

So much love, patience and a steady hand.
Experience and fine craftsmanship.
Handmade goodness at the fullest.

Thank you Louise from BIBLIOGRAPHICA for bringing 
these gorgeous journals to the world.

You can find her beautiful one of a kind work on Etsy & Felt

xx Gill

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Tiny Eyes journey begins!

2 weeks ago I was SUPER excited when Dee from Tiny Eyes invited me to be part of her Winter Collaboration Project for 2013! At first I was honored, then excited, then nervous... 
I mean look at the line up folks! Some amaaaazingly creative designers and crafters. It's not a competition but its funny when you are working alongside some clever people doubt creeps in about abilities, choices and designs when doing something completely different. Will my designs be too boring, can I seriously match fabrics together... eek!

But.... one night I lay awake in bed and then it HIT me...  BAM! The idea train came a rollin in and I could not get back to sleep. Images, fabrics, techniques and designs came flashing up in my head, I think I even suppressed a squeak or two of excitement & a few leg kicks in case I woke hubby. Now we all know brilliant ideas come to us in the night and only the clever people have a note book to write these night-time ideas into. I do not, so I willed my brain to retain the ideas and slowly went to sleep dreaming of this Doll. 

My main idea for the clothing part of my Doll was to screen print some fabric for her skirt. I have some screens in the garage and thought about designing a print, but then my awesome hubby suggested I use my favorite woodblock... which happens to be my Mudbird Ceramics signature print/pattern. That was just far to fabulous of an idea, being a Mudbird vibe doll it made perfect sense. I've never used it for its original purpose (it had a long life as a fabric printing block before I bought it in 1995)and was excited to give it a go last week. My first print was perfect!

 It was a busy Wednesday indeed... shopping for fabric, printing fabric and meeting a real life Tiny Eyes doll.
Thank you Juliet from Tartan Kiwi for lending me your daughter's doll while we had coffee!

 I chose a pale turquoise/aqua colour fabric paint and experimented on dark denim and also a light grey denim. Dark denim won. I went to the Make Cafe to get the contrasting fabrics & paint and compared my print alongside the doll to get a sense of scale. I think the block print will make a perfect skirt for her.

After much deliberation with fabrics I chose 2 from the shop and added another fabric I had at home. I'm not a great planner, more of a spur of the moment type of person I have discovered when choosing fabrics!

Packed them all up for Dee and couriered them off 2 days after printing the fabric.

You'll have to wait to see how its all put together and Dee will work her magic for sure.

I'm now going to make some itsy bitsy Mudbird products for this lovely Doll - this part I'm really looking forward to. Nothing like a challenge that's out of the box to make you look at other styles and ways of creating. 
You can follow my visual idea journey over on Instagram.

Thanks Dee, this is fun

x Gill

You can follow a few of the other designers 
who are joining in too!

Emma from Emma Makes
Rebekah from Bliss in a tea cup
Rhiannon from Croutons
Melissa from Tiny Happy

Monday, May 6, 2013

Drum roll please.....

If you know me well, or even just a little, hopefully you'll 
know I just love to give my pieces away...

So this year for Mother's Day I thought I'd host another little giveaway on my Facebook page just because all my likers are amazing, nothing was needed to be done to be in the draw and I was blown away by all the lovely comments, shares and likes - I totally didn't expect it all !

Originally I wanted to offer up just ONE gift, but I decided to offer up THREE instead. One for a Facebook Business page who likes my page and two for Facebook fans old or new!

So without further adieu... the winners are:


You can choose 1 ROUND DISH {top row of pics}

Ana Lydiate

You can choose 1 BIRD dish {middle row of pics}

Aimee Teddy

You can choose 1 TEA or JAM tag {bottom row of pics}


C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !

Please make contact with me ASAP via email with your address & mobile number (incase I need to call) and I'll get your gift sent off to you! Or if it's a Mother's Day present, then send me a message and I'll send it direct to your Mum with a note!

Please feel free to pop over to the post on FB to make yourself known as one of the winners.

Till next time... I can't wait to share with you whats been happening over the last 3-4 weeks so stay tuned for the next blog post 

xx Gill

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bloggers CONNECT!

Over this weekend I've had the wonderful privilege to be around and meet just some of the 60+ awesome New Zealand bloggers at the Around the table  - Bloggers connecting conference. I never thought myself as much of a blogger but then I just looked back on my old blogs and saw my first post was 30 July 2007! I did have another blog prior to that in 2005 but I honestly can't find it... ;-)
That's 6 years of blogging folks and I didn't even realize. My first blog was a blog about my family, my journey with my 2 children & my life. That was then and now I have 3 children. I still blog but about my creative life and my love of making ceramics. The bits in between are another story for another day.

This weekend has been fab / child free / inspiring woman / filled with adult company. What more could you want.

On Friday night we kicked it off with a vist to the Craft Love Festival run by Hazel from Hazel Loves Design, then today (Saturday) a jam packed day filled with Q&A time, a techie workshop & a bunting workshop, socializing and then topping it off with dinner & drinks at Winnie Bagoes. I tell you, a room filled with over 60 woman has no quiet moments and never a shortage of conversation.
Tomorrow we start at 8.30am for Breakfast at one of my fav inner city cafes.. C1! and a trip up the roof garden is planned so I'm pretty happy about that.

As a fun part of our Bloggers weekend we all got a swap partner where we made a name badge for each other. The gorgeous Meghan from MNM's made my beautiful Birdie badge (which I love!) and I made her a ceramic badge with vintage tatting pressed into the background, covered in a green glaze with her name hand-stamped from antique letterpress type. It was fun to create, although a bit nerve-wracking... will she like it? Does she like green? Well she did. And she wore GREEN! 

 I've got heaps more to tell... later after I've slept.

x Gill

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Jo Bennetts!

You have won a value pack of labels from my product review!

Thanks to Stuck on You, you have won the prize pack from their fantastic personalized range of labels and stickers! Hope your little girl enjoys having her own labels.

 x Gill

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Space Ships, Spiders, Scary Pirates, & Soccer - A Stuck on You review & GIVEAWAY!

As well as being a ceramic artist, I'm also a busy Mama. I have 3 wonderful children so was thrilled to be picked to review the following amazing products from 
Stuck on You & Penny Scallan Design.

  My boys chose some Pirates, Space Ships, Soccer balls & other icons to decorate their  0-5 pack & 5+ Pack labels & stickers from Stuck on you & my daughter chose a beautiful tree design for her Red Artist Series lunchbox. In the labels packs we got Name labels, shoe labels, clothing labels, & a bag tag - all in fabulous bright colours, different sizes and shapes and fun personalized designs.

And You can WIN some of these great products so read on...

When my 6 year old saw his labels from his 0-5 pack he was more than chuffed! (Ever since we ordered them together he was chomping at the bit to get them in the mail - and I let him make ALL the choices!!) So when they arrived he wanted to stick them on everything. "Oh wow, awesome!" I think his response was. He picked his favourite blue colour and got sticking. We'll get to the rest of his designs later.

Even on his camping cup!

And it was quite fun choosing colours and icons with my 2 3/4 yr old for his 5+ pack (takes you from kindy/pre-school through to school) He had no problem picking the Soccer ball for his bag tag, with a firm yes or no when clicking through the appealing illustrations. 

Stuck on You make it very easy to order with a live preview of your child's name on the screen - Genuis I say! Kids also get a kick out seeing their name on screen as well.

I love that the shoe stickers have been designed for little people's feet with a much smaller sticker than the one for my 6yr old's pack. My 2 3/4 yr old adorned his boots with a green & red sticker. He chose to mix it up & we put the stickers closer to the top so they are easy to spot for him. (I know they probably work best at the bottom so well try this out)

They fit perfectly in his little shoes.

These boots are made for walking and that's just what they'll do... one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

**Disclaimer... its a bit wobbly and it's my first ever movie ever made. Oh, and turn the sound on **

He also LOVES his Soccer ball bag tag and other labels. They have been perfect to use on his new pre school lunch box & drink bottle.

He also chose trains & stars for his labels for a bit of variety. He thinks his Choo choo stickers are pretty cool.

Little labels for little hands.

And what boy doesn't like Pirates?? 
Straight away he was drawn to the skull and cross bones and it matched his black bag perfectly!

Choosing the pirate tag in action online.

Shiny new shoes get shiny new stickers!

The iron on clothing labels are also fabulous! Great when labeling his PE uniform as its the same size as his sisters, and they definitely don't want them being mixed up! Easy to apply and they aren't budging after several washes.  
His up top :-) Big sisters below :-(

Gorgeous illustrations too. My creative daughter chose her design from The Artist Series lunch boxes - they have a different selection of equally beautiful designs than the first selection. Made from durable poly canvas with the name illustration printed ONTO the lunchbox.

This is still looking brand new after 2 weeks of use of being dragged about the playground at school and even on an easter holiday road trip.
The high quality lunch box also has 2 pockets! On the inside there is an elasticated mesh pocket, great for popping in raisin packets or cheese slices or teaspoons... or even a flat cooler block if you have one. And there is a pocket on the outside front with a magnetic enclosure which I have been popping in a paper towel for my daughter to use on yoghurt day or any other day! (even fits a banana) The lining is water repellant and super easy to wipe clean. Word on the playground is that it's pretty cool.

The 0-5 pack includes:

  • 50 iron on clothing labels
  • 25 small name labels
  • 20 shoe labels (great thinking here as littles grow fast!)
  • 1 personalized bag tag.

The 5+ pack includes:

  • 50 iron on clothing labels
  • 25 small name labels
  • 50 mini labels
  • 10 shoe dots
  • 1 personalized bag tag.
What more can I say - these are great quality products made with kids in mind, no boring plain labels here and I'm impressed. The eye catching designs will ensure that you child spots his/her drink bottle in amongst the many at preschool etc and also provide the most important part... return of lost items to the rightful owner. No more messy half rubbed of vivid names, these Stuck on You labels are stuck on us!

And a big THANKS to Stuck on You & Penny Scallan Design for the products to review AND as promised one lucky reader also gets the chance to win a set of their very OWN personalized label Packs - Go take a look at all the designs on and tell me which is your favourite icon.  Comment below and I'll pick a winner on Saturday 13th April. I'll need to be able to contact you via email address afterwards. 

You can find these awesome products on their Website & also  Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tribute to the ChristChurch Cathedral and her Rose Window.

I'm just thrilled at how my brand new Emerge Rose Window designs came out of the kiln a couple of days ago. The design is a tribute to the ChristChurch Cathedral Rose Window that was sadly destroyed during a series of large aftershocks resulting from the February 22nd 2011 Earthquake that struck Canterbury. I have been asked and asked to create a design that incorporates the Cathedral as it holds such a sweet spot for Cantabrians and is the iconic symbol for Christchurch. 

I went back and forth between a simplistic design of the church itself or another part that symbolized it. 
The Rose Window won!

The ChristChurch Cathedral in all her glory, back in the good old days.
The Cathedral battered and bruised.

I took the photo above on the 17th December 2011 after one of the larger aftershocks finally took the window out. Only 6 days later we experienced another very large 5.8 Magnitude earthquake which destroyed more of the Cathedral. I'm so glad I wasn't this close to the church at the time of that one!! The bracing was there to try and save the front that was badly damaged.

These are the stickers I use on all my Mudbird Ceramics products when packaging.

You never really know how pieces will look when making them for the fist time, until they have been through their 2 firings. So some would say it's luck that they worked and some would say it was well planned artistic-ness... is that a word??

I call it SUCCESS! I designed the stamp in black and white in a design program, slowly tweaking curves and lines and shapes until I was happy with the final design and envisaged that the black part of the stamp would look red when glazed. I wanted a Rose Window design that was not the same as any others floating out there on the web, and I'm pretty sure it's a one off! It's my artistic interpretations and you can see the full design better on the Tile. The classic Rose window design is so beautiful it wasn't hard to be pleased with the design anyway. Thank you to the Stone masons from the 1800's (or earlier I'm sure) for creating such beauty to begin with. 

I'm no graphic designer but I do have a few skills to be able to make it work. Probably took me 5x longer than a graphic artist and I probably broke all the rules, but I'm happy with the outcome.

The Necklace.

When the bisque fired pieces came out of the kiln they were white and I was captured by the textured pattern and couldn't keep touching the discs, and then during the glazing process I was getting more and more excited. When I rubbed back the red glaze to reveal it in the pattern I thought it was going to be a winner  (well for me anyway!) So when I opened the kiln after the glaze firing a few mornings ago I shouted for joy and did a happy dance all the way around the house! Much to my 2.8yr olds delight, he thought he had a crazy mummy for a few minutes there.
The 3.5 inch tile with hook inset into the back.

I got the stamp made up in 2 sizes, one for jewellery and one for a tile and dish. I made up some discs to be necklaces and made several square tiles and a couple of round tiles and small dishes. 

The 3.5 inch round tile. Yet to be decided if it should be a coaster or remain a tile.
What do you think?

Now... using the liquefaction silt in the clay can get very tricky sometimes and I have to admit I had contemplated never making a round dish again. Because mixing the silt into the clay is a very delicate operation, sometimes the clay misbehaves after firing and I end up with a lot of reject dishes that I can't sell. But this smaller shallow dish seems to agree with me and the clay so I think I'll persue this design.

The mini shallow dish.

A Trio of symmetry.

So that's what is new in the land of liquefaction silt & clay in the Mudbird Studio. A pretty good combo I think. I've been making these Earthquake Commemoration products since July 2011 and have been touched with all the feedback from my lovely customers. There are Emerge pieces all over the world. Many I have sent and many taken by my customers on their travels. Given as gifts or bought as mementos to hold a piece of Christchurch close to their hearts. And it is literally a piece of Christchurch, from the silty soil below our city mixed with my clay.

It brings me joy to create something that has such meaning, something so beautiful that has come from something so ugly and detroying and I thank you for helping me to continue to do it.

x Gill

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Workshops & Wondrous things!!

Wow - nearly at the end of March and I'm just getting going again on my blog. I have a million things to blog about and think I need to play catch up, I'll have to blog backwards to my summer holidays. I feel like I've packed 6 months into the last 3, although the first 1.5 months was pretty slow... 
so lets just say its been a very productive last 6 weeks!! 

FOUR new ranges have been 'birthed' in the mudbird Studio in the last month and production is well underway for release. So hold onto your horses, this is going to be a loooong post!

I closed up shop just before Christmas, so I could spend a wonderful summer with my family. I was due to start back mid February with Mudbird,  and I'll admit... I did dust off the studio key and enter into the chaos I had left behind  (after manic Christmas market making & the like) but creativity didn't just flow like those endless summer G&T's  (I wish!... seriously I'm more of a pina colada girl)
So that did frustrate me a bit as I wanted to make... I wanted to create but I was a bit stuck. I though there is no point forcing it, it will come! 

(So I started taking flower photos for a bit of a boost! I'm on instagram if you want a nosey. )

I had a little tidy up and got out my sketch book. I made sure I left it lying about in plain sight, should the urge to sketch a new idea or design should fall upon me. Nothing happened on that front. But what did happen, as one day while driving through the CBD as we know it now, a little sign that I nearly missed has been the reason for many an idea! I got a little lost as there are no landmarks left, and also on some street corners there are NO road signs. I guess the council thought we no longer need some of them as there is nothing there to look at or visit. So I turned into what is Tuam street and saw a sign saying my favourite ever Antique store had a new home. I was so excited as this place is where I used to buy my printers type, printers trays, wonderful vintage tools and more. I'm the kind of gal who likes to do it the old fashioned way when it comes to stamping. I'd prefer to buy a set of heavy metal type from the late 1800's (yes you read that right) than buy some 'dime a dozen' rubber stamps. I was heart broken when the Feb 22nd earthquake demolished my favourite shop and wondered if I'd ever be able to rummage through trays of type ever again. I even rang the owner on his cell phone to see if they were all ok! (they were thankfully)

So I tracked them down (they had moved twice since that sign had been put up) and to my delight found another set of type to add to my collection. 
(Since that day I have been back a few times and added a 3 more type sets.)

So... you are probably wondering why I'm so excited about type? Well that day I came home, rolled out a slab of clay and got to work.  About 5 years ago I started making Ceramic tags - you could say that was my flagship product. Lots of others make them now and they are not so unique, but I have always loved them. I made them for a season then moved onto other things, but now they are coming back. First I made several cardboard templates of the tag shape and got to work. I started with a 'Tea' , 'Chai' & Earl Grey' tag. I then jumped onto my social network sites to ask what teas people have in their kitchen.  I wanted to make gorgeous little tags to hang around tea jars. Pressing my new set of type into wet clay to create those words was all it took to break the creativity dam - and then the ideas just flowed. They still haven stopped and my brain is full. I feel like I need a clone again, but this time for a positive reason... to create & never stop!

Ideas brewing (oh yeah... see what I did there?)

After making and firing a few different designs, I decided which one
 I wanted to make and have had my new custom cutter made up!

And after the 'Tea Tag' idea was underway I got to work on another idea. This is not so new... but new in the sense of getting it out there and planning on offering it as a new range. I have ALWAYS made custom pieces, but not advertised it. I've made them for pregnancies, births, birthdays & weddings (and even funerals). So after working with a lovely Bride to be and brilliant Wedding planner last year, I decided to properly launch my much anticipated Wedding range. They were so encouraging and the feedback was delightful - it was all I needed to get the sketch book out to create these new pieces. Now, I don't always write down ALL of my ideas first, for the piece below I cut a circle of clay and eyed it up... Then I just picked up my type and started 'writing'. Inspiration often comes after the clay is rolled out... no time like the present and especially the pressure of wet clay drying gets the mind working. After this, I did sit down and nut out a whole lot of text dishes. 
It was certainly a fun evening coming up with phrases for the dishes.

From that ^ to this....

 A Wedding proposal perhaps?

For the Wedding Ceremony...

 Perfect gift for the happy couple!

Ring bearer dish for the big day  - tie your rings on with the ribbon.

And there is a WHOLE lot more coming like this... ring bearer dishes, wedding bouquet charms, cufflinks... There will be a range of 'ready to buy' - perfect for the engaged couple, and also a customized range where the happy couple can have their names & wedding date stamped into the dish or anything they like. I'm happy to use special lace from the wedding dress, special quotes and ideas... the beauty of the bespoke range is it is made to order. I come from a photography background, running my own company for many years. I LOVED photographing weddings and working with the happy couple  - so this range brings joy to me as well!

Ok, so thats TWO ideas, so I'll share one more for now. I've been wanting to expand my Emerge range and have been designing a new stamp for a while. Good things take time, so I spent a little longer on this next design, tweaking and adding to make it perfect and original! I'm not a native Cantabrian, but I do love Christchurch and have called it my home since I was 19. And the one iconic building I have always loved is the Christchurch Catherdral. Like many, not only in Canterbury but also worldwide, I am so sad that it has been destroyed. For those that aren't familiar with my Emerge range, it is a commemoration range that is made with liquefaction silt. It is mixed with the clay to create special pieces with real meaning. These are collector pieces and I hope will become a part of history for the people of this City.

I had 2 stamps made for me ( I love my custom stamps!) I have  a few designs up my sleeve, but what is shown below is the makings of the Rose Window Tile & Jewellery set.

And while I was making I make a little dish as well. These pieces haven't 
had their first firing yet and that is something I must get done!

 I can't tell you how much a really truly LOVE this new design. All the time and effort put in to getting it right really paid off. I hope to add these pieces to the range by mid April. 
If I don't, please give me a nudge!

And last but not least - and thanks so much for reading this far... I'm very excited to announce I'm taking workshops this year. I have listened to all the requests, on FB, in emails and in person at markets and am rearing to go. I have a long list of workshop ideas and can't wait to start. You'll find a link to the registration form on the top left of my blog, and I'll do another post int he next fews days to tell you more. You'll have to be quick though as the first one starts in 2 WEEKS!!

xx Gill

p.s and a little thank you for reading my blog, if you register for a workshop and put 'Mudbird March Blog' in the 'where did you hear about the workshops' I'll give you $5 off!