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!


  1. fantastic Gillian! Great to see you so motivated and with so many new ideas. I love the wedding ideas, and the new stamps... and (if I was closer) the workshop idea! You must be feeling so energised to have so much to excite you x

    1. Thanks Joanna :-) Its good to start the year like this!!

  2. Gorgeous form, good on you for pushing through creative block. So looking forward to coming to do a workshop with you if there's space, getting out from behind the computer to design something tangible I can hold will be lovely! Beautiful type sets, we here at Design & Arts College are VERY envious!

  3. I loved reading about all your creativity just growing and growing and blossoming!! Your head may be spinning with so many ideas and I don't know how you do it all with a young family too! You are amazing Gill and I wish I was nearby to come to a workshop and be taught by you :) xx

  4. oh i love the Rose Window stamps it is gorgeous and the quote dishes.... awesome stuff so beautiful x