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