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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilites available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decisions!

CRAFTY MONKEY POTTERY PAINTING

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I’d been meaning to catch-up with a friend and I thought that Crafty Monkey Pottery would be a great place to meet, for my baby boy to do his first painting and my daughter to do something a little different.

I also wanted a lockdown family memento, as our salt dough hand prints ended up drying and breaking into a heap of salty, messy powder. Chrissy, the owner, has decorated a beautiful plate with a stick family and a rainbow. I was very envious and ready to attempt one myself, if it didn’t work out I would just state the children made it.

Before I booked our families in, I watched the Crafty Monkey Pottery video so I knew what to expect. After watching, I felt very reassured that Chrissy is stickler for detail, she has gone to great lengths to make sure you feel comfortable.

I called in advance to ask that my friend’s family and ours could book our slots at the same time. Chrissy informed me that families are booked in 15 minutes apart to allow each family the time to browse the ornaments, pay and settle in.

We booked our slots online, which was very easy to do, and I added a note to both bookings. I detailed we were two families painting (on different table of course), we required space for 2 buggies, we needed 2 high chairs and how many people were in our group.

I packed the day before with aprons, lots of baby wipes, various toys (that he had not played with for a while) and hoped it would be enough to make our time enjoyable and fun for all.

We parked in Tebbutts Road car park, which was free at the time, on arrival at Crafty Monkey we waited on a yellow spot until we were invited in. We were greeted to a warm, smiling face behind a screen and encouraged to use the alcohol gel. The gel was very wet, felt almost like water and it covered every bit of our hands.

After a friendly hello and an explanation of what to expect, we were told we could choose our items. There is a very large choice and all the things that children and adults would love to paint, many of which doubled up as money boxes. There were unicorns, emoji’s, princesses, dragons, animals, mugs, plates and bowls.

   

My daughter chose an emoji, I chose a duck moneybox for my son and also tile. After paying we walked into the studio, were told where to sit and where our friends would be seated. We were also given a few basic verbal instructions, with Chrissy remaining behind the screen. Everything was laid out and the instructions on the wall were very informative.

There was a sponge to dampen our pottery before painting, felt-tips to draw out our designs (these disappear in the kiln), brushes, paints labelled with numbers, a plate to put your paint on, water, paper towels and alcohol gel.

When using the paints, they look a little different to how they will look once baked. So, I was pleased to see this was explained and a kilned painted plate, had all the colours and number on. It was also advised that for my baby’s finger painting we chose a light/pale colours. If we chose dark colours, they could mix together to form one solid dark colour.

My little boy played with the sponge whilst we familiarised ourselves with the instructions and then we proceeded to damped our pottery. To help my baby, I added a blob of paint to the duck and poked his finger in it. He thought this was very funny and giggled throughout. He didn’t make any attempt to eat the paint, I pre-armed with baby wipes, which surprised me as he puts most things in his mouth. After about 30 minutes he had enough and so the toys came out. It was at this point I realised I’d barely spoken to my friend, as I was having so much fun with my baby. Whoops! My daughter was also enjoying her painting and she seemed to be inspired by the artwork along the walls.

Whilst I threw toys at my baby, as a mother does, I managed to spend a little time creating my lockdown artwork. My daughter helped by finding the colours, as I was worried my little boy would not want to sit there much longer. But he surprised me! He really enjoyed the chatting between my friend, Chrissy, daughter and I. The toys were only a part of his entertainment. This gave me plenty of time to paint my picture and even add the dog!

 

The paint cleaned up readily from the skin with baby wipes and the alcohol gel, provided on the table, can also be used to clean the hands. 

Overall, I felt as comfortable as if in my own home, with a good chat between friends, some bonding time with my children and….. I finally felt relaxed. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.

Top Tip: A great substitute for an apron is a rain suit or a bib with old/worn clothes underneath, the paint seemed to dry to a powder and came off most things. Don’t forget to put the apron in a plastic bag to protect your toys!

Top Art Tip: Use a baby wipe to clean off your painting mistakes.


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