Mini Potters feed the birds with a winter craft

Today was the first session this year for Mini Potters at Fired 4 U. We run this session to encourage the very young from about 14 months upwards to just before they go to school to try out crafts and pottery painting. They are of course welcome to come to the studio for arty fun at any time, this is just a special session for their age group.

Today our story was about a naughty bear who didn’t want to go to sleep for the winter because he wanted to catch another fish to fill his tummy. In catching the fish he fell through the ice on the lake! He did get rescued by another bear so all ended well. This gave a valuable lesson to us all with all the ice about at the moment.

We then made an interesting Bird feeder to help our winter birds. I cut rice cakes into Bear shapes using a cookie cutter, you could use other shapes or just use the cakes in the round shape in which they come. (The scraps left over from this are on my bird table now so not to waste them.)

Then poke a hole very gently through the rice cake – I gently ‘screwed’ a bamboo skewer through ours. Then thread string through and tie it into a loop to hang off a branch.

Mini potter bird feeders - you can see the uncovered one in the centre

Now spread one side of the rice cake with vegetable fat or lard or the dripping left over from your roast potatoes / veg. Then dip the fatty side into a bowl of loose bird seed and give it a good wiggle in this to get the seeds pressed into the fat. Now repeat on the other side of the cake. You can of course do the edges too.

This gives you a fun bird seed cake to hang up in the garden then sit and wait for the birds to come.

The Mini Potters today thought it was great fun and were hoping to do more at home -sucess! We then painted a pottery piece which was a bear with hat and scarf on to keep warm in the winter, hugging a little pot at his side, ideal for a candle or sweetie treats. One today was even destined as a gift for a Grandma – brilliant idea.

The glazed bears!

Teddy Bird feeder in Jane's Garden this morning ready for the birds!

If you would like to join us next time just give us a call on 01772 203060 to book your place on our session – first Thursday of the month.


Fired 4 U’s Christmas Night out

I like to take my Fired 4 U team out at Christmas to say thanks for all their hard work over the year. My team of girls work hard for me and my mum covers my holidays with the girls and comes down to help me when we are busy and need an extra pair of hands like at the weekend at the Christmas market. Robert keeps me ‘right’ and helps with the decisions on new ideas and any changes and of course all the DIY needed about the studio. He can paint pots well and does help out when we need another extra pair of hands.
So this year I took them all to Bukhara the Indian Restaurant at Samlesbury. We had a lovely meal, starting with poppudums (Thanks Frankie for showing us how to ‘break’ them into smaller pieces!) and pickle tray. Mel had not tried Lime pickle before and despite the others saying “don’t do it its awful stuff” she did. Like me she thought it great in a strange way! We had a main course each and when ordering some with very strange names we all had a giggle at the pronounciations – Ciara had the best one to say! The food was hot and very tasty and complimented by glasses of Lassi – Indian fruit smoothie is the best way to describe it – great with warm to hot curries!

Fired 4 U team at Bukhara Restaurante

Deserts were had by the girls and me as Robert and Mum had had plenty with the large main courses! Lots of nice ice creams, cheese cake, jam roly poly and my fruit platter.

Then we jumped in the cars and moved along the road to Samlesbury Hall to see a Mummers play, The Winter solstice. That was different, bit of humour in a very darkly lit room telling the story of The Green man and Jack frost – they were 2 brothers and Jack frost being a naughty child was banished from home by his mother when very young. He returned as a man and fought the green man to take over all the Seasons. Their mother was distraught and called for their estranged father – Old father Christmas. He sorted them all out and that is how we have Spring and Summer ruled by the Green man and Autumn and Winter ruled by Jack frost!

The girls and I at Samlesbury Hall

It was great to all be together as this doesn’t happen very often working on separate days or out at different events.

Painting by Nipples night for Breast Cancer

Painting by Nipples samples

About 4 years ago I was on a course having only been open for 6 months and I was chatting to a lady with a studio down south who had been doing fund raisers for breast cancer each October which involved the option of printing onto pottery using your breasts. I thought at the time it was a great idea but thought I’d better be a bit more established before I embarked on such an event. I wanted to do something for Breast Cancer as so many customers were coming in and chatting to friends or myself being affected themselves or indirectly. So each spring passed with me thinking about it but I wanted to be a bit different but couldn’t figure out the ‘different’ until this year.

Back in May / June I was suddenly struck by inspiration and thought if I could get a couple of little talks mixed into the evening of fun to add an education factor it might just work. So I emailed Tracy-Jayne Hughes a professional bra fitter and friend, asking would she do a talk on the importance of correctly fitting bras and help organise the night. Within minutes she replied “Oh Yes” and so off we went looking at dates, trying to find a breast care nurse to give a talk and thinking of other ideas to add into the evening. We decided to do our fund raising for Rosemere Cancer Foundation based in Preston Royal Hospital supporting the people of Lancashire and South lakes with cancer treatment and support. We even found a local Chocolatier who had made us miniature breast shaped chocolates in white, milk and dark chocolate with pink nipples!

Following a press releases from Rosemere, a write up about our night ended up on page 3 on 6th September in Lancashire evening post. I was amazed at the response we got and even more so when we were told the on-line article for the paper received the most hits an article had ever had. I began to wonder what I had started? Then the love it! magazine wanted a full page article about our night – National coverage! This was exciting to do and T-J and I kept pinching ourselves was this really happening to us. All we wanted to do was to put an event on which was fun and informative and raise some funds for Rosemere; we did not expect the stir it caused from our customers to Twitter and Facebook and even the post office queue!

But it was doing what we wanted – getting ladies to talk about their health, particularly their breast health and making them aware of what they should do.

The evening was great, amazing, even better than I imagined to the point I felt quite dazed on the night and for a few days after. 31 ladies arrived at Fired 4 U, settled in looked at the pottery to paint; following a short talk by Anne Sweeney from Rosemere, I did a demo on how to use our pottery paints and tools and then advanced to how to paint with your breasts without a live demo I may add! This last part caused a few giggles and I think eased those that weren’t sure whether to or not or stick with the ‘normal’ options.

Ladies hard at work

I so wish I had had a recorder for the comments coming from the Breast painting areas ( kiln room, toilet and the famous Harry’s cupboard) the giggles and laughter were great but the comments were even better;
“Jane my bits wont go in the right place how did you get yours there” this was a lady in progress printing muffins and wanted the nipple cherries on the top!

“My nipple makes heart shaped prints! Is that normal?” there certainly were heart shapes in the middle of these particular nipple prints.

“Jane, I rolled the jug around my breast but it went upwards at the end, what can I make this print into?”

Watch the concentration!

Tracey-Jayne did a talk once everyone who wanted to had their breast prints on their pots and educated us all on the correct way to fit a bra to your shape and how to do a monthly breast check. Everyone learned from the talk how unique everyone’s breasts are to that person and painting them certainly helps you get to know yourself!

Not all the ladies painted with their breasts which is a personal choice for each individual but without exception everyone had a great night and produced fabulous pieces. All can be seen on our Facebook page, some here you have just seen and some on our customers gallery on the website.

The bra collection and other prints

Spoon rests and small change plate


How much did these lovely ladies raise? With studio fee donations after costs, profits from the pottery, raffle donations, direct donations and monies from the drinks and chocolate breasts, we raised £495! T-J and I are delighted with this and thank all those who attended or donated or gave raffle prizes, it all helped to make a fabulous night.

Sandy one our lovely Painting by Nipples ladies has written about the night from her point of view which can be seen on Bras4mums blog which is where you will find T-J and her lovely bras too!

How to make coasters in clay and other mediums

Maggie who I follow on twitter is a lady who has an art and craft blog with great ideas she also sells her art work. She asked me to write a guest post for her blog using clay or air hardening clay preferably. So visit here   to read how to make coasters with clay or air hardening clay or salt dough and how to use all sorts of things to create patterns in the ‘clay’.

I was chuffed to be a guest writer and grinned all day when it went live, imagine my grin when this guest post was picked up and linked on to a daily newspaper on the internet! see here to read it.

UndertheTableandDreamingWe featured here at the Sunday showcase party !

Let me know if you have ago at making these coasters.

My Week at Fired 4 U last week!

Last week was an amazing week so I thought I’d share it with you.

On Monday we had a group in from Mosaic community care who provide support for challenged young children to young adults ranging from autism to physical disabilities. They booked art and craft sessions daily for 2 weeks with us. This was the beginning of their second week. They were using foam clay to coat wooden figures designing the clothes as they coated them.

So Mel and Ciara were looking after them and other customers whilst I had the pleasure of going to Astley village community centre to entertain 15 disabled children age 10-15yrs with a wide range of disabilities. They loved painting the mugs I provided them with and couldn’t wait to put their names on. I returned mid lunch time to the studio, unloaded the car and caught up with the activities there. We had a gentle stream of customers all day and the Mosaic group painted animal money boxes after lunch then added decorations to their wooden people before going home.

At this point I finished the day by doing a clay imprint for an Auntie who was having this done as a christening gift for her baby nephew.

I dashed off to makro for refreshment supplies and then went to a women in business network event at haigton manor.

Tuesday we were closed so after a short lie in I went off to the Coppice school in Bamber Bridge and helped entertain a group of children on a summer school with pottery painting. They made beautiful animal money boxes.  I unloaded the pottery back at Fired 4 U, home for lunch and back to Fired 4 U to welcome a group of 38 from Burnley, made up of mums, dads and children. Great afternoon. As I seemed to have battled with a strange queasy stomach all day– a bug is going around! I skipped a network event at Leyland having decided I needed to look after myself.

Wednesday saw us with the Mosaic group again this time decorating fabric sand filled lizards with only a couple of other tables booked – imagine my surprise when we had all tables full by 10.20am! And it stayed like that on and off all day. At that point we had crafts, clay , copper enamelling and pottery painting all on the go at the same time. A great feeling watching all the customers engrossed in their pieces.  In the afternoon we also had a birthday party doing the African package. In the evening  at our Adults night I had a regular customer who is deaf coming to paint a Christmas gift.  We had great fun – my signing is not great but we get on fine.

Thursday was our second summer school session with deco patch technique on papier mache horses followed by painting a horse or gecko trinket box. Mel looked after this whilst I worked with Mosaic and between us we looked after other customers – a nice steady day on that front with tables nicely spaced on timings. Mosaic did lovely hanging windows and then bubble painted plates – hilarious fun. Had the luxury of sitting after work having my hair done at the same time! Bliss.

Friday with Mosaic we did mix and match crafts – dream catchers, pencil boxes and wood animals followed by painting pottery dishes. They all asked to do bubble painting again – can recommend this! I dipped out before Mosiac started at 11am leaving Mel in charge and delivered the pottery back to the Coppice school – grins all round! With a busy afternoon in the studio with lots of lovely customers.

Saturday I took the day off properly and stopped! Did you hear the groans as my body stopped on the settee?

 Then Sunday up and out for 7.30am putting up direction signs for the charity 10k at Walton Park for the Medicine and Chernobyl Ribble valley group . Then I handed out marshalling points to the 32 marshals and explained roles and handed out numbers to the runners. Then dashed to work and opened up for 11.30am. I designed and made some clay coasters for a blog I had been asked to do for a craft blog. You’ll here about it when it goes live later this month. Just a couple of painters and a few collections on this day (the Astley village community centre group collected their pottery. So delighted at the results as they hadn’t done this before), but it was nice to have  a quiet day at work to catch up, stock up the shelves and check over the week ahead for staffing and booking details and I made sure we had all the pottery and crafts we needed at the ready for another week at Fired 4 U

Wind in the Willows project at Altham St James’ school

One Monday early in July Mel and I set off and found our way to Altham St James C of E Primary School.

Prior to this exciting day I had sketched out a Wind in the Willows design onto 60 tiles to make a picture which is going to be mounted in the School entrance. Each tile was numbered so they could be put back together in the right order.    

 We started off with 37 Juniors divided into work groups to add detail to the more intricate areas surrounding the main Characters, Toad and his hall, Mole and his underground house, Ratty in his boat and river bank house and Badger looking from his burrow. The big Willow tree formed another group and the cheeky/naughty Weasels another. The children instantly drew added details onto the designs, talked about colours to use and how the tiles in their group would fir back together to make a continuous picture.

Here are the Juniors concentrating on the design session

After morning break we got down to the painting after a demo on how to use the special pottery paints. Great care was taken by these children painting the background and adding detail.

Badgers house in progress.    

After lunch we had the Infants in 3 groups; Reception, Year1 and Year 2. By this time I had put the picture back together so they could see what it looked like so far so the little ones understood what it was we were making.

 They were given the tiles with grass or river on so this lead to the discussion of who lived in the river which they could paint and what or who would you find on the grass. So traditionally pottery inspired creatures appeared; finger print pigs and sheep and caterpillars, sponged butterflies and ducks. A lion made a grand appearance quickly followed by a crocodile in the river…. Whilst we had the Wind in the Willows theme after the main characters and their surrounding areas were done we wanted the children to use their imagination and be creative. Who’s to say you can’t have a lion or a crocodile – we were about 100 years ago when the story was written!

The children were brilliant all day and really enjoyed themselves and the staff at the school were so supportive and were itching to have ago themselves.

On returning to the studio we let the tiles dry out and then added details such as river edge and outlines on items painted by the younger painters, just so they weren’t lost or missed in the backgrounds, that’s when we found the penguin apparently on holiday visiting the story! That’s part of my job to open up children’s and adults creative side and nurture it, looking at the finished result which was hard to part with on Tuesday when I delivered it back to school I think we succeeded.

Mr Peter Williams, the Head teacher, was delighted on the painting day and on Tuesday seeing the tiles separately and a few photos of the whole thing was thrilled at the result and cant wait to have the tiles put up on display.

Giggling mini potters and dancing giraffes!

Hi today was the last Mini  Potters session until 2nd September. The children had fun after playing together putting our jigsaw of the world together. This shows us where all the animals in the world live and today we wanted to know where Giraffes live. Our Mini Potters saw that Giraffes live with lions, hippopotamus and Elephants in the big country called Africa.

We had a story called Tall all about a baby monkey trying to be taller by standing on top of other animals until he was so high on the giraffe he fell off – thankfully his mummy was near by and caught him so he did not hurt himself! Phew

Then we made Dancing Giraffes. I was inspired by Maggie who has a craft blog see here at RedTedArt for Maggies version. We missed out the paints as we dont have that much drying time in the session and swopped paint for coloured paper and lots of glue. We had pre made the legs and neck and cut all the bits out for the Mums to be able to help the little ones assemble the giraffes. Once the giraffes were drying with clothes pegs to hold them together whilst they dried , the mini potters set to and painted a pottery giraffe which will be glazed and fired and be ready for collection next week.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: