Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Oh Baby!

When my eldest godson Kyle was born 5 years ago, I looked for an appropriate baby gift to celebrate his arrival. His Mum, my close friend Sarah, said people had generously given her so many toys and baby clothes she didn’t need to buy any, so I tried to think of something else. I think handmade gifts are special, I like to give people things I have given my time to make for them (and I love getting unique handmade gifts in return) but I didn’t know how to crochet a baby blanket or papier maché a bottle steriliser..

I remembered my cousin Richard having a birth plate when he was born 26 years ago – a plate decorated with a baby-themed picture and showing the name, time/date of birth and birth weight. So I found out about ceramic painting, learned some techniques, got some materials and had a go. I was quite pleased with the outcome and gave the finished plate to Sarah, who admired it and put it up on the wall in the nursery. I started to get a orders from people who’d been to meet the new baby and seen it on the wall. Then people who’d seen those new plates started ordering them and word of mouth spread. By the time Kyle’s little brother Finn was born and also given a plate, my technique was much improved.

I found that some people preferred paintings to plates so tried out some little watercolours of illuminated initials. The initials incorporate items beginning with the same letter as babies names – a juggling Jester for Jack, pretty insects and irises for Isabella etc.

I’ve done squillions of orders for birth plates over the last five years and also adapted them for christenings and weddings. They’re fun to do, especially the children’s ones, Noah’s Ark being my favourite. I noticed a trend for different spellings of names and more unusual names, so also started producing different kinds of personalised gifts, such as small canvases, moneyboxes, baby’s first Christmas tree decorations and eggcups with names on (which come with a felt egg-cosy).

I also noticed that you could only buy Mum/Mummy/Mother items in the shops though many people in the North (where I am based) call their mothers Mam/Mammy so I added this as an option with a series of cups/mugs for the parents and grandparents I tried out, with ‘Freya’s Mammy’ or ‘Ona’s Granda’ or ‘Finn’s Godmother’ etc on. I like that with something personalised and handmade specifically for you, you can have exactly what you want.

Have a gander at the photos and tell me what you think. Or even better, place an order! email: msmcp@hotmail.co.uk.