I really struggle to do something for Valentine’s Day. Actually I struggle with all the gift-giving holidays, mainly because I get so frustrated with the idea of buying impractical gifts. I mean, my husband actually hasn’t much use for the beautiful wooden eagle on our mantlepiece that I got him in our first year of dating, and my father never did use the oh-so-handy Key Hanger that I bought him. So yes, I suck at buying presents, particularly for the men in my life.
The women I know are easier. They like chocolate and wine, so I can’t go wrong.
So with that in mind, it’s really no wonder I gravitated towards Paint Your Own Pottery. I was only about 10 years old the first time I did it, and it was in a lovely little studio in the USA. I still have the heart-shaped bowl I did and the utensil holder my sister painted is used in our shop to hold our enormous collection of pens (why do we have so many pens?!).
Who would have thought there was such a perfect way to make handmade gifts? For so long I had been under the impression that something like a hand-painted vase or platter was something you bought from a ‘real’ artist or you trained to become a professional potter and made them up on your potter’s wheel whilst wearing your fashionably messy smock and headband. But it turns out, everyone can be an artist, and that’s something I LOVE. After all, in my eyes I’m not an artist, or not a very good one. My mother taught me a particular talent; creativity, and that has been the seed of far nicer projects than my ‘artistic’ ones.
The first piece of pottery I painted for someone other than myself was not all that impressive. But they knew that I had put time into it, that it was one-of-a-kind, and it was painted to suit their taste. It was well received and still sits in pride of place in that person’s home. In my house there are a number of pottery pieces painted at Art & Mór in my cupboards; mugs, plates, bowls. But my favourite is probably a little handmade pot that I use to keep my earrings in. My little sister made it, and whilst it’s by no means made by a Master potter, to me it is absolutely beautiful. It is unique, and it was made just for me.
Isn’t that what we look for in a gift? Something so perfectly suited to the person that you just HAVE to get it. But in this day and age that’s getting harder and harder, most people are quick to buy whatever they need (yes, I’m talking about you, Dad, the most IMPOSSIBLE person in the world to buy for) or you end up buying consumables because they’re well-received.
So today I am celebrating the things that don’t cost a fortune and that anyone can make or paint. Need some ideas? Here’s my top 10, pieces that have actually been painted in our studio as presents for others.
10. I saved the best till last, as it's a present I actually received only a year or two before opening Art & Mór. It was a wedding gift from my best friend and her husband. At the time she was working in Giddy Studios in Dublin and they painted this together. It's perfect. It's such a mad mash-up of two totally different things, which suits my husband and I so well! (I'm the dragon fan, he's the car fanatic!)