Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Beginnings

Becoming a mom is a life-changing event in innumerable ways. Through giving birth and raising a child, often a woman rediscovers who she is and what matters to her!

 With new beginnings come new opportunities. I am grateful that my daughter’s birth started me on the path of becoming a childbirth educator, which I absolutely love and am passionate about. However, before my pregnancy, I never would have considered it!

This week, I met a remarkable lady who had a somewhat similar discovery. Michelle Hoyles was living near Portland when her first son was born. A friend gave her a gift certificate, as a shower gift, for a custom artwork of her baby’s handprint and footprint. After her son was born, Michelle had the artwork made and it become a cherished piece of their family history.

Fast forward a few years. Michelle, now living in the Salt Lake area, had a second son. She wanted to have another piece of artwork made, this time with her second baby’s prints, so she could display them together. Michelle began looking for an artist to do the impression for her. However, she was frustrated in her search and couldn’t find anyone who offered the product she was looking for.

As a former elementary school teacher with an art minor, Michelle saw this void as an opportunity. She decided to go back to Portland to train in this art method. When she came back, she continued to develop her technique and has since opened her own business, Impressions Clay Prints.

I was fortunate enough to visit Michelle’s home and studio and see her in action. Her work is beautiful. She explained a bit about the process. First, she rolls out clay. This clay, she informed me, is totally safe and non-toxic, meaning that even preemie babies can have their impressions done. (What a keepsake that would be for those parents!)

Then, she masterfully takes the child’s prints (and if she could get a good print off my squirmy one-year-old, you know she has skill!). That’s all that’s required of you- just a few minutes.

The impression then gets placed in the kiln. After that, it is hand-painted and glazed.

The process of hand-painting just the actual handprint or footprint (or paw-print) is what really makes the piece special. It highlights every line and really makes the piece attractive. Some other businesses (or do-it-yourself kits) will do a handprint or footprint, but they glaze the entire thing, so the print isn’t visible from far away. Also, the process Michelle uses will create a lasting keepsake, instead of a piece that will crumble away over time, like plaster does.

To finish it off, Michelle paints the child’s (or animal’s) name and age, and adds a beautiful ribbon.

I love the idea of clay impressions, because it is a unique keepsake that both you and the child will treasure as time goes on. (And, unlike pictures, you don’t have to stress about your baby’s hairstyle or expression…or your remaining baby weight!).

Some of the options in creating your artwork- size, color, etc.
Cute little one-of-a-kind ornament!

Visiting with Michelle was such a good reminder to me that motherhood is something to be treasured. We should treasure these moments, because before we know it, the little tiny baby we adored is a toddler…or teenager! Hopefully, in the midst of fully appreciating our children, motherhood will allow each of us the opportunity to do a bit of rediscovery and appreciate our passions and talents!

How do you capture memories with your children? Photos, Artwork, Videos?

What have you discovered about yourself since becoming a mother? 

P.S. To find out more about Michelle's work, visit her website at You can schedule an appointment for you or plan a group event (parties, preschools, etc.). She also offers gift certificates!

***GIVEAWAY! Michelle is giving away a $45 gift certificate to one lucky reader (use for yourself or give to someone as a wonderful gift!)

To enter, you must do these three simple things:

1) "Like" Birth Utah on Facebook (if you haven't already!)
2) "Like" Impressions Clay Prints on Facebook (if you haven't already)
3) Comment on this post, here on the blog, answering one (or both) of these questions above (in bold).
-Make sure you put your name, as it is on Facebook, when you comment on the blog.
-To comment, click at the bottom of the entry where it says "# comments" and it will open a comment box for you.

One entry per person! Enter now. Winner will be chosen on Wed, Dec. 21 (in time for Christmas!)