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It's Birthday Season again, and thanks to some very lovely friends, my daughter has been enjoying playing with lots of new things. One of her favourite gifts so far has been this "Paint a Tea Set". As the name would suggest this Galt boxed set contains all you need to decorate your own tea set, there are 4 saucers, 4 cups, a teapot, milk jug and sugar pot with a lid. There are 12 different small paint pots in a good variety of bright colours supplied and also a good quality paint brush - the bristles are hair as opposed to cheap plastic. The set is made of shiny finished white porcelain and comes packaged in a protective blister pack. It's a pretty straightforward item, there are clear instructions, but your child can get going on it straight away, though do be advised that once finished if you want the paint to be permanent it needs to dry for a week. When we did this I was pleasantly pleased by how good the results were. The set itself if very cute in a classical way, but I did wonder if the paints would adhere properly - once opened they smelled quite strong, a little like nail varnish, I've no idea what kind of paints they are, the box says "ceramic paints", and they did seem to be actually designed to do the job in hand rather than the bog-standard poster paints that seem to be put in lesser sets. They dry to a nice shiny finish that makes the finished items look glazed. A nice touch was that the little plastic pots the paints came in were easily opened by pushing a clip together, I've wrestled to open little pots in other sets we have had. I think most children would need a little supervision using this item; my daughter is 4 (just), so I did sit with her whilst she did it to help her rinse the brush in between colours as the instructions advised, but did try and let her have free design rein. An older child could conceivably obtain results like the ones on the box, and though my daughter's efforts weren't quite as picture perfect she was pleased with what she achieved, which was a little more abstract but made good use of all the colours. She was able to add layers to her creations, the paint was not too runny and was fairly easily applied and a good quantity is supplied, more than you probably need to decorate the set. Once made the set did try to touch dry quite quickly, you can wash off any errors as you go if you so wish. We did find that the paint came off hands fairly easily, but were careful not to get any anywhere else, the instructions do say to wash any that goes on clothes at once and in cold water. After she had washed her hands carefully we did find that the paint stuck a little to nails, I've no idea why this is, but it came off easily with nail polish remover (disclaimer not advised by the manufacturer but it seemed to work). The paints do smell quite strong whilst drying, but are fine once dry, I would suggest using the plastic base provided to put the items on whilst drying as otherwise the paint does stick to paper, as we found out the hard way. I don't know how much my friend paid, but at the £5-7 that this set seems to retail for, I am very tempted to buy more as I think this is a really fantastic gift. I think it would be best for the 4-8 market, and though not too pink is most likely to appeal to girls. I like the fact that the tea set can be played with after use - with due care clearly as it is porcelain. The cups and saucers are just the right size for teddy tea parties, the cups being about 3cm tall and fairly robust, as long as they are not dropped on a hard surface. I think too that everything in this kit is of good quality. This I would say, having quite a lot of experience in craft kits by now- my kids being craft-inclined -makes a pleasant change. I also like the fact that this set encourages creativity, it's not too prescriptive and you could paint it any way you wanted. My daughter is really enjoying playing with her set and chuffed that it's one that she "made" Overall a great item that I highly recommend!
My daughter received this as a present for her fourth birthday back in December from a friend of mine who always buys particularly fab pressies. Due to the craziness that followed with Christmas and the huge number of presents and toys that made there way into our small house, this set got put away in a cupboard and forgotten about. After the appeal and novelty of the new toys have worn off and they know longer hold the same appeal, my eldest always appeals to me that she wants to make something and do arty crafty stuff. One quiet afternoon, my little one was having an afternoon nap and I stumbled across this Galt Paint a Tea Set in the back of our cupboard. We seemed to have a window of peaceful opportunity so I decided that we'd give this a go. I hadn't really taken all that much notice of the gift when she had received it but when I opened the box I was really impressed. Inside the sturdy box contained a small white china tea set, consisting of a tea pot with lid, four cups and saucers, a juct and another container. It was really sweet and also reassuring chunky and sturdy. There was also a set of paints. Now on the box it shows the tea set painted beautifully in bright colours with fab designs. Now I didn't have great expectations I was just hoping that it wouldn't end all brown like so many of our previous artistic efforts seem to. After reading the instructions, it became apparent that we would need to paint the tea set in stages. First we would need to paint the pieces the base coat colours we chose and then we would have to leave it to dry for a day or so before adding our patterns and pictures. This was an added bonus for me, as it meant two days of entertainment and it would be done and dusted in one sitting. We set ourselves on the table with plenty of newspaper and set about painting the teaset. My daughter was in her absolute element. She chose which colour she wanted to use for each cup etc and happily painted away. She was in her absolute element and I was really impressed by how bright and vivid the colour of the paints were and how well they applied to the china. She applied as much as she could to each piece and until she got bored of that colour and then I would just finish it off for her. This activity held her attention really well and I think we were probably painting together for about 90 minutes. I also found it quite enjoyable and it was certainly a great activity to do together as she happily chatted away to me while we painted. Once it was all done, we put it to one side to dry and actually didn't get back to it for a couple of weeks. This was where the fun really began, we attempted to paint some designs and patterns on the tea set. Now while our attempt didn't quite match up to the one shown on the box, when finished we were left with a really bright colourful and cheerful looking tea set that my daughter was incredibly proud of and happy with. The only downside to this fabulous toy is that we now have a tea set that my daughter is very attached to, but nothing to put it in for storage. As a result, it is sitting on the side in the kitchen as if I just give it to her lose, i know it will get broken within days and the tears that will follow will be plentiful. I will keep my eyes open for something suitable and then I'm sure she will have hours of fun with her teddies and her own special tea set. This is a really fab activity toy and I would definately reccommend it to buy as a present. I believe it costs between £6-£9 for this set depending on the retailer.
Recently, for my younger daughter's fifth birthday, she received a lovely craft set which was a whole set of ceramic cups, saucers, teapot and sugar bowls to design and paint in whichever way she wished. It is made by Galt and I am very impressed by both the quality and the thoughtfulness that has been put into this set. There are thirteen pieces to paint in total in this set. These are four miniature cups, four saucers, a teapot and lid, a sugar bowl with lid and a milk jug. These are all packaged well in plastic moulding so that there is no chance of any breakage before you open it. Also the box has a small plastic carry handle which my daughter likes to use and it's ideal if they are taking the kit to use in other places. Also you could choose to keep all the pieces in the plastic packaging when you have finished designing and painting, so that everything is in one place ready to take the tea set out and play with it. The set also comes with twelve small paint pots with a range of colours. I was quite impressed with this as most of the art sets my daughters receive tend to have only half this number of paints with just the basic colours. There is definitely more choice and variety with this set. Also, as many parents will know, these tiny paint pots tend to be very fiddly and tricky to open - virtually impossible for a small child to open. This is definitely not the case with these paints as they have a very nifty flick mechanism that makes them much easier to open and to close again afterwards. After I showed my daughters how to do it, they do not need my help any more. On the front of the box, the set is shown already painted with lots of lovely colourful designs. This is a nice guide for children who might want some ideas or something to copy, but my daughters - being the individuals that they are - have just gone completely for their own designs. And I have to say that I have never seen a more colourful patterned tea set ever! Also, because there are so many different pieces to paint, it is a great kit to do with a sister or a friend. Many kits that we see just have a single object to paint which makes it a much more solitary activity. The set does come with instructions in a variety of languages but you could say that these are not really necessary as it is very obvious what you need to do. However it does come with a number of handy hints such as suggesting that the child paints a background colour and leaves that to dry before attempting to paint the pattern. There is also the recommendation that you have a damp cloth nearby in case you make a mistake and need to wipe it off quickly. Also it tells you that once the paint has been left to dry for one week it becomes permanent. There are nine handy hints in all and these are definitely worth reading. It is suggested that this set should be for decorative purposes only (to keep it in the best condition) but where's the fun in that? I actually think that this kit is better than others is because your children are making things that they can actually use afterwards - and most small children love role playing tea parties etc. My daughters definitely do! The price does seem to vary greatly for this kit so it is definitely worth shopping around. I have noticed though that currently (March 2010) that it is being sold on the John Lewis website for only £6.95 which seems to be very good value.