By ANNA CATE LITTLE
Drive through any Homewood neighborhood and you’re sure to spot a blue or pink bow affixed to a mailbox. On March 20, a pink bow appeared at the home of Cathleen and Jason Crunk, Edgewood parents who welcomed their second baby girl on the first day of spring. Now, Birmingham parents have a chance to create a keepsake for their child’s birth that will last long beyond the mailbox bow.
Crunk and Forest Park mom Emily Heide have recently collaborated to launch a charming new business. “Pat-A-Cakes Keepsakes” are custom ceramic impressions of a child’s hands and feet, lovingly fired, painted and hung with ribbon—to create a wonderful memory of those tots who seem to grow up way too fast. In a city where births are so prevalent, these “cakes” make the perfect gift or memento for parents, grandparents or anyone who treasures those precious fingers and toes.
“Emily approached me with the idea, and it immediately sparked my interest,” Crunk said. “I have always loved working with children and saw it as a great opportunity to do something completely different and out of my element, but fun!” The opportunity came when Crunk was planning to transition from full-time to part-time employment as a speech language pathologist at Children’s Hospital, so the additional income, as well as a job that wouldn’t take away from time with her kids, was ideal.
Crunk and Heide began by purchasing an instructional video and a kiln, among other things, and set up shop in a studio behind Heide’s home. Currently they host two events per month where customers can bring their kids to make the clay impressions, and prices range from $35 to $65. The shows are held in homes or retail locations, or even schools and daycares. They also plan to participate in at least two big events a year, including the Junior League of Birmingham’s Market in November.
“We usually take about 10 to 15 orders per show, and orders take four to six weeks to process,” said Heide, who explained the exhaustive process of drying, firing, painting, glazing, firing again and finally packaging.
One thing is certain: every impression is delicately brought to life by a routine that Crunk and Heide seem to have mastered. “It has been a great experience so far,” Crunk said. “And I love how flexible it is. I am able to work on the cakes during naptime and in the evenings so that I still have time to spend with my family and soak up every minute with my little ones.”
Pat-A-Cakes make for an original baby-shower gift (in the form of a gift certificate to the expecting parents), Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts, Christmas presents or ornaments. “It’s a different kind of gift, something they’ll keep forever,” Heide said. “And the price range is similar to the price of a nice outfit.”
Or, parents can simply order the impressions as a decorative keepsake for their own homes. “Our hope is that people will want to come back every few years and build a series of impressions,” Heide said. “We think it will be neat to document their kids’ growth over the years, kind of like a growth chart.”
To find out how to participate in an upcoming Pat-A-Cakes Keepsakes event, visit www.pat-a-cakeskeepsakes.com. They are holding shows May 6, 2-4 p.m. at Swaddle and May 7, 10 a.m.-12p.m. at Oodles of Ribbon.