Owls Well presents: Living Clay/Studio Asobi

So, during the June school holidays this year, I wrote about our experience at a pottery workshop with Studio Asobi. Well, our pieces have been glazed and fired by Huiwen from Studio Asobi, and they are so much prettier than we ever expected!

Here’s a little video I made of our time at the pottery wheel – and the results of our labour!

Here are some thing I learned about the glazing and firing process:

  1. Applying the glaze will add layers to your final piece, so the walls of your clay piece will appear much thicker than your original creation, and any scratches and marks made on the surface will be more shallow.
  2. The firing process dries the clay out as it hardens, and the final product will be at least one-third smaller in size. So if you want to make a dainty teacup, your original creation may have to be as big as a mug!
  3. Be brave about experimenting with glazes! As you can see from the video, different glaze combinations can have startlingly different results. I regret not taking a bigger risk with my glaze selections…but now I know that I can be braver next time around!

Studio Asobi welcomes back participants of previous workshops with a markedly reduced fee and as always, 20% of their profits are donated to The Mercy Centre’s Trolley Ministry for Singapore’s homeless population. I would love to work with them again!

 

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Living Clay: A pottery workshop with Studio Asobi

Last weekend, we joined a clay workshop with Studio Asobi, a local pottery studio run by ceramic artists, Huiwen and Kenneth.

I had been wanting to attend one of their clay workshops for a very long time, ever since some of my friends showed me some cups and bowls that their kids had made under the couple’s tutelage last year. Each piece was entirely unique to the child who made it, and with the process of glazing and firing, had been turned into beautiful and useful works of art. To me, this meant that Huiwen and Kenneth were able to engage each student individually, and guide them in bringing their imagination to life.

This is why when my own extended family expressed an interest in attending a holiday workshop together, I was very quick to volunteer to recommend and organise a session with Studio Asobi!

We were a little late arriving that home studio in Hougang, but we were just in time to hear about how Huiwen – who had no artistic training – had taken a sabbatical from her corporate job to explore Japanese ceramics at a year-long stay-in programme in the old pottery town of Taijimi. After her return, she decided to pursue pottery-making full-time, and eventually, her husband Kenneth, gave up his career in architecture to devote his time to ceramic sculpture. Together, their works are seen all over the world, from local ceramic installations to Belgian pottery expos to Australian restaurants. They also use their art to benefit social causes that work with poor and needy, as well as pledging 20% of all their profits to support the Mercy Centre’s Trolley Ministry, which works with the homeless in Singapore.

Afterwards, Kenneth and Huiwen showed us the electric kilns in the house, and demonstrated how we start off shaping and moulding the clay using our hands. We were then each given equally sized clay balls, as well as some tools and sat down to start working.

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Beginning to shape each ball of clay

As each of us slowly worked our clay, Huiwen went round and checked our work, advising us on how to smooth out cracks and even out surfaces, showing us how to use the different tools available to make patterns and create textures.

We also had a chance to have a quick tutorial on the pottery wheel. Kenneth gave us a quick demonstration and some pointers on how to use the wheel, and then he guided each of us as we tried our hand at throwing a simple ceramic cup.

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Kenneth of Studio Asobi showing us how to use the pottery wheel

Both J and Little E seemed to really enjoy using the wheel, but it was much more difficult that Kenneth made it seem.

When it was my turn, I could feel the clay moving under my hands as if it were alive. Slowly, I shaped the clay into a little saucer.

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Debs G attempts to throw a ceramic cup on the pottery wheel

It all seemed to be going very well, until a sound from inside the house broke my concentration and I looked up for a split second, losing control of the clay and turning it back into a formless lump!

Oh well!

The Barn Owl was able to manage the clay quite well and with his delicate touch, was even able to get the walls of the little cup to be thin and even. It was amazing to watch him, as I could see on the Barn Owl’s face that a serene peacefulness settled on him whilst he was shaping the clay. It is unsurprising that working with pottery is can be very therapeutic!

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The Barn Owl reaching a meditative state and making a tiny dish

After giving the potters wheel a go, all of us went back to put the final touches on our little clay creations. Huiwen and Kenneth showed us how to add little decorations, handles or feet to the outside of our handiwork. We then etched a symbol or initial on the bottom of our pieces so that they could be easily identified.

Then it was time to decide on the glaze or glaze combination would look the best on our works – Huiwen would apply the glazes for us once the clay dried fully before firing them in the electric kilns (you can see the kilns in the picture below).

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With Huiwen of Studio Asobi

In the end, Little E made a mug, J fashioned a soup bowl, the Barn Owl moulded a bud vase and I made a dish. It is so amazing the number of different objects that we each made out of the same lumps of clay!

I can hardly wait to see how our little clay pots and cups will turn out in three week’s time!

(Update: Check out our finished ceramics here!)

For more information about Studio Asobi click here

For more information about family, group or corporate workshops with Studio Asobi click here

Kid’s Art Jamming at My Art Studio

The Learning Palette at My Art Studio

The Learning Palette at My Art Studio

Earlier this month, J and Little E were invited to a trial lesson at My Art Studio, a private art school that aims to enhance early childhood development and learning through creative expression and discovery.

My Art Studio was started by a group of Singaporean parents who were looking for a way to encourage their own children to be imaginative and innovative through the exploration of various artistic techniques and materials. The course teaches children toappreciate visual art (and maybe a little art history too!) and to be confident in their own ability to express themselves through craftwork, drawing and painting.  The Learning Palette, which is My Art Studio’s inhouse programme, is aimed at children from 3-12 years of age, with different levels matched according to each child’s age and ability.

This means that the work produced by the children during class at My Art Studio is 100% their own effort, which is something that is very important to me.

I never expect my children’s artwork to look perfect – what matters to me is that the work is entirely their own.  Some of my friends who have sent their kids to art classes have reported that the children return home with incredible, beautiful pieces of art, but when given the same tools and asked to create another picture, they are unable to do so. To me, this means that the child has not learned to create art independently and to be inventive – but only how to copy. This is why I appreciate art schools like My Art Studio that firmly believe that the process of creative discovery, interpretation and execution is more important than the outcome.

Drafting a self portrait

Drafting a self portrait

During the art lesson, the children present were divided into two levels – INTROductory (3-5 years) and FUNdamental (5-8 years). They were then given a short briefing on single-line portraits in the style of Pablo Picasso. Afterwards, each child was given paper to draft a few very quick sketches of themselves from memory and using only a single unbroken line. This gave the children the opportunity to reflect on their sketches and try to improve their own work with each subsequent drawing.

The art instructors, all qualified professionals in design and art, then floated around the room, either demonstrating the technique again on a separate piece of paper, or giving verbal instructions. I noticed that any hand-holding that occurred was only for the tots around Little E’s age – and this was mostly to correct their pencil grip!

Outlining the sketch on canvas

Outlining the sketch on canvas

After making a few rough sketches on paper, the final image was transferred onto canvas that had first been primed with gesso – clearly some very high quality materials are given to the children to work with –  then, a black marker was used to outline the sketch.

The younger children in Little E’s group were given tempera paints to work with, which are water-based paints that are non-toxic. This is in keeping with the fundamentals of the INTROductory programme for preschoolers, which only uses safe and non-toxic materials. The bigger kids in the FUNdamental group (for 5-8 year olds) used acrylic paints instead, which have a bolder colour.

Filling in the painting

Filling in the painting

J and Little E were really absorbed in their work, quietly and conscientiously focused on their own paintings. The teachers were very good at guiding and encouraging each child in such a way that none of the children felt obliged to look over their shoulder at someone else’s work and compare it to their own. What a wonderful way to encourage individuality in self-expression!

It's all about the environment

It’s all about the environment

My Art Studio encourages a multidisciplinary learning programme and during their lessons.  Children will also explore concepts in math, science, music, nature, language and literacy, all cleverly hidden within a fun environment. At the end of the lesson, J seemed to have some idea of complementary and contrasting colours, which is definitely something that he did not consider before. I’ve also noticed that he has started drafting his ideas out onto scrap paper before deciding on a final image! Little E has also started identifying different shapes that can be added together to make a complete picture, which is a technique that she definitely picked up during the lesson.

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

There was also plenty of opportunity within the class for the children to interact with each other and the room was filled with friendly chatter. They were each encouraged to appraise each other’s paintings in a positive manner and spend a few minutes in a show-and-tell. Even the very shy children had warmed up by the end of the lesson, and were happily talking with the instructors about their works!

Picasso-inspired Single Line Self Portraits

Picasso-inspired Single Line Self Portraits

Here are my kids with their finished portraits! Not bad, huh? I’m impressed!

Oh, and here’s another thing about My Art Studio that impressed me – this private art school is registered with the MOE and not only offers art classes to preschools and primary schools (as part of the school’s art programme – not as an extracurricular enrichment class), but are also open to providing art therapy sessions and working together with organisations that hope to bring joy to children and young people from challenging backgrounds!

The studio also holds art parties, modular art classes for adults, teacher training workshops and corporate events both onsite at their studio in Serangoon Gardens as well as elsewhere. I am personally looking forward to attending a Grown-Up art-jamming session with them in the future!

You can find out more about My Art Studio at their website or Facebook Page.

My Art Studio (Serangoon Gardens): 45 Burghley Drive, #01-13, Burghley Lifestyle Hub, S(559022)

Tel:+65 67373760

Email: info@myartstudio.sg

Peekaboo! We see you!

Peekaboo! We see you!