Owls Well presents: Seaspiration/Dottieshop

The year end school holidays are upon us, and I have got a really great holiday activity to share with you!

The kids were recently inspired by a trip to the S.E.A. Aquarium and we were able to support their creative outpouring using a watercolour kit sent to us from Dottieshop.

Here’s a little video I made of our adventure:

I have tried teaching the kids to paint with watercolours in the past, but lacked the know how and experience, so I found the guidance from Dottieshop’s instructions extremely useful! As you can see from the video, even 2 year old Thumper was able to paint with watercolours and bring to life his unique vision.

I really liked this watercolour kit for kids because it combined several different creative techniques to achieve the final product: the kit teaches drawing using image transfer as well as wet-on-wet watercolour blending, and provides all the tools and equipment you’ll need to make some pretty pictures. Additionally, the whole kit comes in a neat little pouch which not only makes it easy to store away, but you could potentially bring it with you anywhere for a pop-up watercolour experience!

Afterwards, the kids wanted to know more about the life aquatic, so we headed over to Youtube to find more information. I’ve created a kid-friendly playlist of our favourite ocean-related educational videos that we found – hopefully they will inspire you and your kids too!

Dottieshop also holds watercolour and brush calligraphy workshops at Artify Studio! Her next few workshops will be Christmas themed, so why not bring the kids along and make your own holiday gifts! Her Christmas floral watercolour workshops are on 6 Dec 2017 at 7-10pm and 17 Dec 2017 at 3-6pm, and there’s also a special parent-child Under The Sea workshop on 20th Dec 2017 at 10am-12pm. You can sign up for them at Dottieshop’s event pages here.

If you’d like to try out Dottieshop’s art kits or get one as a gift, just click on the picture below.dottieshop-illustration-watercolour-calligraphy-kit.jpg

Visit the S.E.A. Aquarium here

Visit Dottieshop here

(By the way, here’s my previous review of the Dottieshop ‘Hello Spring’ watercolour kit)

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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!

 

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!

pottery-wheel-clay-ceramic-studio-asobi

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

Bonding over colouring pencils

School holidays started a few days early for Little E, but poor weather conditions have kept us all indoors during the morning when J is still in school.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t get a chance to really spend a lot of time alone with Little E in the recent months, as I am either tending to Thumper or helping J revise for his end-of-year tests. However, Little E has been a very supportive sister to her two brothers and just does her own thing, playing nicely by herself. Part of this is because of her own independent nature, but I often feel that she has learned to entertain herself out of necessity.

This morning, Thumper was feeling very tired, so I put him down for a nap early, which meant that I had some extra time. Instead of using this time to catch up on household paperwork, I decided to sit with Little E and do some colouring, which is one of her favourite activities.

I went online and printed out some colouring pages for us to colour together. I decided not to use the usual kids colouring pages that I normally find, but one of the ‘colouring for adults’ pages. Johanna Basford, who started off this adult colouring craze with her book, ‘Secret Garden’, has a few sample pages from her book available as a free printable so I printed those off. (If you like, you can scroll to the bottom of the page for the links).

I personally have never really enjoyed colouring, which I always viewed as a tedious school activity meant to train children to focus and to develop fine motor skills. However, sitting down and colouring with Little E for an hour was a very different experience altogether.

First of all, there is that sense of achievement as you fill a small area with a colour of your choosing. Additionally, as you focus on the simplicity of the action, which is to create something of beauty, it is incredibly relaxing.

One of my friends once told me that having a kid meant that she had an excuse to buy colouring books for herself. At the time, I remember laughing at her quirkiness, but as Little E and I worked on a colouring page together, I began to see how therapeutic it might be. I can now understand why there are colouring books for adults now!

Colouring-with-kids-adults-johanna-basford

Secondly, it was nice to be able to collaborate on a small art project with Little E and it was interesting to see how organic the collaboration became, especially when I didn’t try to dictate her actions or give her any advice or feedback other than ‘That’s really good! I like that!’.

We started out by colouring in separate corners of the page, but after a while, I began to notice how Little E liked to mix colours within a space, and she noticed how I liked to colour in small areas in one colour before changing colour pencils. We then started to copy each other’s style, but adding our own touch to it by varying the colour choices – Little E tended towards high-contrast colour-combinations, whilst I chose complementary colours. By the end of the hour, we were each colouring over the whole page filling in tiny portions that the other might have missed.
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Lastly, Little E didn’t stop singing, humming or chatting to me for the entire hour so I learned a lot about the things that she was learning in school, and about her friends in class. She told stories about the owl that we were colouring, and made up a little song about it, and was generally very entertaining. It was so much fun, I am looking forward to our next colouring session together!

In preparation for that, I’ve found a ton of great colouring resources online, which are free to print with permission from the artist! You can even print them out to make your own mini colouring activity book – so great for long plane journeys, waiting rooms and wedding dinners!

Free Printable Colouring Pages (featuring a large number of owl colouring pages of course) just click on the links to download and print:

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Enchanted Forest/Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford: Page 1-3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6

Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8

Steampunk Designs by Marty Noble: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

Words to Live By by Dawn Nicole Designs: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Bookmarks

Easy Peasy and Fun by Andrea Vucajnk: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5-6 Page 7 Page 8-9

Made by Joel: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7

Rachel Beyer: Page 1-3 Page 4

By the way, many of the independent artists who host free printable colouring pages on their websites are very dependant on views and clickthroughs in order to keep those pages free-to-download on their sites. If you have used and enjoyed any colouring pages from the links above, please do take some time to explore each independent artist’s main page by clicking on their names (underlined in bold).

I promise that you won’t be disappointed – I’ve taken great pains in to find artists who do beautiful work and who share many other family-friendly creative projects on their websites. Not only will you also find more free colouring pages on each site that I have not included in the links above, you’ll also be supporting a starving artist, whilst keeping the colouring pages free-to-download for everybody. That’s three good things for the low, low price of one click!

June Holiday Excursions: Masak-Masak 2015 Children’s Season at the National Museum of Singapore

Visiting the National Museum is always a real treat for our family, and I am continually impressed with the ever-increasing focus of our local museums on coming up with ways to reach out to kids. Every time we visit the museum, there is always something new and interesting going on!

Masak Masak 2015 at the national Museum of Singapore

Masak Masak 2015 at the National Museum of Singapore

Last week, we were invited to attend a special preview of Masak Masak 2015, part of the annual Children’s Season at the National Museum of Singapore, featuring 10 new installations from local and international artists. We spent the better part of the day exploring the various interactive exhibits, following the ‘Baby Block’s Day Out’ storybook guide that is specially designed to engage the children and get them to record their thoughts and observations about each exhibit.

We were also very privileged to be able to meet two of the artists, Mademoiselle Maurice (from France) and Crystal Wagner (from the USA) whose works are part of the Masak Masak 2015 showcase.

I was particularly fascinated by Mademoiselle Maurice’s explanation of the inspiration behind her work, “Spectrum of Paper” (2015) which is currently hanging from the ceiling of the museum’s front atrium. This colourful origami suspension is inspired by the Japanese legend that promises to grant the wish of anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes, and the various colours and paper creatures represent the multicultural nature of Singaporeans all blending together to form a harmonious rainbow.

Spectrum of Paper by Mademoiselle Maurice

J and Little E peruse their activity book whilst Mademoiselle Maurice talks about “Spectrum of Paper (2015)”

Mademoiselle Maurice also collaborated with our local TV star, Jeanette Aw, to produce another “Spectrum of Paper” origami wall installation based on Jeanette Aw’s book, “Sol’s World: Somebody to Love” (available for purchase (S$19) at the Museum shop). This installation is interactive in nature and visitors are encouraged to add their own origami creation to the wall.

Following 'Sol's Journey'

Following ‘Sol’s Journey’

Jeanette Aw also created two large wall murals, both of which are meant for children to scribble or etch on! Naturally, J and Little E took to this invitation with great gusto, scribbling and colouring to their hearts delight. You can see J in the picture above drawing butterflies to add to “Life’s Best Journey is with The One You Love” (Jeannette Aw, 2015), and below, Little E is colouring in some flowers on “Simple Pleasures in Life” (Jeanette Aw, 2015).

J and Little E were also completely mesmerised by the field of “Dancing Solar Flowers” (2004 – 2015), created by Alexandre Dang from France, and they enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in the huge crepe paper playscape, “Wanderlust” (2015) by Crystal Wagner from the USA, popping in and out of the various tunnels and holes like little meerkats.

Our favourite installations at Masak Masak 2015

Our favourite installations at Masak Masak 2015

My favourite exhibit by far has to be “Luma-City” (2015) by local industrial designers, Lim Kim and Alfred Lim. This is a playspace set up in a darkened room which has a special phosphorus coated flooring. Kids push giant toy vehicles around the floor which leave luminescent trails behind them, glowing vividly in their wake for a few moments before fading away. What I found particularly exciting was that each trail had a particular shape that is related to the type of vehicle being pushed around – for example, the train left behind train tracks, whilst the boat left behind waves of water. Very cool!

There are also special workshops and performances going on every weekend throughout the month of June (dates and details at the end of this post 1). We were very fortunate to be able to bag a space in an art therapy workshop run by The Red Pencil, a charity that uses art therapy to help children and families stricken by long term illness, disability or trauma.

Joint Picture Joins Hearts

Joint Picture Joins Hearts: An Art Therapy Workshop by The Red Pencil

During the workshop, we were encouraged to talk to each other about our playtime experiences and paint a picture together as a family whilst using positive feedback to show how we value and respect each other as individuals.

Afterwards, the kids and I headed outside to play on the inflatable bouncy playgrounds on the front lawn of the museum, but these were unfortunately closed for the afternoon (the playgrounds are only open from 10am-12pm and 4-6pm on weekends), so we contented ourselves with gelato from Momolato (10-6pm every weekend until 28th June) in a special blue vanilla flavour topped with honeyed popcorn! Delicious!

Sitting on MÙTÓU (Little Ong, fFurious) with the inflatable playground based on the iconic Dragon Playground of Toa Payoh in the background

Enjoying gelato whilst sitting on MÙTÓU (by Little Ong, fFurious) with the inflatable playground based on the iconic Dragon Playground of Toa Payoh in the background

By the way, I’ve put together a little video guide on how to maximise your visit to the museum featuring some of our favourite exhibits and activities! Enjoy!

Masak Masak 2015 runs from 30 May 2015 to 10 August 2015 from 10am – 6pm at the National Museum of Singapore. Admission is free!


1. Wayang Kulit Puppetry Performance by Jeremy Hiah: 13 & 14 June, 20 & 21 June, 8 & 9 August at 2:30pm (Admission is free)

Shadow Puppetry Workshop: 13, 20, 27th June from 1030 – 1200h (Tickets are $20 for one parent-child pair and are available from SISTIC)