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!

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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

Art & Design for Kids – Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems

Last week, we were invited to attend Family Friday at the ArtScience Museum‘s latest exhibition, Van Cleef & Arpels : The Art and Science of Gems. This was our first visit to the ArtScience Museum, and I am happy to report that the we had a wonderful time there!

This unique exhibition combines over 450 gorgeous pieces of jewellery from the Van Cleef & Arpels collection alongside over 250 rare gems and minerals from the Collection of the French National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition aims to showcase the natural processes involved in the geological formation of minerals and gemstones as well as the fine craftsmanship that changes these precious materials into wearable works of art.

I was really surprised at how family-friendly this exhibition was! We spent the better part of the afternoon there, and I had to peel the children away at the end.

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The children were awed by the exquisite jewellery on display, oohing and ahhing at the sparkling, intricately designed pieces. The Bird Clip and Pendant pictured above was a particular favourite.  A custom order for an opera singer who wanted to commemorate the birth of her son, this single piece magically transforms so that it can be worn not only as a large brooch or hair clip, but also as a bird brooch with matching winged emerald earrings and a dangling yellow diamond pendant!

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Throughout the exhibit, one can trace the journey of a mineral from its formation to its inclusion in a piece of jewellery, as well as go behind the scenes to take a look at the various technical and conceptual processes behind jewellery innovation and design.

There were also several interactive exhibits where the kids could play with light boxes or touchscreen panels to see how abstract shapes and patterns can be used to create distinctive couture creations, or learn about the different materials making up each glittering accessory.

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The highlight of the visit for us was the Family Friday workshop, ‘A Day in the Life of a Mineralogist’, where the kids were treated to a hands-on demonstration that opened up the world of geology and mineralogy. As you can tell by J and Little E’s rapt expressions, they were thoroughly engaged and interested the whole time.

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The best part of the workshop was when the kids had a change to test the physical properties of a variety of minerals using special tools. It was a joy to see them work alongside the ArtScience Museum educators, who patiently guided them in making their own observations and discoveries.

When I spoke to the ArtScience Museum educators, I was surprised to find out that the museum workshops and activities are woefully under-subscribed and most of the attendees were adults! This is surprising to me since kids under 12 years old enter the museum for free on Family Fridays!

Furthermore, the workshops and activities held at the ArtScience Museum are all free for ticket holders and the educators are very good at engaging attendees of all ages.  I will definitely be planning my future visits around Family Fridays!

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After the workshop, J and Little E lingered around the various exhibits, filling up their activity books and fiddling with the interactive stations. I really liked the activity books, which were beautifully designed and printed and made a wonderful souvenir of our visit! Did I mention that they are also free?! Unbelievable!

The Art & Science of Gems exhibition is at the ArtScience Museum (6 Bayfront Avenue S018974) from now until 14 August 2016. Opening Hours are 10am – 7pm daily.

Family Fridays at the ArtScience Museum will continue throughout June and July 2016. Do check out the special guided tours from 3-4pm as well as the ‘Day in the Life of a Mineralogist’ workshops in June at 4:30-5:40pm and the ‘Make your own Soap Gems’ workshops in July at 4:30-5:30pm.

There’s a nominal entry fee with a reduced price for Singapore citizens and PRs, but if you go on Family Friday, it’s a really great deal because of ALL THE FREE STUFF – free entry for kids, free activity books, free workshops! So if you haven’t visited the ArtScience Museum yet, the June school holidays would be a good time to give it a whirl!

Update 2 June 2016: I just found out that Family Friday’s free entry for kids isn’t available during Singapore school holidays and public holidays. 

For more information about tickets click here

By the way, if you haven’t guessed yet, this exhibition is a great springboard for introducing your kids to earth sciences! Here are our recommendations for books that we found useful as an accompaniment to this excursion – just click on the pictures for more information:

Midweek Break: Chris Haughton is coming to town!

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As I said earlier this week, I am really stoked about the family-friendly events coming up over the next two weekends at the Singapore Writers Festival – and I am especially excited that Chris Haughton, author-illustrator of one of our favourite children’s books, A Bit Lost, will be in town and conducting workshops during the festival!

Chris Haughton is conducting a grand total of four workshops, and two of these are ticketed events aimed at families with children between 4-6 years and 7-9 years of age.

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It’s Chris Haughton! *Fan girl squeeeeeeeeeee*

The first workshop, Animation On A Phone, is for families with children ages 7-9 years old. During this workshop, Chris Haughton will go through some basic illustration steps and teach kids how to create a stop-motion animation creation with help from the Vine App and a smartphone. This event takes place on 31 Oct 2015 (Saturday) from 10am-1130am at the Learning Gallery in the Asian Civilisations Museum.

The second workshop, A Little Bit Lost, is aimed at children between 4-6 years old and is a hands-on handicraft workshop where Christ Haughton will guide kids in the art of illustration, using characters from his book, A Bit Lost. This parent-child event will be held on 1st Nov 2015 (Sunday) from 11am-12noon at the Learning Gallery in the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Tickets to both events are a trifling SGD$5 (cheap as free!) and are available through the Singapore Writers Festival website. They are selling out pretty fast, so be sure to book early!

A little special something for Owls Well Readers: Singapore Writers Festival is kindly sponsoring a giveaway of one pair of tickets to Animation on a Phone and one pair of tickets to A Little Bit Lost! Thanks guys!

To take part in this giveaway:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least three friends
  3. Comment below telling me which of the workshops you would like to attend . Don’t forget to tell me the name of your Facebook account that you used to share this giveaway and include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore address and will end at noon 29th October 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been emailed – thanks for playing!

Midweek Break: A Writer’s Workshop & A Book Giveaway!

If you saw our post on Peranakan culture earlier this week, you might remember that I mentioned the book Stacey goes to the Peranakan Museum‘ by Lianne Ong, which is part of an ongoing books series published in partnership with Singapore’s National Heritage Board.

Lianne Ong, the author of the Stacey & the Museums book series, is actually going to be doing a very special writer’s workshop aimed at kids aged 7-10 years old at the upcoming Singapore Writer’s Festival held at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

The workshop, Create A Stacey@ACM Adventure, will have kids exploring the galleries at the museum and coming up with their own Stacey story under Lianne’s guidance. Additionally, James Tan, the illustrator of the books, will be there to teach children how to draw Stacey and accompany their story with pictures.

I am a big fan of creative writing, so I think this workshop sounds like a whole load of fun and a great experience for kids. At $5 for a 90 min masterclass with a published children’s book author, it is a real bargain!

The workshop will take place on 8 November (Saturday) at 11:00am-12:30pm at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Tickets to the workshop and more information available here.

If you already own a Stacey book, you ought to bring it with you and I am sure both Lianne Ong and James Tan will oblige you with an autograph if you ask nicely.

And if you don’t own a Stacey book yet, well, here’s a Special Something for Owls Well Readers: Armour Publishing has very kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway of a copy of the book “Stacey Goes to the Peranakan Museum” to ONE lucky Owls Well Reader! Huzzah! Thank you, Armour Publishing!

To take part in this giveaway, just complete the following:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least three friends
  3. Visit my Peranakan Peregrination post and leave a comment there telling me about one thing that you know or appreciate about Peranakan culture! Don’t forget to tell me the name of your Facebook account that you used to share this giveaway and include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore address and will end on 10th October 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

P.S. If you still aren’t convinced of how great this book series is, check out my review of the first book in the Stacey & the Museums series here – we liked it so much, we made our own book trailer!

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed – Thanks for playing!

June Holiday Excursions 2015: Discover the lost world of dinosaurs at Plaza Singapura

Last Friday, we were very fortunate to be invited to the media preview of Dinosaurize Me! 2015, a collaboration between Plaza Singapura and the Science Centre Singapore, and it was SO much fun.

Dinosaurize Me! 2015 at Plaza Singapura

Dinosaurize Me! 2015, part of Plaza Singapura’s ‘Science in the Mall’ programme

It was incredible to see the Argentinosaurus (the largest sauropod fossil ever discovered) in all its glory, set up in the main atrium of Plaza Singapura and stretching right up to the 3rd level of the shopping centre!

We remember wandering about the feet of  the Argentinosaurus from its inaugural appearance at the Science Centre Singapore’s Titans of the Past exhibition last year, so it was a real treat to be able view this colossal skeleton from all angles just by going up and down the various levels of the shopping centre. It really puts the dinosaur’s enormous size into perspective!

Budding young palaeontologists will really enjoy digging for casts of dinosaur bones in the sandpit which is open to the public from 11am-8pm daily. I was really impressed to see that the dinosaur bones could also be put together to make a full skeleton!

J and Little E also took part in the various workshops at the Dino Fun Zone which will be also running daily until the 14th of June. For a nominal fee of $5, children can take part in these educational, hands-on activities and discover more about dinosaurs! J was intrigued by the Geological Timeline workshop whilst Little E got her hands very messy at the Fossil Casting workshop, making fossil casts using rubber moulds.

(By the way, if you’re interested in the Fossil Casting workshop, do be aware that it takes about an hour for the casts to dry out enough to be removed from the moulds – a good excuse to do a little bit of Great Singapore Sale shopping!)

Educational workshops ($5 each)

Educational workshops at the Dino Fun Zone – Fossil Making and Geological Timeline Workshops

My favourite workshop for kids was the Stop Motion workshop. During this half hour session, J and Little E coloured and cut out various dinosaurs and used a stop-motion mobile app to create their own little short video!

Stop Motion workshop ($5) at Dinosaurize Me!

J and Little E at the Stop Motion workshop

For this particular workshop, you need to have a smartphone or a tablet (with a camera) on hand. Being slightly technophobic, I don’t own either, but the very kind Science Centre rep who was running the workshop helped us out by using her iPhone (thanks, Cynthia!).

Here is J’s little video about a T-rex chasing some herbivores (everyone runs away when the volcano suddenly erupts).

Little E’s video is much more cuddly – it’s about how a Daddy triceratops chases away a T-Rex who is menacing his family (the Daddy triceratops even bites the T-rex in the ankle!)

There are also live science shows taking place during the weekends at 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm. During the show, kids will get to find out more about how scientists deduce the behaviour of dinosaurs from observing their fossilised remains. Unfortunately, due to having to feed little Thumper, we missed the science show preview – so I guess we will have to return to Plaza Singapura this weekend and try to catch it then!

Dinosaurize Me! 2015 will be on at Plaza Singapura Shopping Centre daily from 11am – 8pm, until the 14th of June. Entry to the Exhibition and the weekend live Science shows are free. The daily workshops at the Dino Fun Zone run at half an hour slots and are priced at $5 per entry.