One of the many things that amazes us about clay is the fact that it just naturally lends itself to being either symmetrical and refined (if formed on an electric wheel); or organic and rough (if formed by hand-pinching). Or intricate and complex (when coiled and carved). Or anything.
And add to that the fact that clay is found everywhere on this Earth, trampled by our feet every single day, and generally regarded as having little intrinsic value - until it is shaped by the hands of a potter.
Isn't this such a poignant metaphor for our human existence? 8 billion of us on this planet. Some treated as worthless, others exalted. Some feeling worthless, others exalting themselves. But every one of us so equally unique, complex, and wonderfully made.
How do we see ourselves? How do we see those around us? And what are we making of this brief moment of life on Earth that we have each been given?...
Everyone experiences life differently. You can be doing the same things, passing through the same places, yet having very different lenses to describe what that was all about.
So is it with what we do with our time here on earth. Through the viewfinder of @chronicler.photography, stories of various people engaged in crafts in Singapore have come alive on pages of his inaugural photobook titled Journey (more details in his bio link).
This morning as I cycled through my favourite neighbourhood park, I saw that:
Some were going for speed, while others were deliberately slowing down.
Some sought shade and comfort, while others relished the workout with sweat.
Some wore comfortable shoes, while others walked barefoot.
Some were just learning to walk, while others wished they could still walk.
Some looked troubled, while others looked at peace.
Some were in their own world, while others were looking for life forms.
I remember how the park looked last year where red and white tapes went over furniture and pavilions and the place was sparse with activity. People have now returned to their routines, or perhaps picked up new ones. It is a good sight to behold! The dogs looked pretty happy to be out and about too.
As our nation moves to its reopening, we are also finding our new rhythms of life; may you find a pleasant one for yourself too:)
See those little shoots coming out of our Moshroom? So cute! After learning our lessons from last year, this little moss sculpture has benefitted from some of our improvements, made from analysing the problems the previous batch suffered from. Here they are:
1. Keeping it under an acrylic casing made by my cousin to maintain a humid environment around the moss, but opening it briefly every morning so that the oxygen/carbon dioxide concentration is reset to what is more normal
2. Covering the entire bisque ware surface of the pottery with moss, rather than in patches so that water is better trapped by the moss and doesn't evaporate so fast
3. Bringing it out to the sun once in awhile, to allow the moss to photosynthesize
Not sure how successful this round will be - we shall see in a few months! But it is already performing way better this time round. So satisfying to look at every morning!...
A TREASURE WITHIN
This vessel of clay
Overflowing from a spring
This is our first fully double-walled tea set, and I can't bear to part with it! Everything turned out just the way we hoped, although I would already have been immensely grateful just to have no major cracks or explosions in the kiln, as has happened with some of our previous double-wall experiments!
One thing I really like about our double-walled vessels is the fact that you can't tell they are double-walled just by looking at them. Unlike their glass counterparts that are somewhat more flamboyant, these ceramic vessels only express their unique nature when they are held in one's hands - when an otherwise steaming hot tea feels soothingly warm to the touch.
The second thing I like about it is that due to the shrinkage of clay when it dries, it is (I think) almost impossible to manufacture a double-walled ceramic teapot using slip-casting. It has to be made by hand - slowly, precisely, and with a healthy dose of good fortune!
And the third thing is - a teapot with no handles! Don't we all sometimes feel like we are not good enough; like we are missing something; like we don't fit in? But what if what looks like a weakness or a handicap to others is actually our strength? What if it is precious in the eyes of our Potter who made us and values us exactly the way we are?
And so we love these vessels, that hold within their unassuming exteriors a precious treasure - that tiny but powerful pocket of air, and the indelible marks of their potter hidden within their walls....
Remember our moss covered mushrooms from almost a year ago? Well, they had almost all died out over the span of a year, mostly because for the first few months we left them out in the open, and the water from the mushroom reservoirs were sucked up and evaporated away too fast, leaving the moss baking in the sun for too many hours each time. By the time we wised up, moved the moss indoors and made an acrylic box to keep the moisture in, they had mostly withered away. We were more amazed that some still managed to survive!
But just a few days ago, thanks to our visit to Y's beautiful home again (a year already!), we managed to get ourselves another fresh set of moss to try our experiment again. Thankful as I am for the beautiful moss, I'm more grateful for the peaceful, relaxing afternoon spent in the precious company of an old friend, tuning out our children's screams while marvelling at how they are inheriting all our most embarrassing traits!
I also wildly underestimated the amount of moss we needed, and so it looks like another visit is in order!...
This is a project that has brought me through a winding road of struggle, sorrow, surrender and finally peace. Had about a whole year to do it - only started yesterday. But thank God for His timing and His reminder to me that while we are but clay vessels, we have a treasure within that nobody can take away, just like what happens in the next two verses....
It has been some time since I looked up at the sky and admired its vastness, its purity and its blueness. What a beauty!
The blazing heat from the sun beats down relentlessly and it is effortful to admire the beauty is obscured as a result. Yet, my soul longs to be refreshed by nature, by the perspective it brings which is of a different nature from worldly concerns.
As I looked out of my window, I see in part, not fully, and I long to have the eyes of my heart enlightened so that distractions of little concern can fade off into the background.
Our flowering frangipani gives me hope; that seasons come and seasons go, but the word of God stands forever.
May you find that peace that surpasses all understanding, wherever you are:)
These vessels we made recently have something in common - they all make me feel like just sitting down, taking some slow breaths, sipping a nice cool drink (I'm partial towards cold drinks but they're good for hot coffee too ☺️) and giving thanks for this life that I am given - with all of its ups and downs.
They have all left our studio to continue their journey in their new homes, and we are just left with these photos to remind ourselves that our hands once shaped, trimmed, coloured and cleaned them. But I love photos like these! Photos captured in a season when our making is unhurried, secure and joyful. When we are content, rested, and hopeful. Who knows how our forms and glazes will evolve over the coming years, but this is a precious moment of our creative and life journey! Wasn't always like this, and won't always be like this, but it's ok.
Our first online Crafting Glazes Course is confirmed! Thank you to all of you who have responded and helped us to better shape our content. We are really excited to share our journey and the discoveries we made along the way, so that more potters can get started with (safely) creating their own unique glazes!
To sign up, click the link in our bio.
Feel free to DM us with any questions you might have!...
Hello everyone! We have received several requests to share our experience in developing and producing our own glazes, and we're finally ready to give it a go!
For now, we are thinking of 3 segments over zoom (1 hour each):
1. What is in a glaze (theory)
2. Developing your own glazes (theory)
3. Mixing and testing glazes (demo)
Just to be clear, whatever we know so far has been almost entirely self-taught, so you're not going to get any professional certifications from these sessions! This is for you if, like us, you've always wanted to just get started on experimenting with glazes, but found it too daunting to attend a formal course. Or if you just want to understand a bit more about the thousands of glaze recipes floating around on the internet, so you know how to choose suitable ones for yourself. Or if you just love pretty colours but failed chemistry.
If course, we are also still on a journey of discovery ourselves, so for now we are only going to focus on Cone 6 glazes (matte, glossy and crackle). But that's already lots to chew on! By the end of these sessions, you should be able to confidently purchase a few key ingredients and experiment with crafting your own unique glazes. We'll also share some of our secret recipes, so that we can spur ourselves to keep experimenting and innovating!
Drop us a DM if you are interested, or if you have any questions! We will firm up the price and schedule soon and update again!...
Behind those wrinkles
Leaves still waiting to unfurl
A tea still to brew
Out of all the shapes, sizes and colours of our recent batch of vessels, this is my favourite and most significant piece! The phone camera and gloomy weather didn't really do it justice, but it is this subtle and soothing shade of green, kind if like a faraway meadow shrouded in morning mist. I just really like it!
But what's more important is that this cup is made for my dad, who at his seventy-second birthday is still trying out new things - composing songs on the piano, learning drumming from me (while I simultaneously learn drumming from my wonderful teacher @chungsua), and always experimenting with new dishes from YouTube! He may seem old to some people, but like a wrinkled green tea leaf, there is still so much flavour and goodness waiting to be released. Just add hot water!
After several attempts at making vessels for my parents, I'm holding out hope that this simple, sturdy and understated cup will actually be filling up with tea, instead of filling up the shelves (cos too scared to use)!...
Fresh out of the oven! Really love those little splashes of colour amidst the soft hues in the background. In another life we would be serving warm, delicious tea and coffee out of these cups, from our cosy little cafe in the woods!...
And off we go! A little nervous but grateful for the past few days of solid work, thanks to the gracious support of all of you who ordered your vessels from our impromptu sale!
So sorry we couldn't take all the orders, but once we re-open in 2022 (with a much milder pandemic situation, God willing), our cups and customised commissions will certainly be back!
This load of vessels has also been a uniquely precious experience beyond getting our hands dirty and our moods lifted. It gave us a chance to measure our average throwing, trimming and glazing speeds, and now we finally have a rough indication of our revenue per man hour for typical vessels. Very obvious now why many potters would use moulds and dipping glazes.😅 But for us, it's still going to be the slow process of hand-throwing, pouring/brushing, and 100% studio crafted glazes. Not because these are necessarily better but because that's who we are....
Overjoyed to receive this photo from our most recent customer @jomusings ! We have made many things over the years - big and small, simple and complex - but what gives us the greatest satisfaction is to know that our vessels are being held in someone's hands, filled with a favourite drink, and shared with a favourite friend.
And so our vessels have in recent years tended towards softer and simpler forms, thicker lips, rounded bottoms, calming tones. I wonder if this is how a style emerges?
As we approach the halfway mark of our sabbatical, we are also starting to ask ourselves some difficult but exciting questions. What kind of journey would we like to guide our guests and students through when they come for our workshops? What kind of space would we like to create in? Who do we want to be? What is beautiful to us?
I thank God for this season of rest. We live in a culture that has a very different perspective towards rest, compared to what we understand from God's Word and from the lives of people through the ages, before modern times. We are still figuring out what is the right balance, but whatever the case, we are at this point feeling grateful, refreshed, and more than a little curious about the road ahead!...
When was the last time you visited this Singapore icon? Well, we first climbed it only last year!
Since the Circuit Breaker, we have been helping to coordinate a group of volunteers with Meals on Wheels, a daily meal delivery programme for people experiencing food insecurity, generally home-bound elderly. This has brought us on many lovely sightseeing trips around Toa Payoh (our volunteering area) including this little visit to the old dragon!
Lately, Meals on Wheels is in urgent need for more volunteers due to the rising Covid cases that has once again affected their volunteer pools. So if you feel like this is something you want to explore, do DM us! You can either join our team or volunteer on your own.
Our team take turns to cover daily meal deliveries (Mon - Fri) and here are the details:
1. Pick up meals at 3pm from Blk 173 Toa Payoh Lor 1
2. Deliver by car/foot to assigned homes (Typically it takes 1-1.5 hours for 12-16 packs)
3. Frequency for each volunteer: Ad-hoc, once a month to once a week
Don't worry if you can't commit on a regular basis. Even if you would like to try this out one time, you are most welcome and it's quite a decent hour of exercise!
Feel free to ask us any questions you might have. There are also other locations that are in urgent need for volunteers and the link to more info would be added in the comments section. Share with your friends too, thank you!...
Thank you so much for your support, we will have another one hopefully soon!]
It's been awhile since we dipped our hands in clay and made something! So it happens that we need to do a firing these two weeks, and so we are doing a tiny batch of vessels to fill up our kiln! We've never really done a sale before, but here goes! DM us if you are interested, first come first served!
- 2 large cups (12cm): $50ea
Your choice of our house glazes:
- 3 large cups (12cm): $50ea
- 1 medium cup (6cm): $30ea
- 2 small cups (6cm): $25ea...
The birds are chirping
The flowers hasten to bloom
Just five more minutes
I don't know why, but the more I look at this cup, the more I just want to pour myself a hot chocolate, cradle it in my hands, sink into my bed, and just lie there for ... awhile.
Something about the colour perhaps - the little speckles, little streaks of iron in our Shino glaze that don't seem to have mustered enough motivation to really stand out and be seen. Or perhaps it's that faded hue of our Oat glaze that just doesn't seem really want to be any colour, just content to be kind of in between. Just like, desaturated. But not totally.
Or maybe it's just a morning like this. Do you have mornings like this?...
I was obviously not looking up when I chanced upon this very important sign on the pavement outside Ang Mo Kio MRT station, but at least I wasn't too engrossed in my phone screen (yes I was looking at my phone) to notice it!
This sign was placed in the direction of pedestrians exiting the station towards a busy junction, and I imagine it is to reduce the risk of accidents. But what a pertinent message this is for our lives in this season we are in. How much of our time has been wasted, how many of our relationships have been diluted, how much beauty around us has been ignored in our preoccupation with our mobile devices? Of course, it is not the lifeless devices that should take the blame, nor the social media platforms, which do connect us positively in ways never before possible. Rather, could it perhaps be a weariness of heart, a narrowness of mind, and a barrenness of spirit that lulls us into keeping our gaze lowered instead of lifted? And leaving us snugly cocooned in the comfort of triviality while those wings on our shoulders remain folded, shrivelled, never able to stiffen and spread open in the light of the sun?
And it is not just our devices either, isn't it? What about our preoccupation with that insensitive remark, that wealthier neighbour, that unhealthy habit, that stumbling emotion?
May I have the courage, the wonderment, and the humility to look up from where I am - towards whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - so that I do not get blindly struck down by the oncoming traffic of this world....