All Set for the Dragon Kiln Firing

My teacups, bowls and pitchers are glazed with either white satin, shino or ash glazes! I added a sprinkling of banyan tree ash, hoping that it will create interesting effects on the surfaces.

This time all our clay pieces filled up 5 chambers! The kiln is packed and all is set and ready for the firing on Friday!


Potters at Work

After a long hiatus, the potters at Thow Kwang have been busy throwing, coiling and hand-building pieces for the upcoming wood firing. Here are some of them in action:

Tia and her mosaic piece made from multi-coloured clays.

Steven’s new series inspired by nature’s seeds and seed pods. He started with a coiled form and developed it iteratively.

Here’s a peek at the spread of the bisque pieces that we will be glazing in the next week followed by the laborious packing into the dragon kiln. There is still much to be done before the firing at the end of the month. As always, prior to a firing, we feel an equal proportion of excitement and apprehension.


On Saturday, 27th February, I was invited by Tia to join a group of sketchers for the first SketchCrawl of 2010. The main idea of a SketchCrawl is to walk the streets on a given day and record what you see on pen/pencil/ink and paper (i.e. sketch). Basically you walk, stop and sketch, move to another place, stop and sketch again. It can be for a whole day or just a couple of hours. SketchCrawl has become a worldwide event where people all over the world will sketch on the given day, and afterward will share their journals online.

I take photographs much better than I sketch so I decided to do my own photocrawl with the sketchcrawlers. 🙂 We started the day at City Square Mall on the fringe of Little India, and there was quite a turnout. Some of them were from Urban Sketchers Singapore. They were an eager bunch – all ready to put their pens and sharpened pencils to paper even while they were having their breakfast!

The sketchers “plonked” themselves on every street corner or any place they found interesting and began drawing furiously.

Some looked left, some looked right…

…all of them absorbed in their art – interpreting the world in front of them, in their own way, in their own unique style. Their hands followed what their eyes saw – capturing the sense of place, the sights and people of Little India in their sketchbooks.

Everywhere the sketchers went, they attracted curious onlookers.

These sketchers are a talented bunch! There wasn’t anything that they couldn’t or wouldn’t draw!

Throughout the entire morning, the urban sketchers stopped at about 7 different locations to sketch. Then they met up again at 1:00pm at a coffee shop for a well-deserved lunch break. During lunch, they shared their artwork and exchanged notes on the tools and techniques they used.

Although it was hot and humid, the spirit of  camaraderie among the artists made it a well-spent weekend morning. It was a privilege for me, a non-sketcher to be invited to join the group. I also learnt a thing or two about street photography. So, when is the next sketchwalk? 🙂

UPDATE: You can admire some of the impressive sketches from the sketchcrawl here. If any of the artists who participated in the sketchcrawl is reading this, please add a  link to your sketches in the comment box. I’m sure the readers would love to see your work. 🙂

Chinese Street Opera (Chinese Wayang)

Last week, I chanced upon a Chinese Street Opera performance at the open space next to my neighbourhood hawker centre. The performance was carried out on a makeshift stage.

In its heydays (1930s – early1970s), Chinese Street Operas were commonplace especially in Chinatown. Then, the costumes were more resplendent, and the staging was definitely more grand than the neighbourhood performances we see nowadays.

Today, street operas face a declining audience. They appeal more to the old as they are performed in dialects (either in Cantonese, Teochew or Hokkien), which young Singaporeans find difficult to understand and appreciate. Presently, the handful of troupes here perform during Chinese religious rites or festival celebrations organised by the temples. They are more visible during the seventh lunar month (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts). It has been said that the performances are put up for the benefit of the Gods and the spirits.

I won’t be surprised if the final curtain soon falls on these troupes and their performances. Sadly, such traditional arts find it hard to survive and thrive in Singapore’s changing social and physical landscape.