Stitch by Stitch - Intention

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Stitch by Stitch - Intention
I was down with a terrible flu for the past few days. My body was telling me to stop working and just hibernate for a few days, basically mend myself until I am ready to get moving again. I think the signs were there - I was feeling a little under on Friday and yet I still went for my morning walk even though it wasn't the right thing to do. I had stuck to the notion that exercise is healthy but I wasn't in the pink of health, so it definitely was not healthy to make that move!

By Saturday, it was really downhill - I had to cancel appointments, one of my residency sessions with the secondary school, and even a panel discussion. It took me about 5 days to recover. There wasn't any medicine, except to sleep and sleep even more. So, all my art projects are on hold until I have a clearer mind of what I am doing.

Corals - Slow Stitch


I like to think my life as being something that is lived with intention, but sometimes it is just one mad rush that we forget that it should be.  I was invited to be one of the artists at Creative Mornings Singapore (27 July).  It was a great honour to be displaying my work alongside the following amazing artists: Vix Harris , whose beautiful artwork looks at the empowerment of women across cultures and backgrounds; Hanna Mi Kim who draws amazing paintings and drawings; and Nandita Mukhand, who I have admired for a long time as her sculptures are incredible.   The guest lecturer that morning was Namiko Chan Takahashi, and her words of wisdom on "intention" resonated with me. How can we create a piece of artwork or even communicate our ideas to someone without intention? And where does intention come from? It has to come from your heart - do you really mean it?

Slow Stitched Letter

Have you ever written a heartfelt message to a loved one? Would it be better to type it out in an email, whatsapp, or put pen to paper? A friend recently asked for some input about how she was doing and wanted to get honest feedback from all her friends. She decided the best way was to get it through the traditional snail mail. What was supposed to be a  handwritten letter ended up being a handstitched letter to my friend.  The process of slow stitch allowed me to carefully plan out what I wanted to say to my friend, knowing that she would appreciate the thought and intent behind the letter.  It was short and sweet, but I got my message across.

slow stitch

Finding My Inner Tortoise

That's how you live with intention. Everyone has an inner tortoise; it's in there, but everyone has a FOMO (fear of missing out) that we continuously chase the hair instead. A friend once said that her life felt as though she was running after a finishing line but she wasn't really sure what the race she was part of was about. Do you sometimes feel that way with your art work?

My first decision to slow down was last year, and I decided to share it when I was invited to contribute an essay to The Birthday Book 2018 "The Roads We Take".   I hope many will realise the importance of slowing down in life - not only is it good for our work, but for family and health. Will you find your own inner tortoise?


Finding your inner tortoise through stitch
For me my inner tortoise is related to slow stitch, watching needle move up and down and seeing how the piece progresses.  You can slow down through repair and upcycling:

a) Repair Sewcial -

1 Sept, 2 - 5pm, $50 per person
Venue -  Marinate, 6 Ubi Road 1, Wintech Centre, #05-13, S(408726)
Sign up -

23 Sept 2-5pm, $50 per person (includes a cup of Sarnies coffee)
Venue - The Fashion Pulpit, Liang Court
Sign up -

b) Restyle Your Wardrobe Upcycling Workshops - $95 per person
Sign up for 16 Sept or 21 Oct (1pm - 5.30pm)
Venue - FashionMaker Space

3 Things to Do When Fostering Creativity in Kids

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3 Things to Do When Fostering Creativity in Kids
The past 4 weeks have seen me preparing workshops for school children and teens. I was invited to be the resident artist at a secondary school and also a trainer for upcycling for a group of primary school children.  Based on my lessons so far, I have to say that it has been exciting and very engaging not just for me but for the kids. It was definitely a learning journey for me too, especially the things not to do. So I'm sharing them with you in this post.

1. Make It Simple, Make It Relatable

Kids are smart but they can also get bored very easily if you start giving facts and figures. Do away with the long talks and sharing sessions, show an engaging video, play a team building game or even make it competitive.  I was running a 4 day upcycling programme for the primary school and I showed them a short cartoon on t-shirts and their impact, and one on Caine's Arcade.  Which one did they like and remembered?  You guessed it, Caine's Arcade rocked, but even though it was unrelated to the textile activity we were doing, the kids understood how you could upcycle waste materials, be creative and come up with a solution.

2. Make It Fun

Everyone likes workshops that are fun, and that goes without saying!  For the teenagers we explored textile art using shaving foam marbling and jelly printing. Although messy, it's extremely fun for them. I don't think they get a chance to play with shaving foam!

Teaching Creativity to Kids

Shaving Foam Marbling

Shaving Foam Marbling

Shaving Foam Marbling

3. Let Them Take Over, Make It Free Flow

I love it when they experiment on their own. We can give them tools and the instructions but if they find a better way to do it then why not let them? We were upcycling t-shirts into a round mat when one of the children said why not make a flower-shaped mat instead? Why not? So this is what we ended up with. Each child dictated what colour and the size of their circle before combining them together.  It was very self-directed! At the end of the lesson, one of the kids said it could be transformed into a box too! Very creative, indeed.

Upcycling workshop in Singapore

Upcycling workshop in Singapore

What are your tips? Let me know, I would love to find out.

Avocado Dye

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Avocado Dye

Hello the end of July. It feels rather strange to have not updated the blog for a while. Things have been happening! Firstly, I got invited to be a resident artist at the Tampines Secondary School makerspace.  I will be conducting eight sessions on sewing, upcycling, manipulating fabric and basic surface design. The exciting thing about this residency is that 95% of the class is made up of boys, and because of this, I decided to select more exciting (read, energy expending sessions!) textile art techniques other than sewing.  So, we will be embarking on marbling with fabric, and hectograph / jelly plate making and fabric printing, which I think the kids will find fun.  Originally, felting was on the cards but unfortunately budget-wise it did not make sense especially since we would have to source for natural wool.

Avocado Natural Dye

And whilst this has been happening, I have been stewing a few avocado seeds at home.  I have found the best concoction is to let the seeds soak overnight at an alkaline pH. By the end of the day, you should have a rich red tincture-like looking syrup. I popped my cotton into the mixture and let that soak for another 24 hours. I had the mixture on gentle heat but there was no intense bubbling. By the end of the long soak, I had a nicely coloured grocery bag (from Simple Cotton by Puffy) and samples of cotton fabric (YouLiving and Coopita). I'm definitely interested to see how this experiment will progress.

Materials - 3 avocado seeds peeled and halved, baking soda
Pretreated cotton
48 hours process

Avocado dye

Avocado dye

I Made My Own Espadrilles

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I Made My Own Espadrilles

Kintsugi Inspired, Naturally Dyed

This is an update to my shoe project. My uppers were ready for espadrille making, and I visited the Lisa Teng, a shoe designer and maker last Thursday!  Look how pretty the uppers are! I had an enjoyable time making the uppers of my shoes from upcycled naturally dye fabric remnants. In line with my mending theme, I was inspired by the kintsugi method and replicated it through free motion embroidery for the shoe design.

Kintsugi inspired, naturally dyed

The whole process of making the shoes (not including my time of stitching the uppers) was about 5 hours. It looks straightforward but as Lisa explained to me, there were many things to take note of, including making sure to tighten the threads, and making sure the uppers were properly aligned with the base of the espadrilles.

shoe making workshop

After sewing a pair of espadrilles for slightly over 5 hours, I can honestly say that my hands came out really sore, and I was really hungry! I don't think you could use normal sewing needles or thread to make shoes due to the thickness of the soles. 

Here's a video of part of the process - aligning the pieces and then sewing them up. I ran out of memory about 3/4 of the way so that's why this video gives a peek of what we did.

DIY Espadrilles

Making My Own Shoes Part 1

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Making My Own Shoes Part 1
Did you get a chance to visit Pameran Poskad last week? I just managed to visit on the last day and am very grateful for those of you who adopted three of my works. If you are keen to give my work a new home, do drop me a message! The items that remain are listed here.

Update - if you would like to see the final product, click here.  The repaired shoes will come later.

Kintsugi textile art by Agy

One of my postcards is inspired by kintsugi. I have an obsession with kintsugi. You might remember my happy pants upcycled from my husband's shirt. It's happy because I patched it with colourful scraps and stitched it with kintsugi-inspired free motion embroidery.  But I am taking inspiration from this postcard to make my own pair of shoes under the instruction of shoe maker, Lisa Teng of Lisa Teng Studios. Why shoes?

My Shoes Are Falling Apart

I bought a pair of shoes online. They looked really nice and they had received lovely reviews, not least because their goal was to feed hungry children around the world. After 3 months, they started to tear along the edges, and it was the first time I had experienced this. I consulted Lisa and she suggested that I remove the leather uppers from the sole and visit her workspace for a mending session.
Mending my shoes

I will keep you all updated on what's going to happen to the uppers but it's such a shame to throw them away. I'm looking forward to sharing with you what my "new" pair of shoes will look like after the session this Thursday.

Inspired by Kintsugi

Needing to mend my shoes also got me wondering how shoes are made. Have you ever thought about it? Lisa said I should start with espadrilles. I wonder how long they will take to make. I decided to draw inspiration from my favourite theme, mending with kintsugi.  I took my scraps of naturally dyed fabric from my experiments   - hey, it's upcycling - and sewed them together on calico.  What's next? Stay tuned for Part 2!

Making my own shoes

Here I am aligning all my little bits of naturally dyed fabric scraps onto the pattern.

Note: This post is not sponsored.

Beeswax Wrap Workshop - A Collaboration with The Tender Gardener

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Beeswax Wrap Workshop Singapore

Olivia and I are running the 3rd session of the Beeswax Wrap workshop at the Funan Showsuite. We are very excited to see how this has taken off in a positive manner and decided to run another session.  Details of the workshop are below.

Looking for a safe, natural and reusable alternative to plastic wrap and aluminium foil? In this fun, hands on workshop, learn how to make your own zero-waste beeswax food storage wraps for use at home! These perfect for encasing freshly cut fruit and vegetables, and sealing a variety of cooked food, and sauces in containers.
We are pleased to collaborate with Funan for this session. During this 2-hour session, textile artist, Agatha “Agy” Lee, and self sufficiency advocate, Olivia Choong, will guide you step by step in preparing a delicately scented beeswax mixture for application on any natural fabric, and evenly setting the mixture to create a beautiful beeswax wrap, ready for you to take home for immediate use!
Once you learn how simple it is to make your own beeswax wraps, you will no longer wish to buy (and throw) plastic wrap and aluminium foil.
Each ticket is priced at $85 per participant, and includes all materials. Limited seats available, so book your spot today!

What will I learn?
We will teach you how to make your own beeswax wraps.

  • Adequate preparation of beeswax mixture
  • Even application on cloth
  • Uniformly setting the mixture on cloth
  • How to choose and prepare cloth for beeswax application
All materials provided!
  • Beeswax
  • Pine rosin
  • Jojoba oil
  • 2 sets pre-cut cloth per participant (one 5″ x 5″ for a mug and one 9″ x 9″ for a bowl)
What to expect?
In this interactive 2 hour session, expect a fun learning experience:
  • Hands-on learning with both facilitators
  • Relaxing, cosy and supportive environment
  • Minimum 5 pax to conduct the workshop
Please note: this workshop is not suitable for those who have allergies to beeswax, pine rosin and jojoba oil.