Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Love Flowers, Do You?

No. 15th day without a maid when she had to go back to Indonesia because of problems at home. Now I have to find time to do more household chores, but luckily with much help from dear Mom. So things are going slow.

These are private swaps that I finally finished. The first one is an ATC for Lisa Alff (USA) with her name sewed on the basket, filled with flowers done with creative tatting.

"What is creative tatting?" non-tatters would ask. Well, it is a way of tatting realistic flowers with the creative knot. They are pretty and with much room for creativity, but tedious if you want colours - I have once used 4 shuttles concurrently in order to get 4 colours. That's the time you can't tat just about everywhere but to sit down in a quiet corner and concentrate or else, you'll be busy untangling the shuttles more than you tat!

This second one is a fabric postcard for Lynn Hodge (USA). YES, a fabric postcard of size 4" by 6" and this is the FIRST piece of postcard I sewed! I'm ready to tackle fabric postcards, but I don't think I'll do a lot as they do take much more time to hand-sew. I expanded my "Floral Bliss" motif to fill up the whole postcard with sweet pink blooms.
Beautiful Chinese paper cutting. This is a gift brought back by DH who is outstationed in Guiyang, China, hand-cut by a co-worker. She has lots of credit to her name, winning numerous paper-cutting competitions. Can't wait to meet her in person!
I'll end with these real blooms received from DH who is now back to his job in China. Thank you, they are lovely <3

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lot of Fishes for CNY and Lot of Hearts for Valentine's Day!

The ATC A*Live session this month coincided with the Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, so Moses planned for us to do a collage fish (年年有余).

We also had Yusheng (捞鱼生) arranged in a most ingenious way in the shape of a bunny!

The theme for the ATC swap this month was naturally "Heart", I did a heart pocket with teabag folding "Having Lot of Love in the Heart", and "Popping Heart" - a smaller Heart popping out of the weaved Heart by pulling the golden string.

The bottom left ATC is my collage fish done during the session. The top left is a stamped piece I received from Rita, the Heart of Gold is drawn by Sor Huan and the last piece, Kokoro, by scrapbooking expert, Vicki.
Amy McDonald (USA) did a very different Queen for a Day doll for me. With a paper body base and crown, everything else is non-paper - a clay face, yarn hair, fabric cloak, glass crystal choker. Well, I'm inspired to try more types of materials for my subsequent paper dolls too. We'll see!

I'm still trying to tat up the animal for my V cards, but in the meantime, more alphabets arrived: H is for Hat from Norma Mason (USA), T is for Triangle from Hetty van Boven (Australia) and U is for Underwear from Lyn Strauch (USA).

My boy is in his 2nd Year Japanese language class. This is a A4-size Spring poster he conceptualized and printed (the words and photos), while I helped him to complete the piece using die-cuts and hand-cutting. Really hope that we will have a chance to visit Japan in spring to see her famous Sakura!

We have another colleague resigning. I tatted yet another leaf bookmark for her, I just love this particular design!

We had lion dance (舞狮) in our office yesterday, accompanying our bosses' walkabout.
This is a traditional dance in the Chinese culture - performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. The story goes that once upon a time a monk combined all the lucky magical animals he could think of to made a lion to protect the people from evils plaguing the land.

During Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guilds and associations will visit houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching" (採青), which literally means "plucking the greens", a quest by the 'lion' to pluck the auspicious green, usually vegetables like lettuce which is called 'cái' (菜) in Chinese that sound like 'cái' (财) (fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a "Red Envelope" containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The "lion" will dance and approach the "green" and "red envelope" like a curious cat, to "eat the green" and "spit" it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like a auspicious character but keep the "red envelope". The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the "red envelope".

I'm ending off with these quick sketches done by my youngest girl, Kristine, just before she went off to sleep. I love the children's doodlings done without pressure and without any restriction - give a most carefree feeling to them. These are to the theme of love - a TV and TV controller loving each other, while the basket and vegetable are not too sure of their love for each other! Cute!
Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pongal Festival and Chinese New Year

Singapore is a multi-racial country, so we get to interact and share festivals and participate. Here are some photos I took at a little Indian gathering at our neighbourhood last Sunday.

The event ? The Harvest Festival, or the Pongal Festival, which was originally in celebration of a good harvest in South India, where farming is the main form of livelihood. Here in Singapore, the Pongal Festival welcomes the beginning of the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, which falls in mid-January each year.

At the gathering, we saw how Pongal rice, sweet sticky rice where milk, rice and sugar are boiled together, was prepared. Also, a number of Indian families were patiently drawing Pongal Kolam designs using coloured crushed rice (I counted, they used 5 to 6 colours only). I couldn't resist doing a little research into these pretty drawings. There are line kolams, using free hand drawing of lines to make geometrical pattern, and pulli (dots) kolam, where dots are arranged in a specific sequence and order; these pullis joined to make pictorial designs. In the pulli kolam type, there is an another type called Chuzhi kolam, where twisted chains are formed by linking one loop with the next and forming designs with the basic pattern.

The other highlight was the presence of a cow, Letchmi, and calf, Veena. Adults and children alike were excited and all went up front for a close encounter and photos, it was really a rare chance to be up so close with farm animals in an urban place like Singapore!

If you are interested, this website has quite a bit of info on the Pongal Festival:

Following closely after the Indian festival is a Chinese festival - the Chinese New Year or the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is the longest and most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is known as the "Spring Festival," the literal translation of the Chinese name 春节. The festival begins on the first day of the first month (正月) in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with the Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵节) or Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Rice dumplings tangyuan (汤圆), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. In Singapore, this day is celebrated by individuals seeking for a love partner, a different version of Valentine's Day.

People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in the hope to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On Chinese New Year's Eve (除夕), Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers (not in Singapore though since it is banned). Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile; forgetting all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

According to legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nien (年). Nien would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nien ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nien was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nien was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nien. From then on, Nien never came to the village again.

Wow, I have written so much, I'll keep the rest short, just eye candies. Here's my W is for Whale ATCs with tatted blue whales.

I received more ATCs than I'm working on! First is this pair of Time/Watches/Clocks dolls from Margie Diamante (USA).  BTW, I just changed to a new blogger editing format and just don't understand why my portrait photos are turning up the wrong way, and it's so frustrating :(  Do you have the same problem? 

Here are U for Upholstery, V for Violet and W for Winter from Jenna Louise (USA).

And last but not least, a pair of snow angels from Lynette McNamara (New Zealand).  Lynette stamped, embossed and coloured her cards so well, her cards are as good as printed ones!

Thank you gals, I love all these arts in the mail!