swimming with sharks and mantas

swimming with sharks and mantas

I had always been kind of afraid of sea water. When I went snorkelling for the first time two years ago, on a whim after my first real heartbreak (“I need to do something crazy to make me feel better about myself”), it was a personal breakthrough. Since then, snorkelling became something special to me. Sort of like my own self-care hack.

I was in Fiji last month and I just couldn’t pass up on swimming with some sharks and mantas. In my previous snorkel experiences, I had only seen small fishes. The swims in Fiji really took it up many many many notches.

I am still reeling in awe of the clear waters and rich marine life in Fiji. Snorkelling has really opened up a whole new (underwater) world to me. Being so close to these creatures made my heart sing.

Maybe, just maybe, diving is what I am going to.. dive into next.

taking chance on something new: emceeing

I read this quote yesterday that really resonated with me.

Never be afraid to try something new because
life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know.

Last weekend, I tried something new – emceeing.

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It’s been 10 years since the last time I was on stage, and I had missed many things about standing in front of an audience and performing. I was very active in speech and drama, and being a DJ was one of my biggest dreams. So when Shan texted me saying that she was looking for an emcee for her company event, I jumped on the opportunity, despite not having any experience in emceeing.

What a great afternoon it was, and nothing is more gratifying than people telling me that I was good, that they loved my voice. It was new, but it was life. The nervousness before going up and standing in front of strangers, the sense of ease after a while, and then the enjoyment of just doing. I felt like, maybe, my dream is still alive.

I have been trying many new things recently, especially in the arts and crafts department. Generally, it has made me feel more contented about my life. I have been thinking about the kind of content I want to write on my blog and this is it – it’s going to be about all the new things that I will keep trying to try.

making macrame

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Macrame has been appearing on my Instagram feed so much since I first looked up about it. The basic knots seem easy enough, but produce varied looks depending on where your creativity takes you.

I was searching for macrame tools and materials on Carousell when I stumbled upon Lehang’s macrame lesson. It was only S$40 for a 2-hour class at her humble abode, so I roped in Jing for a quick masterclass. After all, it’s important to lay down a strong foundation before venturing into a skill further.

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We started off by choosing the colour that we wanted to work with. Lehang was very generous with sharing not just her materials but skills too. She was open to teaching us anything that we wanted to make.

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We mainly worked with the basic of the most basic knots – the square knot. It is actually what I used to make my bracelets with! Very universal. We got a hang of it very quickly, but I have to say, the macrame cord is quite rough, my fingers still hurt from the pulling and tugging of ropes.

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Learning the ropes of needle punching

Learning the ropes of needle punching

Going for Autumn’s punch needle workshop is some sort of a homecoming for me. For as long as my memory serves me, my mum has been dabbling with yarn. She has been knitting since I was young and now that she’s semi-retired, she’s taking her craft more seriously than ever, knitting every day and even on her vacations. Her closet bursts with her handmade collection; from tops to dresses to accessories, there’s something from every colour and yarn type.

My mum’s hobby means that I was exposed to arts and crafts since I was young. I have always enjoyed making things and my mum was always supportive of my artistic endeavours, be it knitting, crocheting, beading, acting, painting, scrapbooking or writing. Despite my love for creating, I haven’t been in touch with that creative side of me for a while now.

Recently, I have a renewed inspiration to be more serious with my pursuit of arts and crafts. I signed myself up for a handful of workshops and I am so happy to be more attuned to my creativity and imagination now, although I must admit that I am still slightly rusty. I would love to have more consistent practices. After my first class, I must say that I now really understand the value of making art on our mental wellbeing.

I am happy to have discovered Autumn’s studio and workshops on Instagram! Autumn is a Singapore-based textile artist who works with co-ops and villagers in India. I got interested immediately to see that her strives to be ethical in her work and signed up for two workshops with her, the woodblock printing workshop and the punch needle workshop. Autumn’s studio in Chinatown is just how I imagine my own studio would be if I ever have one, simple, warm and cosy.

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Tools and materials
Punch needle, yarn, fabric (I used monk’s cloth), embroidery hoop

All you need to do is to stretch the fabric on the embroidery hoop, thread the yarn through the punch needle and you may start! The length of the needle is adjustable, so there’s a lot of creative room to play around with. The longer the needle, the larger the loop, the larger the fluff (if you get what I mean). You can also create tassels and fringes with long needles.

(My work is incomplete atm, I ran out of yarn!)

The workshop I attended was for the fine punch needle. Autumn also conducts workshops that work with Oxford punch needles that are more compatible with thicker yarns for chunkier works. The punching technique is the same.

Compared to embroidery (which I am painstakingly trying to learn by myself and on the verge of giving up), punch needle is incredibly easy! Firstly, the tool of trade is easy to hold – unlike the thin sewing needle, punch needle has a handle that is easier on the hand and fingers, although I wouldn’t consider the grip 100% ergonomic. Secondly, you only need to work with and focus on one side of the cloth. The best part? No knotting involved! I really don’t like knots as they make my artwork look too messy at the back and sometimes cause my thread to tangle up. I probably need more knotting practices but I’m simply too impatient.

Overall, while it can get quite tiring on the eyes as you’ve got to pay attention to the holes you are punching in to ensure uniformity, needle punching is so therapeutic once you catch your punch rhythm! I already have conceived in my mind my next punch needle project and can’t wait to start on it.

Art jamming at Splat Paint House

Art jamming at Splat Paint House

A few weekends ago, I went on a double date with Kevin and his friends, a much welcome change to my weekend routine. Splat Paint House is a pop-up splatter paint studio housed in MOX in Katong (only the most exciting co-working space around, in my favourite neighbourhood in Singapore!)

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The walls at Splat Paint House are covered with paint, transforming into an inviting space that’s ready for you to flex your creative muscles. I particularly loved the corner by the windows. When the afternoon light streamed in, it became an even more inspiring area to work in. Check out those adorable smiley octopus shadows from the paint on the window! It seems like the studio has moved into another space in MOX since, though, so no promises about the windows.

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It was my first painting since I dare say, 7 years ago. That was when Artestiq was still a novel idea. I don’t fancy painting that much, to be honest, because I don’t like the mess that painting creates and the cleaning up after. That’s why this place is right up my alley; I can make as much mess as I want sans the chore! We even donned white coveralls, shoe covers and gloves so there were no worries about getting dirty. Though, the material of the coveralls is thin, so I would still suggest against being cheeky and pouring paint onto yourself/your friends.

Splat Paint House appears to have extended its availability to 28th October (was 16th August), I’m guessing due to overwhelming demand. It’s an activity for everyone after all – families, couples, friends, or even by yourself. It can get crowded, which can be off-putting if you don’t like people intruding into you and your friend’s creative bubble and interrupting your meditative flow while painting, so choosing an odd hour to visit might be a good idea.