Moving to a new platform

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It's been a while since my last blog post, but that's because I have been moving to a new platform - finally took the plunge after years of procrastination !

It's done, and I would appreciate it if everyone could follow me on my new platform.  Thank you for all your support. 

Agy Textile Artist

Art of Noticing in Club Med Tomamu

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Art of Noticing in Club Med Tomamu
Art of Noticing

One of the key things to slowing down is to stop, look and observe. It means taking away (or even hiding) your phone and camera, and taking the time to notice things around you.  I was introduced to Rob Walker's book "The Art of Noticing" by my friend, Shiyun just a few months ago, and it was very timely too as I was preparing for my nature workshops that I was invited to conduct by VSS at the Green Beats festival at Club Med Tomamu. With such busy lives we lead, I thought it very apt to have workshops that not only explored my creative process, but also allowed the participants to relax and start noticing in their lives too!

A Piece of String
Walker's book has a variety of noticing exercises that help the creative process, the simplest being just taking a different route to work, or looking up instead of down. I always carry a sketchbook and pen when I'm out and about, but when in a creative moment, my favourite tool is not the pen and paper, but string!  A piece of string helps you focus your attention on an interesting spot, and if you don't know what to sketch? Just throw it up in the air and see where it lands. Surprise yourself.

Art of Noticing

Nature's Art Brushes at Club Med Tomamu
I encouraged my participants to explore nature through sketching, and then translating them into a collage on a cushion cover. We were very fortunate to find a scenic walk (just a few minutes away from the amazing resort) which ended in a forest! It was a very immersive workshops - everyone, including the 7 year old, was busy sketching before we headed back to Club Med for tea and painting.

Nature's Art Brushes

Nature's Art Brushes

I love how everyone's works come out different but beautiful all the same!

Hapazome Workshop, Club Med Tomamu
The other workshop that was held at Green Beats was hapazome. It was geared more towards children but we also had adults who were keen on taking part. Wild local flora were taken from the nearby walking trails (including the golden rod,  aconitum sachalinense ssp. yezonense,  mysotis sylvatica and achillea millefolium)

It was a great opportunity to share with the participants about the importance of nature! And, it was a wonderful moment for them to let off some steam with the pebbles - pound away!



Thank you to Jacqui Hocking of VSS for the wonderful opportunity to explore Hokkaido, and inviting me to take part in Green Beats by Club Med Tomamu.  Special thanks to Bamboo Straw Girl, Melissa, for helping me out at the workshops and taking all the great photos. Big thanks to Hermes Huang for finding out the names of all the flowers we came across during our first few days at the resort. Thank you also to Kenta of Club Med for being the translator.

Basic Free Motion Embroidery Workshop

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I've finally decided to take the plunge. After requests from friends and my readers, I will be having my first free motion embroidery workshop in Singapore! It will be happening on 18 August at The Fashion Makerspace. 

It's all about breaking the rules!

Want to break the rules when using a sewing machine? Are you longing to sew something other than a straight line? Then Free Motion Embroidery (FME) is for you! Join this informative yet practical class run by Agy Textile Artist. At the end of the session, everyone gets to take home your own free motion embroidered tea towel! This is a workshop where you can unleash your creativity – no need to stay within the lines! Templates will be given for the design, but feel free to bring your own.

Participants must know how to operate a sewing machine and be confident in machine sewing. For ages 12 and above.

This is an introduction to free motion embroidery technique.

What You’ll Learn:
How to set up a basic sewing machine for FME
Basic FME techniques
How to create a basic FME applique design
What You’ll Learn:

Feel free to bring any cotton scraps

Classes start on time, please arrive 5 mins early if possible. This class will only start if there are a minimum of 4 participants.

Agatha Lee (Agy) is a textile artist interested in the interactions between people and the natural environment, and how this relationship can be improved. Her work is mostly process-based, and she works with textiles, primarily by creating textile collages incorporating her observations through stitching (hand and free motion embroidery) and marking. Her current work looks at making the unseen visible to the community, enabling them to appreciate nature. Her work has been exhibited at The Festival of Quilts (UK) and The Knitting and Stitching Show (UK).

Almost Scammed - How to Spot an Email Art Scam

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Yes, I almost fell into the trap.  They sent me an email with the title "I want to purchase your artwork", so of course I had that moment of happiness (and feeling of being accepted!)  and clicked the email.  It read,

"I would like to make an immediate purchase of your artworks. Also let me know if you accept credit card as method of payment."

I replied and asked which pieces would he/she be looking at.  The person then expressed interest in 2 pieces from my instagram account, to which I reply with all the details including price, payment and complimentary shipping (assuming the person is based in Singapore).  The total cost of the artwork is SG$220.

It then gets really weird, because the person responds with a longer email stating,

"I am interested in the pieces and I'm ready for immediate purchase and my private mover will pickup the piece from your location once the payment is made. I would like you to make additional custom purchase link of $405.00 which my private mover charges for the pickup, shipping of the piece and also moving of our other personal effects to our beach house where we are celebrating our wedding anniversary. All you have to do is to deduct the due amount for the piece and remit the
additional shipping fees to my shipping agent through PayPal in order for them to schedule the pickup from your location. Kindly get back to me as soon as possible so I can make the payment today.

Thank You."

Well, the person was polite, but the thing that stuck out like a sore thumb is "All you have to do is to deduct the due amount for the piece and remit the additional shipping fees to my shipping agent through PayPal in order for them to schedule the pickup from your location. "

Why would I pay $185 to ship my own artwork to a potential buyer? Initially, I thought it was some sort of mistake, but then when I started typing my response, my instincts kicked in and I immediately thought, "It's a SCAM!".  I quickly googled and lo and behold, yes, it was a scam. I didn't even bother to reply.

What Should  You Look Out For?

a) They want you to send money to them for shipping (or other things)
b) It's an immediate purchase
c) They don't tell you in the first instance which pieces they would like to purchase. This is what happened in my case - they just sent an email saying that they would like to purchase my art and that was it. Nor did they say that they were textile art lovers or art lovers in general.
d) When they did send me the images of pieces they were intending to buy, they had chosen close up shots of the creations.  That should have set my alarm bells ringing in the first instance!

What other tips do you have on how to spot an art scam?

Discovering Batik and Its History

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Discovering Batik and Its History
What do you think of when the word "batik" pops in your mind?
For me it used to be associated with beach resorts, tie dye (I have no idea why!) and South East Asia - rather cliche, right?  After many years of being in Singapore, I learnt more about batik through Tony Sugiarta, the owner of ANerd Gallery, an art platform that focuses on batik textiles and artist.

Two months ago, Tony gave a talk on batik at Fashion Revolution Singapore x The Green Collective SG and I discovered a fascinating world of motifs, colours and history.  Batik textiles are made by using the cantik  and wax to create a resist on cotton fabric. Once this resist pattern is created, it is dipped into a dye vat and then dried before the wax is removed.  The process can be repeated to create layers of depth with different colour and motifs.  You might see batik being sold at extremely low prices, but this is because they were most likely made and printed on machines - Tony explained to us that the way to tell the difference is to flip the fabric over onto the wrong side and you will find that the colours of machine printed batik have not seeped through, thus having a duller look.  On the other hand, the colours of hand-painted batik seep through the fabric and the intensity of the colours are the same on both sides! A piece of batik (at least a meter long) can take several months to complete by hand.

Influenced by History
During the talk, I discovered that the motifs on the batik has changed over the years in Indonesia.  These were influenced by when and where the artist lived, as well as the artists' ethnicity.

Tony explained that the mega mendung batik was influenced by the Chinese paintings of clouds.  I can definitely see that, and I love how they added depth to it too. I wonder how long this took?

Mega Medung Batik

If you can recall your world history class in secondary school, the Dutch controlled Indonesia for over three centuries, so there were also Dutch influences .  The use of more European floral motifs in the batik work was common too - batik buketan - buketan comes from the Dutch word "boeket" which means bouquet in English.

batik buketan

On a sad note, during WWII, the creations of batik took a turn for the worse, but as Tony explained, the pieces were still beautiful.  Due to rationing and a limited supply of fabric and colours, the pieces were passed between artists to create batik that had different styles and colours - a mosaic!  Who knows, each artist may have imparted a different story to the piece, creating an interesting story!

Influenced by Region

One of the fascinating things of batik textile art is that when you move from region to region, the colours and motifs change.  I learnt about Batik Tiga Negeri, where 3 Indonesian states (Lasem / Pekalongan / Java Solo) were involved in the batik process of this art.  The journey of the cloth would start in Lasem with Peranakan Chinese who would create and apply the wax patterns before going onto Pekalongan for the colours to be applied.  The cloth would then be transported to Java, Solo where more traditional Javanese motifs would be used.   I find this interesting because it allows each area to be experts in one thing, but by collaborating, they create the most expensive yet most beautiful work of art.  And, by the way, it can't be copied due to the intricacies of each stage!

batik tiga negeri

I had a great time learning from  Tony. If you want to find out more you can go to his website - he hosts tours to Indonesia, workshops and even sessions on how to wear your own batik!