20 January 2013

Monsoon Craft.

(Still playing catch-up! Currently working on my Australia experience post, and I promise to get back to my regular Wednesday features soon. Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day are right around the corner . . . Lots and lots of new posts on the way!)

Hot mess. That is how I would describe the weather on Saturday. All. Day. Long. #monsooncraft

After arriving from Australia at 11:30pm on Friday night, I went to bed and woke up at 5:15am to prepare for Handmade Movement. It was raining.

I packed up my largest suitcase with material, scissors, needles, thread, and lots and lots of bunting. I showered, drank a quick cup of coffee, and made a few last minute changes to some pieces. It was still raining.

I left the house, jumped in the shuttle with my giant suitcase, and made it to the train station by 7:15am. I got to the park right around 8am. It was still raining. My bag was soaked (thankfully not soaked through) and there was no place to spread out on the ground because everything--even under covered areas--was drenched.

Volunteers and everyone involved with Handmade Movement were busily moving around tables, blowing up balloons, and happily organizing things for the day . . . #thankyouvolunteers

Meanwhile I was panicking, on the inside and out. How was I going to install everything outside in the pouring rain with no ladders and tape that may--or may not--hold up in the rain? After having a brief come to Jesus talk with myself, I decided to just go with it. Monsoon craft festival: here we go!

I took off my shoes and laid out everything I brought with me on the water-logged ground. I rallied some volunteers and soon we were on a roll. I ran around hanging things with no umbrella and within seconds I was soaking wet. I stayed like that all day long because it ended up raining for the entire day.  

What started off a bit frustrating and wet ended up being an amazing experience where I was able to meet lots of like-minded individuals, secure new friendships, and hang out with cool people. (Besides the rain, look how pretty and green Fort Canning is!)

Two food trucks came out for the day. One was the Milo truck. They were doling out free shots of ice cold chocolaty goodness left and right. I stopped by this truck at least a dozen times throughout the day. The cow-spotted truck is called, appropriately, The Traveling C.O.W. (chef on wheels). Their menu provides "gourmet bistro fare on the go, comfort food that speaks to people". I didn't get a chance to taste their food at the festival, but I look forward to checking them out again soon. I noticed on their menu: hamburgers, which you don't see very often outside of fast food chains. You can follow their whereabouts on Twitter. These are the only food trucks in Singapore at the moment. Not for long, I assure you.

There was also a small food tent with 3 vendors. Butter Studio was there with their cute little cakes and cupcakes, loaf cakes and cookies. They hosted a DIY cupcake decorating workshop in the tent where I was, but more about that a little later. The vendor in the center--Drinkdings--was mixing mocktails and cocktails. Drink tickets could be purchased at the main Handmade Movement tent. One of my volunteers brought me a cocktail towards the end of our day. A Mai Tai: perfection. The third vendor was called Polka Dot Pleasures. They specialize in Halal eats. They had the absolute best chicken pasta with red pepper flakes I have every tasted! A perfect serving for $1.50 SGD! You can see all of the information they had set out on their table below. #awesomevolunteers #sweetpeople 

This was the first-time-ever that I have seen the rain bring people to an outdoor event. Perhaps it had something to do with the colorful umbrellas, the smiling positive energy of the festival organizers, or the close to 80 craft vendors who splashed through puddle-after-puddle to be at Fort Canning by noon because they believe in what they do. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the perseverance of craft itself.

I was told by person-after-person that events like this don't happen in Singapore. That they hadn't ever heard of a craft-based festival and they wanted to find out what this was all about. Isn't that something? What an incredible new beginning to be a part of . . . Something so unique to Singapore! A format for building community! #handmademovementrocks

And hey! If you can't get rid of the rain, embrace it. That's what I eventually did! Here is Aisah and me in the chalkboard photo booth with our cardboard props. We were both soaked, head to toe. 


And check out these little ones having fun: the little girl on the left is making the photo booth her own personal studio space and the little girl on the right is wearing something very familiar to me . . . Fingerweaving! She had bright pink florescent sandals on that I found quite lovely. #queenoffingerweaving

The workshop tent featured all sorts of fun little DIY classes, and each workshop was completely filled up. The first one was the cupcake decorating workshop. Each participant was given icing in a variety of colors, sprinkles, and a cupcake. After the facilitator went through various cake-decorating techniques, the participants went to town. Each person took home their cupcake in a cute little box tied with a ribbon.  

The second workshop was an LED + recyclables workshop featuring a glowy snowy owl end product. This workshop was run by Playlab and they completely floored me. I am seriously in love with these people. They talked to their young audience about circuit boards and animals and craft. Learn. Think. Make. Combining art and tech: what's not to love?! #snowyowlgoodness

The last workshop that I got to witness featured tiny clay macaroons. Participants at this workshop used a plastic mold to make little sweet things. Most people made macaroons, but some people made donuts. Once their pieces were finished they stuck a jewelry eye hook into the work, ready to be hung on a necklace once dry. Why are tiny desserts so cute? 

I really liked how organized and easy the DIY silkscreen printing tent was set up. You could buy the t-shirts or tote bags from the main Handmade Movement tent and then pick out a design to print. They had at least 8 designs to choose from and a volunteer manning each screen. It was perfect and ran like clockwork. I think getting the buyer involved physically with what they are purchasing is huge. I've never seen this done before in the States. It's about becoming a part of the process, which is great.

Here's my view of the silkscreen printing tent. And look at all of the colorful umbrellas (brollies): my favorite part of any rainy day.

What did I do during this festival? At the beginning, I hung up all of the bunting and a fair amount of the party flair. But it was raining, so my original vision could not be reached. Next time, next time . . .

During the festival, I set up a studio space in the workshop tent. I am in the process of putting together a community quilt made up of pieces created at the Handmade Movement festival and at various other venues around town. The goal is to feature it on the Handmade Movement website, but also have it hung in several of the train stations and libraries around town. #communitymeanstogether

At the beginning things were slow, but by 1:30pm the crowds starting arriving and people were packed around the table to make something for the quilt. A couple of the first people that stopped by also had some killer arm candy on: temporary tattoos by Dottinghill. Each of them made a square. One simply said, Esther was here.

The fabric scraps, needles, and thread were donated by Handmade Movement specifically for the project. It's always encouraging to me how many people are willing to stop and make. I offer a chair to them, no we'll stand. They end up standing for an hour, crafting away on a tiny little square! Incredible work, all for inclusion on the quilt. Community: engage, participate, collaborate! 

And young people were drawn to the table. Color speaks loudly . . . 

The festival was dog-friendly. So on occasion one would appear, seemingly out of nowhere. This little guy was running all over the park. His owner was friends with some of the ladies at Handmade Movement, so he was off his leash and having a blast running around. He was also soaking wet. But incredibly cute and fox-like. The little guy below showed up towards the end of the festival. He was all the rage with the kids in the workshop tent . . . #crazycorgipuppy #pursedog

Check out some of the quilt squares we got . . . What a great start to this project!

What did I learn from all of this? So, so much. I learned that people are resilient: they will appear out of nowhere to help, participate, and be entertained if there is enough good energy in the air. I learned that Handmade Movement is off-and-running: 2014, watch out!! And I learned how not to do an outdoor installation in a monsoon climate without a car: purchase a train-friendly ladder, always use a thread and needle instead of tape, and always--ALWAYS--keep a large amount of heavy-duty velcro in your toolbox.  

Until next year!

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