Feroza Designs

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When The Preschooler was born, her paternal grandmother had thin cotton blankets from scraps of well-worn, printed cotton saris sewn. These super-soft blankets served as swaddles in the early days and security lovies in the latter. They are now tucked away in a suitcase, waiting to be handed down to the next child in the family.

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I make mention of these handmade blankets because I recently discovered a Singapore-based company, Feroza Designs, whose signature product is the “Dohar,” a traditional Indian summer blanket made of three layers of cotton voile, a soft, sheer fabric.

I recently met up with Feroza Design’s founder, Kavita Dasgupta, and we chatted about her growing business over tea. This mother of two, who studied design and fashion in New York City and business administration in Singapore, is an exceptionally talented surface designer. (I’m partial to her “Kyoto” pattern!)

Each blanket is wood block-printed by hand and produced sustainably in Jaipur, India (the company leverages substantial amounts of solar energy and recycles 80% of waste water, e.g.).

Feroza Designs is currently stocked online at Babyccino Kids. Kavita will also be showing her latest collection at Boutiques (F1 Pit Building) later in April. Her goods are good. Go check them out.

Connect with Feroza Designs on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Woolf Works

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finally popped by Woolf Works, a coworking space for women in Joo Chiat, earlier today. Michaela Anchan conceived of the space as a destination for women, especially mothers, to invest in themselves and their businesses and to find a “room of their own” away from the distractions of the domestic sphere. Woolf Works opened last July and offers residents a range of flexible membership plans to suit their needs.

Michaela and I spoke candidly about balancing paid labor and unpaid domestic labor (for all genders, not just women), the challenges of starting and operating a business in Singapore, and her personal ups and downs. Full disclosure: we have known each other for years and I’ve been closely following her professional journey.

Woolf Works’ only drawback is the lack of on-site or nearby childcare especially because its target audience is caregivers! I recently read about this co-working space in South Orange, New Jersey, which is not far from where my parents live, which is a membership-based shared office space with on-site, optional childcare. That space offers parents the chance to work alongside others while their children play downstairs with experienced caregivers. Michaela told me that she had considered the idea of on-site or nearby childcare when establishing Woolf Works, but it was not logistically possible for a host of reasons.

Woolf Works is an impressive space and I look forward to seeing Michaela’s business thrive and grow.

Connect with Woolf Works on Facebook and Twitter.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

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Several weeks ago, we visited Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve… again. It is a spot that I frequently recommend to friends and family who pass through town, as it is a jewel of an ecosystem where we have spotted exotic migratory birds like whimbrels and plovers and resident herons and sunbirds. On this visit, we managed to follow, from afar, an estuarine crocodile from sea to inland!

The 1-kilometer long Mangrove Boardwalk, which winds its way through the mangrove trees, is just perfect for The Toddler who can hike a little over a mile comfortably before asking to be carried. The photograph above was taken not far from Platform 2, on the banks of Sungei Bilabong Buloh near Pulau Buloh.

(I’ve posted additional photographs to Instagram. [Yes, finally.])

Imaginarium: Voyage of Big Ideas at Singapore Art Museum at 8Q

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Earlier today, my family and I attended the media preview of Imaginarium: Voyage of Big Ideas at Singapore Art Museum at 8Q on the invitation of the museum and CRIB, an incubator which aims to empower women, especially mothers, to become successful entrepreneurs.

Imaginarium is SAM’s fifth annual contemporary art exhibition for children and features works by artists from Singapore and the region, all who were attendance this afternoon. And while the museum claims that the “exhibition as a whole has been curated with careful attention to how children learn and play, and to appeal to different senses, modes of learning, and exploration,” several artists’ works are much more successful in achieving those goals than others.

The works that encourage adventure, discovery, and new possibilities (repeated play) are: We Built This Estate by Chiang Yu Xiang, an installation that invites museum-goers to create their own housing estates from Tetris-inspired blocks; Let’s Make! Studio by Izziyana Suhaimi, a craft workspace in which children and their caregivers can explore the fiber arts (embroidery, weaving, etc.) and hand-make small objects to display on the walls in the space, thus creating a “tapestry”; and Kiko’s Secrets by Kumkum Fernando, an installation comprised of three giant boxes which each offer unique sensory experiences around a different theme (the woods, the city, the sky). These were the works that my child was completely fascinated or absorbed by as well.

So, is it worth it? Once, at least! As I wrote, the exhibition offers only a few opportunities for sustained and repeated engagement. Imaginarium: Voyage of Big Ideas opened to the public today at 3pm and will run until July 19, 2015.

The Arts Open House [UPDATED]

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THE DATE OF THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CHANGED TO FRIDAY, APRIL 3.

The Arts House is throwing open its doors for a day of FREE literary-based art programs that “promise to tickle every fancy.”

I’ll be conducting a chapbook-making workshop at 1pm in the Blue Room. You will learn bookbinding’s vocabulary, its tools and their uses, and the materials and techniques of the craft, and the history of the chapbook. By the end of the workshop, you will have published one or more copies of a beautifully designed “limited edition” chapbook using my stash of beautiful handmade papers from India.

No experience necessary! Tools and materials will be provided. Bring an excerpt of your work (a line of poetry or prose).

The workshop is limited to 25 students and registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

conun:DRUM

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Yesterday evening, I attended an unusual and incredible percussion recital, conun:DRUM. The night featured five talented percussionists—Eugene Toh, Lim Rei, Trivandrum D. Rajagopal, Tan Lee Ying, and Bernard Yong—and was perhaps one of the most memorable musical performances I have attended in a very long time. On display was a dazzling display of skill and bravura in a wide variety of musical genres, from traditional South Indian to contemporary Chinese, from Middle Eastern frame drumming to Western theatrical percussion.

The entire program was spectacular, and while other composers’ works, such as “Duo 77″ by Yousif Sheronack, a duet based on South Indian (Carnatic) rhythmic patterns which featured Toh and Lim on frame drums, and “戏” by Guo Winjing, a contemporary Chinese piece composed in the style of Beijing opera which featured Toh, Lim, and Tan on cymbals, were rendered with incredible precision and beauty, it was “Nada Laya,” composed by Rajagopal especially for conun:DRUM, that was particularly impressive.

“Nada Laya,” a duet for mridungam and tar, was played in adi taal, an eight-beat rhythmic cycle, and also featured Carnatic laya patterns (namely korraipu, mohra, korvai, and arudhi). Rajagopal, Toh, and Lim opened the number by demonstrating the taal visually by using a series of rhythmic hand gestures, and then invited the audience to participate and “keep the beat” while Rajagopal on mridungam and Toh on tar startled and delighted.

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