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.

Happy Diwali (and Three Years in Singapore)

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Today, we celebrate our fourth Diwali in Singapore. We also commemorate the third anniversary of our arrival here.

So, on this very special day, I leave you with a poem by Sarojini Naidu, poet, Indian independence activist, and the first woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress:

Lakshmi*, The Lotus-Born 

Thou who didst rise like a pearl from the ocean,
Whose beauty surpasseth the splendour of morn!
Lo! We invoke thee with eager devotion,
Hearken, O Lotus-born?

Come! with sweet eyelids and fingers caressing,
With footfalls auspicious our thresholds adorn,
And grant us the showers and the sheaves of thyblessing,
Hearken, O Lotus-born!

Prosper our cradles and kindred and cattle.
And cherish our hearth-fires and coffers and corn,
O watch o’er our seasons of peace and of battle,
Hearken, O Lotus-born!

—From The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and Destiny, 1915-1916 by Sarojini Naidu (John Lane Company, 1917).

(*Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, although the deities, rituals, and stories that are associated with the holiday are different in different parts of India. My family considers the third day of the five-day festival most auspicious; they believe on this day Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, visits our home. On this night of a new moon—the last night of the Hindu year—total darkness sets in the night sky. We place tiny clay lamps in our doorway so that Lakshmi can find her way.)

Bookbinding 101 on Design*Sponge [UPDATED, AGAIN]

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I’m over at Design*Sponge, one of my favorite blogs, with the first of a three-part “Bookbinding 101” series.

An excerpt:

My avocation became a vocation in 2010 when my partner and I left our beloved New York City for adventure in Singapore. I left behind a strong book arts community in the States and was eager to find or create one in my new home in Asia. So, in 2011, I launched a series of classes via [this] blog. Soon after, I was featured in The Straits Times, the national broadsheet, and became the go-to gal for book arts on this tiny island. Most recently, I’ve entered a long-term partnership with the National Arts Council to bring the book arts to as many as possible.

In my classes, I encourage students to look at the book or book-like structure as an art object and not merely as a vessel for their “content.” I remind them that all the elements of an artist’s book—from the paper to the text and/or images—are deliberately inter-connected and work in concert.

I’ve worked with children and senior citizens and I relish the challenge of sharing my love of this quirky art with those who may not have the access or the means to procure expensive tools and materials.

My former students will recognize that the five-hole pamphlet stitch, the first “Bookbinding 101” post, is a variation of the three-hole pamphlet stitch that I teach in my introductory class!

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My profuse thanks to the very talented Claire Dalgliesh, an Australian designer and blogger currently based in sunny Singapore, who shot and edited the step-by-step photographs and drew illustrated diagrams for this series.

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UPDATE 1 (March 14): Part 2, Japanese Four-Hole Binding, is up!

UPDATE 2 (March 21): Part 3, Accordion Book, is up!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dagguerreotype of Singapore Town

‘Tis the season… to sign off of social media for a bit and take stock of the year gone by.

To my readers who celebrate Christmas: May this holiday season bring you and your loved ones much joy.

All: Have a wonderful time ringing in 2013.

See you in the new year!

(Additional credits: Daguerreotype of Singapore Town by Alphonse-Eugene-Jules Itier, 1844 via National Museum of Singapore. This is one of the four earliest photographic images of Singapore and was produced just five years after the invention of the daguerreotype photographic process. Itier was a French customs officer. This image was taken from Government Hill [in present day Fort Canning Park]. Tinsel brush via Pugly Pixel.)

Two Years in Singapore

Two years ago on Wednesday, we left our beloved New York City for adventure in Singapore; we landed in Changi International Airport at 6:00AM on November 2, 2010.

So, today: a post to commemorate this milestone. Here are 24 of my favorite (and some of my most personal) posts to celebrate 24 months in Singapore!

  1. Kaya Toast for Breakfast
  2. Singapore Shophouses
  3. Visit to Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator
  4. Urban Exploration
  5. Singapore Biennale and Kallang Airport
  6. Detour: Johor Bahru (via the KTM Intercity Train)
  7. People-Watching in Singapore
  8. Bukit Brown Cemetery
  9. #StrangersonaTrain on Speakeasy
  10. South Asian Food and Singapore (So Far)
  11. Singapore and Paul Revere
  12. Singapore Philatelic Museum [UPDATED]
  13. Punggol Waterway
  14. Affordable Art Fair Singapore 2011, Take Two
  15. Espiritu Flamenco by Flamenco Sin Fronteras
  16. A New Year, A New Baby
  17. #AdventuresinSinglish
  18. Women Helping Women: The Modern Midwifery of Ginny Phang at POSKOD.SG
  19. Eighteen Months in Singapore: A Yet To-Do List
  20. Gardens by the Bay and Garden City by Deanna Ng
  21. Pink Dot 2012 
  22. Singapore Literature in English
  23. Family Photographs by Ivan Tan Photography
  24. A Bloggers’ Guide to Singapore

(Additional Credits: Illustration by Diana Boyle of rooftop illustrations.)