So in between sending personal emails to over 100 people who signed up for Mandi Bunga, finding yellow basins, dippers, flowers, limes, ordering 200m of yellow fabric and and and etc… I also need to do actual art stuff.

As in, shut off from the list-checking logistical wrangling email email email go go go go go go get it done adrenaline whirlwind… sit down, and MAKE THINGS. It’s like stepping into the one quiet room in an increasingly crazy house. I don’t know whether the tiny quiet room is keeping the whole house going, or vice versa. All I know is that I’m jumping back and forth, between the making and the MAKING IT HAPPEN, dragging, pushing and pulling this thing into existence.

Art. It’s a bloody process.

Ok, where was I? Actual art. Making things. Yes.

So here’s a look at how I designed the stencils that will be used in the sarong making workshops.

First, draw draw draw. Maybe it’s because anyone with access to a screen today is drowning in images, but lately I’ve found that if I want a visual outcome that has texture and quality, I have to base it on something real. I don’t draw because I’m married to the drawing process, but because there’s no other way of finding shapes that mean something to me.  I know googling ‘Chrysanthemum flower vector‘ would get me thousands of hits, but none of them would look like this – my shape is the product of time and observation; it comes directly from my world.

photo 5

Drawing is a good way of finding out what a kaffir lime really looks like. The puckered skin and that little hill where the stem shoots out is what makes it different from all the other limes:


To get an outline for the stencil, I traced over the original drawing:


Faber-Castell PITT artist pen = magic on tracing paper. Pitch black and doesn’t smudge:


All done. My friend Aishah told me that the number of items in the flower bath has to be an odd number – e.g. 3, 5 or 7. That helped me decide how many stencil designs to make:


Scanned into the computer and vectorized:




And finally sent to these talented people: Ijat and Tasniim of Awang Cutter Projex. They’ll be cutting out the stencils from lino (the stuff we use to line our floors and cupboards. Totally Malaysian material) with their magical laser machine. These guys are doing awesome things out of their light-filled studio in Ara Damansara. If you need anything engraved, or cut out to perfect precision, they’re the ones to meet!


Errhhhmerrrgeerrd I can’t wait to see (and show and USE) the stencils when they’re done!


Now, I need to open the door and step out of the quiet room…

… into the rest of the crazy house…

… and out into the world…

…where it’s all happening…

and where I have high hopes of colliding with you, dear reader and human.


Update (1 Oct 2013): The stencils! They are finished. And they are beyond awesome. Here they are hanging out to dry in the evening sun:


Pretty shadows:


Professional stencils are usually made out of mylar, which is hard to source and quite expensive. You can get this lino stuff all over Malaysia. It’s cheap, strong, and flexible – the perfect alternative. A sharp exacto-knife will cut this stuff beautifully. Try it!