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the idea of Pre-cycling

This idea of ‘Pre-cycling’ brings in the concept of being Eco-friendly and Environmentally-concious to a whole new level.

I read with interest about the German brand/ shop, Original Unverpackt, which has queues of people lining up with their own cloth bags, tupperware containers and other methods of storage… The shop started by 2 German women who were tired of packaging overdose, decided to set up the shop where “shoppers bring their own containers and can take as much or as little as they like of each food and drink.”

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My mum on hearing me read out the news article, commented that it is like how shops of the past used to be like. That’s when I remembered watching those period television dramas (one of my few sources of history for everyday life of the past) where neighbours would come to provision shops to buy goods with marketing bags in toll. The shop-keeper would weigh out the required amount of beans, rice, preserved vegetables by the kati, before pouring it into the shopper’s bags or wrapping it in old newspapers. does this show that as our society has gotten more advanced, we have also started to do more harm to the environment?

(all photos taken from Daily Mail)

sharing books and goods

recently, a fellow classmate from my yoga class brought in a stack of spiritual books from her own home collection to share with anyone else in the class who wanted to take them to read. I remarked that the leftover books can go to the ‘book-exchange’ corner in the Toa Payoh Library. that’s when I realised that no one else in the class knew about this new corner! so yes, this post is to share about this wonderful new eco initiative that encourages people to share books they have bought and reduce waste.

When was the last time you lent a book to friend/ borrowed one from a friend? It was something I used to do in primary school through to secondary school! there on the front page we would have our names in a messy scrawl so we always remember who to return the book to once we are done reading. but nowadays, we don’t even pick up a physical book that often anymore, i know because i am guilty too.

Anyhow, these book exchange corners “allow people to drop off books and pick them up on bookshelves for free.”

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currently there are book exchange corners at these libraries in Singapore: Ang Mo Kio, Woodland Regional, Bedok, Geyland East, Marine Parade, Tampines Regional, Bukit Merah, Jurong Regional, Jurong West, Queenstown, Bishan, Central Public Library, Toa Payoh Library.

 

The book exchange corners remind me also of the Singapore Really Really Free Market which just had their last event during the Night Festival. I quote: 

“The Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) movement is a non-hierarchical collective of individuals who form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy. The RRFM movement aims to counteract capitalism in a non-reactionary way. It holds as a major goal to build a community based on sharing resources, caring for one another and improving the collective lives of all.” That is, nothing is for sale and everything is shared free at our events. Anyone with stuff or skills to share are welcome to, and if you find something you want, you’re welcome to take it.

I really love the idea and it makes me think about our excessive consumption of goods and increasingly ‘disposable-culture’ where we purchase so much items so easily which eventually ends up in the dumps!

 

This idea of book exchange is also happening with the Little Free Library which is a movement that began in the US but it spreading worldwide! I love that with the Little Free Library, it brings the idea of a personal library with people in your immediate neighbourhood and end up being another avenue to get neighbours to start interacting with each other. maybe we need to be doing something like this in Singapore’s latest campaign to promote neighbourliness! it will bring back the kampong spirit if only we stop looking down at our smartphone screens and start flipping real pages!

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also check out how beautiful these Little Free Libraries look on their pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/ltlfreelibrary/libraries-of-distinction/

 

pondering over pricing

some recent correspondence made me ponder about the pricing and valuing of one’s artwork. Pricing has been something I often struggle with, when running my independent handmade business.

 

Is it common practice for a gallery to have a work priced high with the artist taking home just half of the selling price? I have been recently approached to conduct workshops/ sell my artworks and often, I am asked to name my price (in workshop fees or in artwork retail price). what surprises me though is the fees/price listed officially to the final participants or customers is sometimes twice the amount of what I stated. That’s with the commission thrown in and while I understand that these organisations have to make their living too, what happens when they request to take a significant commission from the sale and instead of:

1) maintaining the selling price and reducing the final take-home for the creator,

2) they increase the selling price to include their commission so that the take-home amount for the creator remains unchanged.

Which is the better solution for the creator? while it is good to be taking home as much as requested, in the long run, the new higher selling price will affect the value of the creator’s products in the eyes of the consumers. if you are a creator, would you like to be seen as charging so much and having your value of your work doubled? these are the many questions I ask with no answers to. Eventually it boils down to how much control you would like to have over the valuing of your work. since the consumers sees only the final retail price and not the breakdown in amount that goes into commission.

 

I consider many factors when I think about pricing and usually most of my thoughts goes into the perspective of the eventual consumers. How much are they willing to pay for the service/goods? Is the price reasonable for them? If i were the consumer, would I also be willing to pay that amount? and a lot of times, it comes back to giving the consumer a fair service/product for the amount they pay. Pricing is something inextricably linked to how we would value something; If I pay a high price for a craft workshop, I expect to get a lot more out of it as compared to if I had paid a lower price. Price set expectations. Another thing I consider when putting a price on anything, is who is it I wish to target. With my involvement in community arts, I always like to price my goods reasonably, so more people are able to own and enjoy my works. These are the many considerations that goes on in my head when a gallery asks me to ‘name my price’.

 

Unfortunately, there is not straightforward answers to all these questions. I am still learning about pricing even when I have been running the business for 5 years now! maybe that what sparks local sites like Haystakt with tagline “Order Creative Goods at Crowd-Determined Prices”, how would you like to have the consumer decide the price they wish to pay instead of having to go through the headache of pricing yourself?

 

I always enjoy a visit to Ikea not just for its home furnishing goods… In fact, a main highlight at Ikea for me is in its food and restaurant. They may call it a restaurant but step inside and the atmosphere is anything but restaurant-like! You won’t find cutlery laid out on the tables or cloth napkins (much less have a waiter lay one on your lap as he pulls out your chair for you), in fact you won’t even find waiters here. Everything is self-service and casual. Yes, it is more in line with a family restaurant.

it is curious that everyone comes to Ikea knowing exactly what they would order. Afterall it is usually when one craves for a certain Ikea food that would push them to make the trip.

As I sit to enjoy my meal, I notice all around are people eating with their hands – from the french fries to their famous chicken wings. There is no tastier way to eat chicken wings than with your hands. This place promotes messy eating, almost sloppy, but no one’s complaining. Families with children sit alongside businessmen in suits licking their fingers. I love it. I love that no one cares about image in this place, it is successful in its casual atmosphere of making everyone feel right at home. a place where no one judges if you eat with your hands, and you can make as much a mess as you like, just as you would do in the comforts of home!

The Fictive Fingers studio opened its doors today. an independent textile print studio that uses traditional print-making techniques of silkscreen and block-printing. in Singapore. Wow!

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So I was excited to get to visit and to finally meet the two sisters behind the brand. Yet when I was there and with them, I felt a bit awkward, I didn’t quite know what to say. I had to stop myself a few times before I blurt out things like “You are so brave to start your own shop like this!” because that is something that many have been saying to me and I am sure they get that a lot too. It is like when you are an insider in the local craft scene business, there is a lot of general things we share in common and know about so there isn’t a need to verbalise it for the sake of finding a common topic to talk about. (Funny that we found more to talk about in the techniques and the materials and supplies! ha!)

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I guess all I wanted to say is ‘thank you for doing what you do’.

pensive bus rides

on a whim yesterday, I decided to take a long bus ride instead of the more efficient train. The bus ride took an hour+ but I didn’t regret my decision. There is something calming about bus rides in the rain… and I love sitting on the top deck.

'Golden Penda' trees by the bus stop

‘Golden Penda’ trees by the bus stop

the top deck is best for bus ride views

the top deck is best for bus ride views

 

what does it feel like? (just as a duck sightseeing tour bus passes us,) ah yes, it feels like a city tour in my own country without all the extra expense.

 

the Singapore River. the bus route took me through Orchard Road, the Singapore River, Chinatown, Kampong Bahru and then to Vivocity where I alighted.

the Singapore River.
the bus route took me through Orchard Road, the Singapore River, Chinatown, Kampong Bahru and then to Vivocity where I alighted.

 

so what if a bus ride takes longer? why do we always have to be in such a rush anyway?

 

Amazing how listening to old songs you have heard as a child brings you right back to those childhood memories! After watching “If there are seasons…” again last night, the old songs start replaying in my head again. Not that I haven’t been listening to them since we last watched the musical in 2009 and bought the soundtrack then. Since then, we have been playing the songs but I have quite forgotten the context to the tunes, so it was nice to re-watch this Singapore musical again. 

This musical is one of the few chinese theatre shows i have watched and I remembered being pleasantly surprised the first time when that I knew some of the songs. The musical’s storyline was written to incorporate the well-liked XinYao songs (Singapore chinese folk songs, a local music movement that was popular during the 80s and 90s) by Liang Wern Fook. So these were songs that had unconsciously seeped into us as it forms our local popular culture then. I grew up in the late 90s so there are many songs which I was unfamiliar with… until the musical. When we watched the play last night, the song lyrics were also flashed on the side screens which made me understand the lyrics better for the first time! I was really impressed by the composer and how much thought went into the lyrics, it is like writing poems. And despite some of the chinese lyrics being a bit cheem for the english-speaking me, the meaning is definitely stronger if you understand the chinese. Some clever rhymes and sentimental feelings gets lost when translated to english. I was suddenly glad I understood the mandarin!

 

For some reason the final song, “Singapore Pie” or ‘新加坡派’ kept reminding me of a music video I used to watch on mediacorp’s channel 8. so i googled and I found the music video! ok, so it wasn’t the same song, but it was similarly upbeat and it is also written by Liang Wern Fook, no wonder i confused the two!

do you remember this?

it was on replay mode on tv in year 2000. the clever lyrics about the joys of watching tv, includes popular local-drama titles. And while the actors are not singers, with them singing, they also throw in their own well-known catch-phrases at that time. it brings back many memories since some of these actors are now no longer in the local tv scene.