Tag Archives: recycle

Heard of the term “refashioning”?

One maker stood out with her environment theme this year. Agatha Lee runs a blog “Green Issues by Agy” and shares way that each of us can do to make this world more sustainable. I have been a follower since end last year and have always been amazed at her creativity and ideas she shared generously. I still recalled the first few ideas which impressed me quite a bit – crocheting decorative bowls out of old, unwanted jeans, DIY Halloween dress-up kits for herself and her son, and the DIY waterproof school bag cover made out of old umbrella fabric! All are fantastic ideas, aren’t they? :)

We met at the Handmade Movement Craft Fair earlier this year, and I quickly introduced myself and invited Agatha to join the Faire this year. It turns out that she was very interested as well! Since then, I noticed that Agatha had been conducting workshops at many places and events, and they were usually different and refreshing. I was looking forward to check out her workshops at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire this year. Check out my interview with Agatha below. It was my first face-to-face interview with a maker this year, and she has graciously invited me to her place.

How it started

Agatha shared that she mainly does refashioning, and it all started from the year 2005 when she was on her maternity leave and had more time at hand. She said that several  pieces of her clothes were still in good condition (good fabric and nice pattern), so even though they might have been out of fashion, she did not throw them away. When asked about her first piece of refashion, she promptly went to retrieve a pretty blue jacket for me. On the jacket are two pretty flower designs, and she shared with me that those were cut out from an old scarf! What I learnt from her later was that the idea came about because of a burnt hole in the jacket that she need to cover! I think it is a marvellous move, rather than to waste a good jacket. :)

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Agatha and her first refashioned item!

More projects

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Using old jeans to make covers for this chair!

Besides refashioning, there are also several upcycling projects that Agatha did.

Check out the photo of this chair with a jean cover (left) and a short video clip of her introduction of a refashion item that she was making when I visit.

To read more, you can always check out Agatha’s blog here and Facebook page here.

If you are interested to see the end result of the refashioned item in the clip, click here. :)

Inspiration source

It seems like more and more people are using Pinterest as a source of inspiration. Agatha shared that she sometimes browse Pinterest too, though her inspiration also comes from window-shopping. Indeed, I get a lot of inspiration when I window-shop too. There are many good ideas on the street!

Technical challenges

During our interview, I shared with Agatha how I had not embarked on any sewing projects because while I have a sewing machine, I do not have a permanent place for it. Hence, I envied those who have a permanent place for it. Contrary to what I thought, Agatha advised me that sewing with a machine might not really make it easier. She highlighted that there are also issues such as maintenance (the machine might spoil if it is not oiled regularly), or if the parts are not cleaned properly. In fact, she found hand sewing more straightforward at times!

If you are a fabric maker, what is your view and experience on this?

The blog and Facebook Page

Besides the refashioning and upcycling projects, I was also curious about the blog and asked Agatha on how she started that. It turns out that the blog was originally started by another friend and it was focused on environmental issues. She had taken over from the friend after that and began to share more on her refashioned items. I guess the blog took off because not many people in Singapore bother to refashion their clothes, and the blog gave people good ideas on simple ways to inject new life into their old clothes. This would appeal to ladies definitely. Now, it makes me wonder whether there are guys doing it. *wonder*

Agatha also mentioned that she was encouraged by her friend to start a Facebook page less than a year ago when she started to run her first workshop, and since then she has 300 plus following. However, she was curious how interested people are in refashioning, especially when the responses to workshops are inconsistent. But Agatha is persevering in conducting her upcycling and refashioning workshop. In fact, during this upcoming Singapore Mini Maker Faire, Agatha has decided that on top of two workshops that she will run, she will also do a presentation on refashioning! For more information on Agatha’s workshops and presentation, check out the information on our schedule pages on the pre-registration procedures!

Come experience being a Kampung Maker!

Sixteen makers and 6 discovery zones with an interesting myriad of hands-on activities! – This is my brief introduction of the booths of the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Looking forward to see the cool stuffs that the SL2 makers are going to showcase? Come check it out with me for a sneak preview now!

About Sustainable Living Lab (SL2)

The Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) is Singapore’s first semi-outdoor kampung (village) lab and prototyping facility that enables local innovators, organisations and students to serve their communities and the bottom-of-the-pyramid better. SL2 is located at the Sustainable Living Kampung, a space created by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), a non-profit community in Bottle Tree Park in Yishun.

Meet the Makers

Ibnur – SL2’s co-founder. A community-oriented innovator at GUI, Ibnur believes in the kampung spirit of ground-up innovation to solve sustainability challenges. He had been a maker/inventor since a tender age, having been influenced by his grandparents and parents whom he cited as “amazing individuals [who] have been the fountains from which [his] ideas flow from and also reminders for [him] to serve greater purposes in life”. His engineering education also provided the opportunities for several of his inventing and prototyping experiences such as antennas, sensors, filters, food dryers, bio-chips and ‘invisibility cloaks’ (Urgh, don’t we all think of Harry Potter when we hear “invisibility cloaks”?) 

Ibnur, together with Veera (below), had worked on projects that tackled issues in rural India, winning him UNESCO-Daimler Mondialogo Engineering Awards. Striving to nurture innovation across villages, he now co-leads the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2).

Veera – SL2’s co-founder. Veera has been making knickknacks and doodads for as along as he can remember. A kampung tinkerer at Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), his maker journey started with Meccano and Lego kits. Taking up Design & Technology as an O Level subject, he had ample opportunities to hone his skills in wood and metal working which served him well as a Mechanical Engineer in the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he designed and built solar pond dryers, flying wind turbines and miniature toothpick furniture.  Like Ibnur, Veera spent some time in the Silicon Valley gaining him valuable exposure to the overseas “garage culture”. On returning to Singapore, he co-founded the Sustainable Living Lab with like-minded maker buddies to develop the kampung culture of innovation in Singapore.

Huei Ming – SL2’s co-founder. Huei Ming is also presently a teaching assistant for the Engineering Science Programme at NUS where he is implementing a new design project for engineering students to construct their own low cost scanning tunnelling microscopes and guiding students on existing engineering design projects involving the fabrication of microfluidic devices and constructing wi-fi antennas.

There are 13 other makers (Zi Jing, Eugene, Yoga, Lianhan, Bart, Robin, Poh Hong, Melanie, Sullivan, Sid, Joyce, Natalie and Leonard) who all have a nice profile each created under the SL2 website (http://www.sl2square.org/category/news/singapore-mini-maker-faire/). Do check them out and see if you can spot them during the Faire this weekend!

What are they showcasing?

SL2 will be bringing some of the coolest stuff made by their kampung innovators out from their lab in Yishun. This includes bamboo amplifiers for the iPhone (which had an interesting name of iBam and iBam2), keychains & luggage tags made from decommissioned fire hoses, awesome cardboard sculptures put together by their cardboard designer extraordinaire, Bartholomew Ting, cool flatpacked cardboard furniture, cardboard building blocks, home brew kampung fitness equipment, water rockets and even PET bottle gardens and novel home gardening systems. You can even try out some tools and equipment at their mini wood working shop.

“MAKE” Cardboard Sculpture (Photo credit: SL2 Facebook page)

 SL2 is also promising interesting workshops to make your own play-dough, catapult, mini building blocks, water rockets, compost and cardboard sculptures which will engage your mind, body and soul!And that is not the end, as SL2 brings in games that would incorporate these DIY toys. I can already visualise lots of excited children!

Advice

SL2’s founding team was very humble when we asked them for advice for budding makers. They felt that their team is still young, and they do not have much wisdom yet to share as they are still walking the Maker path.

However, they shared 3 maxims which they live by and practised in one form or another at the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2):

Firstly, “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t right.” Secondly, “No prototype, no talk.” And, lastly, “Don’t just make your product, make your story.”

Maker Scene in Singapore

On the maker scene in Singapore, they would like to believe that there are many others in Singapore who share similar aspirations, as they felt that Singapore is in dire need of makers who are creative, hands-on and take risks, so as to build a Singapore that is vibrant, dynamic yet responsible and sustainable. The Maker scene is still young, so they do not know of many yet. They hope that through the involvement in the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, they could get to know more amazing ground-up innovators.

They added that our local maker scene can be likened to a baby Pheonix hatchling. It is not something new in Singapore, but more as something lost in our present young generation that is now in revival. They felt that it is important to rebuild the hands-on culture which was common in the days of our grandparents, where the kampong spirit prevails, where people spend more time together outdoor doing meaningful stuffs together.

To stay tuned to the SL2 stories, check out their Facebook pages on: www.facebook.com/sl2square and www.facebook.com/groundupinitiative. But first and foremost, come by the Singapore Mini Maker Faire at Science Centre Singapore this weekend (4 & 5 August).