Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hansel Productions Pte Ltd is 9 years old today.

When the 27 year old me created a label named after my pet dog and made a capsule range of 12 looks to show at Australian Fashion Week, it was much more about answering a strong urge to put my personal creative ideas to the test than anything else. I was completely unprepared for what came after my debut show on Monday 13 Oct 2003 in Melbourne.

The response was overwhelmingly positive with photos of my collection all over the Australian newspapers the next day, all 12 looks bought up by a boutique owner/buyer and my label finding a home in a Melbourne-based fashion sales and PR agency. Orders started coming in immediately and then I realized I had never really thought of, nor planned for, the label as being a proper, long-term business. I was so unprepared!

The first thing that I had to do was to form a business in order to do business! And so, 9 years ago today on Tuesday 16 December 2003, I registered Hansel Productions Pte Ltd (inspired by Jim Henson Productions). hansel HQ at that time was a round dining table inside a small home study with Hansel the dog overseeing things from his brown-blanket padded corner. It'll be 10 years next year! Wow! Incredible!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Toby Klayman and Joseph Branchcomb, San Francisco.

Apart from watching the Madonna concert in Seattle, the other highlight of my trip to the US was staying with artist couple, Toby Klayman and Joseph Branchcomb in their truly charming and inspirational home in Bernal Heights, San Francisco. We found them on airbnb - click here! (If you ever visit San Francisco, I would highly recommend renting their cottage if you are looking for something off the beaten hotel track!) Every morning of our stay was spent having coffee and breakfast and talking with Toby and Joe about ...almost everything! I learnt about their fascinating lives and stories and I shared with them what I did and told my tales too. The people you meet and spend time with when you travel overseas make up a large part of your experience and nothing could be less than more inspirational than spending time with this loving couple!

We rented a cosy little cottage that was in their back garden. You will find Toby's and Joe's art everywhere in their 104 year old house, creating a very warm home filled with personality.

Look at Toby's studio! It was inspirational just to sit in there. Is this lady prolific or what???

Toby's graphic pieces adorning their kitchen walls.

Cutting a slice of freshly baked bread in the morning meant being greeted with a stare from Toby's "Crete Cow".

These are her extra large salad bowls. Really really really beautiful.
Their front entrance. The large painting is one of Toby's earlier works, entitled "Self Love".

Toby's painted ceramic dishes and wooden pieces found their way into the guest bathroom too.

And look at this... a declaration of their love for each other, etched forever in concrete on the ground. :)

Before we left, Toby gave me a little surprise with a photo of a ceramic dish that she had just painted in tribute to our time spent in their home. This was truly amazing and touching. I simply MUST get this plate when it's all fired and completed!

When I later arrived back in Singapore, Toby's large dish settled in comfortably in my home living room...

...while her painted butter dish happily nestled in amongst my things on my home studio shelf! Toby certainly inspired me to paint and draw again! (I eagerly await the next time that I would get to see Toby and Joe again!)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Madonna concert, Seattle, 2 Oct 2012.

The truth is that the WHOLE trip to the US started off with a phone call from my cousin in Seattle at 4am Singapore time asking me if I would like to go catch Madonna's Seattle concert with him. Fast forward 8 months and there I was at the Key Arena stadium grasping my USD500 Madonna concert ticket...

We had showed up early and were queueing inside to collect our VIP tickets when I heard Madonna's voice rehearsing "Turn Up The Radio" - my instant reaction was to C R Y.
(My friend E was obviously very amused with my reaction.) I have loved Madonna's music since I was 10 years old and growing up in Singapore, watching a Madonna concert was a concept limited only to snippets on MTV or playing a DVD. Personally being there in Seattle and knowing that I was going to see her performance live was literally a dream coming true.

My Madonna VIP goodie bag! Yippee!

Nowhere near the same, but hey, I had to strike that pose!!!

Thankfully the stadium wasn't toooooo cavernous so the performance was more intimate! (Well, as intimate as one could get with a packed stadium.)

And the moment that I had been waiting for over 26 years begins... red hooded figures began to set a big brass thurible in a swinging pendulum motion against a gothic church setting. This was the beginning of what turned out to be my first religious experience. :)

My queen arrives!!!

I wasn't allowed to bring in a proper camera and was snapping pictures with my phone camera so several photos of Madonna dancing weren't as clear as I would have loved them to be, but when she did a slower dance routine I managed to capture these ones...

After a 2-hour show, we emerged into a chilly Seattle night, palms stinging from applause and legs tired from dancing.

We walk past the Seattle Space Needle and head home to relive the whole experience over wine till 2.30am What a fantastic experience.
Bucket list item number 1.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bauhaus Books & Coffee Cafe, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

After almost 3 weeks of travelling, my mind was craving for some silence, stillness and sifting. We googled up popular cafes in Seattle and came across the Bauhaus Books & Coffee in Capitol Hill. A cavernous corner unit filled with a wall of books on one side, we settled in for some coffee (not for me - yeah, I know, ironic considering that I was in Seattle), tea (for me), and a doughnut covered with snow-like desiccated coconut.

Ever since I started writing diaries when I was 12 years old, I still write each time I need to nail down thoughts so that they stopped swirling inside my head, creating a foggy mess. So I go everywhere with a notebook and pen (these in the picture are both from kikki.K) and pencil (a thin mechanical pencil from Popular bookstore always filled only with 2B lead).

I wouldn't feel right if I didn't have them inside my bag.

All this rest too was because I was gearing up for the REAL catalyst of my pilgrimage to the US...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mount Rainier.

We got on this...

To see this! (Cue Edvard Grieg's "Morning") I promise these aren't scanned from postcards or ripped off the internet. I took these pictures myself!

I strike my best "explorer" pose, though you can easily see that I am not one at all, what with the black sport socks worn on my hands (that I had to buy from a supermarket by the highway on the way to the mountain) because I was SO COLD.

See? I wasn't lying.

Despite the temperature, Paradise was indeed paradise. (Oh the place was named especially for a whole legacy of puns!)
Paradise is but one tiny spot in a mountainous region - as shown in this miniature model inside the visitor hall.

The other buildings around the visitor hall have cool shaped roofs - I'm guessing they are so steep so that snow doesn't pile on top.

Here's the ranger's house.

AFTER our hike, we chanced upon THIS notice! *gulp!*
We also read instructions on what to do should we come face to face with a mountain lion. And we're not talking about the new OS system for Apple.

Signs stuck on the rubbish tip provide a stark reminder of the area that we were in!!!