Playing With Clay For A Good Cause @ Goodman Arts Centre

I was really excited to be part of my company delegate for Start Now – National Arts Council Corporate Volunteering Art Workshop. It’s a half day workshop to equip us with the necessary skills to teach and guide less privileged children on clay sculpturing. The workshop was held at Goodman Arts Centre which was just walking distance from Mountbatten MRT Station.


Formerly Tun Seri Lanang Secondary School from 1962 to 1995, followed by LASALLE College of the Arts from 1992 to 2007 and School of the Arts (Sota) from 2007 to 2009, Goodman Arts Centre now houses the National Arts Council together with a diverse range of tenants from the visual, literary and performing arts scene in Singapore.


Since I was there early, I took the opportunity to explore the centre. It reminded me of my previous workplace which also took over the premise of an old school. I love its quiet and somewhat rustic environment. It offered a temporary shelter from the usual hectic Singapore. Art installations were also creatively displayed around the lawn. Can you spot the tall man in the photo below?


All That Is Heavy Rises Up Into The Sky by Jeremiah Hiah & Oranje Lwin 2012. This catapult utilises the ability of one to imagine. Only when humans run dry of imagination will it start to launch coconuts, papayas or other physical bodies.


The message is clear – Stay Out! Mr Octopus needs lots of leg space.


Adapt A Billy Tree by Ryf Zaini 2012. A by-product of modern society, where it survives within such a cosmopolitan state, bridging the notion of a more naturalistic form with ever evolving, urbanised civilisation.


It’s a pity that both F&B establishments only start their operation from late morning. I could really use a cup of coffee before the course commences.


Angie Seah was our course instructor. She shared with us her experience of working with kids during clay sculpturing lessons and highlighted the preparation required for each lesson. After this workshop, all of us were supposed to be able to organise and lead our own clay sculpturing classes!


The things that we need to assemble together for each child are as follow: Surface to work on (a piece of base wood that we can purchase from Artfriend at about $1.20 each), Wet cloth (can be rags from home), Container with water, Basic clay modelling tools (Jovi art brand), Rolling pin, Satay sticks and Disposable apron.


Of course, our most important ingredient – Terracotta Air Dry Clay and White Clay.


According to Angie, this clay that we are working on was rather similar to those that were used to create the famous terracotta warriors. The key difference however was that terracotta used for the warriors was fired in kiln while ours can be simply air dried. Look at the beautiful reddish brown colour!


While working with the clay, we need to keep our hands slightly wet and take only what we need. Knead the clay between fingers until it is soft and easy to work with. If the clay starts to dry out before we are ready, we just need to add a touch of water to soften it. If we are not working with the clay, we need to keep it sealed in a plastic or air tight container or simply wrap a wet cloth around it to keep it moist.


She has summarised her basic clay kneading techniques into one sheet of instructions for easy reference. This shall now be our kungfu manual!


I decided to create a squarish ‘tribal’ container to keep small items like paper clips and erasers on my work desk. When creating containers, we have to be careful not to stretch the clay out too thin.


If you are thinking joining 2 pieces of clay together, you need to first use a satay stick to scratch and create groove marks on both joining surfaces. Next, the ‘glue’ is created by watering down a small amount of clay until it looks like yogurt. Apply the glue to the  groove areas and put a little pressure to stick the 2 surfaces together.


Using 2 different types of clay – terracotta and white allow for different colour combination and contrast. That’s my final art piece after 3 hours of kneading, rolling and pinching!


When it comes to clay sculpturing, one is only limited by his or her imagination. Look at this cute elephant container with clay figurine!


Creating something out of clay can be a great exercise for the soul. For those that have not tried it, do not be afraid. It is not as tough as it looks. Clay sculpting is a relaxing activity that everybody should try at least once. It’s very beginner-friendly. If you make a mistake, simply crush it back up in a ball and start over.


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