The Joys of Playing with Scrambled Dough

Ploytip Asawarachan, owner of Scrambled Art studio in Bangkok, Thailand, devotes her creative energies to helping young children (as young as two years old) fine-tune their motor skills and explore their imaginations. She and her staff mix batches of their own play dough (called Scrambled Dough), adjusting the recipes to the age of the children.

I asked Ploy to tell me more about her work at the studio. Here’s what she said.

MT: What are the things kids would like to create when they set their hands on Scrambled Dough?

PA: This definitely depends on their age, but we currently use Scrambled Dough with kids between 2 and 3.5 years old, which, in my opinion, is more interesting. Kids at this age still cannot identify or sometimes distinguish shapes and colors — so I do not expect them to make shapes with Scrambled Dough. What I expect (and what they like to do) is to smash, poke, pull, and squeeze the dough. My job is to create fun life-simulation activities that support those actions and make them stronger to develop fine-motor skills.

We like to play with farm animals by pretending the dough is a ranch, and to build fences by using real branches or sometimes straws. After that we make up a story about each animal and tell the story to the rest of the class. Kids at this age want to use everything that’s on the table.

The human brain can be manipulated by colors that are associated with different emotions and desires. For instance, Mc Donald’s uses the colors yellow and red. That is because yellow represents hunger, and red is the color of speed and excitement. These colors manipulate the human brain and change our perception of the situation we are in. Scrambled Dough actually uses the same concept. I create Scrambled Dough with natural coloring, avoiding bright colors, and that gives the children a calm feeling. I also avoid hard textures. In this way, toddlers can be less distracted and calm.

For more excitement and to appeal more to the imagination, I have created the Marble collection for the children to see the colors blending together while they play.

MT: What are some of the things the children say about being able to work/play with Scrambled Dough?

Most of them do not really ask about the dough — what it’s made of, or how to play with it. They actually get into the action and use all the tools that I provide. Their past experience might affect the willingness to play with the dough. For example, a bad experience during their play time at the beach might make them not want to play with the dough.

MT: Do kids interact with each other as they work on their projects? Do they tell each other things? Do they help each other out with their projects?

Yes. They are more likely to play with each other and to help each other to put different parts together.

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I found Ploy’s story inspiring, so I asked her to tell me a little about her background.

PA: As a child, I liked to draw all the time. My inspiration was my father. He always drew something on paper while I was doing my homework. His pencil left marks on the page underneath, and I traced them with my pencil. It was always a butterfly.

I grew up in a small town (population about eight thousand) called Ayutthaya in Thailand. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand before it changed to Bangkok. My life was not very exciting back then, but I could say it has changed when I decided to be an exchange student in Maine, USA in 2006. From a small-town girl who could not speak English, I was now traveling alone to a country I’d never been in. I adapted very well and explored so much! Then in 2008 I moved to Nottingham, UK as an exchange student again. It seems like I adapt myself very well and it becomes my strength. I get along and make new friends, and relish the new culture and the new environment around me. Finally, my degree took place in Sydney, Australia, a country so diverse in terms of culture and art.

All my life I’ve been busy making art and crafting things. When I was young, I was very into landscape and fine art, especially Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, but when I grew older I got a lot into improvisation with different materials from daily life, including many from nature.

MT: Thank you, Ploy, and good luck with your studio and your other projects!

Here’s Ploy’s blog.

Tea Bag Art by Dawn Gettig, and a Short Interview with the Artist

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Dawn Gettig, Little Bluebird of Happiness

I recently discovered Dawn Gettig’s tea bag art and got quite inspired, so I asked Dawn to tell me more about her art.

Mira Tudor: Hi Dawn, I came across your tea bag art at http://dawngettig.com today and really enjoyed your use of this medium—its wear made me think of some of the softer creases and stains of life. Then I read your own words about the serenity you need in your life, and realized that sometimes we achieve serenity not against a blank canvas, but, on the contrary, by falling into those creases and stains of our life softly. So I’d like to ask you to tell me more of what you see in the used tea bags you use as your canvas.

Dawn Gettig: I see images, faces or patterns that inspire the finished art. Often, I simply use my intuition and follow it as it tells me what the empty tea bag wants to become. Sometimes I see a woman’s face or a woodland bird or other creature. Other times I paint an abstract image. Often it is the color of the stained tea bag that inspires the subject matter and other times it is the shape of the stain. I use different types of tea bags . . . herbal tea, green tea, black tea. I love the variety of the different colors, shapes and sizes of the tea bags. Mostly, I just love the organic feeling and color of the tea bag.

MT: Your paintings of birds and animals come alive the backdrop of the tea bag as they would against a landscape. What media do you work with to create them, and have you tried before media that didn’t work with the tea bags?

DG: I am a mixed media artist so I use all types of media with the tea bags. Mostly watercolor and/or acrylic paint but will add in graphite, paint pens, pastels, inks, and more. Thick oil pastels don’t work as well on the tea bag substrate because it is so small.

MT: Have you worked with unconventional canvases before?

DG: Yes, I have tried many different substrates. Handmade paper, fabric, leaves, tree bark, stones. But I am especially drawn to tea bags as an unconventional canvas.

MT: What will come after the tea bags?

DG: Well, I am always working on many different art projects and learn many different techniques from other art teachers along my lifelong journey as an artist. I enjoy a wide variety of painting styles and subject matter. I love painting abstracts on large canvases because the story is different for each person viewing the art piece. I really have been enjoying the muted fresco look of painting on joint compound and hope to find the time to create more fresco-type art.

MT: Anything else you’d like to add?

DG: Thank you for the interview, Mira! Please visit me on Facebook Dawn Gettig Facebook and on my website at Dawn Gettig

MT: Thank you, Dawn, for granting me this interview!
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Dawn Gettig, The Fawn
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Dawn Gettig, Jackrabbit

Vlad Basarab, Earth People, at Amzei Market Makers

Walking about Amzei Square yesterday evening, I stopped at Amzei Market Makers to see their current exhibition (curated by Beti Vervega and Mădălina Mirea). One of the artists included in the show was Vlad Basarab (b. 1977, Bucharest), a graduate of the Ceramics section of the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as of two M.F.A. programs in the U.S, currently a Ph.D. student in visual arts at the National University of the Arts in Bucharest.

Vlad Basarab is mostly known for the clay books in his Archaeology of Memory series. You can see a photo on ArtOut, accompanying Mădălina Panduru’s interview with the artist, and a video on YouTube, showing in 4 minutes and 31 seconds the way one of these books dissolves under the week-long attritive action of water. In the interview, Vlad Basarab explains that he has left the pages blank in order to allude to oblivion and absence, and to stimulate the viewer to imagine what might have been in those books. Along the same lines, the disintegration of the book suggests the loss of collective memory. For more info in English on Vlad Basarab, see this page from the online art portal Modernism.

I didn’t get to see his books yesterday, but the works he did contribute to the show were rather strong, too. They were called Oameni Pământ nr. 1 (Earth People no. 1) and Oameni Pământ nr. 2 (Earth People no. 2), and played with his favorite media, the elementary materials of earth, water, and fire. I thought they were quite inspired. Here they are.

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Earth People No. 1
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Earth People No. 2