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Garden Stories: Natural Plant Dyer & Textile Artist Agy Lee

Agatha Lee, or Agy, for short, is a long-time environmental advocate who raises awareness of environmental sustainability through her work with textiles. Formerly from Hong Kong, she has been living with her family in Singapore for almost two decades now. She spent half of that time here at the National Environmental Agency before finding her true calling in sustainable fashion, starting with an informative blog on repairing and upcycling clothing, and then co-founding Connected Threads Asia, which runs the local Fashion Revolution Day annually. She eventually moved on to focus on personal artistic projects.

After spending many years honing her craft, Agy developed into an artist, using natural materials and discarded fabrics to create wearable fashion or art pieces, always remaining true to her sustainability roots. She now goes by the name Agy Textile Artist. These days she also busies herself with The Green Collective, a gathering of local eco lifestyle brands in one place – offering retail, co-working office space and workshops.

I’ve known Agy for some years now in the environmental sector, but it was only last year that we began collaborating on workshops, mainly beeswax wrap classes. I’ve always admired the work she does and I love her refashioned pieces, especially her latest wardrobe addition – espadrilles made with fabric scraps. Agy is very creative indeed!

Apart from natural dyeing, she specialises in free motion embroidery, a technique she has used to create artwork from her Nature in Stitches series, and Ocean series, the latter being a collaboration with another artist, Arana Kennedy. Some of this work is documented on her YouTube page, along with other artistic endeavours such as various mending techniques, the natural dyeing process, as well as hand embroidery, so be sure to check it out!

I spent some time with Agy and created my first Garden Stories video on YouTube. Here’s my interview with her.

1. When did you discover your love for working with plants?
I enjoy working with plants and experimenting with their colours. I realised it when I started to explore the parks in my neighbourhood two years ago when I needed to slow down in life. As I reconnected with nature, I started to notice their different textures and how their beauty could be translated into stitches and colour in textiles. There are so many plants in Singapore, and I have to admit I have only touched the surface.

2. Where do you get your inspiration for your creations from?
Nature! There’s so much inspiration out there, you just have to look! I love observing my surroundings and how the public interacts with it. My first work was a series called Nature in Stitches, where I interpreted the bark of common trees in Singapore using natural dyes and free motion embroidery. I then worked on a collaborative piece called Ocean, which looks at how man’s interference with nature has a negative impact on corals.

Upcoming Beeswax Wrap Workshop!

Agy and I are back for another beeswax wrap workshop in early July at Funan Showsuite!

Looking for a safe, natural and reusable alternative to plastic wrap and aluminium foil? Join us for this fun, hands on workshop to learn how to make your own zero-waste beeswax food storage wraps for use at home! These perfect for encasing freshly cut fruit and vegetables, and sealing a variety of cooked food, and sauces in containers.

We are pleased to collaborate with Funan for this session. During this 2 hour session, textile artist, Agatha “Agy” Lee, and self sufficiency advocate, Olivia Choong, will guide you step by step in preparing a delicately scented beeswax mixture for application on any natural fabric, and evenly setting the mixture to create a beautiful beeswax wrap, ready for you to take home for immediate use!

Once you learn how simple it is to make your own beeswax wraps, you will no longer wish to buy (and throw) plastic wrap and aluminium foil.

Each ticket is priced at $85 per participant, and includes all materials. Limited seats available, so book your spot today!

What will I learn?

We will teach you how to make your own beeswax wraps at home!

Skills:

  • Adequate preparation of beeswax mixture
  • Even application on cloth
  • Uniformly setting the mixture on cloth
  • How to choose and prepare cloth for beeswax application

All materials provided!

  • Beeswax
  • Pine rosin
  • Jojoba oil
  • 2 sets pre-cut cloth per participant (one 5″ x 5″ for a mug and one 9″ x 9″ for a bowl)

What to expect?

In this 2-hour interactive session, expect a fun learning experience:

  • Hands-on learning with both facilitators
  • Relaxing, cosy and supportive environment
  • Minimum 5 pax to conduct the workshop

Date: 7 July 2018
Time: 11am – 1pm
Venue: Funan Showsuite, Junction of High Street and Hill Street
Price: $85
RSVP: Seats are limited to 10 only. Book your seat here!

**Please note: this workshop is not suitable for those who have allergies to beeswax, pine rosin and jojoba oil.

beeswax wraps singapore

Bee Amazed Garden: Learn About Bees & Beekeeping in Singapore

John Chong is a jovial man and one who loves his bees. Out of pure passion, he decided to open BEE aMAZEd Garden, a bee education centre at Kampung Kampus, located in Yishun. I have since visited twice, and I really like his humble facility, which has a garden for bees, bee observation gallery, educational aids and an area for classes and workshops. For those keen on bees in Singapore, this is the place for you! My first visit was with my friend GK, and more recently, Waj (pictured above), a beekeeping enthusiast who recently relocated from London with his family.

BEE aMAZEd Gardens offers several education programmes including garden tours, bee education classes, and even basic beekeeping, see here for the list. In addition, the education centre also provides organisations a CSR opportunity to adopt a hive. So far, John has hosted school visits to his centre, and welcomes group bookings.

Plants poisonous to cats and dogs

poisonous plants for cats and dogs

Shopping for plants but wondering which ones are toxic for your cat and/or dog? I speak with veterinarian and plantswoman, Gloria Lee, who highlights edible and ornamental plants poisonous to cats and dogs and explains what pet owners should do if their pet is poisoned.

1. Are most plants safe for cats/dogs? Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to choosing safe plants?
Most plants are in general not systemically toxic to cats/dogs. The more commonly available plants in Singapore which happen to be toxic to cats/dogs, are generally locally irritating to the mucosa or lining of the gut, thereby causing unpleasant gastric signs of drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In general, plants with sap can be considered not edible. To be safe, all plants should be considered potentially toxic, unless otherwise proven. This is especially so if you have puppies which have no safety valve when it comes to chewable things. Puppies are more likely to ingest large amounts of inappropriate materials, causing more serious problems

2. Which edible and ornamental plants should cat/dog owners completely avoid having around the home?
I cannot think of an edible plant which should be avoided around the home, unless you are referring to something like brinjals and tomatoes where the green unripe fruits are toxic. There are some highly, highly toxic plants which can kill outright e.g. oleander, all bulbs belonging to the Lily family, Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica), Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), Datura etc. Flowers in bouquets are sometimes more attractive to cats and dogs and also need to be considered, not just the plants themselves. Bouquets often involve exotic flowers not grown in Singapore or the tropics, and hence, do not ping the radar when investigating a potential source of toxicity.

The common plants found which cause gastric signs are often ‘house plants’ or corridor plants e.g. Dieffenbachia(dumb cane), Money plant, ZZ plant (Zamioculcas), Peace Lily, Mother in law’s plant, philodendrons- these only cause issues if ingested in sufficient quantities- which then depends on the size/weight of the pet.

May workshops: Soil Class & Soil Improvement Workshop

Announcing two soil workshops for May – a basic and an intermediate class in my backyard. There’s only room for 6, so book your tickets without delay!

Soil Class (Basic Level)

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know when shopping for soil and how to grow healthy plants, book your seat without delay!
  
What you will learn in this session :
– What’s in soil?
– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings

Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $45 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!

Instructor Bio :

Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

soil gardening singapore

Soil Improvement Workshop (Intermediate Level)

To have healthy plants, we need to ensure there are good microbes in the soil to make fertiliser nutrients available to it. During this session, find out how to use fertilisers and soil amendments to improve soil structure, and mix your own nutritious potting soil. Participants can take home a sample size portion of seed raising mix and potting mix.

The cost is $49 per person, and with only 6 spaces available, booking is necessary. Reserve your spot without delay!

Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 2pm – 3.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $49 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!