Saturday, November 07, 2009

Uniquely Singapore: Making my pewter bowl was an enlightening experience

I am feeling slightly better. Been down with a nasty cold bug that I am finally finally shaking off. So we continue with the Singapore series...

The morning after the Nuffnang blog awards, the Singapore Tourism Board scheduled a city tour... at 8 in the morning. Now I am not a morning person. Never have been. My mother used to tell me I would never be a successful person because successful people wake up with the sun. I'd always reply I'd find a night job and my father would always retort that women who work at night are... well, I am digressing.

So the bus leaves at 8. I woke up at 8:30. My roommate, Jen Juan, woke up at about the same time. The next 10 minutes were a flurry of panic. But to our relief, we weren't so late. True, we were the very last to climb aboard the bus at about 8:45 but there were also a few stragglers and everybody hid their groggy eyes behind dark glasses. Except me. I'm stuck with my eyeglasses, which didn't hide how sleepy I was.

While we went to several places, today I'll talk about my favorite one. The Royal Selangor. It's a pewter shop. What's pewter? See the background of my photo above? That's pewter. Despite the entire wall of it behind me, it's not used for
metal buildings. Pewter is like silver but it's really tin and in olden times, pewter was used chiefly for tableware so if you watch all those Middle Ages movies and people are eating and drinking from metal plates and glasses, well, that's pewter they're eating and drinking from. The Royal Selangor is world famous for their pewter products and I really wanted to buy these rabbits but they were way over my budget:
However, we didn't leave empty-handed since we all had a chance to make our own pewter bowl! Pewter is a malleable alloy so we were given wooden hammers, a flat pewter disc and a set of letters and numerals and told to hammer away!

This was my design:

Obviously I was thinking of only one person the entire time. Anyway, after hammering my disc into a perfect bowl, I felt really satisfied and rediscovered something about myself: I like working with my hands. Aside from cooking and housework, I've never really done anything with my hands. Sewing and knitting were hard on my eyes. I used to be able to draw well but my parents didn't encourage us kids to take up the arts because artists starve (funny then that my brother is a musician, I'm a writer and my sister is an actress--something wonderful does come out of disobedience).

When I was 17, I made the bookshelves for my tiny bedroom, measuring, sawing the plywood, hammering in the nails... I felt a great sense of accomplishment with carpentry but of course, my parents didn't raise me to be a carpenter or to be anyone who worked with their hands. I was supposed to be a rich housewife and a doting mother to at least 4 kids. I remember telling Papa I wanted to be a writer because I can create stories, he said, "Create? The only thing a woman should be creating is babies!" Now, I have nothing against women who embrace this creative aspect but I think, in this aspect, I will continue to be a happy disappointment.

So lately, I've been drawn to shoe and jewelry design. It's something I think I'd like to do. When I see and touch my little pewter bowl, which Vince now uses as the house keys container, I believe I've found another thing to do. And I'm really really excited about this!

I would like to thank Nuffnang and the Singapore Tourism Board for this Uniquely Singapore Series.


  1. aw, i'd love to visit this place someday. it sounds so exciting to make something out of a flat pewter disc.

    you sure look like a pro with the pewter bowl and hammer (yes, plus the apron!)

  2. Go for it Frances. That happened to me too. I don't regret being in the medical profession just like practically every member of my family. But I've always wondered...

  3. LOL on the thought that the only things women should create are babies!!! And that artists starve (well, you guys proved it wrong) I feel high when I create something with my hands, so I love doing DIY accesories, clothes and what have you. It makes me feel free and in control, no matter how trivial my creation is =D.

    PS: Making your own pewter is such an experience! Good job on yours =D

  4. Royal Selangor is one of our biggest suppliers at work. All of our trophies are from them and I'm always amazed how great our trophies are! :)

    I think there's beauty in contradiction --- just as your mom said you'd never be successful [I totally LOLd on this one] and that you should only be creating babies :D As a kid and until now, I like proving people wrong [okay, you weren't probably doing that] but it's been a high for me to prove to the people who said I couldn't do things that I can.

    Congrats on finding yet another hobby and passion! :)

    Happy Birthday, too!

  5. Haha, so will y'all still read my blog if it's just about "The Desk I Made Today" and "Check Out The Necklace I Created!"? =D


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