My cousin is a wedding make-up artist and I got the opportunity to ask her about her profession. It is interesting to see the large number of tools that she uses, and the time needed for one make-up.
Preparation: Trim eyebrows, moisturize and prime, eye cream, lip balm
Foundation – depending on client skin type, e.g oily/dry/sensitive
Eyes – Eyeshadow, eyeliner, false lashes
Fill in eyebrows
Concealer for undereyes and blemishes
Powder and set makeup
Highlight, blusher, contour
Setting spray to lock in makeup
She typically does weddings, so it will be either at hotels or the customer’s house. She doesn’t usually require a large amount of space as she take things out from her makeup trolley and put them back after use.
Mainly brushes and sponges. Others include tweezers, scissors for cutting eyelashes, eyelash curlers. She stores all her tools under a makeup trolley with compartments.
Need clear compartments for different things e.g storage of lipsticks, eyelashes and eyeshadows. As there are a lot of tools involved, it may get difficult at times when she is pressed for time.
Exploring Practitioners 1: Key Making – Loke Ting Wei
The key maker duplicate keys for her customers by using a key machine and other tools.
Key Making Process Documentation:
Parts of a key machine:
An electric motor to turn the cutting wheel
A cutting wheel
A vice to hold the key blank
A vice to hold the original key
A key alignment device
After observing and understanding from the key maker, I learnt about how key machines work. The key machine is used to duplicate a key, where an original key is inserted into the vice that is near the guide and a key blank is inserted in the vice near the cutting wheel. The alignment device, which is two bars connected, is used to make sure the original key and key blank always remain the same distance apart. The keys are horizontally aligned in the vices to be fixed in the same place in relation to the cutting wheel and guide. When the machine is on, the motor spins the cutting wheel. Then, the key maker will trace the guide along the cuts of the original key. The key blank will be dragged along the cutting wheel, duplicating the cuts on the original. When all the cuts are made, the process is finished.
After the key is cut, the key maker cuts off the excess part of the key if it is too long with a key cutting plier. Then, she removes the burrs by buffing the key with a manual metal handheld buffer. Finally, the brand of the key is imprinted onto the key by knocking into the metal with a hammer.
The workstation is small, but sufficient for the skilled key maker. With the small surface area, she had ample space to complete her key making process. A small table is used, with the key machine and the essential tools beside it.
Key cutting plier
Pain Points and Design Ideas:
I observed that the key maker buffed the key with a physical metal buff, unlike more modern machines which has a rotary wire brush attached onto the key machine itself, powered by the motor. As such, the physical metal buff would require more effort, and may result in less evenness and smoothness of the key. Hence, upgrading the machine to one with an attached rotary wire brush would be good.
I also realise that the key maker kept looking at the guide and the original key to make sure that the key blank is cut properly. She is an elderly auntie who wears glasses; and the daily activity of scrutinising at the key would be tiring for her eyes. Furthermore, I realise that the lighting of the shop is not particularly bright. Hence, I would suggest building a magnifying glass, with led lights at the rim of it, above the original key and guide so as to provide her a better view of it. With that, it would be less straining for her eyes.
I also understand that the cutting wheel would become smaller and thicker over time, leading to less accurate key duplicates. Hence, the key maker would need to change the cutting wheel when that happens.
Other than that, I learnt that the accuracy of the key duplicate also depends on the quality of the original key itself. If the original key is already worn, then the duplicate itself would not be accurate. Copies of copies also would not work well. Hence, my suggestion would be to improve the process from the key user’s side. The solution would be to duplicate the original key with a reliable key maker when it is new. With that, even if it is worn, there would still be a form of the original key existing for reference. Another solution would be to create a “duplicate” the key with a 3D printing machine, which can print metal. That would be the future to key making.
Creative Practice: I approached a tailor near my house who makes and alters clothes. When I approached her, she was altering a skirt for a customer who wants it to be shorter by half an inch.
Tailoring Process Documentation:
The tailor first measures the length that need to be cut away and altered with a measuring tape, as requested by the customer. Then, she marks the distance with a chalk. She then irons the skirt. After ironing, she cuts away the excess fabric from the garment with a scissors. Next she uses the overlock stitch on her sewing machine to serge the edge of the skirt. Next, she folds the end of the skirt to the new length and secure it with pins. The tailor then irons the new folding line for the skirt with an iron and after spraying water. She then blind stitches the hem. This is done by catching just 1 to 2 threads from the skirt material every time she brings the needle in and out of the hem. She continues blind stitching until the hem is sewn up. The altering process for the skirt is then complete.
The workplace consist of mainly three working surfaces – a table where she measures the fabric, marks the fabric with chalk and cut it, another table where the sewing machine is at, and the ironing board. The ironing board is very close to the first table, which makes it convenient for her. The first table is sufficiently big enough for her to carry out her tasks. For the sewing machine table, I realise that there are fruits beside the machine, which I assume is her midday snack while she goes on with her sewing tasks. The mix of food and sewing machines make the area a little cluttered. Hence, I would suggest having a built-in cabinet or shelf on the wall to hold the food or snacks, to prevent clutter. The whole shop is also brightly lit with many lights and mirrors.
Pins and Pin cushions
Iron and water sprayer
Thimble and threader
Seeing how time-consuming the process of blind stitching by hand is, I asked the tailor why she does not want to buy a machine that can do blind stitching to save the time and effort. In response, she said that blind stitching by machine is not without its flaws as it is very easy to go wrong and if so, she would have to restart every time it happens. Hence, she prefers hand sewing the blind stitch.
She knows her struggles very well, and makes her sewing process as comfortable as possible. For instance, she told me that she places mirrors and many lights within her shop so that it will be brightly lit and would prevent her eyes from getting tired.
However, she talked about how she had many orders to finish every day, for example 3 pieces of clothing in a short span of 2 hours. As such, she also has many orders which she hangs on the wall of the shop, along with post-it notes stating the orders she had in the day. She labels the different bags of orders with masking tape. Hence, I feel that it can be rather messy and disorganised at times. It can perhaps be improved with a proper storage cabinet with cubicles and proper labels made with whiteboard material so that she can write with erasable markers and save on the masking tape. She could also use a touch function enabled screen to write down her orders and categorise them with colour coding and dates to improve from post-its which can be messy and easily lost in the mess.
Exploring Practitioners 3: Baking – Loke Ting Wei
Creative Practice: I approached a friend who loves to bake. Some of the things she bakes are lava cakes, pancakes, muffins, cupcakes and brownies.
Baking Process Documentation:
Firstly, she preheat the oven. Then, she measures the correct amount of chocolate, then melt it by double boiling it. While waiting for the chocolate to melt, she measures the correct amount of butter and sugar, and creams the butter and sugar. However, that day, she forgot to take out the butter from the fridge to soften beforehand. Hence, she had to spend more time cutting and smearing the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl to let it soften faster. As such, she did that first before proceeding to melt the chocolate midway.
In addition, as she was too caught up with softening and creaming the butter and sugar, she was not looking at the chocolate melting. As a result, as there was no room for hot air in the pot below to escape, the temperature started getting too hot and the boiling water was bubbling and bordering the edge of the pot. Luckily, her family member who was in the kitchen told her. Forgetting that it was hot for a moment, she touched the melting bowl with her bare hands and almost got scalded. Then, I helped her lower down the fire.
After settling that and letting the chocolate to continue melt, she proceeded to resume with creaming the butter and sugar. She then added the eggs into it. In the process of breaking the eggs, she accidentally knocked too hard against the table and leaked a little of the egg white all over the floor. She then wiped it away.
She then takes out the chocolate melting bowl away from the fire to cool when it is fully melted with clumps. Then, she returns to beating the mixture of eggs, butter and sugar with the spatula. Next, she proceeded to measure the flour on the weighing scale, and adds the flour and a pinch of salt into the mixture.
She then fold the chocolate into the mixture of flour, salt, butter and sugar. This is done by slowly pouring the chocolate, as we need to be careful not to cook the eggs with the heat from the chocolate. After ensuring that there are no clumps and the mixture is relatively smooth, she pours the mixture into the ramekins, and puts it in the oven to bake for 11 minutes.
Sequence of steps in pictures:
After that, she keeps the excess mixture into a disposable storage container for the next few bakes. After the lava cake is done, she takes it out of the oven and places a scoop of ice cream on top of it.
The workplace consists of 4 surfaces – the sink, the stove, the area beside the stove which she uses to weigh chocolate and beat eggs into the mixture, and another surface (bigger than the previous) which she uses to weigh flour, butter and to beat mixtures as well. When asked why she uses two different surfaces when she could have used one, especially when she detests creating a mess so much, she said she did not think too much.
At the stage of breaking the eggs into the mixture, she had to go to and fro from the table surface to the bin (which is around 5 steps away) to throw the egg shells, then back to the table surface, and finally after doing so 4 times for cracking 4 eggs, she goes to the sink to wash her hands. Hence, the inconvenience could be prevent if she had moved the bin nearer or throw the egg shells into a temporary bag.
Ice cream scoop
Disposable storage box
The pain points were that the area to work with were too small, plus the sink, bin and table top is far away from one another. As she likes to be clean and wash her hands after every step, for example she does not want to touch things with gooey egg-y hands, she has to walk to the sink every time, and go back to the working surface. Also, one of her main concerns were needing to wash the tools after use. Hence, it would be good if we can implement a self-cleaning device or tools for her. Because she does not want to wash the electric standing mixer, she does not use it; but said she would use it if it can self-clean somehow. Using the electric mixer would yield more satisfying results as the mixture would be less clumpy and smoother.
As she usually bakes alone, and there are two separate stations to look after (the stove and the table top where she mixes stuff), it is easy to neglect the stove and this can be dangerous, such as when the boiling water almost bubbles over, and when in a moment of forgetting it is hot, she almost got scalded by touching the melting bowl with her bare hands.
Hence, I would suggest having an app with a voice assistant that can track each step of the baking process, especially when many steps are ongoing at the same time. For example, the app will remind her to use a medium fire to heat up the chocolate at the start, and after 3 minutes, it will remind her to turn it down to a smaller fire, and after 10 mins, it will remind her to stir the chocolate and check if it is done. This can be good prompts when she is busy with creaming butter and sugar at another table surface which is a distance away. A temperature strip could also be stuck onto the melting bowl to remind her that it is hot so she does not lift it with her bare hands.
Cultural Probe: Design and Findings – Loke Ting Wei
I did a cultural probe with my friend who is a baker, along with two other friends who bakes cupcakes, muffins and lava cakes. I prepared a set of cultural probes to ask them, and by discussing with them and bouncing off ideas, we came up with solutions to target the problems experienced.
Contents + Rationale, Findings (which includes the problems faced) and proposed solutions:
Please record down:
Process of making lava cake
Activities to do:
Record down in your long every 5-minute periods (after every 5 minutes, what are the changes?)
Process of making lava cake
Findings: Some of the practitioners did not follow the 5-minute periods, but instead record accordingly with each step, which is fine as well. From their steps and the struggles they wrote down, their feedback was that tools are all over the place in the kitchen, dirtying the surface of the table top and having to refer to the recipe on the phone repeatedly while hands are dirty.
Suggestion: Touchable screen on the kitchen wall to record and display recipes. Space expansion with extendable surfaces, eg. that covers the sink and acts as an extra surface. Tools organiser in the kitchen cabinet, categorised according to uses. (eg. spatulas all together)
2. What are the:
Things that you think could be incorporated into your lava cake?
Things that you would hate to be in your lava cake?
Findings: The practitioners said they would decorate the cake with more ingredients if they could afford more time and effort. Extra toppings include confectionary sugar, icing sugar, sugar heart shapes, m&ms, cookies and chocolate shavings.
Suggestion: A self-decorator machine that helps them to finish off the product with nice toppings. Upon the push of a button specifying the design, and keying the size of the cake, the machine would do it for them.
3. Circle the words you would want to incorporate into your lava cake
Thai milk tea
Orange, apple, pear
M and Ms
Red Velvet mixture
Now, how would you want to incorporate these into your lava cake? How is the baking process and tools used changed?
Findings: The practitioners chose the ingredients based on their own liking. For instance, one of them only likes chocolate and sweet stuff, not the fruits, while another loves fruits in her cakes. This question attempts to expand the creativity of the practitioner. One of them said she would like to add Thai milk tea in her cake. However, she has not found a way to do it. She would assume that she needs to add Thai milk tea into some sort of mixing agent for it to have the consistency of adequate thickness to make the cake batter.
Suggestion: Recipe app in which they can try adding different elements to the cake and see how the equation turns out.
4. Contextual changes that would take place
What if you are in a rush? What would you do to speed up your process of baking lava cakes?What are the steps (if any) that you would skip?
What are the steps (if any) that you would skip?
Findings: All of them wrote that it was almost impossible to skip steps as each step is important. The key is in remembering to do the preparation work beforehand to save time. Eg. take out the butter to soften.
Suggestion: Task organiser with notification alert. Or a timer that is stuck to the wall so avoid wasting space.
If you would have to bake lava cakes for a competition, what additional steps would you take to improve your lava cake?
If you are making the cake for someone with diabetes, how would you change your ingredients and how would that affect your baking process?
Findings: lessen the sugar, change normal chocolate to dark chocolate, add more fruits, use fruit juices and natural sweetness to replace sugar.
Suggestion: A sugar level indicator. This is rather futuristic as the available solutions now is to use Benedict’s solution to test for simple sugars, such as glucose. It is a clear blue solution of sodium and copper salts. In the presence of simple sugars, the blue solution changes color to green, yellow, and brick-red, depending on the amount of sugar. However, this solution is unable to test for sucrose, which is commonly used in baking. Furthermore, using chemicals while preparing food is dangerous. Hence, perhaps the only way is to test the sugar level through tasting and trial and error each time. The practitioners can record down the level of sweetness along with the amount of sugar used each time and place it on the kitchen wall. A touchable screen on the wall would be even more convenient.
If you have to make it for a child, how would you have done it differently and how does that affect your baking process and tools used?
Findings: add more decorative and colourful toppings for the child
If you have to teach the child how to bake, how would you have done it?
Findings: explain more and guide the child step by step, holding his or her hand if necessary.
Suggestion: Augmented reality with a phone camera on top of the child’s hands and bowl. The child would have to follow the markings on the screen to achieve the correct results.
If you have to keep the kitchen surfaces with no dirt or spillage at all, how would you have done it? (eg. with newspaper or mat?)
Findings: plastic sheets would be good, although not environmental friendly
Suggestion: self-cleaning mat made of nano coating that repels water, oil and dirt. Eg. titanium dioxide nanoparticle coating or other hydrophobic products
Cut the butter (2 slices) as fast as you can. What is your record breaking score? (I will record)
Findings: With the rush for time, they realise that the ways they handle this process may not be the most efficient. One of them realise that their butter was too soft and sticks to the knife. Another one did not soften the butter beforehand and hence took more effort and time to cut them with a spatula. The other one had a proper surface with softened butter and cut the butter the fastest.
Pour the flour in the mixture without any spillage.
Findings: Accidental spillages often happen.
Separate the egg yolk from the white as fast as you can.
Findings: Most do not do this due to the hassle.
Suggestion: Suck the egg yolk out from the egg white using a suction bottle.
Scoop the batter into the ramekins as fast as possible.
Findings: One uses an ice cream scoop, the other two uses spoons. They find it troublesome to accurately place it in the tins or ramekins without dripping over the edge. Using a scoop will also cause wastage as it is difficult to scoop out the excess.
Suggestion: A piping bag to suck up the batter and place it accurately into the tin or ramekin.
Workplace Documentation: Since our final project revolves around the profession of TCM practitioner, Stephanie and I decided to look for a TCM practitioner to find out more about their practice. For this, we contacted Dr Soh Bing Quan, Derrick, who currently practice at Richlife Chinese Medical Centre. We were given the opportunity to observe his work and what it entails but am unable to take any images due to organisational and privacy concerns. Dr Soh also works as a house physician previously, where he travels to the homes of patients to provide TCM treatments.
Common Tools Used:
Medicated Oils and Creams
Gauze and Cotton Wool
Glass cups used for cupping
Porcelain spoon for Guasha (traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light petechiae)
Bin to store used needles
Process Documentation: During the interview, he told us that there are basically 3 key treatments in TCM – accupuncture, cupping, and tuina.
Acupuncture is where thin needles are inserted to patients’ body to regulate or manipulate the Qi. The process takes about 15-20 minutes according to Dr Soh. Sometimes extra stimulation is added through twisting the needles or attaching it to the electrolysis machine to pass current through it. It helps to relieve pains and reduce risk of strokes and more.
For cupping, although there’s pressure cupping machine selling in the market, Dr Soh uses the traditional fire cupping where he first dip the cotton wool into alcohol then lighting it up on fire creating the heat and pressure for the cupping process. He commented that fire cupping is more effective than simply using pressure. Medicated oil/paste is also applied to patients’ body beforehand. Cupping actually serve similar purpose with another TCM treatment called Guasha, which I was not aware of before. I thought they were two different treatments. But generally, they both serve to enhance blood flow and disperse congested energy and blood.
Lastly for Tuina, its mostly used for external injuries such as sprains, strains and other joint injuries. It involves brushing, kneading, rolling, pressing and rubbing an injured person’s body, using their hands to stimulate Qi and blood to promote healing.
During the recess week, I visited a workshop conducted by Theo10 with a few other classmates. The workshop conductor, Theodore, guided us through the process of making moisturizers and insect repellents that can be customized to serve different purposes.
The workplace for the workshop was generally well organised and was simplified to only include the bare minimum equipment that’s needed to conduct the workshop. However the actual factory or workplace houses a myriad of different machinery and technologies that helps develop the product in the most efficient and accurate manner which is a key aspect in the process. Taking the insect repellent we made for example, Theodore mentioned that is it crucial that we get the measurement of 10ml of water and 2ml of base (company’s secret ingredient) right, if not the repellent we make will not work.
Key Tools Used:
Temperature Measuring Stick
Glass Rod (to mix the mixture)
Essential Oil in glass bottles
Spoon to scoop mixture
Moisturizer – We started off by learning how to make our very own customized moisturizer. The moisturizer base is a white cream, made up of Coconut oil, Jojoba, and Aloe Vera. Theodore heated up the mixture for us to melt the cream before having us add the essential oils into the mixture, using the glass rod to mix it well. For me I chose a combination of lavender and rose scent, due to personal preference to their smell and its individual benefits.
Insect Repellent – For the insect repellent, the process was a lot more complicated whereby more measuring tools such as the pipettes and water beaker were used. The base for the insect repellent was a concoction developed by Theo10 and we were supposed to add 2 ml of it through the pipette to 10ml of water before adding essential oils to mask the smell. The smell of that base was overpowering, smelling a lot like fish sauce so all of us had difficulties trying to mask the smell with the different essential oils.
Pain Points: One pain point that Theodore mentioned was that this profession often requires a lot of trial and error in order to develop an actual working product. When he first started out, his insect repellent prototype actually ended up attracting more mosquitoes when he applied it. In general, it was also difficult to carry all the equipments outdoors as there are just too many tools required.
Personally I think as of now its not something that is mobile, but in the near future, it would definitely be beneficial if this profession could be mobile as the products developed could serve so many different types of purposes such as relieving eczema and cuts, which is perfect for outfields and more!
Related to my previous assignment on developing a prototype for a lashlift practitioner, I visited another lashlift colleague of my friend to find out more about the profession.
Elly, actually works as a home-based beautician, with her work site set up in her own room. Below is an image of her work site.
She arranges hers tools into this black multi-layered tray beside the bed.
Some of the key tools used:
Y-tool (to separate lashes)
Sharp tool with hook
I actually got a chance to observe the process at the side while having Elly explain to me the procedures step by step. It was an enriching experience as I got to realize the purpose of the different tools. One of the key pain point for a lash lift beautician is really the large number of tools required which can be messy at times.
Edge of Silicon Pads are too thick to fit perfectly.
Certain tools such as the Y-tool and sharp hook tool can be combined to maximise efficiency
Worksite area is too small which can be inconvenient at times resulting in tools dropping frequently.
Tool organisation area can be messy at times as there are no specific slots allocated for each different kinds of equipment.
Because of the number of tools required, it is almost impossible to bring the service outdoors on-the-go.
A significant amount of time is also required to set up before each customers comes.
I’m combining all my findings (Exploring Practitioners + Cultural Probes) together as they seem to overlap in areas and I don’t want to repeat any information! For my cultural probes, I gave my practitioners a set of questions and tasks to complete, as you will see listed down below.
Practitioner #1: ARTIST
Q: Take photos of your workspace
Q: Take photos of your work tools
Q: What are your two favourite colours?
– Black and White
Q: Make a sketch using those two colours
Q: Share pictures of some of your favourite art
Q: What inspires your art?
– Real life, visions, other works from artists, movies and video games
Q: Create an art piece and share your in-progress photos
Q: What do you think could improve your art?
– Practice. It’s always about practice.
Q: What hinders your art creation process?
– Lack of inspiration or understanding of how to translate ideas onto paper.
– Not enough research or observation of real life (if i’m creating life-like art).
Q: Why do I create art?
– As a form of expression that I don’t have words for.
Practitioner #2: FILM PRODUCER
Q: Take photos of your workspace & work tools
Q: How would you describe your job?
– Purposeful, people matter and creative
Q: Take 1 photo a day of anything that interests you (for a week)
Day 1 (Art work)
Day 4 (Screenshot of Avril Lavigne’s new music video)
Day 5 (Art Work)
Q: Who or what inspires you to be a film producer?
– I don’t think i ever grew up wanting to be a film producer. It was a series of open doors that led me to where and what I’m doing today. It’s also something that I grew to enjoy and love.
– Seeing how my role gives me the opportunity to bring people together and connect with individuals personally, brings me joy.
Q:What is the most important skill you possess that helps you with your job?
– Practicing Grace. It’s something that I’ve learnt to be more conscious of over the years. Working with creatives can be painful because everyone wants to express their individuality, thoughts and opinions throughthe works they create. The heart and skill needs to work hand-in-hand to correct people with love and respect, otherwise people will be hurt in the process.
Q: Share some pictures of one of your film sets that you’ve worked on.
Q: What might improve your job?
– More space to push boundaries and the upper management having a greater understanding of the creative process.
Q: What hinders your job?
– Nothing that i can think of at the moment. Really happy with it.
Q: What tool might be helpful in making your job better/easier?
– A bigger desk.
Practitioner #3: PRO GAMER (Or rather, ex-pro gamer, as she used to represent Singapore in Command & Conquer world tournaments, but not anymore.)
– Take photos of your workspace & work tools
Q: How would you describe being/having been a pro gamer?
– It was nerve wrecking, intimidating almost, because no one really took female gamers seriously back then (or they would have an idea about what they should be like). And with everything you put a great deal of investment in, it’s a lot of time spent in a virtual world and away from other things that matter.
– It taught me how to hold everything with a loose hand and sportsmanship – while I always hope to win, it is not the sole purpose of why I game.
Q: How would you describe the difference between a pro gamer and a regular/casual gamer?
– The stakes are a lot lower. As a casual gamer, I enjoy playing more story-driven genres and taking my own time to build a world that I’d love to stay in and not just survive. In competitive, I’m always training myself to click faster, throw myself in all kinds of situations to formulate better response actions to counter my opponents.
Q: Do you still enjoy video games as a pro gamer?
– Yes, for sure.
Q: Why do you play video games competitively?
– For the challenge, but I rarely do it anymore.
Q: What improves your ability to game competitively?
– A lot of practice, understanding of the game and purpose as to why I would even put myself in such a position (it has to be worth my time).
Q: What hinders your ability to game competitively?
– Now: Toxic players. It was not like that in the past games I played competitively. Back then, competitive players collaborated with one another to break boundaries together and shared strategies with their opponents to get constructive feedback – So that the gaming community could move forward and learn as a family, even though they knew that they would still compete with one another in competitions or on ranking ladders.
Q: What might help you become a better pro gamer?
might help you at your job/hobby?
– Maybe a new keyboard or headset? But those are wants, not needs.
The Monkeycup conservation garden is located on Penang Hill in Malaysia.
Long tweezer (for picking up “wrong food” in the cup); Shovel and rake (for soil loosening); Clipper (for removing damaged or dead parts); Watering bottles (for feeding weak cups); Dust ball (for sucking out small alien debris from the cup); Sprinkler (for large area watering).
The workstation is located in the garden where the environment is half wild half human-controlled. To preserve the nature of the garden, the practitioner tries to leave as little trace as possible. She carries all the tools with her, which is not too many.
The plant care work is carried out throughout the day. If the practitioner spots a dying cup, she first observes the condition of the cup: is it damaged by human? is it not catching enough food? is the mother tree doing well? Then she makes a decision: to feed it with the nutritious solution, or to remove it. If she sees debris in the cup that isn’t supposed to be in there and might harm the cup, she removes it using a long tweezer or a dust ball. This requires high skill as the cup cannot be touched. Once a day she sprinkles the garden gently, which also takes a long time.
As a conservation garden, they need support from tourists. But not all tourists are respectful nature lovers. Sometimes the practitioner finds damaged cups that are popped by hands or cup caps that are torn. The garden finds it difficult to balance between bringing people closer to nature and protecting fragile rare species. Showing tourists the conservation procedure that is done with great care can be a way to educate them.
Practitioner 2 – Plantable Packaging
This packaging is made by designers Bakker and van Dijk.
Blender (to further break up the fiber from the cutting waste); Basin (to soak the cutting waste); Filter screen and molds (to shape and drain the soaked cutting waste); Stamp (to print on the packaging).
The workstation can be anywhere, preferably near the source of cutting waste and had abundant sunshine. As there is no artificial additive and no pollutive matters, the water drained can be reused or discharged into nature.
The practitioner first collects the cutting waste, then blend them and soak them in water. They pour the mixture into a mold with a draining filter at the bottom. When the water is drained, the mixture is shaped. Then the practitioner lets the sunshine do its magic. When the pieces are thin and hard, they can be printed with labelling information. As food packages are not meant to last long, this plantable, easily degradable packaging is a solution to plastic waste.
The process of making the packaging material required intensive labour. It is a great concept in terms of material and energy, but the manufacturing cost is hindering its practice in industries. However, as more people are aware of the environmental issues and are willing to pay more for more responsible products, this is also an opportunity.
Practitioner 3 – DNA Sequencing in the Wild
Dr. Philip Johns from Yale-NUS introduced his portable DNA sequencing toolkit to us, thanks to his and Andy’s kind help.
Direct DNA sequencer (low cost, immediate sequencing, but the preparation work is tedious); Thermal Cycler (to amplify copies of a specific segment); Pipette (to transport a measured volume of liquid); Electrophoresis (to separate charged DNA according to size); LED Transilluminator (to help read the electrophoresis result); Laptop (to analyze data); Power supply.
Take otter feces DNA sequencing as an example. The practitioner brings the toolkit with him into the wild. They acquire samples from the sea and analyze them using the workstation. The analyzing work is not done in the wild, but in a small lab where there are power supply and workplace.
After the sample is acquired and processed, the practitioner conducts PCR to amplify copies of the specific segment they look into. Then using electrophoresis and a LED transilluminator, the DNA fragments are separated and read. The data is then analyzed by computer to generate the real DNA sequence.
For faster direct DNA sequencing, MinION can be used, but the cost is higher than traditional ways of sequencing. A lot of time and different machines are needed. The plastic waste generated from the experiment is hard to neglect, especially if the experiment is carried out fully in the wild in the future.
My group (Kaitlyn and Johann) and I had a meeting to get to know Anna, an art therapist, who specialised in working with elderly in Singapore – in particular, those who suffered from Dementia.
Tools: – Bag for carrying all the necessary materials for a session She mentioned that she had previously experimented with carrying around a trolley bag but found that a backpack was much better to navigate with since she would also have to push her client around in a wheelchair. – Different types and sizes of Paper – Assortment of paints, markers, color pencils, pencils, pens, oil pastels, etc. – Water bottle to hold water (and plastic container to pour into) – Reference materials (such as prints and an art book); to inspire client or provide examples as to what they can draw if they are ‘stuck’ on an idea. – Collage materials; in case the client does not wish to paint or draw, collage is an easy and accessible medium to create art.
Anna mentioned that it was crucial to bring many options for her clients to work with. If there were not enough options for materials, it would possibly cause clients to feel restricted: an emotion they usually already struggle with in their daily lives. It was also interesting to note that if a client was very insistent on a particular type of medium, Anna would then try to understand why this was so – if it had any meaning, and help the client to process their needs and feelings.
Worksite: Anna has a variety of worksites that she works in – as she is a freelance Art Therapist. Firstly, there are fixed weekly sessions in an elderly day care center where there are tables and a room provided. Within this elderly day care center, there are both group and individual sessions – particularly designed based on the needs and concerns of each elderly (some might require special care or do not work well in groups). Secondly, there are ‘field trip’ type sessions where Anna will bring the client (usually individual) to various locations around Singapore and work outdoors. Hence, it is very important for them to find locations that are not too crowded, have sufficient space that is able to sit at for a long time, and generally a comfortable space that the client can create art in.
Participation: We asked Anna to demonstrate what a typical art therapy session looked like with us as participants. She started off with getting us to draw for 5 minutes – anything we wanted. (5 minutes because we were running on a tight deadline but usually it would be longer and would come with warnings of the time running out so that the clients could prepare themselves and not be caught off guard.) She then asked us some questions about what we drew, or how we drew – based on her observations. It allowed her to understand how we felt and what was going through our minds – but also through the process of doing so, she was able to help us understand ourselves.
I think what was interesting is that she tried to make us aware that art therapy was not meant to pin point the exact problems and diagnose clients. But instead, they were meant to encourage the stimulation of the mind – especially useful for clients with dementia – and to engage in works and understanding of our processes that would allow clients to come to terms and understand themselves and their situation better.
I sent out a variety of personal invites to animal specialists in Singapore and managed to cinch an opportunity to follow Vanessa, who is a senior keeper with the Jurong Bird Park, as she performs her duties in various aviary departments around the Park itself.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was Vanessa’s outfit which was already equipped fully with a variety of useful tools that she used as she goes around the Park. The tools as I would come to realize later, are actually made up of simple household items whereby their functions have been creatively utilized by the keepers.
It was an amazing experience to be up close and personal with the birds, but due to some aviaries that have yet to be released to the public, I could not take pictures in some of them. So instead, I am focusing on the tools that I actually managed to get pictures of which Vanessa also kindly explained in terms of their functions.
I arrived at the Jurong Bird Park at seven in the morning and while I thought I was early, the keepers alongside Vanessa were already very much at work, getting ready for the aviaries that they were about to work on for the day. She greeted me and gave me a slightly humorous chiding for my tardiness as she was expecting me to arrive earlier to sit in for the keepers’ meeting which I unfortunately missed.
Instead, I was granted permission to follow Vanessa as she conducted her duties around the Park, and it was an eye-opening experience to see the many ways in which the household items aforementioned were being used in ways that one might not expect it to be utilized.
For instance, she has a set of pliers which also act as pruners, so instead of simply plying things, she uses it to adjust birds’ beaks that might have accidentally curved themselves as they peck at hard items during nest-making. She explained that the common birds species do not necessarily need their beaks fixed all the time but there are some like the Woodpecker that may accidentally bite off more than they can chew.
Painpoints + Thoughts
When I asked Vanessa what are some of the pain points that she had with regards to her duties, she immediately gestured at the feeding stands. She told me to observe the bottom of the feeding stands and so I bent over to take a look and realized that there were some remnants of weeds that were growing and taking over the wooden platforms in which most of these aviaries were made with.
She went on to explain that as the feed themselves are seeds from various plants, the chances of them falling to the ground and becoming weeds overnight is extremely likely and irritable to the keepers who have to cut and maintain the overall health of these aviaries.
I was intrigued by this pain point, and it set into motion a couple of ideas that I would like to explore further.
Practitioner 2: Making Moisturizers & Repellents with Theo10
I attended the Theo10 workshop alongside many of my peers as we learned how to make moisturizers and even cooler, mosquito repellents!
Theodore, who was the founder and CEO of the company named after him, Theo10, was giving a workshop at the Singapore Visitor Centre. He had recreated a small stall with the tools that he utilized as he was founding the company which he explained is now chocked full of fancy machinery that does his job more easily.
ToolsUsed: 1. Essential Oils 2. Cooking Pot 3. Temperature Gun 4. Pipettes 5. Glass Rod 6. Cannisters
When the workshop began, we started off by making moisturizers which was interesting, as we simply had to add the oils into a simple cannister and mix it in with melted down solvent made of powdered aloevera and glysterine.
This part of the workshop was the simpler part as explained by Theodore as it only involves us adding scent drips with properties we were interested in and more often than not, the outcome will not be too bad.
However, the next part of the workshop, was the mosquito repellent. This was a lot harder as there is a particular base which we have to use in order to scare off the mosquitos, and the smell from this base, is not too kind to the olfactory senses. As such, we were tasked to see if we could mask this smell with the essential oils just like Theodore did with his own proprietary product that propelled his company to its current fame after the onset of the ZIKA virus.
Pain Points + Thoughts
It was a challenging task as the smell of the base often permeated through any kind of oils that we utilized, and because it was difficult to test, our noses were the only thing that we could use to really ensure that smell disappeared and after a while your senses do become numbed from all the different smells from the oils you are utilizing.
It would be interesting to see how else we can make this job easier without the heavy machinery that Theodore uses, and relying on this already portable work site he has made to become even more wearable.
Practitioner 3: DNA Sequencing @ CREATE Labs
Thanks to Ruocha who managed to secure a session with Professor Philip Johns at the CREATE Labs, I was able to join in to explore DNA sequencing in its modern iteration.
The professor’s work site is as one might expect from a lab, clean and sterile, and it even includes a shower that you can use in order to clean off potentially harmful chemicals should you accidentally spill some on yourself.
It is also organized in terms of work stations where various tools which perform certain functions will be kept in certain locations, not unlike Vanessa the keeper and her aviaries’ feeding stands.
When we arrived the the labs, Philip was very informative and sat us down to explain the various concerns about his industry and how the tools were developed in order to resolve certain issues with regards to DNA sampling and collection in Singapore where he specializes in sea otters.
We were given a whole bunch of jargon but which he also kindly explained what each of it meant as we went around his lab looking and testing with the tools that he showed us.
While certain tools would require a professional, it seemed like many of these tools were upgrades of the scientific tools we used as teenagers in secondary school where we did chemical titration and other similar tasks.
Pain Points + Thoughts
One of the pain points that Philip brought up was the fact that he collects stool samples in order to avoid having any issues with the animal rights association, and in a new school of thought, there are researchers who are trying to find ways in which they don’t have to collect the stools at all, but rather the water, air, or even the soil in which the creatures might have left samples of themselves.
If we could isolate these DNA enzymes that breaks down DNA before we can collect them, it’d be extremely helpful for researchers to collect samples from anywhere, really.
In short, he was explaining to us the movement of the next gen Naturalist who is able to take DNA from the environment and that was a really cool concept to think about.
Practice documentation: My friend makes chocolate truffles (like those sold at Royce!). The process is pretty simple; heat up the coconut milk and use it to melt the chocolate, mixing them well before pouring the mixture into a lined baking tray and leaving it in the refrigerator overnight, then cutting them into cubes and coat with cocoa powder the next day.