A Visiting Artisan

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

When the opportunity came for me to leave my village and travel to a country across the world, I jumped at it. I have spent my entire life living in the place I was born. The hills and the grasses are well-known to me. I have walked the paths through the fields many times over. The children I grew up with have, like me, married and have had children. Each day we toil to bring food into our homes. I am lucky – there is no reason for me to go out into the fields. Instead I work from home, using my skills to create the small sculptures and ornaments with which my people love to adorn their homes.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Now I find myself in Canada, showing people the work I love to do. They look on in interest as I roll and mold the modelling clay. The panda bear I am making takes shape in front of their eyes. To me, this skill is not at all unique – there are a number of us in China that create these little sculptures. It seems though, from the reaction I see, that this skill is not practised by many here. The young children look on in interest and I hope that they will go home and try to recreate the animals of their choice.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

 

Roll, roll, smooth. The movement is soothing to me. The surrounding chatter in a foreign language could be overwhelming for me but I allow the calming nature of my art take over. I choose the colours I need from my tray, covering the clay afterwards to ensure it doesn’t dry. The panda is almost finished and I begin to think of what it is I can create next. Something that the children will enjoy seeing. Maybe another animal, a tiger perhaps. I have noticed that the young ones here enjoy seeing animals. They exclaim over the small depictions and many of them have taken one home.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

As I work under this tent, I marvel at the fact that I am here in this country. I feel proud to have been chosen to represent our culture to those so far from home. Sitting here I have seen many whose ancestors were born in China. These people are unable to speak the language of my country and would have difficulty understanding my experiences. However, I can see that they are hungry to learn more about the culture of their forefathers. Hopefully I will be able to help them find that part of themselves.

 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

After today’s work, the artisans will be taken on a small tour of this place we find ourselves in. I will enjoy the change and the new experiences. Then I will happily return to my people and my family. I will return home where I will be understood when I speak, and where I can eat the food I am used to. And as I return, I will leave behind small pieces of myself in the art I sold to the admirers I had this weekend.

Do you create with modelling clay?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Amanda’s Pixel Prose Challenge)

Previous posts on the artisans visiting Toronto:

A Chinese Papercutter

Chinese Artists

A Chinese Woodcarver

 

 

 

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Grateful for Mentoring

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a day geared towards the mentoring of teachers that have been newly hired into the Toronto District School Board. The aim of this day is to encourage the new teachers and to give them guidance as they prepare to begin the school year in September. Words of encouragement were given by the Director, Donna Quan. A guest speaker spoke words of inspiration around the theme of the morning: parental involvement in a child’s education. Lunch was organised with the superintendents of the various school districts and I met a person I would see in the school corridors from time to time. Sessions were run geared towards the grade level of the teaching assignments. I, of course, attended the sessions on Kindergarten in French Immersion.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Gifts received. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I am grateful for days such as these and have benefited from the ones I have attended in the past. Tips are given by the facilitators that are helpful in the first few weeks of school. Connections are made with other teachers. Ideas and concerns are shared. Assurances are received. Often the day ends with a small gift from the organisers. Yesterday I came home with a USB key (always helpful during the school year), a booklet on suggested art activities and a gift bag filled with catalogues, CDs and a book from Scholastics. My favourite gift, though, is the one handed out after the session with the Kindergarten facilitators: a book titled Are you listening? by Lisa Burman. I look forward to reading what she says about encouraging conversations with young ones.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post and feel free to use the badge my daughter created. )

Last week’s contributions: 

Gratitude Wednesday: My wheels go round and round

Gratitude: Aquilegia Flower

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A Joining Decision

During the summer I have been working on the bedspread I am making since I picked up the hook once again.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Working on a row of granny squares. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

When I had 50 granny squares stacked in my bag, I decided I needed to join them. Laying them out so I could have an idea in my head what they would look like, I searched the internet for ways in which I could use to join them.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Laying out the granny squares. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I knew that I did not want to sew them together. In the past I have crocheted the squares together and I knew I wanted to do the same. After much browsing on YouTube, I decided to use the double crochet stitch to join them.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Joining granny squares. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I liked the look of the ridge that is formed when joining and decided that I would use it for the right side of my bedspread.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Joined granny squares. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

After joining the first two rows, I decided to create my rows of eight squares – and then join the rows together.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Rows waiting to be joined. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

With the joining of the rows, the blanket started to grow and get heavy. I would sit with my feet up and cover my legs on the few cool days we had.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Relaxing while joining squares. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Once I had joined all the squares, I saw that I had reached the halfway mark of my project.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Halfway to a bedspread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Fifty squares had been made and joined but I had quite a few more to make.

What project are you currently working on?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Related articles:

Picking up the Hook

 

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Silhouettes

I enjoy seeing silhouettes at the end of a day spend outside. Often the weekends during the summer are spent outside, resulting in my family and I seeing the sun setting behind the iconic CN tower.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The CN tower in Toronto. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Whenever we have the opportunity, we enjoy watching the sun go down near a bed of water in Ontario.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Sunset at an Ontario lake. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I enjoy as well the silhouettes created by the African landscape. The fingers of the trees rising against the outcrops of mountains is a sight that is familiar to me.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Silhouette of an African landscape. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

As is the sight of workers waiting for the taxi at a street corner:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Waiting for a taxi. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

A sight that I have not seen often, but which I enjoy, is the silhouette of beach goers at the end of a day spent on a Mauritian beach. The warmth of the sand and the sea continues to tempt those still left on the beach.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Sihouette at a Mauritian beach. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The sight of the Mauritian beach is always calming – even those beaches that do not encourage too much swimming.

Sunset on a Mauritian Beach. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Sunset on a Mauritian Beach. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

And a view of a palm tree on the beach is a sight that one is assured to see.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

No matter where one is in the world, one can be sure to see a silhouette that is unique to that country’s landscape.

What silhouette do you often see?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Silhouette)

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Tell Me

“Tell me what your greatest desire is. What is it that you want with your life? What is it that you want to be known for? When your body is laid in a casket, what do you want the mourners to remember you for?”

“Your questions are a bit macabre, aren’t they? I don’t really want to think of my death, nor my funeral.”

“Why not? It is at this time when people will look back on your life and comment on what you did with your time on earth. Do you want to be known as someone who always stood by the sidelines watching pain and suffering? Do you want to be known as the observer, the follower, the one who was passive? If you do not want to be known for these things, you need to take the time now, while you are young, to change your approach to life and living. “

The room is silent for a while.

“No response? If you want to be known for helping others and for committing yourself to the well-being of those less fortunate, you will need to begin now.”

“What is it that I need to do? I have no way of knowing – there is no-one here who can guide me.”

“Follow me and I will show you. It will mean, though, giving up your comfortable home and coming with me to help the poorest of the poor.”

“I am ready.”

Five-Minute-Friday-badgeWhat is it you want with your life? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: tell)

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The End of Duty

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright - Jan Wayne Fields

Photo Credit: Jan Wayne Fields

The writing desk called to me, reminding me of bills to pay. I looked away from it. My life up to this point had been filled with duty and rules. I have always done what is expected of me. And what have I received in return? Even more responsibility while my dear siblings lived their lives to the full. I glanced once again at the well-worn desk. It was time I put duty aside and do what would bring me fulfillment. I picked up my coat and walked out the door.

What do you think the character is going to do?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This is my first attempt at writing for the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. The story needs to be told in 100 words or less.)

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Grateful for Warm Days

Putting my feet up on the couch yesterday, I noticed the tan lines caused by the sun and my comfy sandals. The tan lines are not the most beautiful: they are too easily noticed when I am barefoot, or when I am wearing shoes that do not strap over my foot.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Summer feet. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I am grateful for the lines, however, as they show that we are experiencing warm days. I am thankful for the sunny days – the days that allow me to walk outside in sandals and bare my skin to the sun. I am soaking in the warmth and storing it for the cold winter days that are sure to come.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post and feel free to use the badge my daughter created. )

This week’s contributions: 

Gratitude Wednesday: My wheels go round and round

Gratitude: Aquilegia Flower

Posted in My Gratitude Project | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Tribute to a Dynamic Actor

“Come on, it is time for Mork and Mindy!” My sisters and I hurriedly finished what we were doing so that we could sit in front of the TV. We loved this show! For half an hour each week, we sat on the floor and watched these two characters and their antics. We would raise our hand with our fingers joined as Mork’s were, and repeat “nanu-nanu” with him. The show was popular with my friends too and often was a point of discussion the day after an episode had aired. How sad we were when there were no longer any stories on the characters Mork and Mindy.

We did, however, see Robin Williams in action again. The first film that comes to mind is Mrs Doubtfire. I cannot say how many times I have seen this comedy. What I do admit to is that each time I have watched it, I laughed. Other actors have attempted to do what Robin Williams did in this film but, in my opinion, they have not succeeded. Mrs Doubtfire was believable, she was lovable, she was every inch the school marm – and became an iconic character.

The film that struck a deep chord within me was Dead Poets Society. As an educator myself, the story of a man who changed the lives of his students resonated. It was not only the storyline, however, that I enjoyed but the acting as well. This film showed Robin Williams to be not only a comedian, but a great actor who deserved to receive the Academy Award for his role in this film and in other movies. Often I remember a phrase from this story, Carpe Deim (seize the day), and try to remember to make use of the opportunities that come my way.

I am sure to hear the voice of this beloved actor again when my children watch the film Aladdin. In this film, Robin Williams reads the voice of Genie with pizzazz, verve and humour. I do admit to the genie being my favourite character in this trilogy because he is so funny. And I enjoy seeing the children laugh in response to his voice.

Robin Williams was an actor who brought much joy into people’s lives. When we went to watch him – whether in a comedy or a drama – we knew we would be entertained.

 I will miss the opportunity of seeing him again on screen and will mourn his loss. May he rest in peace.

Which are your favourite films starring Robin Williams?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

 

 

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Chinese Artists

As you know, my family and I attended the China now! festival and saw a number of artisans from China who create using their hands. We did not see the artist who used the ink tools below as he was taking a break.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Ink pot and tools. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

We did, however, admire the drawing he was creating with the black ink.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Chinese-style drawing. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Next to this station was the man responsible for giving colour to the drawings. Using a fine tipped brush, he painted in the drawings that are so synonymous with Chinese culture.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Painting the inked drawings. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

As we watched, he painted in a small section of the drawing with small, fine strokes.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Chinese artists at work. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have seen many pictures like this in the past – many of them photocopies. The copier does not do justice to the textures and tones that this artist was creating.

Do you enjoy looking at Chinese-style paintings?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written to be a part of Paula’s Thursday Special. Head on over to her to see what other interesting submissions have been made.)

Photos of other Chinese artisans I have shared so far:

The wood carver

The paper cutter

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Grateful for Festivals: China Now!

Living in Toronto, we have the opportunity to attend festivals over the weekend. I have often been grateful for these as they give us the opportunity to take the children out for a relatively inexpensive day. Often the shows are free and the food on offer does not cost too much. In addition to the festivals being a cheap form of entertainment, they also expose us to new cultures and skills.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Woman cutting paper. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The most recent festival we attended was the China Now! festival. At this festival we had the opportunity to see artisans who were visiting from China. What I did not expect to see was an old woman cutting paper. She sat quietly next to her table moving her scissors gently through the paper she held in her hand.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hands of paper cutter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

At times she would sit with her hands in her lap in order to rest them and look at the people who were passing by. Looking at the paper on her table, I realised that she was cutting more than one sheet of paper at a time. I then understood how her hands could ache with effort.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Paper cuttings. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The end result of her work looked beautiful. I admired the  large sheet of paper cutting that lined her table.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Collage of paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

On sale at this artisan’s table were some paper cuttings that had been block mounted: cuttings that would hang up nicely on the wall in someone’s home, or even form part of a card.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Block mounted paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I am grateful that the children get an opportunity to try out something that is linked to what we are experiencing at the Harbourfront festivals.  At this particular festival, they had the opportunity to do a little paper cutting of their own.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Trying out some paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

While they were cutting, my husband and I listened to the music that was playing and browsed a little among the available stalls.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My daughters’ paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Afterwards my girls proudly brought home the horses that they had cut out of paper. As always after a day spent at a festival, we came home happy that we had gone out a little and spent some time seeing something new.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post and feel free to use the badge my daughter created. )

 

 

Posted in My Gratitude Project, Personal Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments