Be prepared for a whole lotta indigo in your face today, for my ‘Made in China’ blog series is about the wonderful women behind ‘Make in China’ and we all made Shibori! My MIC series aims to show you that things made in China are not just plasticy or low quality things… and I am seeking out the high skills of crafts people in Shanghai! This time getting to experience it myself.
Véronique & Amandine together are Make in China, and brought us all together on a sunny Sunday morning in a lane house in Xuhui (AKA the Former French Concession district of Shanghai) for their second workshop. They all learnt macrame for their first official workshop and have lots of other techniques planned for the next term… as with summer holidays starting, everyone has travelled homewards. My friend Liv told me about Make in China & their shibori class… and I wanted to try it out, knowing it would be a messy process and it’s just something to do at home quickly. I loved it, and as usually with learning new skills, I was super excited. I feel so lucky to have the time at the moment here in Shanghai to gather up some new ideas, meet wonderfully creative people and have fun!
Véronique is from Quebec city, Canada and Amandine hails from France and while there were other French students in our workshop, we were also joined by Japanese, Chinese, American and Brazillian students (a lovely way to work with French & English & Japanese being spoken around you!), and our Brazillian friend spoke English with an Australian accent because her partner was from Tasmania! Oh so funny hearing an Aussie accented Brazilian, so gorgeous!
Here’s my Q&A with V&A (awwww, look at how cute their initials are…) below, and all photos are from our morning together:
How did you guys meet?
We have been working together in the communication department of an international school since 2012.
Make in China is only pretty new, how did you come around creating the workshops?
Well, we couldn't find any interesting DIY workshops for adults in Shanghai. Most of what is offered in the city is either for children or for people who are not working during the week. We had also attended one-time workshops in the past but didn't like the fact that most of the time you end up with something unfinished or that you won't use.
With our DIY workshops we wanted to create more like a "creative experience" where you can meet and mingle with other-minded people in a relaxed and fun environment with some nice food and drinks. Because we know that nowadays people don't always have the time and the materials to be crafty at home, all our projects can be completed in 3 hours guaranteed ;) so you are sure to go back home with something beautiful.
Have you guys always been creative?
Véronique: I think so but in different ways through my life. When I was a teenager I was very much into fashion (still am!) and was very creative in the way I dressed. When I arrived in China in 2007, I started a blog and got pretty creative with words. But now I feel the need to spend less time in front of the computer and make something with my hands.
Amandine: To be honest, not really. I would love to but I don't always take the time to do things by myself. I am attracted to creative things, ideas and people though... Make in China allows me to work on my creativity and I enjoy so much seeing the results!
I'm so curious about people's passions and where creativity comes from... do you have any ideas?
Véronique: I believe everybody can be creative if they are inspired. And you simply get inspired by being curious, opening you eyes and looking around you.
Amandine: I think everybody can be creative if they take the time, have inspiration and all the material available. I believe it is easier if you are not alone but surrounded with friends, like what we do in our workshops.
How easy was it to set up a workshop here in town? The building & location was lovely! What is townhouse usually used for?
Finding the right location for launching Make in China was our biggest obstacle. It took a lot of searching! It is not easy to find a place that can be rented by the hour, once a month. The townhouse we have used for our 3 workshops is my friend's English school. Lucky for us, kids don't go to school on Sundays ;) In the future we would love to organize our workshops in different spaces, in order to surprise our regular participants and offer them a completely different experience.
What kind of workshops would you like to run in Shanghai?
Most of art schools in Shanghai focus on common practices like painting and drawing. We want to differentiate ourselves by offering techniques that are trendy right now and that are not usually taught in the city. In March we did a macramé plant hanger workshop and in May and June we worked on a shibori cotton scarf. We announce all our workshops on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MakeinChinaShanghai) and our WeChat account (MakeinChina).
What are your day jobs, how do you spend your time and make a buck?
We both work in a international school... until Make in China becomes our day job!
The term 'Made in China' has got a bad wrap in the western world, mostly showing bad quality, but what's something Made in China that you're amazed by? That you love?
Véronique: Old traditional techniques like lacquerware, Nankeen dyeing and Miao embroidery, especially when they are revisited with a modern twist.
What can you do or find in Shanghai that you can't do or find anywhere else?
An energy and a general enthusiasm to make things happen. Fast.
One more thing from the Make in China team...
We would be thrilled to collaborate with partners in the future. You make the best cupcakes in town? You have a big (and cosy) space available? You are an expert in modern calligraphy? You want to promote your flower shop? You do something cool or you know somebody who knows somebody who does something cool? Let's meet and help each other out! Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Véronique and Amandine! I loved learning Shibori, and wish you well with Make in China! If you're super into Shibori, I've made a gallery on flickr so you can see all the indigo glory photos!
And I hope you guys also enjoyed reading about these gorgeous woman… who are taking a plunge to try something new in Shanghai! As always, I like to let you know what’s going on here and I paid my own way for the workshop… but afterwards I asked Véronique & Amandine if I could talk about them on my blog. It feels a bit funny writing a disclaimer, but I want you to know when I’m genuinely interested in something, compared to when I’ve been asked my opinion & or when I’ve been invited to something. I’ll be upfront, as I tend to be… and thanks for reading as you tend to do!
Happy week to you xoxo