29.4.15

The Fluff Boxx


Making a weekly visit to Hope Home is a lovely way to break up the week. Every Wednesday morning we drive out of the city to spend time with the children who live there and who have a variety of physical and mental disabilities. Because of their limited range of motion and their hindered communication, making art with these loving children gives them a voice. We also do a lot of sensory exploration with them to have fun while allowing them to develop some motor skills. This week was a highly explorative sensory project that we call the fluff box. 

Since I have been living and working in the ARI office house, I have sorted through a lot of supplies and realized that we have an enormous amount of stuffing/batting/fluff that is squishy and soft. The inspiration for this project came from another Hope Home workshop that involved a lot of different textures on plates, including fluff! We noticed that the children really liked to pull at it and hold it in their hands, so I decided I wanted to someday fill the mini ball pit at Hope Home with fluff and let the children explore the texture of... well laying inside of a teddy bear. 


When we arrived we said hello to everyone and began to remove all of the balls from the pit (which really got some attention) and began to fill it with bags and bags of fluff. I was really hoping the entire pit would fill to the top with this new substance and it did! Data found a new interest in the balls and sat inside the new container we had filled with balls, throwing them around and smiling a lot. He has been really brave lately and has been really interested in the activities we bring to Hope Home, so he was the first to really jump into the fluff. At first he sat very still but soon he had wiggled his way under and submerging himself as if he was in a big bubble bath. All that could be seen was his little head poking out as he swam and rolled around. 



Bow was apprehensive at first and wasn't sure what to make of the situation we had put her in. She liked touching it with her hands but wasn't sure about being surrounded! We pulled her out and he sat on the side in Sophie's lap, still playing with the fluff and watching Data and Yim. Soon she was laughing and ready to get inside to play. Yim thought that this activity was absolutely hilarious and was laughed hysterically. When her turn came she laid very relaxed in the fluff and giggled away, feeling the softness all around her. Nomchok, full of energy as usual began to jump from the side of the box into the pit!  








We tried the box on Sam and Joy as well, putting a blanket over the fluff so that they wouldn't become lost in the box. We got some different reactions. Sam was excited at first but soon became too overwhelmed and maybe a little claustrophobic so we removed him and comforted him, remembering that he usually prefers harder surfaces. For Joy we got some arm, leg and head movement and she seemed very at ease laying effortlessly in the box with a smile on her face.


Lastly, we wanted to get Wichai into the box! Rosie had noticed that while we were emptying the pit, he was already interested in the fluff and sat outside, rubbing a piece of fluff through his hands and on his feet. He did not want to come inside so we brought the fluff box to him. He got really excited when we put it in front of him and a huge smile spread across his face. We lifted him in and he became immediately relaxed, laying down and touching the fluff all around him. 



It was a morning full of laughter and cuteness and everyone had a lot of fun! It's amazing what a simple substance in large quantities can do to provoke curiosity and exploration and encourage fun and creativity. Thanks to all the volunteers for helping with the workshop and to Hope Home for allowing us to explore this substance so deeply with their children.

Wishing peace, love and curiosity to everyone
Emma

23.4.15

Dreamcatchers at Wild Flower Home

On Monday the 20th of April we made our biweekly visit to WildFlower Home. It was the first workshop after the Songkran Festival for the Thai New Year, so hanging out in the peaceful atmosphere with the lovely women there was a great way to ease back into the schedule. WildFlower Home is a home just outside of the city of Chiang Mai where single mothers in need can seek refuge and come gain their independence while being supported with their children. It's always wonderful to see them pop their heads into the workshop space to see what we are working on.

As I have a current fascination with dreamcatchers, I decided to show the women how to make one from very simple materials making them easy to recreate. We used some firm wire to create the circular shape, different colors of wool and string, and beads to create the dream catchers. We really wanted to use feathers for this project but they are hard to come by and quite expensive, so these dream catchers had a bit of a twist.



Of course the women caught on to the project really quickly and by the time I had finished the centre of mine (which I had only half completed in order to show them how to weave the wool) some women had finished their first and gone on to work on a second. There were many color combinations, sizes, and styles with the many different spools of wool and string. The women were very engaged during our time together and we left them some supplies so that they could continue working once we had left. They also talked about making some more and selling them! One of the women linked three hoops together, and I really wanted to see what the outcome would be. Hopefully during our next visit we will be able to see the products of their work.



All in all it was a lovely afternoon and time well spent. I hope that we will all sleep peacefully now. And although we didn't get the chance to finish the project, Pepo and I worked on ours the following day and we're happy with the way they turned out!
For a few beliefs on the dreamcatcher legend, check out this link!

http://dreamcatcher.com/Dream-Catcher-Legend.php





All the best,

Emma

10.4.15

Paint Balloon Darts with the boys of Urban Light

Hello to all our lovely readers!

On Thursday 2nd April (I know - we can't believe it's April already either!), we had our fortnightly visit to Urban Light. Urban Light is a grassroots organisation which is dedicated to raising awareness regarding boys who are the victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. It is a safe centre where boys can come and receive education, medical care and support, with a commendable staff body working to empower the boys to live healthy and happy lives.



It was my last visit to Urban Light and I knew, as always, it would be a special afternoon. We set up the workshop on the top floor outside, and had ten boys participate! I first laid out a canvas, on which I had painted the outline of an umbrella. I explained to the boys that they would think about and discuss the things that they feel protected by, either individually or collectively. It could be anything from family and education, to - as I put in my example - a good cup of tea. They all worked around the canvas and painted what protects them as Thai and English words, and as pictures.Whilst this was going on, we set up the messy second part of the workshop... read on!


When the boys had finished filling the umbrella, and as the paint was drying, we sat and shared what they had written. What they were saying was so beautiful and positive; one boy drew a tree and a flower because nature protects us and it will always be there. Another feels protected by his family, and one boy explained that we have the past, present and future, but there are only so many minutes so we have to make the most of life, and knowing that makes him feel protected. This got a round of applause and it was a very poignant and wonderful moment; the boys were so supportive and respectful of each other. They also drew Urban Light's logo!

After thinking a lot of meaningful, positive thoughts and painting, it was really awesome to move on to the second part of the workshop where the boys could be a bit competitive and have some messy fun. We filled balloons with paint, and pinned them to the umbrella canvas, which we hung from a wooden board. The boys then played darts, and threw them at the balloons attempting to burst them making the paint fall down as rain! We had covered over the umbrella shape with a bin bag, so that it would not get covered by the paint rain therefore reinforcing that
 they are always protected from hardships by the positive aspects they've thought about. 



Playing darts with the boys was so much fun, (albeit a bit messy!), and it was great that so many of the boys were able to get involved and have fun. It was also awesome that we were able to play a game with them, which I think they really enjoyed. They were helping each other out and the volunteers and Urban Light staff alike all had a great time watching them!



At the end, we pulled back the bin bag to see the final result. It was a meaningful piece of art which they can hang in Urban Light and I hope they're proud of this collaborative piece.



This was the last workshop I will run with ARI, as it is sadly time for me to leave. I have had an incredible 3 months here and some incomparable experiences which will forever stay with me. I would like to thank all the ARI/CCT team for facilitating this opportunity for me to do something I truly care about, my lovely volunteer friends, and you readers, for spreading the love of art and what we do! I wish you all the best and can't wait to see what the next volunteers have in store.

Thank you all!

Lots of love,
Rosie






Printing fun and sad goodbyes at Healing Family

Hello there..

Today was my last workshop after 6 months with ARI. We went to the Healing Family Foundation, and when we arrived, they gave us big hugs and were really excited.

This time we created mandalas only using printing material. I brought string, styrofoam, sponges, stamps and q-tips. In the beginning of the workshop we all went outside and collected some flowers and leaves that they could use for printing as well.








We all sat down in a circle after playing chilli chilli and started with the mandalas. They got so creative with the different materials and created beautiful colorful mandalas! It was really relaxed and they were totally focused. Some of them were so proud of their artwork, they kept showing us what they had created.


























After we finished our mandalas, Rosie hung up a piñata outside that she actually prepared for another workshop but didn't use. We had a bamboo stick and some fabric to cover their eyes, and one after another they hit the piñata 10 seconds each. After a while it fell down to the floor and then it broke.
 We were all excited when it broke and ate the sweets that were inside. Then it was time to go inside to take a group picture and to clean up.




Finally, we said our last goodbyes. It was the last workshop for Rosie, Sophie and me and it was really sad especially because we had such a great connection with all the people at Healing Family and because they are all so lovely. Rosie and me started crying, and they kept hugging us.. It was really sad and also really hard to leave..We left 15 minutes later and hugged everybody one last time.

It was a really awesome last workshop and we will miss them so much!!!

All the best,

Paula

Creating collaborative artwork at Hope Home



Hello there!

This week has been my last time at Hope Home, an organisation for children with disabilities.
I decided to create a nice artwork with the kids. Therefore, I brought a big piece of paper, tape, poster paint and crayons. We put some tape on the paper in a nice pattern to cover some areas. Then we just let the kids doodle around on it and paint whatever they wanted.



All of them were really interested and everyone painted a small part. As Joy can not hold a paintbrush, we used her feet to paint on the paper. One girl was painting all the time without stopping, she is a really good artist!





When we finished it, we pulled off the tape and they were all happy about how it looked.




After that, we played with them in the ball bowl and with bubbles. Everyone was really happyand 
Tata even did a dance performance for everybody in the middle of the artwork.




Bow and Tata both loved the bubbles a lot and tried to catch them. And they really loved the ball bowl!



Then it was time for the kids to have lunch, it is always a lot of fun to watch them and interact with them while they eat.


When they were finished, we all said goodbye and gave our last kisses.

It was a great last workshop at Hope Home and I will definitely miss the kids a lot!

All the best,

Paula

8.4.15

Hello from Laura! :)

Hi!

I’m Laura, a new volunteer for Art Relief International! For the past 5 months I’ve been living and teaching in Sukhothai, Thailand. In my time here, I have learned a lot about this wonderful country I have come to love. I have always believed in the healing power of art, so I am very excited to spend a week volunteering with ARI!

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been interested in making art. My experiences visiting different museums and learning the history behind the pieces, led me to study Art History and Visual Arts at Fordham University. Since I was a sophomore in college, I have been volunteering with Free Arts NYC, a non-profit arts mentoring organization that works with underserved families and children in New York City. Free Arts NYC uses educational arts and mentoring programs as a way to help channel these children’s energies into positive self-expression, resiliency, and confidence building, while also using art as a vehicle to develop stronger communication and problem-solving skills within families. Volunteering with Free Arts NYC completely changed my career path and my goals. I saw various families and children completely change their moods from the beginning of the session to the end of the session, because they felt a sense of pride and accomplishment in what they had created. I know how important it is to have the opportunity to creatively express oneself, and I am really looking forward to seeing how art inspires the participants in the workshops at ARI!


7.4.15

Art and Music at Baan Kingkaew

This Thursday 2nd April was my last time leading a workshop so this will be my last blog post for ARI. It feels quite bittersweet as I am sad to be leaving such an amazing organisation, but it was wonderful to spend more time with the orphans at Baan Kingkaew. They really are so much fun and are always happy to see us.

As the children have so much energy, I thought it would be good to make music with them. I decided to make drums out of paper cups that they could decorate and then play with. Once they saw my drum they couldn't wait to start making their own. We handed out the paper cups and some wax crayons and coloured tissue paper with glue for them to start decorating with.


They all got really creative, choosing to use lots of different colours for their drums. Once finished, the volunteers helped them attach the top, which was made from circles cut out of plastic bags and secured with elastic bands.
At this point we heard music from the street and discovered a procession going past the orphanage. The children ran to see what was happening and watched with curiosity. There were lots of people dressed up, children riding ponies and music which all added to the atmosphere of my workshop. It was a great interlude to take us to the next part.


For the musical part of the workshop, we all sat in a circle, handed out paintbrushes for them to use as makeshift drumsticks, and I played some rhythms on my drum for them to copy. Then we sang the Alphabet with the children while they played along on their drums.


They were all clearly having a lot of fun and it was a really special last workshop for me. I was sad to say goodbye as they are all such lovely children, however I know that ARI will be back to keep them busy and make lots more art with them.
-Sophie

6.4.15

Fabric Flower Brooches at Wildflower Home

This Monday 30th March we visited Wildflower Home for a workshop on floral brooches made from fabric. I thought this would be a good skill for them to learn as the flowers can be applied to many different products, for example, hair accessories, jewellery, bags and clothing. The single mothers at Wildflower Home are encouraged to learn new skills to make products that they can sell, which then goes towards supporting themselves and their children. 

The first step was to draw a petal on thick paper to make their template. Once cut out, this could be traced onto the fabric to create multiple petals. We brought lots of different fabric with us so that they had plenty of choice when making their flowers.



After cutting out the petals they could begin sewing them together. By taking two petals and facing them inwards, they sewed around the edge leaving the bottom open. They then turned the petals inside out and pressed them flat with a hot iron to give a nice, crisp edge.

After pressing all the petals, they began sewing them together, using a rough running stitch to create folds in the petals. The women took to this task really well, making very different and individual flowers. One woman added lots of beads to the middle of her flower, which looked really effective. Another adapted the technique and made her own style of flower which she then modelled in her hair.


The last step was to sew a brooch fastening to the back... et voila! A beautiful floral brooch.
Towards the end of the workshop some of the children joined us. We gave them some of our spare paper and pencils and they drew beautiful pictures for us. It was a lovely environment full of creativity and a perfect end to the workshop.

I was so impressed with everyone's flowers and the children's drawings as well. I think they all enjoyed themselves too.
-Sophie