For the love of crafts

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Joey Chin, founder of Craft Space in The School, Jaya One, with some of the finished handicrafts.

REMEMBER when you were small and you had crafts at school and at home? There were even shows teaching origami on TV.

Today, kids get so much exposure to the academic side of things – from school and tuition – then they are on their tablet PCs. Where is the time for crafting?

Joey Chin, founder of Craft Space in The School, Jaya One, wants to change that. She believes kids should have more exposure to crafts.

“The purpose of Craft Space is to teach kids additional things in doing handicrafts because we see that it is lacking nowadays especially in the national school syllabus. They don’t even incorporate crafts, unlike international schools which have arts and crafts as part of their syllabus and as extra curricular activities.

“I would also like to tell parents that kids’ life is not just about studying and exams. Sometimes they need to expand their creativity in making things with their own hands. That is why I want to encourage parents to send their kids for handicraft classes.

“I also want parents to know that this is a good way to help kids build their confidence and independence. When they craft, they use their creativity. We don’t restrict them by telling them what to do.

“This builds their independence and confidence, which is very important and is lacking in kids today because parents frequently tell their children what to do and how to do it. It also helps them to learn problem-solving skills,” says Chin, who admits getting the most joy from watching kids decide what they want to do and observing those who manage to sit still to complete their handicraft.

“Kids these days have a very short attention span. We always complain that kids can’t sit still for half an hour, but when they have crafts to work on, it’s not impossible. When you see kids who can sit down for 45-60 minutes to complete a project, you know that it can be done. It is just that we are not encouraging it.,” she adds.

The crafts lover founded her company Designed with Passion in 2009 when she was making customised handicrafts part-time. (Designed with Passion is also the distributor of the Magic Nuudles building blocks which are made from corn starch.)

At that time she was working with one of the hypermarkets as a human resource director. Although she liked the job, it was not her passion.

Her children, aged nine, five and 1½, gave her the drive to start Craft Space.

The elder two are more inclined towards technology and don’t like getting their hands dirty.

“They have already lost that part of their childhood because when we were young we used to make a lot of handicrafts, unlike them. That’s when I started to explore and asked them to do some handicrafts. Last year, I gave birth to my youngest daughter and then MH370 disappeared. It prompted me to think that it was time to do something that is really worth it,” explains Chin.

So, last year, she started exploring her options with regards to setting up a crafts centre. That’s when she came across The School which appealed to her because it caters to children and families. She then decided to quit her full-time job and this year she set up Craft Space in The School.

Being into handicrafts, she has always wanted to share her love for it with children.

“I loved origami and paper crafts. I learned crochet on my own when I was 10.

“From young I wanted to set up a place like Craft Space. I have always told my friends and relatives that when I retire I want to open a handicrafts shop, teaching kids and adults, whoever wanted to learn, how to make handicrafts. But it happened before retirement!” she says.

Craft Space offers several classes:

  • DIY + Craft – for kids aged two and older
  • Crochet – for those aged nine and older
  • Doodle with Nuudles – for those two and older
  • Happy Loom – for those aged five and older

There is an express class where the kids drop by and do some crafts. Then there is the course – 10 classes for a fee; this is held daily.

“We encourage parents to drop off their kids here because we notice that nowadays kids are very dependent on their parents. We want to build their confidence so that they can do things independently. That is why we would advise parents to leave their kids here, even though it’s only for a short period of time.

“We want to tell parents that this is a safe environment and if you were the leave your kids with us, rest assured they will be safe with us. We take hygiene and safety very seriously. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to them when they are here,” says Chin.

She doesn’t think Craft Space can be compared with other crafts centres that have been around longer. In fact, she admits that Craft Space just wants to do its own thing in its little space and at its own pace.

“At the end of the day, if the kids are happy, I am happy. We are still in the teething stage. We can see more and more people realising that this is something their kids can do instead of focusing on the academic every day,” says Chin, informing that generally her students are between three and five years.

In addition to the classes, parents can also buy finished handicrafts (done by Chin and her staff) and customised crafts materials.

“The main thing is the children get to explore the world outside of books and technology. I myself am chinese-educated, so I know how hard it is to grow up as an Asian child. Every day is academics – study and tuition. That is not what we want to see nowadays because there are so many things they can do instead of just studying and using the tablet PC.

“By introducing handicrafts, they can craft when they have free time and it helps them expand their creativity. Kids are very talented in handicrafts, it’s just a matter of whether we let them explore it or encourage them.This is something I feel is lacking in Asian families,” says Chin.

Craft Space is one of the centres participating in The School’s Holiday Programme from June 8-11, 2015. The deadline for enrolment is June 5, 2015. For more information, go to www.theschool.my or www.facebook.com/theschool.my.