Published: April 17th 2009April 17th 2009
The gifted Miss Nguyen creating her sock creatures
Hope this blog find everyone well. I know I’ve been out of touch with most, and I apologize! I’m at the end of my volunteer time in Vietnam (I think) and for sure it has been the busiest yet. With a very fried brain, I can’t conjure up many personal thoughts/reflections at the moment, but I can write a little bit about what I’ve been doing and can post some photos to give you an idea. (If you’re unfamiliar with the project, please see below for links to the beginning stages.)
First off, I’ve been in business mode - and have taken an extreme liking to Microsoft excel. Color-coding and organizing in spreadsheets every person and object in our new workshop AND AND (very excited) learning how to track and cross-reference all of it, how fun! But it hasn’t been all “business” and thankfully so. Using only one side of my brain for too long is detrimental to the other side, leaving me in a state of complete inbalance and giving me an unpleasing complexion that lacks glow. SO, I happily assume other exciting roles, such as one of my favorites-art teacher. I have taught some new products such as
Products on display: Painting and note cards from Sinh, woodcarvings from Tu, wine bottle bags, magazine mosaic note cards, crocheted hats/scarves and sock creatures....
the beaded coin and Ao Dai bookmarks. I could also play fashion designer, choosing colors/fabrics for pillows, bags, scarves, hats, as well as interior designer for choosing the layout/furniture, etc. for the shop. I’ve indulged all the creative bones in my body with Miss Nguyen as we invent new “sock creatures” with button eyeballs, squiggly tails and goofy names. We spent time in the hospitality role for our tourist customers and trained the gals to be waitresses/hostesses and tour guides. The research itself has also been interesting. For example the history of traditional Vietnamese teas, and how to make the proper glass for our part-tea house. The research went hand in hand with all of the writing and descriptions for the products, bios, and literature for the shop. But perhaps the most beneficial for this project was being the graphic designer and "branding supervisor". In one month, logos, posters, business cards, postcards, product tags, labels, signs, brochures and maps were created. Now this all sounds very productive and positive, but please keep in mind, for everything that goes right in Vietnam, there are usually about 25 things that go wrong before it. And that's on a good day. But what
Products on display: Chopstick vases, emboridery note cards, cut vine note cards, Ao Dai and coin bookmarks, denim bags
matters to me most is that I've put every ounce of energy, creativity, and heart into this project. I’m hoping with those kind of wings, it’s bound to fly.
The project has been an unforgettable experience I will treasure for a lifetime. I believe we've already accomplished goals beyond our own expectations! Thank you to all the inspiring people I've worked alongside with through the years. Special thank you to Karen, Greg (one day we will have that dance!), Tu (Mr. Perfect), Ghi, Thanh, Sinh, Dung, and Nguyen (champion).
~ PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE 3 PAGES OF PHOTOS TO THIS BLOG ~ About the Workshop (from our promotional literature)
The non-profit Lifestart Foundation Workshop focuses on creating unique handmade arts/crafts to
help support those living in challenging situations in
Hoi An, Vietnam. The Lifestart Foundation Workshop is the first non-profit shop in Hoi An. The entire proceeds from these products go directly to the workshop members to provide a sustainable income and sense of independence.
The group initially met in March 2008 under the direction of artists/designer Sherry Berger (USA) to develop skills to create a small line of unique products. With everyone’s hard work,
support and dedication, efforts have lead to our own shop space in Viettown, Hoi An. Members now meet several days a week making popular items such as original note cards, wine bottle covers, and chopstick vases. Our group continues to expand with gifted sewers, painters, and wood carvers all contributing their talents.
Enjoy your tea...
Bamboo table settings
The Lifestart Foundation Worskhop is located in Viettown, Hoi An (just minutes from the Japanese Bridge). As well as a running workshop, we offer a pleasant no-hassle atmosphere where you can relax and enjoy our complimentary tea amidst the hustle and bustle of the town.
~ Complimentary Tea ~ Visitor’s info / Wi-Fi ~ Free walking tours ~ Traditional Painting Classes ~ Links:
March 2006: Meeting Karen/Lifestart Foundation: The Unplanned Plan
March 2008: Beginning the disabled workshop: Workshop!
A little about disabled life in Vietnam: Seeing Strength, Not Weakness
September 2008 - Delivering the (no name) Art Group Memory Portraits: Memory Portraits: Vietnam
There are more photos below