Friday, April 20, 2007

Off the Beaten Path

For months I have wanted to take my kids to Tay Guan Heng, which is a store specializing in the lost art of making cinnamon trees into little clay creations. Sounds strange, but what they do is grind the trees into a fine powder that can be reconstituted with water into a playdough like paste. They shape it into various objects, mostly Chinese figures like a man pulling a rickshaw or carrying water buckets. Then the figures dry in the sun for several days. Some time this year I plan to go there and buy a full nativity set.

I thought my kids would find it interesting to see how they do this, and I've heard they're very patient with children. The rumors were true! When my friend Wendy and I arrived, they pulled up a small table and chairs for our three kids and gave them each a ball of dough. The tools of their trade are commonplace - straws, toothpicks, a glass bottle for a rolling pin. Then while Wendy and I browsed their open air shop, the kids were assisted in making figures. Ethan was thrilled to make a dragon. Megan spent her time making little marks in a Christmas tree with a straw. I bought a man carrying water buckets for a friend, and one kilo of the powder for home use. We brought the kids' figures home where they are drying in Ethan's room.

I feel quite blessed to have experienced that. The men were very eager to show us how they work and to explain it all. I wish I had pictures, but I didn't have my camera. Wendy did though, so when I get the pictures from her I'll post some. Meanwhile, I think the kids and I might crack open that bag and create some more.

No comments: