Archives for category: tinkering

L’Observatoire is seeking collaborators! Do you enjoy drawing and teaching the basics of drawing? Do you enjoy experimenting? Are you a scientist? An artist? a bit of both? Are you looking for a place to experiment, a platform to test your ideas, and a studio with like-minded people?

Located in lush Turf Club Road, collaborating with pre-schools, schools, museums, l’Observatoire is a community space where art&science gets made every day.

We are now looking for:
Partners. Those will have full use of the studio, equipment and support, and can teach either drawing, art and science, or art and craft for a few hours a week, to children mainly (Limited to 2)
 Interns. You will be witnessing new ways of teaching in art and science. You’ll be tasked with helping document the process, interact with the kids, prepare the classes, maybe with a bit of admin.
Support team. If you have what it takes, we’d call you when something exciting comes up that requires more hands – do you have a specialty you want to share? Underwater music, silk-screen printing using recycled material, styrofoam sculpting…?
Resident artists – invited on a monthly basis, you will be given a studio space, and access to tools, equipment, support to develop your idea. In return, we’ll work with you to develop a Tinkering Sunday workshop.

Interested? Fill in the contact form below and we’ll get back to you.

Our beautiful view outside the studio, a perfect set-up to place our home-made cameras. Below, picture captured by on of the students.

Our beautiful view outside the studio, a perfect set-up to place our home-made cameras. Below, picture captured by one of the students

If you haven’t yet booked you place for the camps this summer, head over to the PinHole Camp page! There are a still a few spots left in both weeks…

Week 1 : 23 – 27 June 2014, 9:30am-12:30pm

Week 2: 7 – 11 July 2014, 9:30am-12:30pm

Learn to make your own camera, the basics of dark room, develop your own pictures and this will set you up for a summer full of investigations. We promise the kids won’t be bored for the rest of the summer once they’ve attended this week-long hands-on course! You can even buy the material to set up your own dark room on the spot at the end of the camp.

Where: l’Observatoire, Blue House International School, 2 Turf Club Road, Singapore (287988)

Who: For kids 7 to 17 years old…

How much: $350 includes all material. Add $50 if you are not yet a Blue House Member.

Register here


Contact me





On 27th of April 2014, the whole world picked up their boxes and snapped pictures from their lens-less cameras.

Double Exposure

Double Exposure: piling up the height to get to eye level, and piling two cameras on top of each other, trying out 2 different exposures.

We did our bit at l’Observatoire and ran an open workshop where you could just walk-in with or without a box, learn about pinhole, and snap a few pics in our beautiful environment. The result was exciting, and the pictures below attest to that.

The first step was to understand how the pinhole camera works. For that, there was an outdoor cinema where the participants were invited to place their head. It consists of a drink can with one pin hole on one side (a hole made with a pin tack), and the other side  has a piece of frosted plastic as a screen in lieu of the side of the can. The whole thing is placed in a cardboard box (with a  small opening in front), so people can watch the image projection the screen (best viewed in the dark).


Then, participants were treated to the gallery, where they could have a look at the different cameras and see which picture was taken by which camera… and they could choose one for their first attempts. Beer cans, Coffee cans, biscuit tins, tea box…

A variety of pinhole cameras with representative pictures hung below.

A variety of pinhole cameras with representative pictures hung below.

Finally, it was time to make their own. Some people attempted to figure out the size of the opening according to the size of their box to get the sharpest picture. Some just grabbed a pin and punched a hole, and then tried different exposure times. Some were happy to try cameras from my collection. Some brought their own box, and spent the time trying to understand how it works until they got a sharp picture… Children played, or worked with their parents, or in teams.Adults went through the process, and tried to understand their negative print, mirror image – it is amazing how long it can take to figure out exactly which bit is which in the picture, despite having just taken the snapshot! A bit like printmaking, you are never completely certain of what you will get!


In the end, all went back with at least one, sometimes a few good pictures. And instructions to go and post the pictures on the World Pinhole camera gallery.

cropped-paper-colour-bannerThis Chirstmas season, MAKE your Christmas present!

Drop in on Sundays (Starting this Sunday 24th of Nov) between 10am and 4pm at l’Observatoire, craft something nice, have a cup of tea, chat with other crafters, and go home with one more present to put under the tree.

Come with your own design and/or idea and/or material, or dig into out stock of plywood, cardboard, bottlecaps and wool!


Come and follow one of our artists as they show you how to make something special

Suggested minimum donation: $10 (for a simple Christmas card) to $30 depending on the activity.

Sunday 24th Nov. 2013

  • 10am – 12pm: fabulous knitted jewllery with Kiruthika Curic
  • 12pm – 2pm: Beads! Make necklaces and bracelets with Sandra Sanoner.
  • 2pm – 4pm:  gorgeous, one-of a kind Christmas cards with Alpana Vij or Christmas Centre piece with Susanne Paulli

Sunday 1st Dec. 2013

  • 10am – 12pm: Recycled Paper Jewelery and Tree Decorations
  • 12pm –  2pm: to be announced
  • 2pm – 4pmChristmas Centre piece with Susanne Paulli (please reserve that one so we get the material) and Christmas Cupcake decoration with Madhu.

Sunday 8th Nov. 2013

  • 10am – 12pm: Doll House
  • 12pm –  2pm: Rubber band-powered car
  • 2pm – 4pm: Musical Instrument from Rubber seed shells.

And all along, make paper beads, jewellery and recycled cardboard tree decorations.

Either way, let our volunteer guide you!

Suggested donation: $30 / hour (includes $10 for basic material). More material will be available for sale at cost, or you can bring your own. Bring recycled material to share too! And if you’d like to volunteer in the following weeks, leave a message in the comments below or contact us.

Spread the word, spread the joy.

Crafting Sunday New

How would you make a sculpture? Often, we imagine using stone, wood, metal, or other solids, and chipping away at them in order to make a figure of some sort. But what happens when we experiment with other materials? Water, for example, is common in our everyday lives and used for basic needs. Last Sunday, Isabelle invited us – a bunch of eager kids, parents, and myself – to look at it from a different perspective.

The session was opened by Ila’s performance. Projected onto a wall in a darkened area of the studio, we saw strange and surreal patterns appear from the simple motions of swishing and mixing water with other substances. Needless to say, after the performance the kids were excited to create their very own water sculptures.

Several stations were set up – in some, children observed the different magnifications in different transparent containers filled with water. In others they attempted to make colours move from one container to another using thin tubes, pipettes and food colouring. And of course, they were assisted by Ila in making their very own projections. Some interesting discoveries were made – air bubbles can ruin an experiment, a mixture of every colour makes brown rather than rainbow, and jelly babies glow in the dark!
The kids also attempted to make their very own ice slush– each one got their own ziplock pack containing water, and these were all placed in a container with ice and rock salt. Fifteen minutes later, some parts of the water had crystallised, although none of the desired slush was produced. Then again, as per the Observatoire’s philosophy, failure is an essential part of any process – as long as patience and grit follow… so the kids were sent home with bags of distilled water to try again!
The morning ended with an outdoor session of photographing sprays of water thrown into the air. Again, it was difficult to capture exactly what we wanted – but the in the few successful shots that were captured we could see, perfectly carved into abstract wobbling patterns, our very own real, ephemeral water sculptures. As is the nature of water itself, the discoveries made that afternoon were exciting and temporary, shape shifting and fascinatingly simple.

This post is written by guest blogger Meerabelle Jesuthasan, who attended the workshop as observer and photographer. 

Photography by Meerabelle Jesuthasan © June 2013. Please contact us if you’d like to use any photographs.

Carrying the water for the next project...

Carrying the water for the next project…

Creepy Crawlies camp is over but there’s more insects coming with a large project involving 8 classes of Grade 1 at the Lycée Français de Singapour – Look out for the pictures at the end of June. In the meantime:

  • Don’t miss next month’s Tinkering Sunday (First Sunday of the month, 2nd of June). We’ll be exploring Water Sculptures with artist Ila. Go the the Tink Page.
  • Summer Camps unveiled – still some places left. It will be Creepy Crawlies the first week of July and Stop-Motion animation the second week.
Eleanore Drawing

Eleanore Painting

Things are happening! The Observation Drawing classes are wrapping up for this term, and before a new term starts, the Observatoire will be busy with the first and highly anticipated Tinkering Sunday on the 7th of April and a Weed Camp from 8th to 12th of April. Another camp will happen on the week of 6th to 10th of May, do check back the “participate” tab soon.

New classes will resume on the week starting on the 15th of April.

To keep abreast of the latest news and see pictures of children at work, and latest projects, do connect via Facebook!

Making a microscope webcam

webcam with extra lens, ruler, LED torchlight and lightbox

This post is not a HOW-TO. There are many sites online that will tell you how to make your own iPhone microscope.

In this post, I want to suggest and explore possibilities for trying out different methods, finding out what the difficulties/limitations are and allowing the tinkerers to try for themselvs.

I want a microscope I can take out to the fields to take enlarged pictures of extraordinary (and ordinary) things that we view outside. This so that I can take the picture back inside, and study it more in the laboratory. I also want to be able to share what I see under the microscope by projecting it. There are great tools called “Document cameras” that schools use nowadays, but those are large and expensive, single-use machines. I want something simple, and that I have built myself , so that I can take it apart and make it do something else if I need.

Some of the materials used so far: door-viewer, taken apart, $20 webcam connected to my Mac, high-intensity LED torchlight, lightbox. I want to explore cheaply-available loupes, and home-made glass-beads next.

The team: Marlou Jasmin Madriou, Leonardus Adi Prasetya Suherlan and Isabelle Desjeux.

If you are interested, and also want to try out, there is a chance that we will be manning a booth at this year’s First-ever Singapore Mini Maker Fair. I invite you to join us!