Mobile Monday in Wat Pa Pao!

Hi again!

It is the start of our eight and final week here with ARI! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. Every day this week will be final visits! We started the week off with our last visit to Wat Pa Pao. As always, David thoroughly enjoyed our game of Chilli Chilli! Today was his last day working with us, so he gave it extra enthusiasm

Today's project was hot air balloon mobiles. Each child made four balloons. Three for their own individual mobile and one for a big community mobile which we will be using in the upcoming gallery show in October. It is a very simple but very pretty and colourful project. We used coloured scrap paper and old interior decorating magazines to make the paper balloons. Each balloon has four hot air balloons folded and stuck together to make the 3D shape. Some very enthusiastic cutters made double the amount of paper balloons needed, giving everyone a better selection of colours and designs to choose from!

Each student kept their favourite three to make the mobile they could take away from the class and made another hot air balloon for ARI. We collected all the extra balloons and extra templates and will assemble them this week to create a giant Wat Pa Pao mobile. It will be so bright and cheerful - just like the students who made it!

Our class this week had 10 girls and 1 boy. This week's students were very eager and interested in the project. I think they liked the idea of being part of a group project and have it displayed for members of the public to see. They were also very good at English and were practicing their English with the volunteers. It was a nice to understand what they were asking for a change!


Messy Marbles with Young Lions!

Hi! Rose here again. Can't believe we are in our final week at ARI! The last eight weeks have gone by in a blur- a colourful blur!

Last Thursday we had our regular afternoon workshop with the Young Lions students. We made marbled paper using shaving foam painting method and they loved it! This messy painting method thrilled the kids who were so excited by the paintings they created by dropping different coloured inks onto shaving foam, swirling it about and then dropping their paper into the shaving foam. When all the excess shaving foam gets scraped off, the marbled colours look incredible.

Our workshop was the most successful of our time here because of our jump in student numbers! We recruited five new students last week with the help of our new translator Be-Po! Two parents, a local man and even a few monks were around for the whole workshop making it one of the noisiest - and messiest - we have had to date!

When all the paintings had dried we used them to form the outer covers for paper notebooks that we tied together using ribbon. The notebooks were so pretty and every child went home charmed with the product they had made! One more Young Lions for Sue and I. We will miss the crazy workshops under the trees at Wat Suan Dok!


Quilting Together Community at Baan Yuu Suk

Hi! Rose here once more!

Following the success of our first workshop in Baan Yuu Suk we were so excited to return there last Saturday! At the end of our previous workshop, we gave the girls assessment forms to fill in to see if they had enjoyed the workshop and to ascertain what type of arts and crafts they would like to do in the future with ARI. Almost all of the girls indicated that they would like to do sewing projects in the future. It has also been mentioned by the project coordinator at Baan Yuu Suk that the shelter would like to do some sort of community project while working with ARI.

Taking these factors into account we decided to make a community quilt with the girls. Each girl designs her own patch which will be used in a larger quilt design. As every girl there has her own story, coming different families, circumstances and backgrounds, we wanted to emphasize individuality and community all at once - which I feel the quilt did on a really practical level. The theme of the quilt is 'Dreams for the Future', and we asked the girls to focus on their futures when designing their unique patches.

Once more, positivity and creativity flowed freely in Baan Yuu Suk, with our youngest student looking ten years into the future when she would be fifteen and could go shopping at a large grocery store with her friend! Little Jimmy wants to be a pirate and sail the world in her dingy and another brave soul wants to save up all the money she makes as a doctor to travel in a rocket to all the stars! 

When completed, the quilt will hang in Baan Yuu Suk as a symbol of the community that has been 'patched' together there, respectful of each different person who arrives with her own past and her own dreams for the future.

Flagging Down Thai Freedom House

Last Friday was our second visit to Thai Freedom House since their return from school holidays. From our questionnaire last week we found out that the majority of the students had an interest in jewelery making - especially key rings. We aim to please our groups, so key rings it was this week!!

This week our project was national and personal beaded flag key rings. We used wire and a variety of plastic beads. First each student made either a Burmese or Thai flag to represent their heritage. We had templates printed showing them the correct order to place the beads onto the wire. Our friend, Koy, was able to accompany us to this week's class so she explained the method very clearly in Thai and all the students picked up the new skill fairly quickly.

When the students finished their national identity key rings, they were given a blank template and some markers to design their own flag. It could represent them in some way - using their favourite colours, a pattern that they liked or even make a picture within the flag. They made some really lovely flags. This flag was made on the same key ring as their national flag so on the one key ring they have their national and also personal flag. The students were all very happy with their finished products and had them hanging from their bags, keys and even some trousers loops were sporting the beaded key rings as we left Thai Freedom House. A very enjoyable and successful Friday evening!


MPlus+ MailArt Project : Proud to be Me!

We had an amazing turnout at M+, a local organization with a drop-in center for LGBT youth. By the end of the evening we had 15+ young adults join in our workshop promoting positive self identity and the opportunity to create a piece of artwork that would then be mailed to participating artists in Canada, France, the USA and even one from here in Thailand. As part of the project, artwork postcards created by a group of MailArtists will then be mailed back to the group at M+ with their own representation of "Self".

It didn't take long for everybody to grab the art supplies and create a postcard with a visual representation of how we view our selves and how society views us.

As it turned out, we had an amazingly talented group of Artists.

And we even had some live entertainment!!!

We will now be sending these postcards around the world to artists who will return work on the same theme to the artists of MPlus+. To follow their progress, check out the MailArt MPlus+ Facebook Page:


With love from Chiang Mai,
David Berube
New York


A Mellow Yellow Morning at Hope Home

Hi its Rose again!

So we are now half way through our seventh week and to say we don't know where the time has gone would be an understatement! Wednesday morning has come and gone, and so back to Hope Home we went for our second to last workshop with these beautiful kids... already dreading next week when we will have to say goodbye!

Continuing with our colour theme, we did yellow shaving foam painting this week. The kids really seemed to enjoy the texture of the foam last week and a messy workshop is always fun, right?! We had contact paper cutout of lemons, bananas, moons, stars, suns, ducks and flowers to work with. Even our shaving foam was lemon scented! :-)

Nam Chok takes an eye test with Aimee.
Myself with Joy enjoying our yellow swing!

Yellow Day!

The kids all looked great when we arrived, they were doing their physiotherapy but soon joined us for the workshop. Boonrot, who has been a tad sick the last few weeks, was back in his stroller looking happy and healthy- a pleasure to see him like this! Joy and Namchok were in top form too. It was Phil who stole the show though as it was his 8th Birthday that day! Needless to say, the workshop went by with many renditions of Happy Birthday To You!! David, who is back volunteering with us this week, worked with Phil and cut out a birthday cake for Phil to paint! Yummy lemon cake perhaps?!


When we were all painted out we look the kids to the swings and had some playtime which they loved! Another happy, mellow morning in Hope Home !

Taking a break from painting for some swinging!

Next week- edible green paint! Stay Tuned!


Hot Air Ballooning with Young Lions

Yesterday we had our usual slot with the kids at the Young Lions project in the grounds of Wat Suan Dok. We had decided to make hot air balloon mobiles with the students, which look so pretty when they are completed but take a small bit of work!

We went to the local Temple school to hand out some flyers to the kids, so that they would know where we were holding the workshop and we could try to recruit new Young Lions. When we arrived back with two new recruits our usual students had already showed up so we were good to go.

The children loved the sample mobile that we had made and seemed really excited to be making one of their own! However, when they heard they had to cut out 20 balloons their enthusiasm dipped slightly! Two of the children in particular are very uncomfortable working with scissors. This is likely due to the fact that there in no emphasis on the development of fine motor skills at school, i.e. arts and crafts! We helped with the cutting and soon they all had 20 balloons and realised it wasn't as bad as they had expected it to be! Susan helped our only little boy, Top to put his balloons together and Aimee and I assisted the others, who picked it up pretty quickly!

There was a rush to the end to get all the mobiles together but it was worth it in the end because they all loved their mobiles and seemed really proud heading home with them!  It was great seeming them blow in the wind as the kids bicycled away!

Piecing Together Memories at Healing Family!

This week with Healing Family we made Magnetic Photo Frames which at the end became a puzzle that the group had to assemble together. The aim was to let each person have an individual frame but then put them all together and show their community. They really enjoyed this project. They loved the photographs we had printed. Some took photos of themselves, others of their friends in the group, some of the entire group together.

We had all the frames/puzzle pieces cut out on thick cardboard ready to be decorated. On the back of each piece we had drawn an upwards arrow showing which direction this piece should be placed. Some people forgot to check this arrow and a few pieces ended up upside down. This all just added to the fun of the workshop and could easily be changed.

Once the frames were decorated everyone chose a photograph, the volunteers helped to secure these to the back of the frames. Then the fun began - Puzzle time!! Because a few were upside down it took a little bit of thought to put the whole piece together. The group really enjoyed this challenge and used their reasoning skills picking the corners, outside edges and slotting everything together correctly. Everyone was very satisfied once the puzzle was complete.

Aimee finished the puzzle with the help of Healing Family!
Last stage of the workshop was to stick the magnets to the back of each piece. We stuck two magnets on each frame. Everyone in the group took at least one, some took two magnets home to stick on their fridge - a constant reminder of the role they play in the Healing Family community!


Everything Blue But The Mood!

Hi, its Rose here again.
  This morning we traveled to Hope Home for our regular Wednesday morning slot. Last week the children seemed a bit under the weather with the flu and coughs. So we were delighted that when we met them this morning they all seemed much brighter and in good form. Luck was on our side because the seasonal rains which have been so heavy for the last week also seem to have eased off and this morning was beautiful, bright and sunny. Seizing the oppurtunity, we set up our workshop under the shade of the trees in the back garden in Hope Home. 

Continuing with our coloured theme from last week today it was 'BLUE' day. We decided to so shaving foam paintings today in order to give the children a new sensory experience- feeling and smelling the shaving foam. This is so easy to do and creates such a nice effect. Shaving cream is applied to a flat surface and then a few drops of ink or food colouring or paint are dropped into the shaving cream and swirled around with the end of a paintbrush, creating a marbled effect. The paper is then placed on top of the shaving cream and when its lifted off and excess shaving foam is cleaned off the effect is bright and colourful marbled designs on the paper. We made paper cut outs of various 'blue' items, or items that could be blue! Jeans, flowers, buckets, clouds, rain drops, butterflies, cars and fish etc! 

Before we mixed the blue dye into the foam we spread it out and let the children play with it, feeling it, swirling it around and smelling it. I was working with Little Joy today, she loved the feel of the foam, loved smelling it and did her best to try to eat some! Susan worked with Phil, and Aimee worked with Boonrot - they seemed to really love messing with the foam too.

Our blue paintings turned out well and held the attention of the children for the whole workshop. Then, of course, we got to let out our inner children and have a few minutes of playtime before we left! Our workshop ended to a rendition of 'There was an old woman who swallowed a fly' given by Susan and Aimee, I laughed as hard as the children, nothing BLUE about our morning at Hope Home!

'POP'ping Into Wat Ku Kam

Hi everyone. It's Michelle again.

Susan, Rose, Aimee and I visited the sixth grade at Wat Ku Kam this week with an Andy Warhol themed workshop. Our plan was to educate the students about American "pop art" culture by orienting them to Andy Warhol's art work through a slide show that we had prepared. We were excited by the bright colours and contemporary themes of Andy Warhol's work and about sharing his vision with the students.

There were about 20 students in the class who each readily chose a stencil to base their painting on. During the class each student painted four stencil pictures using fluorescent paint on four different coloured pieces of paper. When these were finished the four small paintings were glued onto one larger piece of paper, creating pictures which looked similar to those created by Andy Warhol himself. While the workshop at times had its challenges (try helping 20 students cut stencils!), we successfully worked through all of these for some really wonderful results. Each student enjoyed themselves and were able to complete their own painting to take home, and what beautiful pieces of art work they were as well!

A Row of Beautiful New Warhols!


School for Life Can Make Wallets for Life!

This week with School for Life we decided to make woven wallets out of old magazines. It was an older group with a mix of girls and boys all of whom seemed to really enjoy it. Wad, the executive director at Cultural Canvas Thailand, came along this week to translate the instructions for us. What a help it was! All the students grasped the idea very quickly!

There was a lot of preparation to do for this workshop - I never want to cut or fold a magazine page again!!!  However, it was worth every minute of prep to see all the finished wallets. First each student chose 15 pieces of pre-folded magazine pages - 8 stuck together at the top and 7 for weaving in and out through the first 8. A lot of the students were very precise about the weaving and it paid off in the end!

Next came the busy part! As we are now down to just two volunteers and Aimee, the workshops can get a little more hectic. Luckily for us this big group of students was extremely well behaved. I was at the contact station - covering the woven papers with contact to make them durable. This station got very busy, very quickly. Luckily, Wad came to the rescue, so we had two more hands! After contact paper, Rose was folding and sticking the sides together, and, finally, Aimee helped students to hot glue gun velcro to the wallets for a closure!

After two hours of hard work and fun everyone had a wallet to take away with them. One child was so delighted with her  new skill she said now she would never have to buy another wallet because she knew how to make them! What a success!


Foam Fun with Young Lions

This week with Young Lions we made foam pencil tops. This project was not as dramatic or messy as previous weeks, but as well as being a fun activity for the children, it could also act as a bit of advertising for Young Lions if the children bring their finished product to school. This week we had 5 children, so slowly but surely our numbers are rising since our office move! We made a new flyer promoting Young Lions. Aimee and I went to the local temple school as the classes were being let out of school. This week a few parents took the flyer and seemed interested, so hopefully this will pay off in the coming weeks.

Surprisingly none of the children chose the Angry Bird template first, unlike the last group we did this activity with. They all chose different templates and there was less copying. Top was really putting a lot of effort into his work and had lots of detail in his finished pencil top. Each child did several different pencil tops each and all got to bring home a brand new pencil, also! Valentine arrived during the workshop, but as usual left her work behind her. She still has as much fun even though she never brings home her finished piece. Valentine is not able to bring her products home because her parents do not want her to attend Young Lions. Instead, Valentine is meant to leave school and go directly home so that she can collect flowers to sell in the local markets. It's a shame that her creativity isn't celebrated.

It was Michelle's last day with Young Lions. She had a really fun time making several pencil tops, which she used to create little characters, each with their own name and personality! She had as much fun as all of our Young Lions!

Thankfully this week was not as hot as the past few weeks. The children were much more comfortable! This was a very enjoyable workshop - clean and easy to organize and still a lot of fun for the children.

Hi COSA, We Are ARI!

Hi again, Rose here once more. Into our sixth week now, not sure where the time is going to be honest! On Saturday last, I had the enormous privilege of taking part in ARI's first workshop with the young girls at Baan Yuu Suk, run by an organisation called COSA- Childrens Organisation of South East Asia. 

COSA is an International Organization which works towards the prevention of Child trafficking and sexual exploitation within the Northern regions of Thailand. Baan Yuu Suk shelter provides a home to girls who have been sexually abused, exploited or have been victims of human trafficking. Literally meaning Peaceful Home the shelter provides the girls with a safe haven to complete their schooling, receive vocational classes, improve their English language skills and to prosper as healthy and confident young women.

I had very little knowledge about the problem of sex trafficking in Asian countries until recently. Having had the great fortune to be born in a western, developed country, neither I nor my sisters, friends or indeed any young girl that I know was ever in danger of being sold into the sex trade. Unfortunately, this is the reality for far too many young girls in Asia. Northern Thailand, in particular, has huge problems with this issue.

As I mentioned, this was the first time that ARI has held a workshop with the girls from COSA, only recently having established a relationship with the organisation. Being our first time meeting the girls in Baan Yuu Suk, we didn't know what to expect, what the girls would be interested in or how they would respond to us. Our doubts were soon dispelled though. We were overwhelmed by the warmth, enthusiasm and spirit shown by the girls, who ranged in age from 4-17.


We repeated a lesson from last week, which we had originally held with Wildflower Home, making Flower Headbands using scrap fabric to make the flowers. Luckily we had a translator for this workshop and that allowed us to give the girls a step by step demonstration of how to fashion the flowers, encouraging them to choose which fabric they wanted to use and assisting them as needed. One of the younger girls was so fussy with her fabric that she ended up with 14 flower cutouts to choose from, before she managed to narrow it down to eight!


The girls' individuality and creativity really came to the fore during this workshop. We have come to expect children to copy from one another in our workshops as it seems that to go against the grain and make individual pieces it too daunting for some of the children we work with or simply isn't encouraged in Thai schooling. However, this was not the case at Baan Yuu Suk - the girls knew exactly what they wanted and did not seem to worry about fitting into the mold. Perhaps this a testimony to the fact that many of these young girls have seen more than their fair share of what life has to offer in Northern Thailand and are now
learning to stand on their own two feet due to the fantastic work of the people at COSA.

Further information on COSA and Baan Yuu Suk:


Feeling Freely at Wat Ka Kum

This afternoon we went to Wat Ku Kam, one of the Temple Schools that we work with. For our workshop today we were working with an older class, aged about 9-12. The aim of our workshop today was to develop a "Feelings Vocabulary". The students in Wat Ku Kam are likely to have no experience with drama. Furthermore, Thai culture is often about saving face, meaning that people here can find it difficult to express their emotions, preferring to keep everything locked up inside themselves. We wanted the children to reflect on different emotions and to practice acting them out.

We used eight emotions for today's workshop- Joy, Anger, Shame, Anxiety, Jealousy, Love, Pride and Sadness. Taking turns the children (and a few of the volunteers!) acted out each emotion. The children were embarrassed and shy at first but they opened up quickly, especially when they saw that we had no inhibitions about acting in front of the class.

After our little emotions game, the children decorated and crafted little notebooks, on each page they drew a picture depicting an emotion from the list. Jealousy was a funny one as most children drew pictures of jealous men throwing punches because someone had stolen their lady!

Lovely workshop to end the week on!!


A Bouquet of Smiles at Wildflower

Earlier this afternoon, we made the journey to Wildflower Home. However, our poor bus was not able to get us the whole way there! Rainy season has taken its toll on the dirt road to the shelter for single mothers and is now almost unable to be driven on at all. And if you are to drive on it you need a pickup truck whose body is high up off the ground! So we made our way along the last few meters of dirt track by foot, carrying our workshop materials with us. We managed to avoid the mud as best we could! Poor Michelle lost her shoe along the way but still arrived with one clean foot and a smile.

Our focus during Wildflower workshops is generally on income generation, so the production of items which can be sold. We have just recently completed a series of workshops making greeting cards using wood relief printing. While the cards are pretty and will definitely generate some income for the shelter, the girls grew tired of the repeated theme. They requested that we do a workshop making headbands. Happy to oblige their request, today that's exactly what we did!

We found some pretty flower headband ideas online and I worked on improving my sewing skills once more to make an example for the workshop. It turned out really well, got the thumbs up from the staff here at ARI and so we got everything we needed together and hoped the girls at Wildflower would enjoy the project.

Thankfully the flowers went down well with the women at the shelter. In comparison to our last visit they were engaged and interested for the duration of the workshop and all made beautiful headbands.
We think they will be a great market item and are so happy to see the women in their top form again.