On Rattan Weaving with library@orchard’s Resident, Ng Si Ying

Public Libraries Singapore
publiclibrarysg
Published in
4 min readMar 24, 2022

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Rattan weaver Si Ying in her workspace at home. [Image source: ATINYMAKER]

Rattan weaver Ng Si Ying is library@orchard’s latest artist-in-residence! Since January 2022, Si Ying has been working out of the library and will conclude her residency in March 2022.

For Si Ying, ATINYMAKER was conceived as a research attempt to discover more about rattan as a material. Through pushing the limits of rattan’s materiality in terms of its aesthetics and function, Si Ying hopes to rediscover rattan’s purpose in today’s world. In the final month of her residency, we spoke with Si Ying to find out more about her experience, and her plans for the future.

Hi Si Ying, how’s the Residency going so far?

So far so good! Having the extra space definitely allowed me to pick up projects that I normally wouldn’t have considered doing. It has also been nice to chat with people who’ve come by to say hello.

If we may ask — why this Residency?

I’ve always been working out of my room and often wondered what it’d be like to have a studio space. This residency was an opportunity for me to experience that.

ATINYMAKER is Si Ying’s research attempt at exploring the possibilities of rattan as a material. [Image source: National Library Board]

What are one (or a few) of the most common misconceptions about working with rattan that you’d like to change?

People often think that rattan furniture is a hotbed for bugs. That’s a possibility, but as with most natural materials, rattan furniture can last a long time if you take good care of them.

What’s your favourite creation, and is there a story behind it?

Every piece has been a challenge and learning opportunity for me. I can’t say I have a favourite piece because they’re all precious to me.

Si Ying removes the rattan seat of a chair to prep it for repair. [Image source: National Library Board]
Si Ying examines the woven pattern to replicate it during her repair for a chair seat. [Image source: National Library Board]

Do you have a technique or a process? What are your most important tools?

I try different weaving techniques to push the limits of rattan. In fact, I try my best not to stay with one technique, so that I can keep exploring. Tweezers, scissors, a penknife and a spray bottle are actually all you need to work with rattan!

Si Ying in her studio at library@orchard. [Image source: National Library Board]

How long do you usually take to finish a project? Do you finish it in one sitting, or do you work on several projects at once?

Sometimes I work on multiple projects at the same time, but there are also times when I finish the smaller projects in one sitting. It really depends. Some pieces can take as fast as 30 mins, while others can take months.

Si Ying weaving rattan on the handle of an umbrella. [Image source: National Library Board]

What are the best and worst parts of weaving rattan?

For me, it’s exciting to explore new ways to use rattan. The nature of rattan means that you can’t revise your piece too many times, but I don’t consider that the worst part of rattan — one just has to understand the material.

Si Ying’s first project, 100 Rattan as Wrap, explored using rattan as a wrapping material in 100 ways. [Image source: National Library Board]

Did you meet any interesting people during your Residency at library@orchard?

I’d say it’s more about the interesting conversations that I’ve had. I’ve encountered folks who come by just to chat with me about rattan, politics, and what’s going on in their own lives. I’m excited to hear more stories in my upcoming Open Studio session! (More information on Si Ying’s final Open Studio session can be found at the end of the article.)

What’s next for you after this Residency?

A group exhibition, and maybe getting started on my next “100 Rattan” project!

A piece from Si Ying’s 100 Rattan as Wrap project, featuring dyed rattan. [Image source: ATINYMAKER]
A piece from Si Ying’s 100 Rattan as Wrap project, featuring rattan weaved around a wood offcut. [Image source: ATINYMAKER]

Catch Si Ying at her final Open Studio session on 26 March (Sat), 1 pm to 4 pm. Also, keep an eye out for her post-residency mini showcase at library@orchard; the showcase will run from 1–30 April 2022.

For updates on library@orchard’s curated design programmes, subscribe to library@orchard’s Eventbrite collection or join the LearnX Arts Facebook group!

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Text by
Nicole Yeo
National Library Board

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Public Libraries Singapore
publiclibrarysg

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