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Recently, workshops in Saigon have attracted numerous people to participate in. Coming to Ho Chi Minh City, beside sightseeing and trying delicious food, tourists may enjoy the feeling of being a potter or lipstick maker. Right in the middle of the most hustle and bustle city in Vietnam, in weekends, many officers choose to “run away” from smartphones, computers to immerse themselves in clays, colors, and fragrances.
Being a potter
On a Sunday, in a small room, there were five people sitting around a round table. Each one focused on their own work: a person was working with a ceramic-making machine, carefully curving a cup while the other one was meticulously sculpturing a rose on a plate.
A woman named Thu was mixing clays to make a coffee cup. Both her hands and shirt stuck with clays. Making pottery is a new trend that everyone at any age can follow to release tress. It helps you concentrate for 2-3 hours without being distracted by smartphones or paper work.
At the workshop, you would learn how to use the machine to shape clay into things such as plates, bowls, and vases, as well as practice enameling, carving patterns, and painting.
Ms. Thu told me that after two years, she could make many home tools by herself. She also advised me that if the enamel was too thin, it would be burnt; otherwise, thick enamel would cover the patterns.
Each time going there, she learnt new techniques and she was so excited to see her latest product coming out. At present, she was familiar with all stages and tried to be as professional as possible.
In the next room, An, Ms. Thu’s son, was grinding clays to make some plates. During 3 hours, he had made three round dishes. He was going to curve three animals into the plates and bring home. The boy had learnt about pottery for one years and now he was fluent in steps of making pottery.
It took four weeks to complete a product: one week to shape the figure, one week to let it dry, and another week to be ready for baking. The little potter had made several products, including flower pots, a pen hanger, and a soap box.
That day, he was excited to see the octopus made two weeks before. The color is quite eye-catching, but, unluckily, its two tentacles were broken. An was still happy since he could use glue to repair them.
In Ho Chi Minh City, you can find plenty of pottery-making classes with different styles: Japanese pottery, Bat Trang (Vietnam) pottery, etc. with short-term courses and long-term courses.
We have gone around some pottery village and decided to attend a lesson at Bien Hoa craft village since the village is the nearest spot to Ho Chi Minh City, so it did not take much money for transferring ingredients and machines.
Ms. Anny Chen – the founder of Spin&Gogh ceramic workshop, said that most of learners here were English teachers and officers working for foreign companies in Vietnam. Because she loved Japanese pottery, she opened the workshop to create a place for city dwellers to relax after work, as well as share the native culture with foreigners.
Most pottery workshops offer short-term courses (1-2 days) for visitors with the cost of 150.000vnd to 300.000vnd, including ingredients, tools, and tutors. In addition, customers can register for long-term courses (from 1 week to 3 months) to learn how to make pottery from basic to advanced level with the prices from 1.5 million to 2.5 million vnd.
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Being a perfume maker
In a workshop called Summer Perfume, both girls and boys gathered around a table with glass pipes, chopsticks, trays of essential oil, fragrances, and test strips.
The tutor spoke about daily kinds of fragrance and shared her knowledge about perfume. Each attender was asked to draw a picture about summer and paint it as they liked.
Based on the color of the picture and the fragrance wheel, as well as the knowledge about the fragrance pyramid, they brought the color type from the picture to the pyramid and choose the equivalent scent.
With a variety of aroma, including lemon, orange, peel of grapefruit, apple, peach, green tea, patchouli, and tea tree, each person chose some favorite scents which made them feel comfortable to mix together.
Every individual would create their own perfume after about two hours. A person may mix three sorts of aroma to make their perfume, but some others combined more than 20 types to create three basic layers of fragrance.
Holding the new bottle of perfume on her hands, Ms. Ngoc Thuy expressed that she had used many kinds of perfume but she did not satisfy with them, so she came here to make her own perfume.
Mr. Tung Bach was the one asked the most questions about aroma since he was keen on it. He was working in the field of coffee, beside delicate taste, he needed to know about exquisite scents. That was the reason why he came to the workshop.
Ms. Quynh Nhu, the boss of a perfume store in Ho Chi Minh City, was the guide. She began to open workshops about perfume one year ago. She also held workshops about making soap and dried flowers. She graduated with a degree in biotechnology and started to study about perfume when she was in college. She wished to use her knowledge to create Vietnamese perfume with high quality for the Vietnamese.
These workshops are usually organized in weekends, each one welcomes about 10 participants with the cost of 400.000vnd to 450.000vnd each person. In the end, they are able to bring home a small bottle of perfume they had made before.
Being an organic soap maker
Workshops of organic soap attract a lot of youngsters since they want to live green and be friendly with the environment.
Tang Boi Quan often held workshops DIY to teach participants how to make lipstick from natural Vietnamese base oil and internationally standardized wax and colorings. At first, she learnt to make organic cosmetics on her own as she were allergic with the ones which had chemistry in their ingredients. Now she had gained a lot of experience, thus she wanted to share his grasp with other people.
Her handmade soap contains trans-fat from vegetable oil (coconut, shea butter, avocado) which clean dirt without harmful for skin and the surroundings.
Vietnam has an abundant of natural essential oil such as coconut oil, avocado oil, green tea powder, turmeric powder, and lemongrass. But the hardest part is to find the resources of pure oil. Thus, while making products, I still need to find truthful suppliers.
There were a lot of foreigners buying her products, but her goal was to make useful soap for Vietnamese people so that they can be healthy. A small piece of soap could be enough to wash hair, body and face for the whole month.
Workshops of organic soap with natural essential oil are quite expensive, about 1 million vnd per day.