Following her bitter divorce, all Khadijah Ahmad wanted to do was to leave the country to start life afresh. Friends in Dubai and Japan offered to take her in and after much contemplation, Katt, as she is known, decided to head to Tokyo, Japan.

Katt worked as a personal assistant to her friend and lived in Giza, Tokyo, for about four years.

Shortly after her arrival, while strolling in a residential area, she stumbled upon a group of Japanese women gathered to make polymer clay art. Fascinated by the tiny accessories and fridge magnets that these women fashioned out of polymer clay, Katt decided to join the group for two hours every weekend.

Katt with a gift box she decorated with polymer clay art pieces

Katt with a gift box she decorated with polymer clay art pieces

Katt recalled, “At the time, I was still feeling depressed over my failed marriage. Participating in the craft class took my mind off my troubles as crafting teeny-weeny items required my full concentration. The classes expanded my social circle and the new friends helped lift up my morale too. Through these ladies, I learnt a lot about the Japanese people, their culture and lifestyle. Japanese women generally keep themselves active and I adapted to that pace too.

this is how it's done

this is how it’s done

“From young, the Japanese are taught not to waste and to create things that would last for a long time. That is why even in craft, they would rather use polymer clay to create a longer lasting piece of art, usually something useful, rather than merely playing with other types of modelling materials.”

this is how it's done

this is how it’s done

Katt continued to present herself at the hobby group weekly long after she picked up the craft. Adopting the many Japanese principles and values in life, she believed that her newfound interest in polymer clay art helped pull her through that dark period.

this is how it's done

this is how it’s done

In 2010, Katt decided to return to Malaysia as her elder daughter was about to sit for her Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR). Not one to rest on her laurels anymore, just like a Japanese, Katt, besides looking after the needs of her two daughters, established a craft workshop in Kota Damansara. The workshop, under the aegis of the Human Resources Ministry’s “Program Azam Kerja” didn’t work out too well, unfortunately.

some small items Katt made from polymer clay

some small items Katt made from polymer clay

Shortly after that, Katt relocated Luvly Touch Training Centre to her current premises in Section U6 Shah Alam, where she now teaches people to make baby roses from polymer clay.

Explained Katt, “For a small fee, I teach my students, the majority of them single mothers, how to make baby roses. Once they are adept, they will purchase the raw material from me at only RM5 per bag of 50 grammes each. With the clay made into baby roses, I will purchase their completed work, giving them a profit of up to RM60 per bag or polymer clay, depending on how well they manage their raw material. From these baby roses, I turn them into brooches to be sold in Dubai through my friend who lives there.

 brooches from baby roses

brooches from baby roses

“Even though one may think that making baby roses is tedious work, it is actually therapeutic for those who are not in the best frame of mind. Having been through a divorce, I have personal experience on how it feels like. The slew of ensuing issues could be overwhelming. Many of these workshop participants are in the same dark episode as I was and I know that by giving them something else to focus on which enables them to start a small home-based business, their new income stream would rebuild their self-confidence.”

Note: An edited version of this article [Surviving dark times] was published on 31st October, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.

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