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Turning pots, stones and glass into art

By PAULO ALCAZAREN, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 02, 2020 5:00 pm

Two weeks ago we looked at origami as a hobby in quarantine. The simple material needed was paper. This week we look at hobbies that turn ordinary pots, stones and glass into works of art.

We visit three moms, all with creative flair. I did not have to look far to find them. The first is a former badminton barkada, and the next two are my sisters, whom I’ve not seen in person since the lockdown.


PAULO ALCAZAREN: What line of work are you in, and how are you coping with WFH?

RACHEL RAMIREZ: I'm an architect by profession. I’ve been working for an Australian firm, offering design services. We have offices in Australia, the US, and other parts of the world.  I'm the GM for the Manila studio. All of our work is online, so we are not as affected as others.

What hobbies did you pick up during this quarantine?

This whole staying-at-home got my creative juices flowing. Since the quarantine period started, I've been doing a lot of arts and crafts for my baby.  Like many others, I also got interested in plants and became a plantita.

Rachel starts with designs on paper before transferring them to clay pots.
Rachel's pots are perfect for plantitas and plantitos.
Pots can be as attractive as the plants they host.

But I was not satisfied with the pots for my plants, so I personalized them to make them stand out and provide a more interesting setting for my greenery. I mainly use hand-painted clay pots, have my designs printed then cut out in high-grade vinyl decals. Then I painstakingly compose each one of them on each pot or vase. 

Why did you decide to offer your designs online?

I started with a few pots, but realized I wouldn't have use for all the pots I'd end up with, considering all the designs I had in my head. I thought it would be good to share my work with those plant lovers who might have the same aesthetic design sense as mine.  And that's how my “after-baby sleeps” turned into a small hobby business. 

What sizes are your pots?

I’ve got 4"x4.5" pots, but also have 5"x6" and 7"x8" ones. I do accept commissions for custom designs.  I'm also open to bigger sizes and I usually advise what's best based on the design they want. 

MARITA ALCAZAREN-DE LEON: ‘Pawtraits’ in stone

Marita is the elder of my two sisters and used to work as an advertising art director. A fine arts graduate from UP, she took an option for early retirement and went freelance. In between projects she took up making resin jewelry and découpaging as a hobby.

Her artist son encouraged her to go back to painting. She discovered she liked painting pets, having become a fur parent herself (with a Shih Tzu named Peanut). She’s been doing “pawtraits” of pets since 2018 but found a new medium for them.

Marita works on one half of her dining table.

“Pawtraits” in stone can be used as shelf decor or paperweights.

Pet rocks are housebroken.

Marita paints cats, dogs and other pets.

When did you start painting “pawtraits” and how has it evolved?

It was at the end of 2018 that I started offering passersby at bazaars a "pawtrait" of their pet, done on the spot. This was done only on wooden key chains or paper. Then last year, I decided to try painting them on rocks and called them Pet Rocks. They were a hit.

Where do you do your “pawtraiture”?

I do all my “pawtraiture” PFH (Paint From Home). My workspace is one side of our dining table.

How much time do you spend painting?

I do this almost every day for about five hours. But it’s not just for leisure; a lot of the time now these are for commissions. Freelancing for advertising projects had been a source of income, but since the quarantine, work has slowed. So “pawtraiture” has been a blessing during the pandemic. I feel lucky to have found this niche and earn from doing something I love to do. My Pet Rocks reach a lot of animal lovers and I am able to bring them happiness and even tears of joy, especially if the pet is no longer with them.


My youngest sister Isabel was an executive in a utility firm and started her own business baking cookies and pastries after early retirement. Although her field was statistics, like most of my siblings, she had an artistic bent.

When did you start this hobby?

It was in the summer of 2019 when I started collecting sea glass on vacation with my husband in Puerto Azul. Sea glass comes from ordinary broken glass weathered and polished along seashores (a process that can take 50 years). I learned doing sea-glass jewelry from YouTube. I knew that jewelers did wire wrapping of precious stones. So I applied it to my sea glass. Eventually we found a small community in Tanza, Cavite, whom we taught how to pick sea glass, and we now pay for their picks.

Isa shares a workspace with her children in one corner of the house.

Sea glass is found in beaches and is the result of decades of natural polishing by waves and sand.

Where do you do this in your house?

We have a workshop at home where the kids do all their projects. I share the space with them.

How many hours a day do you spend on this?

I spend three to four hours a day, but maybe only three times a week.

How has this helped you cope with the quarantine?

It's the other way around: quarantine has helped me do more research, surf for inspiration, and learn new techniques. I sell my jewelry online and also have done collaborations such as providing colorful knitted pouches for my jewelry. I get these from Proyekto Gantsilyo, a small-scale social enterprise made up of residents of the UP Campus (food service employees and food kiosk operators), who have lost their source of income due to the quarantine.

So find yourself an arts and crafts quarantine hobby now. The raw materials may just be lying around.

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Feedback is welcome. Please email the writer at [email protected].

You can reach the three moms on Facebook if you are interested in their designs.