Sep 3, 2014

Top Commenter for August 2014

So here are the top 5 for August:


As promised, Top 3 will get something and for the month of August, the prizes are sponsored by Oyez!Books as below:

Tulip goes to Glory Jane!


Elephabet goes to Imaisha!

MCMother & Child goes to Jaja!

I haven’t done a review of Mother & Child but here’s the synopsis: This delightful book contains a collection of the wonderful Mother & Child series of paintings done by Yusof Gajah. The original paintings were sold out and are now made available for the first time in print. Lovingly compiled by his daughter, Jaja, together with a selection of quotes and poems, Mother & Child is an inspirational and uplifting book that can be enjoyed over and over again.

To all winners, please e-mail me at to collect your prize. Thanks!

Aug 26, 2014

Mimpi Autumn

Here’s another recent painting. Watercolor on acrylic paper.

mimpiautumnsmallTitle: Mimpi Autumn
Medium: Watercolor on acrylic paper
Size: 22.9cm x 30.5cm

Aug 24, 2014

Mimpi (Dream)

Made this last night. I am trying out new style. What do you think?


Title: Mimpi
Medium: Watercolor on acrylic paper. 
Size: 22.9cm x 30.5cm

Aug 23, 2014

Lost in Venice

There is one thing that I find easy while travelling: getting lost. Finding myself lost in a foreign country was scary at first. But when it happened many times, I took it as an adventure.

The first place that I blissfully got lost was in Venice.  The walk from Venice Santa Lucia Train Station, Ferrovia to Piazza San Marco took me forever.



Along the way, I took many wrong turns and being alone in a superficial place, I almost cried. Many times I found myself caught in the maze-like narrow lanes and sometimes it seemed like there was no way out. Some of the lanes ended up on someone’s door. But somehow I managed to get to San Marco Square by finding and following the crowd. I swore to myself that time, if I ever come back to Venice, I will bring a map.

And then four years later, there I was back in Venice again, forgot to bring what I supposed to bring. I instead brought a friend, Evi.

“Emila, you’ve been here before, I hope you can take me somewhere nice where we can do plein air drawings,” Evi said.

“Uh-oh,” I replied.

Evi had wanted to sketch Venice since the first day we arrived in Italy. That actually makes the two of us. The last time I went I was so caught up in finding my way around.

And so we took an early train to go to Venice using regional train. Regional train is cheaper but slower than the fast one, costing only Euro 12 to compare to Euro 30. After validating our tickets (failure to do so can result in a fine), we boarded the train.

It was funny how the view along the way was somewhat different from what I saw four years back. Italy has changed a lot, I thought. But that was not the case when the ticket conductor came and check our tickets. He said the train we boarded was not bound to Venice; it was bound to Padua. We panicked and later boarded off the train. We took a train back to Bologna Station (paid extra 10 Euros for our tickets) and then took a correct train to Venice.

Before we boarded the train, I told Evi, if we ever got lost in Venice, we should find a hotel to sleep and find our way back to our base in Bologna the next day. She agreed as she could not do much about it as I was the so-called ‘expert’.

We reached Venice at about 11.30 am and first thing we saw was a Moleskine shop! We dropped in and bought each ourselves a Moleskine Sketchbook. We already had bought some in KL but we just need to add one each from Venice. Moleskine is an Italian company based in Milan. Moleskine products include sketchbooks, notebooks, planners, diaries and many more.  The design of the current Moleskine sketchbooks were based on sketchbooks designed by a small family-run French bookbinder in Tours, France almost two centuries ago. They produced it for stationery shops around France. However, in mid 80s, it had discontinued production after the death of the owner. So, I reckon that the last owner was unmarried and was the only child of the last generation – seems logical, right?


After Moleskine, it was lunch! We were super hungry since we just had a slice of bread and a cup of espresso for breakfast before we left for Venice.


Funny thing was, I seemed to know where to go. We did not cross the canal, but instead just walked along Carnareggio (the lane on the left side of the Santa Lucia Train Station) to find a place to eat. We found a halal restaurant called Trattoria All’Aquila. Evi had Penne al Pomodoro while I had Spaghetti alle Vongole. Evi sketched her lunch first. I could not draw with empty stomach so I decided to draw later after I finished my lunch.

Then we just followed our feet around Venice to admire beautiful buildings and found a spot to draw at Campo S. Sofia, off Carnareggio main lane. The buildings are all so beautiful.


Luigi Barzini described Venice as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man” in The New York Times. I have to agree him because every building appealed to me, not to mention picture-perfect. I could go on taking pictures of all buildings one by one. But I was there to draw, so I only managed to cover little part of it.

Our trip went smooth, it was windy and cold but we managed to stop by another location to do a drawing before following the crowd to get to the ferry station at San Marco Square to get back to Santa Lucia Station and then to Bologna.

We missed many touristy spots namely Rialto (where I got lost on my first trip), Murano, Burano and Torcello but we didn’t mind. As long as we set foot anywhere in Venice and drew something, that was good enough. Having Evi with me on this trip gave me the strength and confidence to stop worrying too much about getting lost.


On the night train back to Bologna, Evi told me, “Emila, although we only discovered 5% of Venice today, I think if we ever come back to Italy, I don’t want to go to Venice. I want to discover the place that we got lost earlier today. You remember the signboard at the train station where we boarded off?”

“Yes, you mean Montselice?” I replied.

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“Sure Evi, getting lost in Montselice sounds like a great idea. I’m getting the hang of it,” I remember telling her before I dozed off to the sound of the regional train moving slowly towards Bologna.

[This article appears in Gaya Travel magazine, issue 9.4.]


Credit references:


Aug 20, 2014

Tissue-doodling series

Here’s a frugal way to doodle while you are having coffee or waiting for your kids at school; tissue-doodling. You don’t need a sketchbook, only tissue and pen. If you are having coffee, surely you will be given a tissue. If not, make it a habit to collect tissue when you eat out.


Aug 18, 2014

Eclectic style dominates in Royal Selangor’s Autumn 2014 Collection

Royal Selangor’s latest autumn collection draws inspiration from different styles and eras resulting in five elegant ranges for contemporary living.


Inspired by the Renaissance, a time of artistic, scientific and financial growth from the 14th to 17th century, Chateau features patterns from classical columns, pilasters and other architectural motifs from the time period. The collection consists of a highball glass, decanters, whiskey tumbler, bottle coasters, champagne flutes, wine goblets and an ice bucket.


The Circa tableware collection is defined by the clean lines and durable functionality of the 1950s mid-century modern design, which originated from the American interpretation of the International Style and Bauhaus movements. Seamlessly combining Kulim wood and satin pewter accents, Circa comprises a spice mill, wine chiller, salad servers, bowls, bottle coaster and trays.


The mid-century modern aesthetic is once again highlighted in Miami, a range of retro chic candle stands. The collection features repeated curves which convey a sexy vibe, while bright pewter accents provide an interesting visual contrast. A hurricane lamp, tealight holder and candlesticks complete the Miami collection.


Portable storage goes high-end in Royal Selangor’s collection of 16GB USB flash drives and 500GB external hard drives. Pairing sleek design with fine pewter detailing, the range is available in three versions- the sunburst, parang and weave. The sunburst features a series of concentric circles, while parang is inspired by parallel diagonal lines found on batik fabric. The weave is derived from the signature mengkuang weave display at Royal Selangor. Both drives are compatible with most operating systems.


The twelve iconic animals of the Chinese zodiac take the spotlight in Royal Selangor’s collection of cufflinks and pendants. According to myths, they were selected from a race called by the Jade Emperor or Buddha and represent a specific year in a 12-year cycle. The intricate design of each animal takes its cue from Chinese paper cutting, a 1,500-year old art form listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Whether for work or play, this collection makes it easy to express one’s individuality.

View the full range of the Autumn 2014 collection at any Royal Selangor retail store, authorised dealer and online at

Here’s a special offer especially for readers! Sign-up and enjoy RM30 e-voucher!

Step by step guide:

  • Signup/register your account at
  • It will then lead you to a page where you fill in your info. Then put EVEY in the promotion code box.
  • It will then bring you to user account page. Click e-voucher and activate. There you go, you will get RM30 e-voucher and you can start shopping online.

The e-voucher is applicable to all products and valid for one month from August 18 until October 19, 2014.

Have fun!



Aug 18, 2014

A day trip to Royal Selangor Visitor Centre

Royal Selangor. I’ve heard the name, seen the pewter, admired the craftsmanship from glass window of its retail outlets namely in Suria KLCC and Central Market, wanted to visit the place but never made an effort to do so, until last Saturday. The main reason was because I didn’t know that I can just walk in and visit.

The visit begins when I take the escalator up to the first floor from the main lobby to reach the museum area.

Back in 1882, in a port town of Shantou, China, a young boy named Yong Koon, age 11, learned how to make pewter. Three years later, at the age of 14, he braved himself to sail to Malaya and join his brothers, who both had already established themselves as tinsmiths in a town of tin mining known as Kuala Lumpur. The Yong brothers had a shop called Ngeok Foh (Jade Peace), hand-crafted pewter objects mainly for ceremonial use.

In 1930, Yong Koon, his wife and sons moved to their own shophouse at Jalan Pudu and named the shop Malayan Pewter Works. The next decade saw how family disputes had Yong Koon’s sons shuffled allegiance and formed 3 other companies namely Tiger Pewter, Selangor Pewter and Lion Pewter. It was that Selangor Pewter that was run by Peng Kai, Yong Koon’s 3rd son that had survived to this date.

Selangor Pewter was renamed Royal Selangor in 1979 when The Sultan of Selangor conferred them the warrant as Royal Pewterer.

Yong KoonLeft: Yong Koon in front of Jade Peace situated at Cross Street (now Jalan Silang), KL. Right: Yong Koon in his old age.

Other than history, the museum features old tin currency, pewter artefacts and Yong Koon’s original pewtersmithing tools and personal effects. The museum also houses the Melon Pot, one of Yong Koon’s original pewter pieces that found its way back to the founder’s family members in an unusual way.

MelonpotThe legendary Melon Pot that bears Jade Peace touchmark. It was found by Ah Ham, a villager in Kajang during WW2. The pot made it’s way to Selangor Pewter in the 70s for polishing and it was quickly recognised as it has Jade Peace touchmark. Selangor Pewter tried to acquire the pot but Ah Ham could not depart from the pot that he thought had saved his life during the war. But years later, before he died, he sold the pot to Selangor Pewter.

mythicaldogOne of Yong Koon’s early works—a teapot that features a mythical dog that is believed to bestow good fortune and success.

touchmarksLeft: Evolution of touchmarks. Right: The legendary first touchmark.

There is also few interesting sections such as The Science of Pewter, Giant Weighing Scale, Chamber of Chimes, where I think that will attract kids. Other than that there’s Wall of Finishes (each wall displays different pewter textures and patterns), Hall of Frames (more than 200 photo frames on display) and Twin Towers Replica (constructed completely out of 7,062 tankards, standing at 9.1 meters).

SciencePewter is made of tin, antimony and copper. You and your kids can learn this and many more at the The Science of Pewter section.

framesHall of Frames!

Then I visited the factory. The factory tour shows visitors the elaborate processes of pewter-making; detailed hand-crafting that goes into each piece include casting, filing, polishing, soldering and hammering. This factory has 250 skilled craftspeople who create beautiful pewter pieces that are sold in over 20 countries. As Royal Selangor maintains its tradition of craftsmanship, every piece made is still hand finished to an astonishing degree.

employeeA skilled worker removing rough edges using steel a blade.

Here how it’s done: the first step is casting, a process where tin, antimony and copper are melted at 250 degrees Celsius to make molten pewter. Skilled artisans pour the molten pewter into moulds. After it solidifies, the mould is dismantled and the casting is removed. To remove the oxidation and rough edges, a steel blade is used to skim over a rotating piece of pewter to give the surface a satin-like finish. Designs in different shapes and sizes and with motifs are polished in a different manner. Rough edges are removed using small hacksaw blades and filing tools. Fine sandpaper is also used to remove the yellow patina. The hammering process is a traditional method of pewter decoration made by a steel hammer. A steady hand, precision and consistent strength is needed to create a neat and even line of dimpled patterns.

And the highlights of the visit are The School of Hard Knocks and The Foundry. I had fun at these two sections.

workshop My pewter dish.

At The School of Hard Knocks, I experienced the rigours of traditional pewter-crafting! I was guided through the process of creating a pewter dish using traditional tools such as the hammer, mallet and wooden mould. At the end of the session, I get to keep my bowl. In addition, I was given a certificate of completion, and that makes me a certified bowl artisan!

Details of workshop:
Cost: RM 60 per person
Time: 30 minutes
Group size: 50 (maximum), 4 (minimum)

EpendantMy E pewter pendant, made by my own hands.

At The Foundry, I get to unleash my artistic talent! I was guided through the process of casting, polishing and decorating a pewter accessory by an experienced instructor. At the end of the session, I get to take home my own pewter accessory.

Details are as follows:
Cost: RM 150 per person
Time: 60 minutes
Group size: 12 (maximum), 4 (minimum)

I had a great time at The Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and will certainly visit again with my family. I showed photos of the visit to my son and he is all envy and wants me to take him there next weekend.

If you like to experience the tour and making your own craft at The Foundry, I have a great promotion offer for you, in collaboration with Royal Selangor: you can purchase two passes at RM150 (you save RM150!).

Here how it works:

  • Purchase workshop passes at the information counter, Royal Selangor Visitor Center (Setapak branch only) or purchase via e-mail:
  • Mention the promotion code: FOUNDRY EMILA
  • Book the date slot (anytime from 18 August to 19 October 2014)

Enjoy the promotion and enjoy your visit soon!

Address: Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, 4, Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya, 53300 Kuala Lumpur. GPS Coordinate: 3.196, 101.724 Contact: +603 4145 6122 | +603 4022 3000 |

Aug 15, 2014

An attempt at food art

Testing, testing, my first food art! Still cracking my head on my own compositions and making a list of what food to use.

I am just using my phone camera to see how it looks. Next time I will use DSLR.

This is just a fun personal project.

Aug 14, 2014

Cover illustration for Gaya Travel 9.4

Recently did this front cover illustration for the upcoming Gaya Travel 9.4 issue.

Been doing vector because it’s hard to change and move elements around if I do it traditionally using watercolour.


Aug 14, 2014

Yusof Gajah on philosophy of life: Illustrated in Elephabet art


Released in 2009, Elephabet, is a treasure trove of advice on life from the deepest mind of one of the masters of naive paintings; Yusof Gajah.

Besides his words of wisdom, what made Yusof Gajah a force of nature is his complex elephant art that is morphed in an abstract way in relation to humans.

Yusof Gajah has a deep and abiding love for children’s books and working with children. While a busy artist, he has managed to write and illustrate a number of books for children and have won the National Book Council Award for best picture book and the Noma Concours (ACCU) award for best illustrations. His popular picture book, ‘The Real Elephant’ was first published in Malay and has been translated into Japanese. Its enduring qualities have enabled an English publication in 2010.

I sieved through Yusof Gajah’s Elephabet for some of his life’s philosophy; Common Sense, Knowledge, Respect; and try to interpret/discuss the juxtaposition of his advice and illustration that can make sense to us; or at least to me personally. But I will be sure to compare his own interpretation and mine if I see him and update this review.


Yusof Gajah on Common Sense: “It is a paradox that we have access to so much information today and yet lose sight of common sense. Common sense is the best source of guidance I know.”

In the C Elephabet, there’s an image of a cup. My interpretation: the cup could be half empty or half full.  This is a common expression, used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty)[1].  When you hear/read something (information), make sure it makes good sense, and then try it. If it works, use it. If it doesn’t, abandon it. COMMON SENSE.


Yusof Gajah on Knowledge: “The beginning of knowledge is when we discover something we do not understand. This makes us search for understanding and the knowledge gained empowers us.”

In the K Elephabet, there’s a kite and hands images. My interpretation: Grasping a learning moment is a lot like flying a kite. Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with purpose to uncover unknown facts about the nature of lightning and electricity[2]; in other words—he flew it to gain KNOWLEDGE.


Yusof Gajah on Respect: “If elephants can respect each other then why can’t human? So, if you want to be respected, look at yourself for reasons why you would not respect yourself.”

In the R Elephabet, there’s an image of a rainbow. My interpretation: It is the unity of multiple colours that creates a rainbow. In relation to humans, people come from different cultures and religions and RESPECTing those differences can lead to unity.

The rest of the other Elephabet I leave for you to interpret. You can get this interesting art book for RM40 at Kinokuniya, MPH, Silverfish Bookstore and Scallywags Bookshop, Bangsar Puteri.

Overall, it was a pure joy to read this book. It inspires me a lot to wake up from slumber and make some books again. I am now up and about and already on the first stage of creating my next picture book; write a storyline. I end with a quote by Yusof Gajah on Inspiration:

“It’s wonderful to be inspired but one can’t always wait for inspiration to come before starting something. Work on what you want to do and develop it. Many times, inspiration does not generate action but action may generate inspiration.” ~ Yusof Gajah.

Description of book:
Title: Elephabet
Author/Illustrator: Yusof Gajah
ISBN: 978-967-5250-38-5
Cover: Soft cover
Category: Art Book
Suitable age: 12 and above
Publisher: Oyez!Books


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If you wish to buy any of these, drop me an e-mail: I will reply with the details how to buy.

LPLegendary Princesses of Malaysia By Raman & Emila Yusof RM28 (Add RM10 for WM postage/RM15 EM) 24 pages, 24cm x 30cm ISBN 978-967-0481-09-8


My Mother's Kitchen by Emila Yusof RM24 (Add RM10 for WM postage/RM15 EM) 24 pages, 19.5cm x 24cm ISBN 978-967-0481-10-4


My Mother's Garden (2nd Edition) by Emila Yusof RM24 (Add RM10 for WM postage/RM15 EM) 24 pages, 19.5cm x 24cm ISBN 978-967-5250-44-6

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