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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Singaporean Shop Tiles: Exploring Patterns, Colour and Symmetry

A stunning decorative feature that you cannot miss in Singapore is the beautiful tiles that adorn the traditional Singaporean shophouse.  My parents bought me a book called "Singapore Shophouse", by Julian Davison and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni.  The book is full of the history and images of the shophouse and Wugs loves to flick through it pointing out the pretty designs. Following on from our coloured "glass" tile craft yesterday (that I've featured in the picture on the bottom left), I painted some more tiles in traditional shophouse colours for Wugs to decorate.

The craft yesterday made me realise that Wugs' interest would only last long enough to decorate possibly two tiles, so I decorated the tan-coloured tile using a black marker pen to show what an older child could be capable of.

What we used:
Egg cartons
1 Packet of Heinz Baby Pasta Stars (which looked like miniature flowers)
Le Fantasie flower-shaped pasta
White, red, green, tan-coloured paint
Yellow, red, blue food colouring
White Distilled vinegar
Ziploc/freezer bags
Black Marker pen
Fake flowers
Cornstarch/Corn flour Glue

Yesterday I coloured the pasta by placing it in Ziploc bags, adding the food colouring and a teaspoon of Distilled white vinegar and squishing it around until the pasta had soaked up the colour. Then I left it to dry overnight.

This morning I laid out the materials including the cornstarch glue we prepared for our tile yesterday.  (This was made from 30g of cornstarch/corn flour mixed with 150ml of water.  I mixed just a little of the water and cornstarch to remove any lumps and then I added the rest of the water gradually to the mixture in the saucepan over a low heat).  We covered the egg carton with glue first and then Wugs added the decoration.  The egg carton was a good material to use for creating tiles because it encourages a certain amount of balance not only because of its shape but also because Wugs has used one for counting and sorting before.  It also enabled him to explore the materials and colours without them sticking firmly to the tile.  In fact all day he has returned to the red and green tiles and added bits to them from around the house such as real flowers, pennies etc. I like the fact that the patterns are not permanent, so we might leave them that way, but if we want to display them on the wall, we can easily tap out the pasta that didn't directly stick to the glue and then add another layer of glue to seal them down.

This tile craft was easier (so definitely appropriate for a 2.5 year old) than the glass tile craft we attempted yesterday as it wasn't necessary for Wugs to cover the whole tile and the pasta shapes formed the intricate details and gave a sense of balance to the tile.


  1. I love learning about your home town! What a great way to experience pattern.

  2. What a fun craft and great way to teach symmetry. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

    1. Thank you Carrie and thank you for offering the opportunity to share.