Turning leaves into art

Mr Davy Young transforms leaves into ceramic ornaments.
Mr Davy Young transforms leaves into ceramic ornaments.PHOTO: LI AI/ GOURMET LIVING

Ceramic artist Davy Young, 68, is proof that you are never too old to learn a new skill.

He picked up pottery in his mid-50s - after he retired in 2010 as the vice-president of retail business in a brokerage firm - and now transforms actual leaves into ceramic pendants, dishes and ornaments. He sells them under the label, Leaves With Memories.

His daughter had come across British artist Judy Brown's ceramic leaves in a magazine 12 years ago. When she told her father about it, he contacted the artist, who e-mailed him the basic steps of the production process.

That kick-started his passion. He says: "I spent my childhood in the Changi countryside in the 1950s and developed an affinity for nature. For my ceramic creations, I chose to work with leaves because of their diversity, beauty and intricate vein structures."

Every minute detail of a leaf's labyrinthine veins is captured in Mr Young's pieces, such that it looks identical to the real thing. Each piece is also unique as no two leaves are the same.

Mr Young sources the leaves from the backyard of his terrace home in the East Coast area, as well as from friends' gardens and open green spaces. He has used leaves from plants such as the water lily, frangipani, wood nettle, Chinese Rose and grapevine.

He works at his dining table at home and spent $7,000 on a kiln and tools. One ceramic leaf takes up to four hours to make.

Urged by his friends, he started selling his works in 2010 at craft markets and has sold about 300 pieces so far. Prices range from $20 for a leaf pendant to $150 for a water lily dish.

Mr Young has a Facebook page titled Leaves With Memories, but adds that he does not have the time or expertise to maintain an online shop.

He also does not have plans to open a brick-and-mortar store because he is unable to produce large quantities.

He says: "I prefer to keep my prices affordable so that more people can enjoy my artwork. Besides, I'm not in it for the money. It is my passion."

He will be at the Maker Faire Singapore this weekend, where he will also conduct workshops on making ceramic leaves.

Gurveen Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Turning leaves into art'. Print Edition | Subscribe