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Ho Chi Minh City center teaches orphaned, disabled students to ‘grow flowers’ from clay

Saturday, January 26, 2019, 08:51 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City center teaches orphaned, disabled students to ‘grow flowers’ from clay
Clay flowers are placed on a watercolor painting. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre

With Tet (Lunar New Year), the biggest holiday in Vietnam, drawing near, students of a vocational training center for the disabled and orphans in Ho Chi Minh City have learned to make lively flowers from clay to earn a livelihood.

During Tet, the most important traditional celebration in Vietnam, people in the north will decorate their houses with peach blossoms, whereas those in the south bring home apricot blossoms.

Teachers at the center, which has since 2006 been providing vocational training for the disabled and orphans of Ho Chi Minh City, have therefore taught their students how to make these two flowers that are the symbols of Tet from a special material - clay.

As there is a high demand for clay flowers for Tet decoration, ‘growing flowers’ from sticky fine-grained earth allows students of the center to easily find a job after they take the course, according to the center founder Dinh Thi Hoi.

Nguyen Thi Bay, 69, is the main instructor of the clay flower class. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Thi Bay, 69, is the main instructor of the clay flower class. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre

On top of peach and apricot blossoms, students completing the course are able to make other products such as 3D paintings of flowers and flower pots from clay.

Student-made products throughout the course are kept at the center and sold to cover the cost of material for other courses, according to 69-year-old Nguyen Thi Bay, an instructor of the center.

Students of the clay flower class concentrate on their work to finish the pieces before Tet. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Students of the clay flower class concentrate on their work to finish the pieces before Tet. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre

Hoi said students are required to be able to make adequate products to graduate from the course. “It is when they are truly able to make a living making clay flowers by themselves,” the 74-year-old founder of the center explained.

It usually takes students four days to make clay flowers and put them into a painting, and the product can be used for up to two years.

The clay flower-making class currently has 19 students, according to Bay, who has been in charge of the class since 2013.

Clay flowers are placed in a wooden frame and can last up to two years. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Clay flowers are placed in a wooden frame and can last up to two years. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
A student of the class mixes the clay with the green color powder to make the leaves. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
A student of the class mixes the clay with the green color powder to make the leaves. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Clay is put into a rolling machine. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Clay is put into a rolling machine. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Petal-shaped mould is used to cut the clay. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Petal-shaped mould is used to cut the clay. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Leaf veins are recreated with a mould. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Leaf veins are recreated with a mould. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
A petiole is attached to a clay leaf. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
A petiole is attached to a clay leaf. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Petals of a cherry blossom are adjusted to attain the gracefulness of a real flower before being put together. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Petals of a cherry blossom are adjusted to attain the gracefulness of a real flower before being put together. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
The pistils of a clay-made apricot blossom are carefully done by the artists. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
The pistils of a clay-made apricot blossom are carefully done by the artists. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
The pistils of a clay-made apricot blossom are carefully done by the artists. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
The pistils of a clay-made apricot blossom are carefully done by the artists. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
One of the students put together parts of a chamomile flower. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
One of the students put together parts of a chamomile flower. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Apricot blossoms are left to dry. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Apricot blossoms are left to dry. Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre
Photo: Tuyet Kieu / Tuoi Tre

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