Tell us about your practice.
I have only recently been thinking of what I call my "maker-ing" as a practice. I've found that the things I make revolve around a few things -- aiming to provoke delight without necessarily being utilitarian, fostering connection and communication, and encouraging exploration of learning as an emotional and personal process.
In my personal practice I actively try to break down baked-in notions of the 'value' of certain types of creative processes over others, and reconciling how skills relate to my identities. A typical example is baking and sewing being seen as women's work and by implication repetitive and unimaginative, whereas in reality the more you engage with any material the deeper your understanding of them and the greater your ability to manipulate them as you wish for creativity, communication or simple to eat something nice.
One little project which best encapsulates my practice is a button that sends a tweet to my partner -- it's simply a button hooked up to a wifi enabled chip that lets me say "I'm thinking of you". In an ideal world I would have put the entire set up inside a crocheted stuffed animal.
Tell us something about yourself.
Stef Lai. I am a sociologist by background and in how I think of the world. I took a coding course two years ago and that was a great reminder and something of a reawakening that I could make things, albeit digitally this time. This realization was further amplified by having a lot of at-home time in 2020, and I have since extended my making efforts to many more digital and physical projects including web apps, knitting, amigurumi, and cooking and baking.
Tell us more about the item you are selling in the market.
My zine - Recipes from 2020 is inspired by part of my journal this year. I have always journaled, if somewhat inconsistently. This year with lock down my normal practices of journaling no longer felt sufficient or representative -- so I started recording and illustrating my recipes as well as writing about my day. Food carries a lot of social and cultural significance, and I felt that writing down how I made certain things would also capture the day's feelings for me. It soon expanded beyond food to any sort of making 'recipes', and that has been my journalling format for this year.
I have selected my top 10 things I've enjoyed making from 2020 and created a zine of recipes that I hope is a whimsical and inspirational mix of things you might feel like trying to make, or just have fun reading and thinking about the process.
If 2020 was a food...
It would have to be a dough -- in the US (and I believe in the UK too) flour was sold out for weeks at the beginning of lock down. I found my time to be dictated to be dictated less by hours and minutes and more by whether my bread dough had risen, or whether my noodle dough had rested long enough. Dough becomes all sorts of comfort food -- sourdough bread, hand-pulled noodles, scallion pancakes, dumplings, all of which have featured heavily in my 2020.
You can find Stef Lai's product, Recipes from 2020 at the Winter Market. Stef Lai can be contacted email@example.com. She is also on steflai.github.io