When Lyn Ng was offered a salary increment and the position of Assistant Manager in a marketing firm, she turned down the offer and flew to Taiwan for a six-month-long carpentry training programme instead.
Now, she’s taken a huge pay cut to work on an intern’s pay as a carpenter at Triple Eyelid Studio. But, she couldn’t be happier.
“I really couldn’t stand the working style (at my previous job) anymore. There was no space to breathe,” said Lyn.
Armed with her newly-acquired carpentry skills, the 26-year-old has joined the team at Triple Eyelid Studio to contribute to the upcycling movement by turning discarded pallet wood into useful home goods.
But, being one of the few females in a heavily male-dominated industry isn’t an easy feat.
The image that comes to mind when you think of the woodworking industry is probably muscles and callused hands belonging to someone who is used to toughing it out. After all, the job calls for lots of heavy lifting and operating dangerous machinery.
With her bright hair and bright personality, you probably wouldn’t have associated Lyn with carpentry if you didn’t know her.
This was exactly the situation she faced when she applied for a carpentry apprenticeship with the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC). She was offered a role to “help with social media” instead.
Lyn went for the interview all ready to get rough and tough – after all, working with wood isn’t a fancy job. But, from the way her interviewer kept emphasising how dirty it was while bringing her around the factory, it was obvious that he didn’t want a female carpenter.
Rather than call it quits, Lyn took it upon herself to attend classes in Taiwan and joined Triple Eyelid Studio as an apprentice upon her return.
She admits that girls can’t do all the heavy lifting that’s required. But, she contributes additional help by playing her part as the marketing manager and filming the behind-the-scenes footage.
“It’s about admitting that you can’t do it and letting people know that you need help,” said Lyn. After all, in this industry, safety has to come first.
“Besides, since there’re a lot of guys in the industry, just make use of them”, she added with a cheeky laugh.
As a female in such a male-centric environment, Lyn is like a breath of fresh air. Her bubbly and cheerful personality is a wonderful addition to the team and she’s able to approach carpentry from a different angle.
In her free time, she explores ways to add a more feminine touch to woodworking.
For instance, she’s currently toying with the idea of turning wood into frames for dried flowers. She even collects little pieces of wood in the hopes of turning them into bags and accessories, leaving her boss, Jackie, perplexed. (Men don’t really get it.)
Not only is Lyn breaking the gender stereotype associated with carpentry, she’s also supporting a key upcycling movement with Triple Eyelid Studio.
Founded in 2014 by former interior designer Jackie Tan, the company is a huge proponent of upcycling and turns discarded pallet wood into fresh home goods.
Upcycling is very different from recycling. “When you recycle wood, you break it into small pieces so what you can get is a cork board instead of wood planks”, Lyn explained.
To upcycle the discarded wood, the team disassembles the pallets to retrieve the planks. After that, they remove the nails and send them for a heat treatment to remove the pests and moisture inside the wood. The wood is then processed into different thickness, ready to be used for future projects.
The beauty of upcycling is in “breathing new life into wood that people don’t want anymore,” Lyn shared.
One of the most satisfying projects she’s participated in so far is the UP Market 2017. Triple Eyelid Studio provided the whole event set up, including the stage set up and furniture, which totalled to over 20 tables, 200 chairs and six workshop benches.
It was a huge project for Triple Eyelid Studio’s small team – the production alone took approximately two months.
Triple Eyelid Studio was originally located in Joo Koon, on the second floor of an industrial factory, Xcel Industries, which is also their wood supplier. This is where most of the heavy-duty processing occurs.
They have since opened another studio on the second floor of MOX, which is where most workshops are conducted. Participants can learn how to make small home goods like coffee drippers, desk organisers and amplifiers, or even furniture like pallet benches.
When we first entered Triple Eyelid’s studio in Katong, I was surprised by how neat and tidy the space was.
Rather than having wooden planks scattered everywhere and dust covering all the surfaces, everything in the space was kept in order. A gigantic vacuum machine also helps to keep the dust situation in check whenever the team is crafting.
The space was pleasantly lit, with sunlight streaming in from the huge windows behind the machines. Also, all the furniture that you’ll see were made by the team and I think that’s the biggest testament to how good they are at what they do.
“We want people to know that at Triple Eyelid, everything you do is handmade and everything you’re getting is done locally and made in Singapore by us. It’s a promise that we’re giving them,” said Lyn.
If you’re attending a workshop with Triple Eyelid Studio, do ask them about the confidential compartment in this chest of drawers. I won’t reveal their secret here, but I swear it’s a pretty funny one!
Also, with Lyn’s cheerful disposition and positive energy, you’ll definitely have a great time at the workshop. We’re so impressed by how this girl has broken the boundaries of gender stereotypes and is carving a name for herself within the industry.
Prices: S$9.90 – S$750 (Furniture), Workshops start from S$80