SINGER Aishah Ariffin very rarely buys gifts for her friends.
She makes most of her gifts with love to ensure those receiving them feel special.
So much so that making handicraft has become her vocation and main source of income now.
The former lead vocalist of the band called Aishah and The Fan Club from New Zealand back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, made headlines with the hit song, Janji Manismu that won the Juara Lagu in 1990.
The popular band had a number of hits and released its first album, Sensation, in 1988, which climbed the three Top-20 singles in the New Zealand and Malaysian charts with songs like Sensation, Paradise and Call Me.
Their second album, Respect the Beat, was also popular with hits like I Feel Love and I Never Gave Up on You.
The single, Don’t Let Me Fall Alone also made it to the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts while the remixes for this song became the most played dance tunes in clubs at the time.
The band won the International Artiste of the Year at the 1991 New Zealand Music Awards. But sadly, the group broke up soon after.
Aishah, who was a student in New Zealand then, decided to return to Malaysia and picked up her career as a solo artiste recording songs in Malay. She became the new darling of the music scene with hits like Janji Manismu, Camar Yang Pulang, Cinta Beralih Arah and Bahtera Merdeka.
The Negri Sembilan-born singer, whose real name is Wan Aishah Wan Ariffin, has 10 solo albums to her credit.
It was during her stint as an entertainer that her interest in handicrafts started to pick up.
She started stitching sequins on her stage clothes. Not long after that, many of her peers sought her assistance and before she knew it, she was taking orders from them.
Her love for handiwork continues to this day and she is still drawn to sequins, beads and any remotely shiny garments and other accessories like bags and shoes.
“I always feel at peace and in a world of my own when I am crafting. I love beautiful things and in crafting, I seek to create my version of beauty in my works.
“Later in life, craft began to play a very important role as a de-stress outlet from my daily pressures,” said the single mother whose sons, Armand Azhari and Azhari Ahlami are now aged 22 an 16 respectively.
“I love decoupage, 3D decoupage and mixed-medium canvas work,” she added.
Decoupage is an art of decorating an object by gluing colour paper cut-outs, printed tissues with special paint effects.
“I just love any form of craft especially decoupage, which I learnt back in 1984, during my student days in New Zealand,” said Aishah.
Today, besides performing at dinner shows and private functions, Aishah also helps the Women’s Development Department conduct craft courses for underprivileged women. Such courses also take her out of town.
“I have conducted several courses and I have taught big classes but I prefer smaller groups.
“My seminars take me around Malaysia,” said Aishah.
For her, time has always been a challenge, when you have to juggle life as a single mother while trying to meet work deadlines.
“On many occasions I wished I had a bit more time to perfect and refine my work.
“I read a lot and I have a good collection of craft books, almost every night I would watch tutorials of some craft.
“I just love going around craft supply shops to see what material is available in Malaysia. I never stop learning, the more you learn the more you get inspired,” she added.
Aishah, who also dabbles in politics, regards craft as her passion.
“Craft has always been my passion all my life. In fact, I discovered my love for craft first before my singing.
“I would be a professional craft student if I could, learn and learn.
“I have taken all kinds of classes in craft and I am still eager to learn more,” said Aishah.