Last Updated: March 29, 2021
It’s not every Thursday morning that I find myself plopped down in front of a loom, weaving cloth out of yarn. I’m not particularly great with art, knitting, sewing, or anything that has to do with my hands, really. Thankfully, I’m guided by Craft Atelier’s Chen Chen and Hui Lian, who are experts in the craft of, well, crafting.
They’re also the founders of Craft Atelier, where the duo now organises a series of crafting workshops and introductory lessons for customers. Perfect for someone like me. My trip down to their studio space in Joo Chiat is fuelled by one simple agenda—to try my hand at weaving.
But first, a backstory is in order. While the two-woman business may have set up shop in 2018, their story goes way back. Till 2008, to be precise. At the time, both ladies were in the line of teaching, though that wasn’t all they had in common. Hui Lian had been pursuing crafting since her teens. Crochet, knitting, and paper crafting were but a few of the crafts she dabbled in. Weaving wasn’t exactly part of the picture just yet, but we’ll get there.
Chen Chen, similarly, harbours a fiery passion for the crafts. For her, it was an inclination borne out of upbringing. Having grown up in a family where fixing, tinkering, and making were commonplace, she too gained an interest in crafting. Naturally, the two full-time teachers met and started Craft Atelier when teaching in the same school and hit it off over their shared hobbies.
It wasn’t until 2015 when Chen Chen moved to America with her family for two years when she was exposed to an enthusiastic community of crafters and other newer crafts. Weaving was one of them. There, she tried her hand at the loom. For the uninitiated, the loom is a weaving device that holds the threads under tension and aids in weaving them. If you’ve ever wondered how your prettily woven scarfs are made, that machine has a big part to play.
But for the two avid weavers, getting their hands on a personal loom was a challenge in Singapore. That’s why they have all their looms imported. Even then, the cost is another factor to consider. A floor loom that’s the size of a small piano can cost anywhere upwards of S$8000, making the barrier to entry for weaving rather high. Learning how to set it up and put it to use is another hurdle altogether.
Yet, at Craft Atelier, they firmly believe crafting is for everyone. These workshops let the students try their hand on simpler loom variations. I had a go at the rigid heddle loom, which is compact enough to practise on a table. Beginners like me are first exposed to the fundamental motions of weaving.
It’s broken down into a rhythm of left and right that’s simple enough to follow. I’m not about to put together a woven piece of clothing from scratch just yet, but it’s a start. There is a slightly therapeutic appeal to working with the loom once you get the hang of it. I’d let my mind drift away while muscle memory takes over, and the cloth builds. After all, weaving is a slow and laborious process.
And more importantly, it’s something you could do at home. The rigid peddle loom is available for purchase at around S$300, which is a major step down from the floor loom before. As expected, the crafts which you’d be able to create on it are also markedly smaller and simpler in design. Then again, that works for newbies who are looking to get acquainted with weaving.
Craft Atelier’s workshops are catered toward different skill levels, so students are able to progress along more systematically. There’s also taster sessions, which let customers have a go at making a specific craft and taking it home with them. These range from S$35 to S$140 and last for two to four hours.
Weaving aside, there’s a slew of other crafts that Chen Chen and Hui Lian teach as well, like knitting, yarn spinning, crochet, and bookbinding. It’s a fantastic all-in-one hub for hobbyists and beginners alike, and one which could form the birthing ground of many crafters in the future. According to the duo, there has been a rising interest in crafting workshops in tandem with the pandemic, given that more time spent at home has also sparked a curiosity for finding new hobbies.
I left with my curiosity answered and with a greater insight into the world of weaving and crafting. I reckon Craft Atelier is here to stay for the community of crafters in our little red dot. After all, what’s to stop a little earnest and fun education about turning a little bit of string into something to call your own?
Price: $ $
58 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427782
58 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427782