Hueplay Studio: Punch needling is the liberating & calming craft I never knew I needed

I’ve never been the artistic type. Which is why I make full and unabashed use of my job as a writer to pick up new skills I otherwise wouldn’t. With many forms of fine art, I fear destruction and hideousness under my humble, amateur hands. But craft plebeians like me will be relieved to know that punch needling is one type of art that comes with an “undo” button.

Many confuse it with embroidery or crocheting, but just like the members of BTS, each craft has its unique properties and techniques even though they look deceivingly similar. For one, punch needling is a hand-tufting technique that results in a highly textured pattern and is also much quicker than its rug hooking counterparts. This means that all my like-minded, impatient readers out there will be able to get the satisfaction of your end piece in a matter of a few hours—as compared to the never-ending knitting technique that I’ll probably be stuck on ‘till I’m 92.

Hueplay Studio 10 punch needling

Run by Zoey, Isaac, and Carl, Hueplay Studio is a snug, intimate space where artists old and new gather to make merry and make art. An homage to its namesake, Hueplay is big and bold on colour play and pattern experimenting—and it couldn’t be any more charming. A step into the studio is an explosion of colours, textures, and designs, and though I’m hardly a crafter myself, I know great artistry when I see it.

Hueplay Studio 4

Getting started — sketching & transferring

Before me, forbidding-looking tools lay in wait, but Zoey quickly assures us that it’s all easier than it looks. The coaster workshop begins with lots of drawing; we start by roughly sketching our intended designs onto tiny paper slips before transferring them onto monk’s cloth—the main canvas for today—using a nifty light box.

Hueplay Studio 13

I attempt a very watered-down version of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. At the same time, my colleague Nicole ambitiously tackles a still from Taylor Swift’s “‘Tis the damn season” lyric video (as she must), and our intern, Ping Er, works diligently on her perfectly executed dinosaur.

Gearing up

Setting up our punch needle looks complicated initially, but nothing could be further from the truth. In one swift motion, Zoey treadles the yarn through a palm-sized needle with the help of a wire tool. It effortlessly pulls the thread of yarn through two openings in the needle—the tip and the side—which we will use to punch and guide the cord onto the cloth.

Hueplay Studio 5

Punching our first thread of yarn

Jumping right into the main event—in this case, punching in our yarn—is daunting, but as mentioned earlier, the flexibility of punch needling brings some form of relief. Knowing that an option of ‘doing over’ exists undoubtedly helps take the pressure off, and I enjoy the fact that there isn’t that hostile note of finality with every punch.

Hueplay Studio 15 punch needling
Credit – Hueplay Studio / Shot by Carl

It’s an excellent craft for starters like me because it allows space for us to experiment and attempt without inhibition—a method that’s both liberating and relaxing. My first few punches turn out to be a lot looser than desired, so I gently tug onto the end of the yarn to unravel the past few stitches and try again.

I’m no expert, but I find that the key to great punching is small and restrained manoeuvres—you want each stitch to be as concise and tight as possible to achieve a neat, compact aesthetic. Impatience can quickly set in, but I remind myself that we’re playing the long game, and ultimately an end piece that I want to be proud of must not be rushed.

Hueplay Studio punch needling
Credit – Hueplay Studio / Shot by Carl

The finishing touches

Multiple colour changes and one glass of Pearl Of The Orient tea later, I punch my last yarn stitch and promptly snip the end off on the underside. I’m done with the heavy lifting—now what?

Zoey helps me pop out my finished piece from the hoop frame, and we commence trimming off the excess cloth. I make cuts around the diameter of my work in 1cm intervals, careful not to damage any part of my hard-stitched efforts.

Hueplay Studio 14

Glue is applied on the coaster’s underside where each excess piece of cloth is stuck down one by one to hold everything in place. When that’s done, a simple felt cut-out conceals the last evidence of ugly stitches, if any. And now, we wait.

Final thoughts

Hueplay Studio 2

I honestly surprised myself upon completing my piece that even remotely resembles the Van Gogh classic. At the very least, everyone could tell what it was—so that’s a win in my books. After learning it for myself, I’m beginning to understand the appeal of punch needling. Getting to achieve a gorgeous outcome without feeling like you’ve just sacrificed hours of bad posture and your unborn children is definitely the main draw.

Hueplay Studio punch needling 8
Credit – Hueplay Studio / Shot by Carl

Whether it’s for pure leisure or crafting gifts for friends, this won’t be the last that punch needling has seen of me. With the punch needling kit that Hueplay has so kindly gifted us, I’ll be attempting Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa next—here’s hoping I’ll replicate my same success. I won’t let you down, Zoey.

One session of a punch needling workshop at Hueplay Studio goes at S$48 per seat for 3 hours | Timeslots: 10am – 1pm, 2.30pm – 5.30pm | Book via Whatsapp here

If you enjoy more content about workshops and experiences, do also check out our Jesmonite workshop piece with Chokmah and our virtual escape room experience at VR World.

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Hueplay Studio

183 Jln Pelikat, #B1-82/83 The Promenade @ Pelikat, Singapore 537643

Our Rating 5/5

Hueplay Studio

183 Jln Pelikat, #B1-82/83 The Promenade @ Pelikat, Singapore 537643

Telephone: 8768 5861
Operating Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon to Fri), 9am – 10pm (Sat & Sun)
Telephone: 8768 5861

Operating Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon to Fri), 9am – 10pm (Sat & Sun)
| Instagram | Website