Do you have a special craft, skill or hobby that you indulge in to wind down? For many people, crafting is a way to relieve stress. Studies have shown that being creative or doing something repetitive allows you to zone out of your surroundings and focus only on the task at hand and has a similar effect as meditation. Crafting can also teach you practical skills like sewing, painting and remodelling.
From carpenters and painters to tailors and calligraphers, there’s no shortage of talented and creative people in Qatar. We spoke to three crafty women (and mums!) about their special skills and to find out which craft stores in Qatar are their favourites.
A craft and a skill
When Shanta Edwards wants to relax after a long day, she pulls out her loom and starts to weave. Weaving doesn’t require much thought, and the repetitive motion calms her. She’d always wanted to learn to weave, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that she bought her first loom from Japan.
Weaving isn’t Edwards’ only crafty skill. In fact, it all started with sewing about 19 years ago. “My first job was in a high school in Japan. In my free time, I would go to the home [economics] classes [where the girls were taught to sew],” she says. From there, her interest in sewing snowballed to machine embroidery on to quilting and, most recently, to weaving. She uses the fabrics she weaves to make clothing for herself or uses it in her quilts. Edwards doesn’t sell the items she makes. Seeing the look on someone’s face when they receive one of her quilts as a gift is all the reward she needs.
Edwards prefers to buy her yarn, thread and other sewing supplies from countries like Japan, Turkey and the US as the selection in Qatar is limited. Sometimes she will purchase supplies online and ship them to Qatar, but mostly she stocks up when she travels, maxing out her baggage allowances. She buys her quilting and sewing fabric at the fabric souqs, Souq Al Diera and Souq Al Asiry (also known as the Escalator Souq), and looks for specific high-quality fabric brands like Liberty and Belleboo.
Edwards’ favourite shops
Sewing and quilting:
- Ilham in Souq Asiry for Liberty fabrics
- Al Rashaqa in Souq Asiry for Belleboo fabrics
- Rawdah in Souq Asiry for quilting fabrics
- Today’s Fashion on Airport Road for Pakistani trims
Taking something old and making it new
Creativity is in Alleine Nadal Khalifa’s blood. Both of her parents are artistic and crafty—her mother is a tailor and designer, and her father is a painter, calligrapher and sculptor. Khalifa’s style of art includes a bit of each of her parents’ skills. She paints, sculpts, remodels, decoupages and more. These days she is mostly into upcycled art—taking used furniture, discarded household items and other “junk” and turning it into vibrant and colourful art. She has always had an eye for repurposing what others would throw away. “I think I was six years old when I started collecting scrap gift wrapping paper from my mum’s gift shop. I would cut out the patterns and paste them together on pieces of cardboards to make book marks that I would sell to my classmates for 25 centavos each. I always sold out!” she says.
Qatar is a treasure trove for someone who makes recycled art. The constant flux of people moving creates a lot of waste. “Someone has to do something with this waste,” says Khalifa. “And I think living in Qatar for more than ten years made me realise I can do something about it.”
Khalifa enjoys sharing the upcycle process with others, including her husband. They both work in film, which Khalifa says inspires them to be colourful and curious with all their endeavours. To share their love for creativity, she and her husband created Watermelon Ink, where they host DIY workshops in their home. One of their most popular classes, cleverly named “Ugly Chair, Don’t Care”, invites participants to take a discarded chair and turn it into a striking accent piece using homemade chalk paint, decoupaged fabric, sewing trims and more.
Upcycling is more than just a craft to Khalifa. “Recycling and upcycling have taught me to never give up and always give second chances,” she says. “Life can’t always be perfect, and those little tiny flaws sometimes make things perfect.”
Khalifa’s favourite shops
- Hardware shops along Najma Street for their selection of DIY materials
- Rusiya Hardware Shop on Najma for wall paint, pvc pipe, wood glue and other carpentry tools
- Amwaj Textile, behind Oasis Cars for fabric
- Taliban Store in Muntazah for ribbons and “blingy” buttons
- Cass Art at the Fire Station Gallery for acrylic paint
- Souq al Haraj for antiques and used furniture
Creating a community
Rochelle Zonnenberg defines herself as an impulsive and emotional crafter. “I indulge and unwind through all sorts of crafts. I’ve recently been exploring watercolour painting, decoupage and macramé, however the craft I love the most is hand embroidery.”
When she was in school, Zonnenberg had the option to choose between learning to use a computer or learning to sew and embroider. She’s glad she chose the latter because today she knows both skills. Now that she has been embroidering for more than ten years, she recently began to use it as a way to document her travels and memories beyond photos.
Zonnenberg buys most of her supplies while she’s on holiday in India, but she can spend hours sifting through thread, fabric, tassels and other notions at the Taliban Store in Muntaza. She also likes Cass Art at Doha Fire Station, Jarir Bookstore, Al Rawnaq, New Remedy and DollarPlus in City Center Mall. “All these stores have a ton of stuff however you have to be a bit unconventional and able to look outside the box,” she says.
During her 11 years in Doha, Zonnenberg struggled to find a one-stop art and craft platform for adults that didn’t require a long-term course commitment, so she started Hobby House Qatar. Hobby House offers adults a place to learn new crafting skills and enhance existing ones. They scout for teachers through social media and word-of-mouth, looking for talented people with unique skills who are willing to mentor others. Since its start in April, Hobby House Qatar has hosted workshops on everything from baking bread and crochet to macrame and Islamic art. For Zonnenberg, Hobby House is more than just about crafting. “Our main goal is to get as many people who live in the country involved in art and craft as a means to unwind and make new friends.”
Zonnenberg’s favourite shops
- Taliban Store in Muntazah for thread, fabric, tassels and other sewing supplies
- Cass Art at Doha Fire Station Gallery for paint and watercolour supplies
If you’re interested in taking up a new hobby, joining one of Watermelon Ink or Hobby House Qatar’s workshops is a great place to learn a new skill. Check out their Facebook pages or follow them on Instagram @watermelonink_qatar and @hobbyhouseqatar.