Dubai-based Speedex puts on string of workshops to drive home a DIY culture

Many of the decorative arts and crafts of the 1960s and 1970s are enjoying something of a resurgence, and along with terrariums and macramé, string art is back in vogue.

Dubai-based Speedex, which is best known as a supplier of tools and hardware but also offers ideas and inspiration for every part of the home, has launched a series of in-store workshops to boost the development of a DIY culture in the UAE. The goal is to encourage people to make things and make friends, while enjoying a taster arts-and-crafts session that is designed to demystify the basic skills of "do it yourself".

The brand’s monthly Speedex Creative Mornings kicked off with a session on string art. Many of the decorative arts and crafts of the 1960s and 1970s are enjoying something of a resurgence, and along with terrariums and macramé, string art is back in vogue. New designs and interpretations have moved away from the formal structures and geometric patterns of Bézier curves, to produce something that is more free-form.

Meredith Huston, a certified teacher and founder of Turquoise Boutique Studio, an organisation designed to promote DIY in the Middle East, led the string-art workshop. “So often people will have a creative idea but don’t know where to start, so I provide hand-holding and some practical activities to let them try something new,” she says. “I call myself a ‘creative nanny’, as I do all the running around to get supplies ready and then do the clearing up afterwards.”

To create your own string art, you will need:

• A small box of 3/4-inch brass nails or pin tacks (also known as wire nails)

• Cotton threads in the colours of your choosing (use the weights suitable for embroidery)

• A wooden plank or board (consider applying wood stain or paint to create depth)

• A hammer

• Scissors

1. Start by creating a template for your design. Try Google to source ideas for a design that can be printed out to use as a pattern or, alternatively, sketch your own. Size your template appropriately so that it will fit over your wooden board.

2. When selecting a panel, try to ensure that any knots in the wood do not fall where your nails will sit – it will be hard to hammer them in and may compromise the final design.

3. Secure your paper design template to the wooden board using three or four nails. Start hammering the nails into the wood, following the outline of your design. Leave a gap of about one centimetre between each nail – placing them too close together will make it extra fiddly to get your thread around them. Alternate the positioning of the nails in your design such that they don’t sit directly opposite one another if running parallel. In the next stage, when you are infilling your design with string, you’ll want to create diagonal lines to fill the space, and not go in straight lines across. Aim to hammer a third of the nail into the wood and keep it straight.

4. When the outline nails are done, rip off the paper template. Tie your first string to the end point of your design; knot it firmly. Work around the outside of the design, winding the thread around each nail in a clockwise direction. Then repeat, winding around each nail in an anticlockwise direction. The final outline should look like mini train tracks with a double thread.

5. For the last stage, infill your design with criss-crossing angles (either with the same colour thread or an alternative for contrast). Tie the thread to an anchor nail and aim to create angles across your design, changing the lead pins as you go and adding layers and depth to your design. With more complex outlines, you may need to tie off one series of thread and start to work the design in another area.

Workshops are held at the Speedex headquarters in Al Quoz 4. The next workshop will be on May 8 and will encourage participants to hand-paint and stencil a stool. This session is free. Details of future DIY and craft workshops are available at or via the Speedex Facebook page.