Hooked on niche hobbies


Tufting involves weaving and knotting yarn to craft three-dimensional textile designs.— Photos: GLODIE LAI/The Star and courtesy of CHIN MEI YEE, CHAN YI ZHEN and NG CHUN NENG

IN a world where individuality is celebrated, today’s generation is turning to niche hobbies to express themselves and unwind after a long day.

From keeping non-traditional animals as pets to delving into tarot card reading, here are eight unique pastimes enjoyed by young enthusiasts.

1 Tufting

Originating from an ancient rug embroidery technique, tufting has been embraced by the younger generation.

It involves weaving and knotting yarn to craft three-dimensional textile designs, ranging from rugs and cushions to wall-hanging art pieces, hats and handbags.

A tangerine morph of a leopard gecko sometimes features spots on its tail. — Photos: GLODIE LAI/The Star and courtesy of CHIN MEI YEE, CHAN YI ZHEN and NG CHUN NENGA tangerine morph of a leopard gecko sometimes features spots on its tail. — Photos: GLODIE LAI/The Star and courtesy of CHIN MEI YEE, CHAN YI ZHEN and NG CHUN NENG

The process typically involves three steps – tufting, gluing and then backing and finishing.

During tufting, the piece is completed from the back side, facilitated by tufting guns.

Stitches are formed on the front of the fabric, while fluffy tufts of yarn emerge on the back.

A cut-pile machine then cuts the yarn as it comes through to the front of the piece.

The tufts are then secured in place by applying glue to the back of the fabric to ensure durability.

Once the glue sets, the piece is attached with a backing material and final embellishments are added to complete the design.

With a plethora of colourful yarns available, tufted pieces offer endless possibilities for creative expression, from cartoon characters to artistic patterns.

2 Chinese calligraphy

Individuals curious about Chinese culture are sometimes drawn to the art of Chinese calligraphy.

This art form that is deeply rooted in Chinese culture was once revered as the pinnacle of visual expression, with the Chinese script comprising a few thousand characters.

Central to this artistic pursuit are what is known as the “Four Treasures of the Study” – the ink brush, ink, paper and ink stone – alongside additional tools such as water droppers and paperweights.

Young enthusiasts are drawn to Chinese calligraphy for its blend of traditional and artistic expressions.Young enthusiasts are drawn to Chinese calligraphy for its blend of traditional and artistic expressions.

These tools are carefully chosen for their physical attributes as they play an important role in crafting characters.

From the shape and size of the brush to the pressure applied and direction used during writing, every element contributes to the character’s final appearance.

Young enthusiasts are particularly drawn to Chinese calligraphy for its blend of traditional and artistic expressions, providing a different avenue for cultural exploration and creativity.

Additionally, practising Chinese calligraphy often fosters a sense of tranquillity and improves one’s ability to regulate their emotions, adding to its appeal as a meditative and therapeutic pursuit.

3 Caring for geckos

Many budding reptile lovers find their passion sparked by the charm and simplicity of keeping geckos as pets.

These small, usually nocturnal creatures have soft skin and delightful tails, typically ranging from 3cm to 15cm long.

Terrarium-making and collecting serve as an alternative to traditional gardening.Terrarium-making and collecting serve as an alternative to traditional gardening.

Among the various gecko species, the leopard gecko is recommended for first-time reptile owners, as it thrives with minimal maintenance and has beautiful colour variations known as morphs.

Commonly yellow with black spots, leopard geckos exhibit a range of morphs, each with its own special appearance.

A favourite is the tangerine morph, which features a bright orange hue and at times spots on its head or tail.

For first-time pet owners, another plus point about geckos is they do not require a lot of space.

Providing them with a glass tank containing hiding spots, climbing structures and a moist area for shedding is enough to keep geckos happy.

Just remember, never pick up a gecko by its tail, as it will think it is in a stressful or dangerous situation which will cause it to shed its tail.

But if you’re careful and regularly feed it a simple diet comprising crickets, mealworms and roaches, these small-sized companions can remain content for its roughly 20-year lifespan.

4 Keeping spiders

For those seeking alternative pets, the world of arachnids offers a fascinatingly different realm.

Often misunderstood, spiders stand out as mysterious, elegant pets that require minimal space and interaction.

One aspect of keeping spiders that appeals to the younger generation is their quiet nature.

A Chaco Golden Knee tarantula can live up to 20 years.A Chaco Golden Knee tarantula can live up to 20 years.

These arthropods also do not dirty the house, making them ideal pets for individuals with limited living space.

Beginners often opt for tarantula species such as Chaco Golden Knee and Mexican Redleg, known for their patience, docile demeanour and potential 20-year lifespans under proper care.

Similar to geckos, spiders thrive in glass tanks with ample hiding spots and natural materials like leaves and rocks.

Furthermore, feeding them with insects once or twice a week and providing fresh water in a small bowl or bottle cap is all they need to stay comfortable.

Many youngsters enjoy observing spider behaviour as it offers a fascinating glimpse into their eight-legged friends’ unique personalities and preferences.

5 Making/collecting terrariums

Terrariums, which serve as an alternative to traditional gardening, have gained popularity among the younger generation for its low maintenance nature.

Unlike traditional potted plants that require regular care, terrariums form self-contained ecosystems that thrive on minimal care.

Typically, small-to-medium-sized sealable glass containers are used to house various plant species, making it ideal for enthusiasts with limited space.

The glass enclosure creates a humid environment, reducing watering frequency to every few weeks or months.

This feature allows individuals to enjoy the beauty of a miniature garden without the stress that comes with major upkeep.

In addition, terrariums offer versatility in terms of plant selection, with mosses, ferns and succulents among the most popular choices.

This diversity allows enthusiasts to express their creative flair and horticultural skills, personalising miniature ecosystems to their preferences and aesthetics.

While some find joy in the creative process of crafting and sculpting their own terrarium, others opt for a pre-made terrarium for its convenience and immediate enjoyment.

6 Growing succulents

Known as low maintenance plants, succulents appeal to the younger generation for the high impact it creates with minimal care.

These versatile plants can be kept indoors or outdoors, offering aficionados a plethora of choices with diverse shapes and appearances.

Evolved to survive arid climates by storing water in their thick, fleshy leaves, succulents are popular houseplants.

Succulents are popular as houseplants.Succulents are popular as houseplants.

Among the favourites are Burro’s Tail and Jade Plant.

Living up to its name, Burro’s Tail is a trailing succulent with long draped stems and fleshy pointed leaves.

The Jade Plant’s resemblance to a bonsai tree adds to its allure as a sought-after houseplant.

With a thick trunk and branches resembling a miniature tree, the Jade Plant’s glossy, dark green leaves form an oval shape, with some varieties showcasing a striking red tip.

The wide range of succulents available also provides youths with the opportunity for personal expression in their creative gardening endeavours.

7 Freediving

Youngsters who favour outdoor activities may turn to freediving.

One common misconception about freediving is the belief that you need to be able to swim well in order to freedive.

In reality, freediving requires no exceptional swimming skills, thus opening it to a wide range of people.

Freedivers often train in swimming pools to build stamina.Freedivers often train in swimming pools to build stamina.

As a recreational pursuit, freediving offers a unique experience, differing significantly from scuba diving.

Compared to scuba diving, freediving is not burdened by hefty equipment, which means shorter preparation times for those involved in the activity.

With just a pair of fins and a mask, freedivers plunge into open waters on a single breath, enjoying the freedom and agility afforded by minimal gear.

As such, freediving is also economical.

Beginners may hold their breath up to a minute and reach up to 10m in depth.

Through training, freedivers can extend their breath-holding capabilities to over four minutes and reach depths exceeding 20m.

Freedivers often train in swimming pools to build stamina.

This combination of physical challenge, aquatic exploration and personal achievement appeals to the adventurous spirit of the younger generation.

8 Tarot card reading

Some youngsters, who are intrigued by mysterious or unconventional hobbies, take up tarot card reading.

Although commonly misunderstood as predicting the future, tarot card reading is generally used for self-reflection.

Readers interpret the cards based on current situations, offering insights into potential outcomes.

Tarot card reading is generally used for self-reflection.Tarot card reading is generally used for self-reflection.

With a multitude of decks available, each boasting special quirks and art styles, there is a deck to suit every preference.

Traditional tarot decks consist of 78 cards, each with its own symbolism and meaning.

A reading typically begins with shuffling the deck, often accompanied by a question in mind.

The cards are then laid out in a predetermined pattern, known as a spread.

Each card’s placement modifies its significance and adds depth to the reading.

Whether relying on a guidebook or intuition, analysing the spread provides a personalised understanding of the cards’ combined message.

One popular reading method is the daily draw, where a single card provides guidance for the day.

Another method is the past, present and future, where three different cards offer insights into recent events and future possibilities.

The endless permutations make tarot card readings a unique tool for introspection.

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