Hello everyone!

The blog is way too wonky right now as we’re doing some updates…

If you need to check upcoming workshops and sign up for the newsletter, you can reach me on Facebook. Come back in a few weeks and my blog will be all ready by then!

xx
Pauline

THE HAPPY HANDS CALLIGRAPHY OBLIQUE HOLDER

The Happy Hands Calligraphy Oblique Holder | happy hands project

I finally have the date for the next intermediate calligraphy class, and it’s the most special one I’ll have in my almost 3 years of teaching. When I started with modern calligraphy, I’ve been using a straight holder. After getting Copperplate lessons from Eleanor Winters, I became more comfortable with an oblique pen and now I use an oblique 99% of the time.

Now what makes the upcoming workshop so special, you might ask?

Well… (drum roll please), introducing — the custom wooden calligraphy set specially customized for the Happy Hour Workshops! It’s a collaboration between yours truly and wood worker Keiichi Sato of @garagewoodworkingjp in Japan. I’ve worked closely with Mr Sato with regards to the grip, flange, size and finishing for this beautiful set, and I’m blown away with how amazing everything turned out. I have been using the oblique holder for a couple of months now, and it’s been my go-to pen ever since.

 

Participants to the workshop will each receive a wooden oblique made of Hinoki, or Japanese Cypress with a flange to fit most nibs. It’s handy and lightweight, which is one of the first things I look for in a holder. The set also includes a matching base for ink jars and a pen rest made of Douglas Fir. The wooden base for inks is specially designed to stabilize those jars — I’ve been known to spill inks all over my desk (which also happens to be white) so this made my life easier.

Mr Sato opts for natural, old-fashioned finishes like shellac and beeswax. A traditional woodworker, he uses hand tools made in the late 18th century. When asked about his choice of wood, he explained that he likes using Japanese Cypress for the holders because it is a softwood that’s lightweight and gives a good feel. “Weight is very important to make hours of writing comfortable”, he noted. “Japanese Cypress is also waterproof. As a matter of fact, many high end Japanese ryokans use Japanese Cypress to make bathtubs because of its nice smell and water repellency”.

Making calligraphy holders is also different from other wooden pieces because according to Mr Sato, holders are not art pieces but practical tools. Some calligraphers like his daughter for instance, don’t like staining their pens with ink (quite contrary to me, because I stain mine all the time). Liquid can be trapped in the slots for flanges which may result in problems only a woodworker may understand. “It’s a huge challenge for me, and I am learning new things everyday”, he mused, and I can only nod in response.

 

“I used to travel 100,00 miles a year when I was a sports photographer in the US”, he told me. “Now I stay in my garage with a Siberian Husky.” When asked how he got started making wooden pieces for calligraphy, he said, “I love woodworking because I love to use my hands. My daughter is a wonderful calligrapher, and I started making calligraphy supplies with wood to support her.”

When it comes to aesthetic, Mr Sato is a mad snake when it comes to details (my words, not his). “I don’t mind spending hours perfecting details while keeping the design as simple as possible”, he replied. He values good relationships with calligraphers, many of them asking for custom pieces like boxes, pen trays, coffee scoops and chopping boards, to name a few.

“If I were living in Singapore, I’d love to make my shop open to calligraphers to stop by. Fix their holders, change their grips, or anything I can do to help them”, he offered. I’m sure I won’t be the only one hanging out in his shop everyday if that happens!

Now that I’ve shown you all this beautiful set, I’d love to have you at my Intermediate Workshop! Interested in advancing your skills in modern calligraphy, and the same time snagging your own custom oblique set? More details can be found here. Hope you’re as excited as I am!

7 Hand-Lettering Books For learning and Inspiration

Handlettering Books via Happy Hands Project

I have this wish list of hand-lettering books that I’ve been meaning to share for some time now. I have quite a number of books on modern and copperplate calligraphy, but have not invested on as much lettering books as I can.

The good thing about books compared to seeking inspiration online, is that the motivation it gives is nothing fleeting. With numerous posts on lettering and art all over the internet, we tend to get lost in all this information overload that each ‘inspiration’ is trying to compete with another. Having a few select books on the shelf means you pick it up from time to time, read or browse, and get that feeling of enthusiasm every single time.

I already have a few of these by my tiny white desk, but I would like to tick every single book on my list. Hope these books inspire you to learn the art of hand-lettering!

1. Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World | Timothy Goodman

2. Little Book of Lettering | Emily Gregory

3. Sign Painters |  Faythe Levine & Sam Macon

4. The ABCs of Hand Lettering | Abbey Sy

5. In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector | Jessica Hische

6. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms | Alex Fowkes

7. Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age | Steven Heller  & Louise Fili

There you have it! Wish I have the financial capacity to purchase this lot in one go, but looks like I need to set priorities for now. Happy book shopping! Are there any awesome lettering books that I missed? Let me know in the comments below, and this hungry artist will appreciate it heaps.

A Travel-Themed Wedding in Phuket: Tom & Simone

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It’s 2016 (woohoo!) and I’d like my first post of the year to be special. So here’s one special destination wedding I had the pleasure to work on last year – Tom and Simone’s big day in Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It was a travel-themed wedding, so each table number featured the couple’s photos from different places. And not just that — either of them were holding a small chalkboard with a number on it! I thought it was a very cute idea.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

I also did the calligraphy and lettering for the signs and stationery used at the venue. There were the menus for dinner, cocktails and cupcakes, photo booth sign, and wedding programme to name a few. My favourite has got to be the escort cards which weren’t cards at all, but little paper airplanes hanging in strings! The colour motif was grey and dusty blue, which were perfect for a classy beach wedding. I’m very happy for this sweet couple, and I’m pretty sure you’ll like the photos as much as I did. Scroll down to see more.

All photos used with consent from the couple.
Photography: Julian Abram Wainwright
Venue: Grand Villa Satis, Aleenta Phuket Resort

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop at The Untitled Space

The last Beginners’ workshop of the year is worthy of its own blog post, because it marks the beginning of another year of learning and teaching this lovely craft. If I’m not mistaken, I started with the Happy Hour Workshops in March of 2014 with only 8 participants. At present, due to the demand, we have doubled that number and each class is still always fun and interesting, thanks to the diverse group that I get to teach every time.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Last Saturday’s workshop was packed to the brim. We made good use of the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ pads, and were treated to a lovely spread of pastries and artisan coffee. The Untitled Space studio was bathed in beautiful light at that time of the day, and I couldn’t be any happier! It makes for great photos, too.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

One thing I learned about teaching modern calligraphy is that each student has a certain difficulty to overcome, and it is through experience that I am able to address the issue. It feels great when after some drills and practice strokes, I could see the progress that each student makes.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I will be back in January for a couple of Beginners’ classes, and Advanced classes will follow (crosses fingers). If you’re interested, leave your email address to subscribe to the newsletter. I cannot wait for a new round of workshops for the next year!

For artists and creatives looking for a venue for your workshops and exhibitions, I would highly recommend The Untitled Space. The photos speak for themselves, don’t you think?

All photos were taken by Jim Orca/The Untitled Space

Doing What You Love: Focusing on Goals Under Stress

Focus On Your Goals | Lettering via Happy Hands Project

For me this year, the peak season for wedding calligraphy started on the later part of the 3rd quarter. I was on my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, and I was feeling extra emotional and tired. After tucking my daughter to sleep, I couldn’t get myself to work some more. I thought, how will I get through the wedding season if I was tired all the time? I was worried, but sleep always got the better of me. I hit the sack a couple of hours earlier than usual.

Then I worry again the next day because of the work that has been piling up.

Calligraphy and lettering is something I do because I love doing it. I like writing, and drawing letters, ever since I was a little girl. So why is this whole thing, the thing I’m supposed to love, is stressing me out? Now that I’m well into my second trimester and down to my last calligraphy addressing project for the year, I’m feeling much better and excited for what the coming year has to bring. I was able to accomplish the invitation suites for December weddings (and even one for March!), delivered place cards right on time, and also had a few large-sized calligraphy done for some clients. Let me share with you some of the things that kept me motivated — and sane — during the time when the work load was almost too much to handle.

FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS
I was able to do this by listing my goals down on paper. Seeing it on my wall makes it more ‘real’, and I was able to focus on my priorities instead of procrastinating and doing less important things. Focus on your daily or weekly goals and stick to it.

TAKE BREAKS
So yes, it’s important to get work done, but you’re headed for burn out if you don’t take a breather once in a while. There was a 250-word poem that I had to rewrite 3 times because of some silly mistakes I’ve made and it was frustrating! There was one evening when everything seemed to go wrong. I knocked my ink over, the envelope drying rack tumbled, and my hand was shaky. Why not take a break? Making watercolour washes on my pad relaxes me, and scribbling with my brush pens calms me down. Trust me, it works. By the time I got back to writing, it was so much better.

CHECK YOUR WORK
I’m lucky to have a husband who designs as well, and was willing to give his creative input into my work. Having another pair of eyes look through your finished work is better because he/she may see things differently than you do. Having someone else proofread is also a good idea. However, some of us would prefer to do things on our own and if this is the case, carefully check your work before sending it out. It saves time because you don’t have to do things over again, and you’ll have happy clients all the way.

ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
I had to give up some calligraphy workshops during this period. As much as I love to teach this craft, and I get emails asking when my next class would be, I knew I couldn’t handle it. Take a step back and see how your work load is, and learn to say no if you simply cannot handle any more. Your clients will thank you because you’ll be able to churn out better work.

REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
When work gets too much for you to handle, pause and ask yourself why you’re working so hard for this anyway. I pick up my pen and dip it in ink and get lost in pointed pen bliss because it makes me happy. I’m passionate about this craft, and I want to share the beauty of calligraphy. What makes you do what you do? Think about it, and it’ll put a smile on your lips. Now check your daily goals and focus on them because believe me, it feels pretty good to get some work done.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

Art Deco-Inspired Wedding Invitations

Art Deco Wedding Invitations via Happy Hands Project

I became an instant fan of the classic 1920’s look because of this art deco themed invite suite I had the privilege of designing. It was a vintage theme, yes, but the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t look ‘old’ at all. It’s just pure class, and I truly enjoyed the whole design process.

Art Deco Wedding Invitations via Happy Hands Project

The suite is a mix of handwritten elements and digital design, and searching for the perfect art deco font proved to be a challenge. A self-proclaimed font snob, I found myself browsing through fonts that were too mediocre to use. I finally found one or two that would suit the design excellently. Paired with the classic art deco pattern and modern calligraphy, the printed suite came out so much prettier than what I saw on my laptop screen. The colours came out soft and pleasing to the eye — exactly how I wanted it to be.

Photos courtesy of Nelwyn Uy Photography
Wedding coordintation by the 3rd Party Wedding Planners

5 Premium Brush Fonts Worth Checking Out

5-Brush-Lettering-Fonts-via-Happy-Hands-Project

Am I the only one hooked on brush lettering fonts? Everytime I click on Creative Market, there is a vast number of brush fonts for sale. For those who find lettering with a brush a bit challenging, one can always invest in a font or two to make artworks.

After pointed pen calligraphy, I also love lettering with a brush and trying out different styles can be tricky. For the beginner, looking at the structure and letter forms of these fonts can help one understand how these are written. These fonts are so natural-looking and you can even see the strokes on the letters. Talk about organic!

Wish I could give away a font that I have designed myself. But while I figure out how that dream will come to fruition, let me share with you my favourite premium brush fonts so far:

Bonjour by Nicky Laatz
Botanica Script by My Creative Land
Heartwell Italic by Flavor Type
Manhattan Darling by Make Media Co.
Smitten by Make Media Co.

Enjoy!

The Happy Hour Modern Calligraphy Workshop — Revamped!

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I wrote something about The Happy Hour workshops. The good news is, I’m writing about the revamped beginners’ workshops that I’ve started last 19th of  September.

The demand for the HHP workshops is still overwhelming, which made me think about the class size. The only way to bring in more participants is to find a bigger venue — and here in Singapore, that is not an easy task. Good thing was I attended the Googly Gooeys’ Watercolour Workshop, and there I found a perfect venue!

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

So the first part of the revamp is having the classes at The Untitled Space, a centrally-located, light-filled workshop space that doubles as a photography studio and occasional cafe. The class size is still small, but the space was able to accommodate slightly more participants. As always, the coffee is sooo good (and there’s Rooibos tea for non-caffeine drinkers!).

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

The second part, and the most important project I’ve ever worked on for the workshops, is the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ workpad. It’s exclusive to participants, and has a new set of exemplar and practice strokes. The alphabet guide is based on Copperplate but still follows my own style of modern calligraphy. It has beautifully-lined pages for drills and freeplay which participants get to take home for more practice.

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I’ve scheduled a couple more modern calligraphy for beginners workshops in October. You’ve been notified of the registration if you subscribed to the newsletter. Hope to see you in one of my classes soon!

All photos were taken by Jim Orca of The Untitled Space.

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