A Wedding in Texas: Calligraphy for Yasmin & Andrew

Andrew-Yasmin-Wedding-Invitations-via-Happy-Hands-Project

Late last year, Yasmin of Coffee Creative got in touch with me through my Etsy shop to write their wedding invitations in calligraphy. It was for their wedding in Texas, USA, and I was thrilled! It turned out to be a lovely suite, because calligraphy matched the awesome drawing Yasmin did of her and her groom! I would be totally inspired by this idea, now I wish I’m getting married again. It has a lovely, organic feel and I am super happy to have provided calligraphy for this wedding. Photos were taken by Kristen Swanson.

Nib Review: Esterbrook 355

When I need to write small, I always reach for my Esterbrook 355. I don’t have a vast nib collection (though my husband might have a different opinion), and I only have a few favourites, but more often than not, small sized calligraphy always calls for the Estie 355.

Esterbrook 355 Nib Review via Happy Hands Project

Those who have been to my workshops here in Singapore have probably heard of that small nib I burned when I put it over a flame. This might be the same nib, actually. The Esterbrook 355 is tiny – it can easily get sucked down the drain when I wash it!

At first glance, it may look intimidating, with its tiny body and pointy tip. It’s very soft and flexible, so you will get very nice line variation with minimal effort. You won’t get very thick swells though, that’s why I use this when I write penpal letters.

Esterbrook 355 Nib Review via Happy Hands Project

I struggled a little bit when I first started using this nib. Be warned – because of its thin and pointy tip, upstrokes will be a pain specially on textured paper. The ink might not flow on your first dip, so always have a jar of water so you can dip your nib. This helps with the ink flow.

Once I got over the first few obstacles (which were worse when I was starting out 3 years ago), I’ve learned a couple of things to make writing with 355 easy peasy.

1. Start small
If you’re a beginner, start writing small with this nib. It will write beautiful thin strokes when you opt for bigger letters, I admit – but practice with small characters first.

2. Keep your upstrokes feather light
This nib gets stuck during upstrokes sometimes. To avoid this and ultimately save your work from the splatter, use no pressure at all during those tricky upstrokes. No pressure at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

So are you ready to practice with the Esterbrook 355? I always purchase mine from Paper & Ink Arts here. Happy inking!

Giveaway and Launch: 2015 Calligraphy Calendar

Calligraphy Calendar via Happy Hands Project

After weeks of painting, writing, designing and test-printing, I’m happy to let you all know that the Happy Hands Project’s (first ever) calendar is now available for pre-order!

I wanted to come up with a design that I would display on my desk myself. I came up with these hand-painted, hand-lettered calendars with minimalism in mind – and what’s the best way to achieve that? By going black and white, of course!

Calligraphy Calendar via Happy Hands Project

All sheets will be loose and printed on premium white card stock. You will receive 13 cards altogether – that’s 12 monthly calendar sheets plus one calligraphy print to top it off. You can mount it on a small easel like what I’ve done, or hang it with bulldog clips. You can tape it on the wall with wash tape. I’ve given this calendar much thought and love, I hope you like it, too!

Pre-order the 2015 Calendar here.

Calligraphy Calendar via Happy Hands Project

Calligraphy Calendar by Happy Hands Project

AND NOW… THE 2015 CALENDAR GIVEAWAY!

Because I’m super excited to get this calendar project going, I’m giving away 2 sets of this calendar to 2 of my lovely readers. I will ship this out wherever you’re located so come and join in. Just leave your deets below – there are many ways to win – and ask your friends to join in, too! The giveaway ends at 11:59pm on 17 November 2014 (Singapore local time).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eleanor Winters Copperplate Workshop in Singapore

This is the absolute, honest truth. Attending an intense, 2-day copperplate workshop with Eleanor Winters has got to be the highlight of my calligraphy journey for 2014. I’ve had her book, Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy, for a couple of years now but there was a lack of motivation in me to start learning Copperplate on my own.

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

As a self-taught calligrapher, I’ve spent 2 years to find my own style. I’ve always practiced and have been happy to finally find a style that I could call my own. I tried to study Copperplate from Eleanor’s book, but I had no idea if what I was doing was right, or even acceptable.

Call it fate, or just pure luck, but I was very fortunate to be get a seat on Eleanor Winters’ series of calligraphy workshops here in Singapore. I was so excited that Wednesday morning in August, oblivious to the heat and crowd. Clutching my bread and coffee, I eagerly made my way to The Letter J Supply studio. And for the next 2 days, I was a bright-eyed student, ready to learn all that I can.

 

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

We were a small group of 8, each one of them an interesting character. During the class we were all mostly quiet, either writing or listening. Eleanor was an awesome teacher. She was very detailed in teaching the letter forms and the variations that we can do with it, while adhering to the rules of Copperplate. The concept may be strict, but the results are definitely beautiful. Having Eleanor beside me was very beneficial because I found out instantly if what I was doing was right. I became comfortable with an oblique pen, and even the tools that weren’t working for me then just started working great! So I guess Eleanor brought with her some magic calligraphy dust and sprinkled it on all of us when we weren’t looking.

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

I feel that I’ve grown quite a lot as a calligrapher after taking the class with Eleanor. What I love about her is that she’s all business when it comes to teaching, but was always ready to give constructive criticism. She was always willing to answer any questions we may have. So was the 2-day copperplate workshop tiring and intense? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Definitely!

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

Eleanor Winters will be back in Singapore (gasp!) in January 2015, and will be teaching different calligraphy classes at the Letter J Supply studio. A super huge thank you to fellow calligrapher Joanne for hosting the workshop series!

Review: Walnut Ink Crystals

Walnut Ink Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

I’ve purchased my walnut ink crystals months ago when I went on an online shopping binge for calligraphy supplies. I finally had the time last weekend to open my jar and do a little test. I was surprised to see that the ‘crystals’ were not the coarse crystals I thought it would be. Confession: I imagined them to be big and coarse crystals, similar to bath salts. In reality, it’s coarse, dark, and in powder form – which actually makes sense as it has to be mixed with water to be able to use it as ink.

So what exactly are walnut ink crystals? It’s dry powder made from English peat moss (not walnuts!) that is mixed with water to use for calligraphy, painting and staining. Writing with it creates varied tones, from deep browns to light sepia.

Walnut Ink Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Making the ink itself is easy as pie for there is no perfect formula. I used about a teaspoon of the powder to half a cup of lukewarm water, which resulted in a deep brown tint. Mix more water to the mixture and you get a lighter colour. You may use tap water as well, but lukewarm water dissolves the crystals faster. Just have a small jar ready and put in your preferred amount of crystals, fill the jar with water, and mix till there are no solid crystals left. Use as you would use regular ink for calligraphy. A little goes a long way!

I was a bit wary about how thin the mixture turned out to be. In my experience, thin, watery inks are synonymous to feathering. But I proved myself wrong. Oh, how I loved writing with it! It was super smooth, and I adore how the hues vary the more I write. I had no problems with the ink flow at all. I swear I couldn’t stop writing with it! I used it on my Daler Rowney layout pad and have yet to try it on different types of paper, but so far, so good! You have to try it for yourself.

Walnut Ink Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

The walnut ink crystals were purchased from Paper & Ink Arts, written on a Daler Rowney layout pad with a Nikko G nib.

Calligraphy Workshops at The Workroom

I’ve been over at my friend Ruth’s studio, The Workroom for 2-hour modern calligraphy classes the past few months. How fun! Aside from the calligraphy classes hosted at the studio, there are several crafts being taught there as well – printmaking, sewing, and children’s art workshops just to name a few.

Calligraphy Workroom SG via Happy Hands Project2

At The Workroom, we had male participants who would like to learn the art. Oh, you can easily tell how different their writing styles are with those of the women! It’s always fun to be at The Workroom and meet all these creative people. I love seeing their practice sheets taped onto the wall to dry. Just in case you’re looking for more craft classes, you can always sign up here for more.

Calligraphy Workroom SG via Happy Hands Project

Another great news that I’m excited to share – a 2nd studio has opened last 19th of July at 19 Lorong Kilat! This means more crafty fun for all of us! Like The Workroom on Facebook to be in the loop.

Calligraphy and Watercolour in Yellow and Emerald

Ian-Kres Logo via Happy Hands Project

Ian-Kres Wedding Invites via Happy Hands Project

I really enjoy designing for weddings, especially invitation suites. Do you know what I love most about this invite? Apart from the sweet bride being awesome to work with, they actually gave me creative freedom. I got to play around with their wedding colours to my heart’s content! I’m very happy to share with you the wedding of Ian and Kres.

We started the design process with the wedding logo, and it turned out to be fairly swirly yet uncomplicated. I used emerald green and sunflower yellow to paint the floral motif that was ultimately used in their Save the Date cards and invitation suite. The best feeling has always been seeing all the elements fall perfectly in place.

Ian-Kres Wedding Invites via Happy Hands Project

Congratulations, Ian and Kres, it was wonderful working with you! Photos above were captured by Nelwin Uy Photography.

#EatDrinkArt Exhibition at Mad Nest

EatDrinkArt via Happy Hands Project

I was very busy for a couple of weeks, putting together an artwork for Mad Nest‘s #EatDrinkArt Exhibition. 14 artists have been engaged to come up with a work of art using ‘mystery ingredients’ found in Mad Nest’s kitchen. Exciting! I didn’t know what ingredient I was going to have until I went there myself.

I was assigned some raw linguine, and got to pick a pack of star anise as a secondary ingredient. The challenge? Coming up with a creative idea to incorporate the edible elements with my craft! In the end I decided to use the items in their raw, organic form and combine them with my brush calligraphy. Images of a homey kitchen, smelling of star anise with sounds of tomato sauce bubbling nearby filled my senses. I wanted an artwork that will remind one of the feeling of homecoming, dropping your bags and heading straight to the kitchen and see Mom working her magic. I wanted to evoke that feeling. It’s a feeling I truly miss. I wrote a quote by Federico Fellini that I thought would be most suitable – ‘Life is a combination of magic and pasta’. Here’s a peek of my work in progress.

The great thing about #EatDrinkArt is that a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which ‘originated from a conviction that no child should be denied the opportunity to pursue arts training due to a lack of financial resources.’ 

The exhibition will run from 18 June to 3 September 2014 at Mad Nest along East Coast Road. All the artworks exhibited at #EatDrinkArt are for sale, so it would be very much appreciated if you can help me spread the word and help the youth pursue their passion for the arts. All the artists have put a great deal of effort in their pieces, it’s really worth a visit! More photos can be found here. All photos courtesy of Lucent Pictography. I’m extending my thanks to the wonderful people of Uniform for inviting me on board this exhibition.