Freebies: Calligraphy Valentine Desktops

Valentine Calligraphy Desktops via Happy Hands Project

Spreading some love this week with a couple of calligraphy desktops! I’ve been doodling last weekend and have been thinking of writing something about love and I came up with these two. Well, I do have another one on Instagram in reference to Love Actually (remember the time when Andrew Lincoln was this sweet guy and not the walker-killing Rick Grimes? I’m serious.) Anyway, have a wonderful Valentine week everyone! Spread some love to the people close to your heart!

Download the Winnie the Pooh quote here

Download Love is the Closest Thing to Magic here

Are You Ready to Learn Modern Calligraphy?

Are You Ready

I’ve been getting quite a number of  e-mails the past few months about having a calligraphy class here in Singapore, and if you’re one of them, you probably know the answer. I’ve been working on it! And yes I am! I’m currently completing the practice guides and putting together a list of materials that worked well with me when I was starting out with pointed pen calligraphy.

If you’re in Singapore and would love to have the first dibs regarding the workshop, type in your e-mail address below and you’ll be notified as soon as it’s ready for registration! It’s going to be intimate (I’d love for it to be a small class size for everyone’s benefit) and it’ll be lots of fun.



Some Thoughts on Enjoying Life

Slow Down Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Friends and family knew that I had a rough start this year, and we were lucky to have our darling girl up and about now. She had this terrible bug and had to stay in hospital for days, so much longer than we expected. Design and calligraphy work were piling up and the backlog was heavy on my shoulders. I couldn’t sleep, either at home or in the hospital.

During down times in the hospital, I had a few minutes to contemplate.

Ever since I became a mom, life has become even more fast-paced. I count minutes, work around a schedule and beat myself to stick to it. I get miserable over a few minutes wasted. I rush and try to cram everything in a day, trying to forget that there are only 24 hours and that includes sleep. I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughter that when I go out, I try to rush everything so I can get home right away. Sitting in the hospital while my girl sleeps made me realize that yes, I was wasting so much time in there doing nothing. And it’s perfectly fine. I’ll be able to manage my work schedule when we’re home and she’s better. I’ll be able to sort things out in time anyway, why rush everything?

I’m happy to say that while my little girl is still on house arrest, and we had to trim her beautiful hair because dread locks were starting to form, she’s so much better now and busy as a bee. And I keep reminding myself to slow down and enjoy what life has to offer. I should take a little stroll and enjoy the view instead of sprinting like a madman just to get home.

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. Hmmm. I’d like that.

Free Desktop Wallpaper: Hustle Harder

I’m literally hustling right now. After all the wonderful holiday festivities, my daughter Lori somehow felt a bit under the weather and eventually showed signs of flu. A few days later, we flew back to Singapore and her fever came back, higher than ever. We brought her to the hospital the next day. 2 nights later, we’re still here. My husband and I fell ill as well because her bug is super strong. Though we’re both better, the little one’s still recovering.

While I can’t work right now, let alone blog, here’s a great desktop wallpaper that will help me keep my hopes up and stay strong. Download yours here from The Sweet Escape. You’ll hear from me again when everything’s better, and I’m positive it’ll be real soon.

Hustle Harder //The Sweet Escape via Happy Hands Project

Handmade How-To: Botanical Note Cards Using Dingbats

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

2014 is here! I hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve celebration. I’d like to start this year (and the 2nd year of Happy Hands Project… wee!) with a note card DIY. Botanical themes grew in popularity this year and making them is easy-peasy. There are a lot of wonderful greeting cards for sale out there, like these cards from Amy Sullivan and florals from Rifle Paper Co., but if you want to make some on your own, here’s an easy way to do it. And the best thing is, it’s all for free!

In this DIY, we will be making 2 A6 cards which will fit nicely into C6 envelopes. We will be working with Adobe Illustrator, a downloadable dingbat font, and another font of your choice to write a message on the card. I am using Illustrator CS6 on a Mac, as you will see on the photos that will follow.

Let’s get all the materials ready, shall we? First, download and install the font Arboris Folium. Then download this chalkboard background from Besotted. If you’re printing the cards right away, have your card stock ready, too, preferably between 200-250gsm.

{1}
Open a new document in Illustrator. Select an Artboard size, which should be the same size as the paper you’ll be using. In my case, I use A4. Click ‘Landscape’ for the Orientation so you’ll be laying out the cards nicely on a horizontal page.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{2}
Make a rectangle using the rectangle tool (click M for the shortcut).  Position your pointer somewhere on the artboard and click once – enter the size 105mm x 148mm on the window that pops out. This will be how big your card will be.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{3}
Place your background onto the artboard. Go to File, select Place, and locate the file ‘CHALKBOARD_TEXTURE_BB.jpg’. The image will be placed on top of the rectangle you just made earlier. Resize the chalkboard background to a size you like. Just make sure it’s bigger than your rectangle.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{4}
Position your chalkboard background to the back of the rectangle – Object, select Arrange, then select Send to Back (click shift + cmd + [ for the shortcut). Now that the background is behind the rectangle, we can proceed with the masking. Masking the background means that it will take the shape of the rectangle above it.

{5}
Masking! Select both chalkboard and rectangle using your Selection Tool (hit V for the shortcut). Click Object – Clipping Mask – Make.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{6}
Pull out your Glyphs Panel. It’s time to select a botanical element for your card! Click on Window – Type – Glyphs, and a panel will come out. This window will be displaying the characters available in a certain font. Choose Arboris Folium font to see all the dingbats this font has. (Warning: Prepare to ooooh and aaaah. I love this font!)

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{7}
Time to pick a specific element that you like. To make it appear on your artboard, click the Text tool (shortcut: T) and click anywhere on your chalkboard. Change the text color to white and type in a huge text size. In my case I used 275 pt, but you can go lower or higher. You can always adjust it later. Once you’ve chosen an element, position it to your liking. I centered mine as you can see.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{8}
Do you want a different element on the other card? Repeat the same process, and you’ll have 2 cards in no time.

DIY Botanical Notecards via Happy Hands Project

{9}
If you want to write a message anywhere on your card, select a font you like and lower the font size. How big your text will be is totally up to you. Just in case you’re curious, I used Cantoni DIY Wedding font by Debi Sementelli. It’s gorgeous.

That’s it! Load your card stock into your printer and you have 2 note cards! Happy writing, and have a wonderful New Year everyone!

 

These are a Few of my Favorite Nibs

Favourite Pointed Pen Nibs via Happy Hands Project

I remember when pointed pen calligraphy was all new to me. I follow the blogs of inspiring calligraphers and usually ask them what nib they used on a certain artwork. I will order the same nibs they used and excitedly prepare them before dipping in glorious black ink. ‘Aaaah’, I thought, ‘this will make my calligraphy as lovely as {name of amazing calligrapher here}.’

Well, I was wrong. First, the nibs that worked perfectly with one person doesn’t mean it would work perfectly with me as well. The Hunt 101 for example, has been an all-time favorite of many but it always snags the paper on my upstrokes. It always makes that gritty sound no matter how light my pressure is. Second, even if the nib does work smoothly, I still won’t be able write like Laura Hooper. Uh, maybe not ever, but you get the picture. I wanted to be able to do the flourishes and swirls right away when I didn’t know the basics yet. So I learned that it takes A LOT of practice before I get a certain style going. Those brilliant calligraphers out there were all right about that.

I have been getting several queries about the nibs that I’ve been using and I feel that I need to share my favorites. The list usually changes but currently, here are a few of my favorite nibs which I hope will write smoothly with you.

Favourite Pointed Pen Nibs via Happy Hands Project

 

The Brause EF66 has long been on my favorites list. It may be tiny, but don’t judge it by its size! It makes gorgeous thicks and thins! It may scratch your paper a little bit during upstrokes, though, but this usually happens when I use a slightly coarse sheet. I usually have this problem with white ink on black paper. Because the paper is not smooth, I have to hold my pen feather-light during those tough upward strokes (that I would avoid if I could). Ink may get stuck underneath the nib, too, so make sure you give it a good soak and brush when you’re done with it. Having said all these, the EF66 gives gorgeous results. I use it everytime there’s a snail mail to write. Lately, I’ve been using it for wall art, too.

Now this is the best nib for beginners, in my humble opinion. The Nikko G is a very long-lasting Japanese nib. I use this in doing drills which have been quite often lately, and I’d say this nib can take a beating and still give good results! It is quite stiff with a medium flex and works great even for the heavy-handed. I love its size and its sharp point. I don’t lose it like I do with the EF66 (like one moment I know it was supposed to be there, and another moment passes and it was gone?) and the sharp point promises a very fine hairline. Put more pressure on the downstrokes and you’ll have lovely swells.

The Leonardt Steno (previously called Hiro 40) is a huge nib as far as nibs go. It’s easy to handle and much like the Brause Steno Blue Pumpkin when it comes to weight and size. It comes in a pretty blue color and used to be the go-to nib of stenographers, thus the name ‘Steno’. This nib’s tip is quite pointed which makes hairlines quite thin, but it writes smoothly and rarely skips. It produces defined line variations and is quite soft (be careful with the flexing!) that’s why this one right here is one of my favorites if I need to write bigger letters.

There you go! I linked all three nibs to Paper & Ink Arts because that’s where I order most of my nibs from. International shipping is quick and they have almost everything I need (and so much more). If you’re in Singapore, you can also check out the friendly people at Straits Commercial Art Co. or Overjoyed (which has Brause nibs).

Hope In A Card Christmas Postcards

Hope In A Card via Happy Hands Project

Here’s what I and eleven other talented artists in Singapore have been up to the past few weeks – ‘Hope In A Card‘, a set of 12 postcards originally designed by Filipinos here in Singapore to benefit the Typhoon Haiyan victims. I am truly amazed by how the designs all turned out. All of us tried to churn out original designs within a very tight time frame, and everyone delivered their best.

For my design, I wrote a quote in calligraphy that I found most suitable for the message we want to send out. Hope and Love for the strong survivors of the disaster. More details can be found in the Hope In A Card Facebook page, and a private message to the administrators will give you more details on how to purchase your own set. Each pack of 12 postcards is S$12.

Hope In A Card via Happy Hands Project

I have another artwork over at my Etsy shop which is an instant download wall art. 100% of all sales will also be sent to the Philippine Red Cross. Thanks to everyone who have helped so far!

Handmade How-To: DIY Golden Centerpiece

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project

We had an abundant supply of dried leaves around the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago, and I thought, why not transform these supposedly useless things into something useful? If you’ve read about my addiction with gold paint, you’ll understand why I came up with this DIY. I need to spray gold paint!

This is super easy, you’ll have a great centerpiece on an otherwise boring space in no time.

Here are the things I used:

  • A bunch of full, dried leaves (make sure they’re not torn!)
  • Gold spray paint (I used Pylox, but feel free to use another brand)
  • Newspapers
  • Wide-mouthed jars in various sizes and heights (I used 3)

Here’s how to make a simple centerpiece like I did:

{01}
Collect dried leaves. Select those that are not too small, but make sure you have a variety of sizes. I collected a lot but ended up selecting about 20. Oh, and it also helps to have an eager beaver little helper with a bag. Don’t ask me, she put that headband on her head saying it was her ‘crown’.

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project

{02}
Select the best leaves – use your judgement here. I retained those that were not too twisted or coiled. I also took some thin and wide ones.

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project

{03}
Set up your spray painting area! Make sure you are in a well-ventilated place and cover the floor with newspapers. Lay your leaves down and get your paint ready by shaking it for about 30 seconds.

{04}
Start with short bursts of paint directed to your leaves. Just spray lightly at first, moving around horizontally until all your leaves are gold. I kind of did a triple coating because I want my leaves to be rich gold.

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project

{05}
Leave your painted leaves to dry, which may take about half an hour to an hour, depending on how many coats of paint you sprayed. When they’re fully dry, turn them and start spraying the other side.

{06)
The fun part and finale! Gather your jars and start filling them with gold leaves. I found out that it’s nicer to use leaves of different lengths so that some stay in while the others stick out. It’s also nice to combine straight leaves with slightly curved ones.

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project

There you go! You can place it in your living room or dining table, or fill a shelf with lined up jars. You can also swirl some fairy lights around the jars for that Christmas vibe. I hope you’ll enjoy making these as much as I have!

Gold Leaves Centerpiece via Happy Hands Project