Snail Mail Writing – Bringing Back the Old Days

When I was in elementary school, 4th grade perhaps, I had a pen pal from the U.K. Her name was Tara, though unfortunately I don’t remember much about her! All I know is I probably got her pen pal ad from a kiddie magazine from school and decided to be ‘pen friends’ with her. Who would’ve thought I’ll be back to writing snail mail after a very loooong time?

I just got some snail mail from my friend Paola from Spain, and I have to say that every envelope she sends is full of goodies inside. I always light up when I see something from her in our mailbox! I remember my husband saying, ‘I don’t like you. Why do you always get fancy mail?’

Snail Mail Writing via Happy Hands Project

I wasn’t looking for a pen pal last year, actually. I wanted to join a Christmas crafty mail exchange from a blog in the U.S., but unfortunately all of them wanted to exchange mail locally. There were just a handful of us from other countries and I was paired with Paola. Then the exchange didn’t happen, because of high shipping rates outside of the EU (and shipping to Singapore would be exorbitant). Well, don’t worry, I didn’t take it too hard. I looked for another mail swap and exchanged my calligraphy with a wax canvas apron by Anhaica Bag Works, but that’s another story.

Snail Mail Writing via Happy Hands Project

To my surprise, I still got mail from Paola (full of goodies, albeit lightweight) and we started exchanging mail since then! A few days ago I got a polaroid post card from Madrid and a paper garland, and before that I got some stickers and tea. I’m contemplating what to give to her this time, and I’m excited to put together something nice! I have a few other pen pals right now and I’ve just sent out a few handmade calligraphy greeting cards to them. It’s also a great way to put my calligraphy and lettering skills to good use. It’s great practice, too! How about you, would you consider sending some snail mail love?

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.

The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop {June 2014}

I was back at Joo Chiat for the June session of The Happy Hour Modern Calligraphy Workshops. I love this group – our small class of 8 wonderful ladies arrived all eager to learn a new craft. I had the pleasure of finding out how two of them wrote Arabic calligraphy when they were young, and how totally different it was with pointed pen calligraphy. We had a wedding planner, and one who is getting married next year (yay!), one who is into the art of paper quilling, and one who was moving to Bangkok the coming weekend! I have to say we were a pretty diverse group.

I’ll let these photos speak for themselves! Curious to know more about what went on? I loved reading about the participants’ side of the story. Read more from Priya and Adilah. Oh, and I’m giving a special shout out to my hubby and photographer Reggie who always helps me set up and take photos of every class I have. <3

Sign up for class registration updates here. Hope to see you in my next class, and immerse in the art of modern calligraphy!

Venue: Studio @ Heaven in a Wildflower
Refreshments: Carpenter & Cook

Happy Hour Workshop via Happy Hands Project


Happy Hour Workshop via Happy Hands Project


Happy Hour Workshop via Happy Hands Project

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.

Non-Script Font Combos For Your Wedding

I adore script fonts, which may probably be another reason why I took up the art of modern calligraphy. However, there are some couples who might want to go a different route with their wedding invitations – which means having non-script fonts. I’m a font addict myself, and I can attest to the fact that designing for your own wedding may be a gruelling task. Finding the right font may take hours – even days!

If you’re one of those couples who decide to have a non-script font for your wedding stationery, here are my current favourites. Do take note, though, that my current ‘favourites’ change rather regularly. I’m into serif and sans serif combinations right now, go take a look!


Non-Script Wedding Font Combos via Happy Hands Project

Direct font downloads:

Abraham Lincoln & Open Sans Light / Prata Regular & Source Sans Pro Extra Light / Abril Fatface & Bebas Neue Light

The Beauty of Vintage Handwriting

Pre-Civil War Handwriting via Happy Hands Project

I have an Aunt who’s very dear to me. She’s a teacher, and has the loveliest penmanship I’ve ever known. I admire all her letters and swirls on paper, and even on the blackboard. You wouldn’t believe that her handwriting remains consistent no matter what writing instrument she uses! Writing on the board using chalk was still lovely.

I have long-overdue penpal letters (I know! I’m writing soon!) and I was thinking of printing my own greeting cards. While scouring the web for vintage ephemera, I came across this page from a pre-civil war autograph book – and the handwriting is to die for! I’ve always wondered how people before manage to have such beautiful handwriting. I believe that each of us should try to improve our own penmanship, and make good use of it by writing letters to loved ones. Who wouldn’t love to receive a handwritten surprise through snail mail once in a while?

Initially I just wanted to share where I got these vintage goodies so that we can all admire the beauty of earlier handwriting (they’re from Graphics Fairy, by the way). But I remembered that I came across some great advice on how to improve one’s handwriting. One of my favourite calligraphers has put together some tips on how to write better. I really love this list because I fully agree with every tip – you can almost see me nodding in agreement right now. As I always say, Practice Makes Pretty! Check out Melissa’s tips here.

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.