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!

Ending 2014 With A Blast – Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop

The 29th of November marked the last Happy Hour Beginners’ class for 2014! Woohoo! It was my first time to have it at a different location, due to numerous requests to have it in the city centre. The class was held at Coffeemin at Clarke Quay Central.

Happy Hands Project Calligraphy Workshop

The first time I stepped into Coffemin’s private room, I was pretty impressed with its floor to ceiling glass wall because on a beautiful day, it only means one thing – gorgeous natural light! Oh, and it was indeed a beautiful day when we had our class! Its white walls were perfect for the original artworks that I always bring. There was going to be another bare wall, so I thought I’d write and draw some informative posters.

Happy Hands Project Calligraphy Workshop

Here are more photos from the workshop! As always, thanks to everyone who came and for being so patient! Hugs to my husband who took these photos for me and helped with the setup, and to the wonderful people at Coffeemin for having us.

Happy-Hour-Workshop-Dec2014-5 Happy-Hour-Workshop-Dec2014-4 Happy Hands Project Calligraphy Workshop

Freebie: Printable Holiday Confetti Gift Tags

Confetti Gift Tags via Happy Hands Project

The holidays are coming! I’m very excited for this year’s Christmas because my family’s coming and right now I’m busy putting together our Christmas menu. I have 3 types of dessert on my list now, nothing else.

I know we’re all busy with Christmas shopping, but we should not neglect the art of gift wrapping! I’ve put together some gift tags for you to download and print on card stock. I’ll be using these myself and will be pairing the with some kraft paper-covered gifts. I felt like sprinkling confetti all around me because of the excitement, so here are some confetti-inspired tags to complete your presents. These will look great on gold wrapping paper, too, if you’re into some glam!

You can get your free printable gift tags here. Share the love!

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


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

Font Fancy: Vermandois + Free Desktop Wallpaper

The moment I saw this handwritten font from Magpie Paper Works, it was love at first sight. Vermandois is a lovely work of art that makes me want to wish I write the same way. The jagged strokes and varying spacing just adds to its organic charm – and you know me, I’m a sucker for anything handmade. To put this beauty to good use, I created this desktop wallpaper which I hope you’ll love! Even when we’re just sitting in front of our computers and doing what should be done, it’s nice to be reminded to go on an adventure once in a while.

Let's Be Adventurers Desktop Wallpaper via Happy Hands Project

Download your free desktop wallpaper here. Want more freebies using Magpie Paper Works fonts? Here’s a botanical wall art using Saissant I made a few months back. Spread the love!

Beginners’ Calligraphy Workshop {October Edition}

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project

I’m still on a high from last Saturday’s Happy Hour Workshop! I think this is the first time that we had 3 Michelles in the group! Who would think modern calligraphy drills would actually be fun? I was teaching myself years ago and drills were a chore (albeit necessary). I’m still quite amazed at how patient these ladies were, even when there were quite a few scratchy sounds, ink blobs and spills.

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project


They were all so into writing, it was difficult for me to coax them out of their seats to have lunch! Finally, the smell of Quiche Lorraine and pastries lured them downstairs and we all enjoyed a hearty meal (thanks to Carpenter & Cook, as always!).

I should’ve known that this group is really into learning modern calligraphy. When I opened the registration for this class, all seats were snatched in minutes. I was in awe!

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails regarding the upcoming workshops – looks like everyone wants to get into the craft before the year ends! Great news – I’ll be having one session specially for those wait listed from this October session. Another will be for subscribers of the Workshop Newsletter, so leave your email address on the right sidebar to get the first dibs. I cannot wait to meet all of you, and I promise to have more classes in 2015.

I’m sending another shout out to Heaven In A Wildflower for having us at her lovely, lovely, lovely home studio.

Season’s Greetings Clear Stamps from Mama Elephant

I learned from the ladies of Mama Elephant that it’s never too early for Christmas. Just recently, they posted the ‘First Looks’ of the soon-to-be-released Christmas stamps with my brush lettering. How exciting! It’s still hard for me to believe that my hand-lettering has been transformed into these clear stamps. I think it’s really awesome.

I may not have a knack for designing greeting cards using Mama Elephant stamps yet, but I need to take the plunge soon. One of the things I’m going to work on before the year ends! Here are a couple of ‘First Looks’ from their blog, and you can read the full post over here.

Mama Elephant Christmas Stamps via Happy Hands Project

They ship these goodies internationally, too!

The Happy Hour Workshop: August Session

Last August’s Beginners’ Modern Calligraphy Workshop was super fun! What I love about these classes is meeting different individuals from different fields, all eager to learn a new craft. Some are even eager to take an advanced class (which I’m preparing for, by the way – thanks for the feedback!). Here are the photos from The Happy Hour!

Venue: Studio @ Heaven In A Wildflower  |  Catering: Carpenter & Cook

Calligraphy Workshop Aug2014 via Happy Hands Project

Calligraphy Workshop Aug2014 via Happy Hands Project

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?