MIXING YOUR OWN WHITE GOUACHE

Mixing Gouache via Happy Hands Project

I remember the time when I was on my diligent quest for the perfect white ink. I wanted something opaque, yet thin enough to flow through a variety of nibs. At some point I thought I’ve found it — I was happy with the PH Martins Pen White. It could be the stuffy weather here in Singapore, or it could be the way I was storing my inks (like all over the place… oops), but every time I pick up the bottle and open it, I had to add a few drops of water to thin the ink out. If I have to add water every single time, then it’s not so perfect after all, isn’t it?

Then I had to mix some custom ink colours for a project. Before I used gouache, I was using pre-mixed inks in various colours (note: I wouldn’t recommend that at all). Aside from the fact that I had to buy a bottle of ink for every colour I need, the pre-mixed inks just can’t do the job. They’re too watery (yes, I’m talking about you, Daler Rowney Calli!).

Mixing Gouache via Happy Hands Project

During that time, I’ve heard about calligraphers mixing their own gouache. It was intimidating, and I thought I had to leave that to the pros. But I’m glad I experimented! As with all experiments, the first try wasn’t as good. But… BUT! I got better with it, and I realised it’s not that difficult at all.

So now I mix my own white ink using gouache. What you’ll need is pretty simple actually:

:: tube of white gouache (I use Daler Rowney Designer Gouache)

:: plastic pipette

:: gum arabic powder (optional, I use Jacquard)

:: tap water

:: ink jar

Ok, so what do we do now? Before we mix everything up, let me give you some background about gum arabic. There is liquid gum arabic, and there’s powder. I use powder and dissolve it in warm tap water — I usually mix 1 part powder to 3 parts water, stir it and keep it in a small plastic jar for multiple uses. Warm water dissolves the powder easily and does not result in a clumpy mess. Gum arabic is basically a binder that controls viscosity and does a great job in preventing feathering. It’s optional because mixing gouache and water alone produces great results as well, depending on the paper used.

Mixing Gouache via Happy Hands Project

Mixing your own gouache is trial-and-error, and you’ll get better the more often you do this (pretty much like calligraphy!). So fill your jar with some white gouache, add a few drops of your gum arabic mixture, and a few drops of water. Mix it well and add a few drops of water until you reach the right consistency. Test it with your nib to see if your ink flows. If not, then it’s still too thick. Just keep on adding drops of water and testing till you get the consistency that works well for you.

And there you have it — solid white ink that’s better than store-bought ones! What’s your favourite white ink? Let me know in the comments!

USING WHITE GOUACHE IN CALLIGRAPHY

My first couple of years writing calligraphy, I was always on the look out for the richest, most opaque white ink out there. I discovered PH Martins Pen White, which was fortunately available here in Singapore. It was great, but I had to mix it with water every time I had to use it.

When I had to make custom coloured inks for a project, I decided to be adventurous enough and mix it myself using gouache and water. For those who haven’t tried it yet, gouache is a actually a water-based paint similar to watercolours. But unlike watercolours, it’s opaque and will give you richer, fuller shades. That’s when I started using white gouache instead of the pre-mixed Pen White, and since then a pot of white gouache has been a mainstay on my desk.

Here’s a video of me writing in real time — I’m a slooooow writer, but hey, that’s the beauty of calligraphy! It’s pretty close to channeling your inner zen.

I’m planning to upload more demo videos in my Vimeo chnnel, so stay tuned for that! Enjoy!

Happy Hands Project on Society6

Society6 Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

I’ve had my Society6 shop for quite a while now, even before I opened my Etsy shop. However, I didn’t feel that my calligraphy at the time was good enough to share with the world, so I pulled my items out. Well, thanks to the online community, I feel more confident now and realised that perfection isn’t everything. So, I’ve had enough of the drama and finally resurrected my shop at Society6 again!

I have 2 calligraphy prints there, both applied to different material – pillow covers, laptop skins, stretched canvas – and prints in different sizes, of course. I’m planning to add more prints in the coming weeks once I get a breather from all the commission works I have right now. Can’t wait! In the meantime, here are 2 inspirational quotes from Dr Seuss and Mark Twain.

Help me spread the love!

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!

 

Etsy Exclusive: Holiday Gift Tags

Christmas is getting closer!

We are all waaay too busy preparing for a trip next month, plus I got all these ideas for Happy Hands Project that I can’t wait to share. I got a couple of DIYs up my sleeve, too, which you will see in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here are 3 gift tag designs that I have on my Etsy shop. These are instant download files, so you wouldn’t have to wait to get your hands on them. These tags will definitely make your holiday gifts extra special. I’ve been playing with brush lettering lately and that’s how I came up with these chalkboard style tags.

By the way, the ‘Faith Hope Trust‘ brush lettering wall art is still on sale in the shop for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Holiday Gift Tags via Happy Hands Project

Help for the Philippines: Faith. Hope. Trust.

Faith Hope Love Print via Happy Hands Project

Reading the headlines from the past few days have been very heartbreaking. Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines), the strongest typhoon that hit the Visayas region of the Philippines, left a trail of devastation. Thousands have died and those who survived were left homeless, hungry and cold.

The Philippines has had its fair share of natural calamities, but never to this extent. With this amount of destruction, the victims need all the help we can give.

Last night my husband and I were contemplating on how much assistance we can afford as contribution to help the victims in hard-hit Tacloban and its neighboring towns. It was also last night when I came up with this brush lettering, and I’m offering this as an instant download over at my Etsy shop. 100% of the sales will be forwarded to the Philippine Red Cross. If you don’t have an account on Etsy, just send me an email at pauline (at) happyhandsproject (dot) com with your email address and I’ll send you a Paypal invoice. You will then receive the artwork through email.

Faith. Hope. Trust.

I guess during a time like this, these are the only three things that can get us going. I hope you can help me spread the word. Together, we can help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Free Chalkboard Style Calligraphy

Gosh, I have so many ideas for a wedding now that I really wish I had 3 years ago. For my own wedding. I wish I was already doing calligraphy, and sometimes I wish I have painted our invites instead. Or wrote every word by hand instead of churning out a design and eventually throwing it away to start on a new one.

It’s more difficult to plan your own wedding than somebody else’s. For real.

For my calligraphy, I’m trying another hand right now – something more fluid and playful, a bit more carefree. I always write with my own style which is a bit upright. I try to follow the lines more closely. On the other hand, ‘carefree’ writing makes me feel so free and easy that I actually enjoy it!

Free Wedding Printable via Happy Hands Project

If you or anyone you know is getting married in the next few months or so, here’s a free printable! It’s in A4 size and can be framed and placed on the table beside your guest book. Display it by your wish tree, if you have one (I think this is a fabulous idea). Then display it in your living room after the wedding. Black and white chalkboard art will blend nicely with any color, right?

Download your printable calligraphy here. Oh, and just in case, I also have a free downloadable calligraphy Photoshop brush here. Spread the love!

Perfect Pretties {02}: Black and White

Wow. Things have been pretty hazy from where I am. Let me tell you about what’s been going on lately here on the tiny island of Singapore. Thick smoke blowing from forest fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra is being blown by winds to Singapore and Malaysia, and the air is just bad. Really bad. Everyone’s walking around in surgical masks, and as of last night, I could no longer find a single box in the 3 drugstores I went to. Sadly, there will be no outdoor activities in the next few weeks or so for us. I know, I know, I’m too lazy to jog nowadays – but my daughter misses the playground and doesn’t understand why she had to stay indoors!

So anyway, while we’re all staying inside the house, why not check out these lovely things I’ve seen around the web? This week we’re going back to basics with this collection of black and white pretties. Yes, I do love a burst of color every so often, but one can never go wrong with black and white. Over at my Etsy shop, the most popular items are always those set on a chalkboard background. Here you go! I hope you’ll like these as much as I do!

Perfect Pretties {02} via Happy Hands Project

1. Buntings by Happy August :: 2. Graphic Print by Therese Sennerholt :: 3. Wrapping Paper Ideas via Scandinavian Deco :: 4. Wooden Dala Horse by Story North :: 5. Fabric Tote by Butter Design Lab :: 6. DIY Chalkboard Painted Bottles via Bell’alimento

The 80’s and Milli Vanilli

 

Yes, I totally understand that by using the title above somehow gives my age away. And yes, I’m one of those people who was born in the 80’s. I’m either too old or you’re too young, though for obvious reasons I’d prefer the latter. Oh, what an amazing time it was – I get these really cool Michael Jackson and Madonna vinyls! The Sesame Street soundtrack on cassette! I get to dance whenever I want!

When I was on third grade I joined the Dance Club. In school we were supposed to participate in at least one school organization, and at that age I couldn’t think of any other club I’d rather be in. I guess it’s quite obvious now that at a young age all I wanted to do was dance (that’s my husband’s cue to cringe). So anyway, the big performance came and my group decided to dance to Milli Vanilli‘s ‘Blame It On The Rain‘. In tight cycling shorts, because that was really hip then.

My lovely parents saw me perform and it was one of my proudest moments ever. Luckily I didn’t have any major boo-boos, except for that one time when I lost count and failed to switch to the next move. I was assured that nobody hardly noticed.

Blame It On The Rain Print {Happy Hands Project}

I’m always racking my brain for what to write for my lettering, and this funny memory suddenly came to mind. It’s silly, I know, but ‘Blame It On The Rain’ has got to be one of my favorite songs then. For the record, I wasn’t ware of the lip-synching scandal at the time. It’s even sillier that I’m considering uploading this as a digital wall art on my shop! Well, you’ll never know, there might actually be somebody who would love to be reminded of how cool growing up in the 80’s was. Like dancing to Milli Vanilli in cycling shorts.

Doodling With Pen and Ink

 

WobblyKnees1

Hello! This is my first post on my first blog, and it’s great that somebody actually reads this stuff (aside from my husband). I remember playing around with my Pilot Hi-Tecpoint pen and sketchpad while my little girl was taking a nap. Just a few months ago, she was just attempting to stand on her own – hence the inspiration for this pen and ink illustration.

WobblyKnees2

You’ll see more of this type of illustration as I’m always combining letterings with doodles. It’s just doodles when I run out of things to write. But that’s quite rare.

Fast forward a few months and she’s already walking, running, spinning, even!