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.

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!

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.

Going Green: Calligraphy for the Little Green Dot Workshop

I am so happy to finally be able to share some photos from The Little Green Dot Workshop, Coconut Oil for Skin, Hair & Food! It is one of my favorite blogs here in Singapore and I am so thrilled to be able to share bits of my creativity with the latest workshop. During my search for eco-friendly recipes and methods, I stumbled upon Little Green Dot, and it has been my go-to resource for all things green ever since.

Calligraphy for Our Little Green Dot via Happy Hands Project

Chalkboard Lettering for Our Little Green Dot via Happy Hands Project

Yep, that’s me with all the hair. I haven’t written with traditional chalk for ages (like high school, which is synonymous to ages) so it was a refreshing lettering project for me. Because of this, I’ve always been on the look out for discarded plywood in the neighborhood (still unlucky) and looking forward to have my own chalkboard at home.

Chalkboard Lettering  for Our Little Green Dot via Happy Hands Project

If you’d like to have your own copy of the recipes from the workshop, there’s a free copy available for download! You’ll get to see more photos of the event as well. Oh, and if the photos can’t say it all, watch the Little Green Dot Workshop Video to see all the wonderful artistic elements coming together that created such an interesting collaboration.

All photos from www.ourlittlegreendot.com.

Life is a Song. Are You Singing Along?

If the  quote below is true, I guess my current soundtrack would be a very fast-paced dance song. And yep, I’m ‘singing along’ but I’m getting a bit breathless from trying! For the Moms who read this – do you remember when the old-time parents used to tell us that we should be prepared when we have our own kids? Do everything you want to do, go where you want to go, because when you start having kids, it’s game over?

Life Is A Song Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project
I don’t agree with ‘game over’ (I love being a Mom and enjoy every minute of it) but my toddler who just turned two has been challenging my stamina lately. A few weeks ago, we were at a play gym for a complimentary class. It was a wonderful mommy-and-daughter bonding time. She was very enthusiastic and absolutely loved the place. All the kids and their moms were in place, seated together in a circle. Oh, we were seated quietly, too – for maybe two minutes max. She was up running around and exploring all the other equipment in the gym.

The best part was storytelling. She loves stories and is very fond of bedtime reading, but at the gym, music was blaring and she would rather dance around to the songs rather than listen to the story! All the kids were seated, as always, while she dances in the middle of the circle. She was dancing without a care in the world! I didn’t try to restrain her or anything. I just sat back and watched, and reveled in one of the happiest moments of my life.

What song is your life playing right now?

Calligraphy Wedding Invitations

I am very, very excited to show you something new! I’ve added a Calligraphy section to my Etsy shop, and I’m working hard to come up with more items to fill it up. This is one of my absolute favorites, and I’m going to add more styles in the months to come. Here is the first of many (fingers crossed!) wedding invitation styles that will be available here at the Happy Hands Project. And yes, I have a lot of plans for next year and they’re just swimming in my head… so I need to organize every single thought and put each one out there!

Okay, I know that I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say this again. If I’m getting married now, I’d love to have this for my wedding. I think there’s something very intimate about handwritten wedding invites. This is one of life’s most important days, and I believe it deserves some handwritten elegance.

Calligraphy Wedding Invite via Happy Hands Project

I really had a great time conceptualizing the calligraphy for this invite. I’ve been practicing a lot lately, and I am very comfortable in this writing style because it’s very close to my natural handwriting. By ‘natural’, I meant writing with a regular ballpoint or pencil. I’m so glad I’m finally able to share this!

You can always send me an email if you have any queries – ask me anything! You may order this directly through email, or through Etsy. If you or someone you know is getting married, I’d love for you to help me spread the word!

‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ Calligraphy

So it’s my first time to see my calligraphy on a pair of pillows. To say that I was very much excited to see the finished products would be an understatement!

Kathie owns a couple of online shops, Brush and Feather and Pillow Art Designs and proudly paints all the designs on her products by hand. She asked me to do calligraphy that would be perfect for weddings, or a gift for the newlyweds. Heck, I’ve been married for a few years now and would still want a pair of those.

'Mr' & 'Mrs' Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

After a few design samples, she decided on this wispy, slightly flourished writing and I couldn’t agree more. Drop by Brush and Feather on Etsy to see more of her handmade creations.

Photo credit: Kathie of Pillow Art Designs