New Hobby | Calligraphy

photo 1 In the many elementary schools I attended, handwriting received a grade. My handwriting grades were pretty good in primary school, and I was always happy to receive a ‘E’ for excellent in handwriting.  I come from an immigrant family, so my parents were oftentimes uncomfortable with writing in English. Even though I knew they could totally do it, I was happy to write out envelopes and “thank you” cards as they dictated. More than over a decade now, I have been typing everything and not writing anything. Sure, I have to write down notes and make lists, but who hand writes anything anymore? Everything is done in email or clicking on small icons on phones. My hand written words have suffered, and now look more like a doctor’s prescription note. (So glad those prescriptions are now typed.) I decided that I wanted to take up calligraphy as a hobby. I went to my local craft store and bought some materials. It was a bust. The ink didn’t flow correctly, the nib was all wrong, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. What did I do? I took a calligraphy class last year with the amazing and beautiful Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls at the Makeshift Society in San Francisco. She provided everything that we needed to start. The right type of paper, ink, pen, and nib for all us enthusiastic beginners. I realized that it was imperative to use the correct supplies and to practice, practice, practice. photo 2 I took a quick snapshot of her desk set up admiring all her work and simple examples that she demonstrated. And then it was our turn to try it out. At first, I was so happy to find that my pen was working! Sadly, my handwriting wasn’t doing me any favors. As I wrote and rewrote again and again, I realized what typing for so many years had done to my writing. It sucked. photo 3 For a while after my son went to bed, I would bring out my calligraphy supplies and practice. If it was a particularly bad day, practicing calligraphy became cathartic. I was hooked and even had my first wedding invitation assignment. I mixed black and white ink to make a beautiful gray pigment that went perfectly with the blue envelopes. invitations By no means will I ever go into calligraphy as a professional, but it has become a great hobby. Since I can’t really practice piano after my son goes to bed, this is something I can do in the evening hours. Unfortunately, I do suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, so I need to take many long breaks away from this activity. But always refreshed and happy to go back to it when I’ve recovered. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

IMG_6087For black ink, I mostly use Kuretake Sumi Ink. It is very rich and dark, and flows beautifully. Higgins Eternal black ink is also a very good one to use. For white ink, I have used both of Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White and Pen White. I’ve also used both for mixing with black to make gray, and it worked out great. The only thing about white ink, is that you should add distilled water to your desired thickness. For nibs, I suggest reading this awesome post on Besotted. I use the Zebra G and the Blue Pumpkin nibs, and love them. For small and super fine line projects, I have loved using the Hunt 102. Also note, that not all paper is the same! The smoother the better. Nibs will oftentimes catch on the fibers in paper, so find real practice pads to start.

{All images by Nancy Cho for Uncle Owly.}





One of the places on my “go-visit” list, is Austin, Texas. It seems that that this city has flourished in the arts, culture, and food movement over the past ten years. And if you live in Austin, you can find MAKEatx, a member based workshop that offers a laser cutting machine, sewing machines, silk-screening equipment, and other high and low tech equipment to help create your project. You can sign up to be a member to use their facilities, and they also offer classes for the newbies.

For those who do not live in Austin, we can enjoy the many creations that come from this workshop. One of my favorite designs are these fun and sleek map puzzles by Steven Mattern. It’s a little too old for my little guy, but it would be cool for the older elementary kids or the genius babies.



But, the little guy and I have started playing Tic-Tac-Toe together. We started doing this while waiting for food at restaurants and played on napkins or butcher paper. These Tic-Tac-Toe kits from Joelle Felyce Geisler are a lot more engaging than playing on napkins, and easy to stuff in your bag to take around with you.



{Images from MAKEatx, Steven Mattern Design, and Joelle Felyce Geisler}


Yellow Owl Workshop


I have been a fan of Yellow Owl Workshop for a long time now, and even made tea towel gifts for friends and family by using their pattern from Anthology Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide. In our house, we love making and using stamps for art projects, bags, and even wrapping paper. The little guy is now into stenciling, so I was excited to see that Yellow Owl Workshop came out with these fun stencil kits. Don’t worry about having to find blank tea towels or tote bags, because these kits come with everything you need to make your project. We’re always trying to find new and fun birthday gifts, so this one will be on the top of our list!

yellowowl1 yellowowl2

{All images from Yellow Owl Workshop}

Sailboat Party Theme

I love party themes because they give me direction. Sometimes, it can become a little too obsessive, but in the end, it somehow turns out pretty well. I am in love with this Sailboat party theme by Diaper Style Memoirs. All done DIY style with, get ready for this…. $20. With all the money that goes into parties these days, that $20 price tag is music to my ears. Click here to see all images and full post!


Made by Hand

Emily Baier of Tako Fibers, has created awesome embroidery kits for every skill level so you and your kid can have some embroidery sessions together over a warm cup of hot-cocoa. Each kit comes with a screenprinted piece of fabric, a hoop, a needle, wool tapestry yarn, a stitch guide, and detailed instructions. These aren’t your old grandmother’s patterns either. They are cute and updated for the new crafter. These will make great little holiday presents and stocking stuffers!

Ben’s Second Birthday

My little guy is already two years old. I swear I can still remember him kicking my ribs when he was in my tummy, but now I have to say that that was years, (yes, years plural), ago. The week of the party was a little nuts. Thankfully, my crafty-genius-mother-in-law, came down to help watch the little guy while I frantically started getting things ready for the party. Did I mention that I had to also work, teach, read a book for a book club meeting, and go to a parent board meeting that week too? Oh, and let me also mention that my husband also broke his ankle and had to have nine screws and a metal plate put in his leg. We probably wouldn’t have had a party if my mom-in-law didn’t come to watch the little rascal. I just hope that amidst all the craziness, we didn’t scare her and she will come back again.

Here are some pictures of the party. I baked carrot cupcakes and Ben’s birthday cake. I like simple things… haha, who am I kidding? I didn’t have time to make an extravagant birthday cake, so I was lucky enough to find a cute train set birthday candle holder to go on top of the cake. The suitcase which is holding the party favor bags was my mom’s from the 70’s. If you recall, the favor bags match the invitation I designed. Little Ben wore a t-shirt that read, “Choo choo, I’m 2!” from Cantaloupe Corner. And see that garland above the banner? I actually sewed that! Just cut circles out of felt and fed it through the sewing machine. Voila! It was actually simple and didn’t take that much time. It also helps to have the circle fabric cutter that I have.

Snack Bags. AKA – Favor bags

I can’t sew very well. Even straight lines is a challenge for me. When I need to make an absolute straight line, I draw a line on the fabric to follow it. I saw this awesome tutorial for snack bags about a year ago and wanted to give it a try. The instructions are so clear and so easy, that I knew that even I could accomplish this task. I designed the fabric to match the invitations and ordered it through Spoonflower, and loved the way it turned out. If you order from them, I suggest you do this way in advance because it took about five weeks for mine to arrive. They told me that they were backed up, so hopefully it was just bad timing. My amazing mother-in-law is a crafty genius extraordinaire. She recommended that I use a French seam for this project. At first, it sounded like a daunting task, but it was super easy and turned out great!

I’ll be giving out these little favor bags at the birthday party. Parents can use them again as snack bags. I made a couple mock ones before these and have used them for pretzels and crackers. You can even use them for or dirty socks and shoes bags. Oh, you mean that hasn’t happened to you yet? You know, when your kid decides to go play in the puddles and mud and you have to figure out what to do with his nasty socks and shoes? Haha, of COURSE you have!

Birthday Party: Part Deux

OMG. Is it really happening? I realize that veteran parents must be laughing at me, but what ev’s. I need to have my moment, and to all you first child mom’s, you deserve this moment too. The little one is turning two and dang, has time flown by that quickly? If so, then WHY?!?!?! I just looked at all the 1st birthday photos ooh-ing and awwww-ing over the cute little boy in his diaper eating his first cake, and missing the chub stomach rolls and chub thighs. Why is baby growing up so fast?! Too fast!!

Ok, I had my moment. Um. Alright. Yeaaahhh, I’m still obsessing about it.

So, on to birthday number two. The little boy is obsessed with trains. I realize that it probably isn’t the greatest idea that I feed his psychological obsession over trains with a train theme birthday party. Nonetheless, the party must go on! I started with the invitations and loved this train drawing on some wallpaper I saw a while back. (Yes, and I have an obsession over wallpaper, I know, I know.) I used that same train to put on the invitation. Then I custom made fabric to give out as party favors for the kiddos. I told myself that I would tone it down for this party since number one was a little insane. Hehe, I guess I just can’t help myself. No, seriously, I will tone it down.

Anyway, here is the invitation I drew up. I made it look like a train ticket and made little address return labels to match. I do not take any credit for the train drawing because that was wallpaper. As you can see, you will find no Thomas the Train theme here because the little one is actually a little freaked out by Thomas the Train. Weird, ain’t it? I’ll post the fabric bags next time so you can see what they look like.

Before and After: Magazine Rack

magazine rack before

My sister gave me this magazine rack about ten years ago because I just had my magazines in piles everywhere. They’re still in piles, but probably because I hadn’t used the rack in years. After ten years, it has become a little outdated and looks like it belongs in a college dorm room. Rather than throwing it out, I decided that it would be easy to spruce up with a bit of paint and new fabric. I wish that I had found a fabric pattern that was more modern, but this hipster pregnant lady at the fabric store had hoarded seven bolts of fabric. One of which I adored, but she bought the whole roll. Oh well, still like my new and improved rack. My son and I now share it with the books that we read. Re-purposing stuff feels great.

magazine rack after

magazine rack after

How Sweet It Is

I bought the Elephant pattern from Heather Bailey for Benjamin’s first birthday. We gave out the elephants as gifts to the little babies. Heather Bailey’s patterns, fabric, and crafts are just so darn pretty and cute. When I was younger, I was a total tom-boy. But the older I get, I see that I’m getting girlier and girlier.  And well, this definitely satisfies the girl-iness in me!

This free pattern for a cupcake holder is so adorable. Plus, you can use it again to keep your little things that are lying around the house… which your kids should not be touching… and put up high on a shelf… you know.

All Things French

There’s something so charming about children’s dolls and clothes from France. When I’m bombarded with Bratz dolls and Transformers (although, I loved Transformers as a kid), it’s nice to take a step back and look at sweet items like these dolls from LeilaLou. A friend of mine loves cats, but not necessary things that have cats on them. Like cat sweaters, cat mugs, cat curtains… you get the idea. But I have a feeling that she may love this little kitty doll below!

Sewing Projects

In my search of Pojagi How To’s, I ran into this blog from Mairuru. Seamstress extraordinaire, this mobile she made for her baby is just to precious for words. She is taking a break from her Etsy store right now, so I can’t wait it to re-open.

Make it Your Own

On my search for wallpaper and decals for my son’s room, I ran into this wonderful blog post on Sewing for Scarlett. She shows you how to make your own fabric decals without the liquid starch mess! I’ve already bought my double stick fusible web to try it out!

I will also try a small patch on my hideous mirrored closet doors in the master bedroom. If it works, then my next project will be to tackle the, I repeat, hideous, 1980’s, master bedroom. If it doesn’t, then can someone please tell me how to cover or get rid of mirrored closet doors? on a budget?!

Peter Nencini

I just drooled and gone into envy. I present to you, The Point Chair, from the amazing, Peter Nencini. Go to his blog and look at the other pictures and details. Seeing things like this inspires me to bust out my sewing machine. I eventually never get around to it and wish I could just buy this. This is where the drool and envy comes in. Washcloth, please.

Munaluna :: last of Renegade… i think…

I am a nerd. I was in band and jazz band when I was in elementary, middle, and high school. When I saw Munaluna’s booth, I thought, “Those are cute tea towels.” The paper is cute too… HALT. WHAT? Plushy robots?! I don’t care what you say, but robots are awesome. And now that Meredith Cheng has made them plushy, they can be cuddly, huggable robots. Hewoooo wobot fwend!

Little Bit :: Renegade cont….

Lexi Lee from Little Bit loves arts and crafts. If she isn’t doing that, then she is tending to her garden which she grows in sinks and fishbowls. I stopped to look at her lovable Brontosaurus, and was pleasantly surprised that he jingled when I picked him up! What a perfect dinosaur friend for your little ones!

She even makes little felt plants too. Look at the cactus one below! Can be the coolest little pin cushion!

Erin Dollar :: renegade cont.

Meet Charlie. I love him. He laughs and smiles at everyone, and sounds like a goose when he nurses. He is the pride and joy of my friend, Carrie Saxl. We took him along every single aisle at the Renegade Craft Fair and everyone just fell in love with him. Back off, sistah! I’m his favorite auntie! ;) Anyway, he humored us and put on one of these beards made by Erin Dollar of I Made You A Beard. The Zeus beard below is one of my favorites!

Renegade SF

What will Uncle Owly be doing this Saturday?  Going to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco! I missed it last year because, well, I had a three week old baby. So this year, I’m going to check out this fair with my camera in tow. Come out!

Benjamin’s Dol

We had Ben’s Chut-Dol party at my aunt’s house. She has a lot of furniture, so it was hard to arrange things to put the head table. We ended up putting it in the middle of a room, which isn’t ideal, but it had to work. The shot above is one of the few taken of my hubby, baby, and I together. Can you believe that we forgot to take more photos as a family? Eesh, these parties can be hectic! But we had lots of fun and ate lots of good food. That’s what it’s all about, right?!

My mother ordered a HUGE ddeuk cake. It was beyond enormous. It didn’t fit in with my table scheme plan, but I let her put it on the table anyway. What can I say but two words… Korean grandma.

However, our friend and photographer from Shades of Beautiful Photography took a picture with the cake I made for Benjamin in the middle of the Dol-Goh-ims like I envisioned before the set up was changed by all the Korean “Ah-jum-ah’s”. You can still see the enormous “Ddeuk” cake. That thing weighed 30 pounds and I was afraid that it was going to swallow us up, “Aaaai-gooo!” Note that all the good photos were taken by him and I took the “other” ones. I’d like to share more of the photos, but maybe in another post! And by the way, how in the world do you spell “ddeuk” in english?

I liked decorating the raffle table the most. It was simple and the easiest thing to do. The stuffed elephants were made by my amazing Mother-in law. The green represented daddy, the pink represented mommy, and the blue was baby. The elephants were also on tables as center pieces and the babies who came to the party got to take them home with them. The blue fabric from the baby elephant was used as table runners and was also used as the bunting flags that was scanned in to make things easier.

After getting used to his surrounding for about an hour, Benjamin finally picked up the pencil and the money. Poor guy was a little freaked out because he just woke up from his nap to see all these people surrounding him.

We set up a “photo booth” for people to take pictures. I have a feeling that this booth idea will be in every party we have from now on because I just loved it. I made the back drop out of two fabric panels and there were decorations that were attached to it. The mustaches and lips were made of scrapbook paper and heavy cardboard in between.

Remember the awesome Poms that I won from Pom Love? I wish I ordered more of them and just had them everywhere. They are so much more beautiful in person, but very difficult to photograph for me!

I think I focused on so many details at this event that there’s just too much to post! i.e. the favor bag, (pictured in previous post with Benjamin eating cake), was filled with Asian goodies and I put a label on it that matched the whole paper scheme, and the Chopsticks and napkin rings. Oh well, we’ll just have to have more birthday parties. In the meantime, I’m taking a break!

Dol Part 1 :: Designing the Paper Stuff

Ready for a total DIY party? Cause that’s what this girl opted to do for this Dol event. I chose the elephant theme because of this darling crib banner that my mother in-law made for my husband when he was a baby. Then I found this elephant punch from Martha Stewart and took off from there. I designed the invitation with the elephant theme and incorporated the traditional Korean stripes on the bottom edge. The pictures do not do the colors justice. I just took horrible pictures for this round… sorry!

Next up, I made little booklets that explained some of the Korean traditions for the first birthday. It was fun for the non-Koreans to read and fun for me to research!

Here’s the poster I designed and printed at Costco. The color and quality of the poster was great and it was printed on a board for $10, what a deal!  I made the raffle tickets and printed them on card stock. Then punched two holes on the sides and used a perforated blade for the top portion so people could tear it off to enter into the raffle.

For party favors, I baked cookies with the help of hubby and mother in-law. We used the Message in a Cookie Cutter set from Williams Sonoma. Love this cookie cutter!

And what’s a party without cupcakes?? I baked a lemon filled and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I can eat these forever.

We only had one kid show up, (the rest were babies), so I had lots and lots of extras of these “Color Me” bags that I made for kids to color. Oh well, I’ll just hand them out later.

Faux Fabric

I got some fabric to make stuff for the birthday party. Strike that, I got some fabric and my mother-in-law made stuff for the birthday party. She is a wizard and I am an oaf when it comes to sewing. I got an email from her one day and saw that she scanned the fabric that I sent her in case I wanted to use the pattern on other projects. GENIUS. Yes folks, she is a genius. Why? Because I can’t sew and don’t want to sew fabric bunting flags for the party. So, I cheated and used the scanned fabric pattern and used paper instead. These Faux-Fabric flags will match the material that’s being used for…. well… that’s for another blog posting. Saved me a bunch of time, heartache, and fingertip ouchies.

Hot Glue

And the sweatshop continues. We finally finished ONE dol-go-im for our kid’s Dojabi event. Man, this was a lot of beans. I got the directions from the Little Seouls blog, and these instructions were perfect. I’ll load the finished towers when the party comes. Can you tell what animal this is? Because my parents and my aunt couldn’t tell what it was. Are they on crack or were we on crack when we made this?