Handmade Leather Pen Holders


I’m always on the lookout for leatherworking workshops here in the south. It’s always somewhere in Quezon City, and I’ve never had the chance to join one because of how far the workshop venue usually are. So I was really excited when @beatnikmnl announced a basic leatherworking workshop at @commonroomph Alabang Town Center last October 14. I signed up right away.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and I did learn the  basic skills that I needed in order to complete the personal projects that I had in mind. I wanted to make my own pen cases that are specifically tailor-made for the kinds of pens that I use. I am a fan of bespoke pen cases, though it’s always a challenge to have something made that fits your pens like a glove unless I decide to send my pens to the person who’s making my cases. I thought that this would be a fun skill to learn. We took home some extra materials that we could use to make our own projects. I picked a square piece of dark brown, full-grain leather. After the workshop, I went home and made my first pen slip for my two Kaweco Liliput pens.

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I liked the pen slip that I made for my Kawecos, though I did modify this after a few days to make the pens easier to pull out. Today, I made another pen case for my other pocket pens; Kaweco Sport cappuccino and cognac, and a Sailor Progear Mini.

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Here’s what it looks like with the flap open. Beside it is the modified pen slip for my Kaweco Liliput pens, I carved a half-circle so that the pens are easier to pull out. The fit was just right, but since the pens were so slim, I needed some space for my fingers to grip on the edge and pull them out comfortably. The half-circle I carved was just right for that.

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It was a challenge to get the size of the flap right so that it fits through the loop, I wish I didn’t run out of leather so that I could have made the flap longer. I like the finished case, though.

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The pens fit perfectly and are easy to slip in and pull out. I think the fit will be much better after a few days, when the leather becomes more molded to the shape of the pens.

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I didn’t burnish the sides of the case too much, I like the finish to be a little raw and rustic-looking. For my next pen case project, I think I’ll pick a thicker/stiffer leather and try burnishing the edges.

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I attached my little Kaweco medallion from my old leather pen case as a finishing touch. I wanted to add decorative stitches to the flaps but I decided against it. There’s a lot of room for improvement,  but for a first attempt, I think I like it just fine.

I enjoyed BeatnikMNL’s workshop a lot because it gave me an insight on how much effort is involved in making handcrafted leather goods. From picking the kind of leather and threads, sourcing good supplies, making patterns, measuring out the seams and stitches, punching holes, stitching, etcetera, etcetera… A lot of time and skill is needed in order to produce a good piece. I need to develop the patience it takes to measure (and measure again) before I cut because I wasted a lot of leather due to taking shortcuts in measurements. It was really therapeutic, though. I felt so calm and serene as I worked with my hands.

I definitely have a deeper appreciation and respect for leathercrafters now, and I think that these artisans that hold workshops for people who want to learn how to make their own leather goods are investing wisely on educating others about handmade items. I’m definitely going to support local artisans this upcoming holiday season.

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Dream Catchin’


Dream catcher

I made this little painting a few weeks ago. I’ve made other dream catchers before but this is the first I’m actually happy with, despite the simplicity of the design of the strings. It’s kinda hard to make them all line up exactly as they should. It’s a slow month for watercolors, considering it’s World Watercolor Month. I wish I had more time to play, but I guess we just squeeze in as much fun as we can manage. ^_^

Coffea Arabica


Coffea Arabica

I managed to squeeze in a bit of practice today, and somehow I ended up making a painting of a coffee plant. It’s probably because I’ve been reading Coffeehouse Mysteries non-stop these past few days, haha. It’s a cozy mystery series that’s very easy to read and has decent plots. I think the first book was published back in 2002, and you can really see how things change through the years. Palm pilots were all the rage during the publication of the first book. Social media wasn’t what it is now. The treatment of female characters have also changed a lot from book 1 to book 11.

What I love most about the book series, though, is all the information about coffee and the food that goes well with or are cooked with it. It’s a nice read, especially if you’re a coffee lover. I just started book 11 today (A Brew to a Kill), and it’s interesting that there are elements of Filipino culture inserted in the story.

Autumn Leaves


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I took a short break from my Coffeehouse Mystery binge yesterday to practice a bit of watercolor. I realize I haven’t really sat down to paint for several weeks already, things have been quite busy. I’ve always found the color of autumn to be quite beautiful, so I made autumn leaves.

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This uses Sennelier 300gsm, 100% cotton watercolor block. I really love this paper. It has a way of making the color pop, the paint remains brilliant and vivid on it after it dries. I also love the texture of the paper, it makes creating textured paintings a lot easier. My watercolor block’s a bit small, though. After finishing this, I wanted to practice more kinds of leaves, so I opted for a slightly bigger watercolor block, my Hahnemühle 200gsm rough paper.

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I do like the texture too, although it looks more like lines of little squares. Sennelier’s texture feels more organic, somehow. It takes a bit more work to make the color pop. After the watercolor dried on it, the colors looked dull so I had to apply more layers to brighten it up. It was pretty difficult to achieve a result close to what I got with the Sennelier WC Block.

I still had fun with it, though, and I learned a lot in the process. Mostly about being patient and working on values.

Colors used for these paintings are all by Sennelier:

  • Indian Yellow
  • Venetian Red
  • Raw Umber
  • Warm Sepia
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Payne’s Grey
  • Ivory Black
  • Pthalo Green Light

My First Calligraphy Spot Meet


Calligraphy Spot Meet (6-17-2017)

Last Saturday, my husband and I ventured out of the South to  brave the (infamous) EDSA traffic and attend a Calligraphy Spot meet. I’ve been an admin for this wonderful FB group for a while, but I have not been able to attend any of the meets until last Saturday. We made quite a happy mess at La Creperie Shangri La, spreading out our papers, writing implements, watercolors, and other fun art stuff over their tables, in between delicious bites of crepes, salads, and pasta.

It was a wonderful experience, hanging out with people who so obviously have fallen in love with the written word and all the different kinds of art forms that celebrate it. I conducted an informal sit-down class about Baybayin (oftentimes incorrectly referred to as Alibata), a pre-colonial way of writing from the Philippines. It was an interesting experience, teaching the basic principles, but the group was eager to learn, and so they were Baybayin-literate by the end of it. The basic principle is quite easy to learn. Recognizing the characters will come with time and practice.

What’s more interesting for me was how each person’s creativity shone through in any kind of calligraphy they do. After teaching them how to read and write in Baybayin, we each applied it through writing using our own styles and preferred tools. We used brush pens, quills, parallel pens, automatic pens, brush pens, watercolor brushes, and more.

After the class, we puttered around and talked about art. Some were doing watercolor paintings, sharing artworks to take home afterwards. I enjoyed looked at other people’s output. I especially enjoyed looking through one of the members’ visual journals. It’s an A6-sized Hobonichi that contains little drawings and paintings and small notes of what went on each day, including what meals he ate. It was so cute, and each page seems so alive and vibrant.

I’m usually quite shy in social situations, but in any meet that involves a common love for art and art tools (such as calligraphy meets, pen meets, artambays), I feel quite at home. You’re not pressured to be anybody you’re not. You can be as socially awkward as you are, nobody minds. The common love for artistic expression is like a supersized welcome mat that invites you in and makes you want to stay.

I’m hoping to join the next Calligraphy Spot meet, and I’m especially looking forward to a meet in the South area soon. 🙂

Kobo eReader! What Fun!


Traveler's Notebook Olive

I’ve always been curious about Kindle, Kobo, and other e-readers, though not enough to actually try any of them. I figured that I could read ebooks anyway on my tablet if I wanted to, and I didn’t really like ebooks that much. I liked the feel of real books, the smell of real paper. I loved making notes on borders and highlighting with different colored inks. It’s a bit difficult to lug my books around, though. So for the first time in years, I actually seriously considered getting an eReader. My husband bought me one as an early anniversary gift a couple of weeks ago, and I must say, I am enjoying it a lot. Nobody’s more surprised than I am. I opted for a Kobo Glo HD rather than a Kindle as I was originally planning.

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As a super-duper late adopter, I’m surprised at how different the reading experience is on an eBook reader compared with my tablet. I can read for hours without suffering from a headache after because of the screen’s glare. It’s still no substitute for paper, of course, but it’s the closest approximation to an actual page that I have ever seen. I was like a kid, delighted that when the sales lady showed me the unit, I thought the Welcome screen she was showing me was printed on paper. Ooooh, so this is what e-ink looks like.

There’s not much option for sharing on social media, but I guess that’s part of the charm. It’s an electronic device that’s designed to mimic the analog experience as much as possible. Sure you can import ebooks, make annotations, review your annotations, make dog-ears (bookmarks) on pages, sort your books by collection, but it has limited sharing capabilities, only linking to Facebook. You can’t copy texts either, just like you can’t hold down and press “copy” on a page in an actual book. So it does connect to the internet, but it also doesn’t distract you with too much “connectedness”.

I love that it has Pocket integration. I can save articles in Pocket (which is something I already use via Chrome plugin and on my mobile phone) then manually sync my Kobo or schedule a sync at a certain time of the day so I can read the articles later. It’s quite fun. I’m re-reading some of my favorite books lately, and discovering new ones too. I haven’t been able to figure out how to convert the books I bought from Google Play Store through Caliber, but I’ll look into it soon. So fun. Much wow. ^_^

Travelers Notebook Olive


Traveler's Notebook Olive

I knew I wanted one the moment I heard that Traveler’s Company is coming out with an olive green TN. I got this from Everything Calligraphy last month, and decided that I would use it as my calligraphy and watercolor journal.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

The color is a little hard to photograph. It always comes across darker than it actually is in person. The color is a dusky green, more like the camo green in my opinion, rather than olive green. It’s a deep color that I think will become more interesting as it ages. In photographs, it looks more like black than green. In person, the color is a bit ambiguous, depending on the light. I’ll post more photos of it in the future as it develops a patina. I’m curious how the texture and color will change once I start applying leather balm on it (maybe next month). My brown TN became shinier and the brown color became deeper and richer.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I decided to keep it thin with only two inserts so that it won’t be so heavy. I use my brown TN as my primary journal anyway. I made those monkey fist charms and bookmarks with the elastic bands from an old TN repair kit that I haven’t used yet because I only used the dark-colored bands. I thought the bright colors popped pretty nicely against the color of the leather. If you want to know how to make your own monkey fist knots, this is the tutorial I used.

I made my own watercolor insert from 200gsm Canson paper. Here’s the cover I DIY’ed for my first insert.

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I didn’t realize that it had a rough side and a smooth side, so some pages have the textured side on the left, some on the right. It’s alright, though, it can handle light washes on both sides, albeit with a lot of warping.

Travelers Notebook Olive

Traveler's Notebook Olive

I enjoy bringing it around with me. It’s comfortable to hold and gosh, it’s so pretty in person. Next time I’ll try and find watercolor paper that’s textured on both sides, though. Overall, I’m pretty much in love with this TN. It’s a great addition to my EDC.