— whollyKao


estieMade_packaging A couple weeks ago, I took a calligraphy class. It was taught by Lauren, the talented owner of Blue Eye Brown Eye. Seven of us gathered for a night of fun with wine, snacks, and an oblique pen in Lauren’s studio in Dallas.

Let me say that, as a DIY enthusiast, I take a lot of pride in learning how to do things on my own, and I rarely take classes, if I can help it. And prior to this calligraphy class, I thought I had the hang of free-flowing calligraphy. Boy, was I wrong. During the class, Lauren would walk around and write a couple letters on the top of our pages for us to practice. Seeing it done and doing it were two very different stories. At first, I struggled with forming the letters that were so easy for her to write. Towards the end of the night, I felt like I was getting the hang of it. And when I got home, I sat at the kitchen table and practiced. And let me tell you – practicing has made such a difference.

So far, I’ve used my new skills for my etsy shop packaging (pictured above). I’ve also used what I learned on wedding invitations for my friends Ben and Emily. Prior to taking the class, I had hand written a couple words on their invitations. Here’s what the text looked like before and after taking the class:
03-emily 04-ben 01-details 02-rsvp

I’m so glad I got the chance to take this class. It has definitely changed the way I write and the way I view calligraphy. I’d definitely recommend the class to anyone who’s curious – it’s well worth it. Check out Lauren’s class schedule if you’re local to Dallas! (She also travels to other cities to teach!)

I’ve noticed that there is a new generation of craftspeople on the rise, and they’re kinda badass. Two words describe this genre: hipster artist. They like craft coffee and brews. They appreciate a good haircut. Skinny jeans are definitely involved, and oftentimes, so are tattoos, body piercings, and thick retro glasses.

When it comes to tools and gear, these hipster craftspeople don’t mess around. They want both to be beautiful, simple, but totally functional. And they are willing to pay the price.

It’s kind of cool how workwear and tools have been kicked up a notch. Makes for a fun night of websurfing, looking for the perfect pair of protective glasses or apron. Since I’ve just set up my workbench at home, I’ve been eyeing a lot of these items too.

Here are my current fave picks for the hipster jeweler.

1. Jewler’s saw frame
2. Core Apron
3. Mini screwdriver
4. red toolchest
5. Protective glasses

Did I mention these make great gifts for your favorite craftsperson?

01-whollykao_leatherBowBelt I’m a big fan of belts. They always seem to add just the right touch to an outfit. And they’re even better when you make them yourself! A couple months ago, the folks over at Endless Leather sent me a kit of their products. I fell in love with this wonderful caramel-colored ostrich print leather and decided that I needed to make it into a belt. I’m super excited about how it turned out!


-ostrich print leather strap (the circumference of your waist + 8-inches)
-magnetic belt closure
-leather hole punch (I got mine from Tandy Leather)
-needle and thread (it’s best to use thick thread or waxed linen thread)
-fabric glue (or any other strong glue)

To make the bow, cut two 3-inch strips from your leather strap. Punch two holes 1/4″ from the end of each piece (you will have a total of 4 holes in each piece).
On your longer strap, punch two holes 1/2″ from each end.


04-whollykao_leatherBowBelt Fold one of the 3-inch strips in half and place it on top one of the ends of the longer strap. Make sure the holes are aligned (you will have to match 3 sets of stacked holes), then sew the strap ends together tightly. Make sure to double knot the ends and hide them. Do the same for the other side.
The last step is to glue the ends of the straps to the belt closures. Squeeze a bit of glue into each end of the closures and firmly push the end of the strap in. Hold it in place for a minute, then lay the belt flat so the glue can dry.

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I love how versatile this belt is. I’m super excited to wear it out!