Tres Marias: art up for auction for the benefit of the survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan

If you’ve been following my Instagram, you’ve probably seen me posting progress pictures of a matryoshka doll set I’ve been painting for the past few weeks.

In 2012, I bought a set of black chalkboard matryoshka dolls from Muji.


I love Muji’s stuff– I always think their “blank” products are perfect for customising (see the Muji colored pencil tube I turned into a kokeshi doll). Their matryoshka dolls aren’t any different. These chalkboard nesting dolls came in a set of five with white chalk included (I’m trying to look for a product link online but Muji seems to have discontinued producing these dolls). I bought the dolls knowing I would paint something on them, someday, somehow… eventually.

Last September, Katha Magazine asked me, along with other local artists, to contribute original art to be auctioned off to raise funds for an event by Paint Some Happy, a non-profit initiative that aims to brighten up the walls of underprivileged kids’ surroundings with hope-inspiring art. However, in light of the recent disaster Super Typhoon Haiyan caused in Philippines, Katha has decided to redirect 100% of the proceeds from the auction to the ongoing relief efforts via The Philippine Red Cross.

By then the blank Muji dolls had been sitting on my shelf for more than a year, just waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. This then became the perfect opportunity to do something with the dolls, and for a worthwhile cause to boot.

For someone who doesn’t really paint (I took a couple of (not very successful) oil/watercolor painting lessons as a kid, but that’s it), it was pretty ambitious of me to pledge doing something that was way outside of my comfort zone (painting a curved surface, painting with acrylic paints, and just painting in general), but it was a welcome challenge and a chance for me to do something different from my usual digital work.

I decided to paint just three of the five dolls. Matryoshka dolls are Russian in origin, but I wanted to paint Filipino faces on the dolls instead. I started with some rough sketches, drawing typical, everyday Filipinas:


The happy tindera selling fish at the market, your ΓΌber religious, rosary-clutching lola, and the young schoolgirl with big hopes and dreams.


I knew I needed to use high-quality acrylic for this project to make sure the paint won’t peel or crack long after the pieces have been completed. The cheap acrylic paint (*coughReevescough*) I use for general crafts just won’t cut it. So off I went to buy my first tubes of artist-grade acrylic paint. I’ve always wanted to try artist-grade paints (high quality, and more expensive, too) but couldn’t justify buying them when I don’t have a lot of experience painting in the first place. I never had a reason to make a purchase, until now.


I prepared my painting surface first by priming (with white gesso paint) and sanding down the Muji chalkboard dolls so that the paint adheres better to its surface.


I molded half a circle of hardening clay to serve as lola‘s hair bun and placed it on top of the biggest doll. Then I started sketching and painting.

Continue reading “Tres Marias: art up for auction for the benefit of the survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan”

Printing my Instagram photos and illustrations with Pixaroll – review

I have four Instagram accounts.

Yes, four. One, @wedgienet, is my main account for snapshots of my illustration work, arts and crafts, and nice shots of my cats. The second one is a private, personal account for real-life friends where I post random stuff, food, not so nice pictures of my cats, and my travel photos. My third IG account is @pusspins. The fourth is a long-forgotten and abandoned account I created solely for pictures of my cat, Tiger, but I’ve since found out it takes a lot of time and effort to catapult a cat into Internet stardom (LOL).

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll

Between those accounts, I have over 1,700 Instagram photos, none of which I save and backup. I figure it’s “on the cloud” so after I post photos on Instagram, I delete them off my phone. I didn’t think it was a problem– not until I needed to have my photos printed.

I recently got to try printing my Instagram photos via Pixaroll. Pixaroll is a service that lets you print photos from your phone. Just download the free app, select your photos, and pay via Paypal. You’ll get your 4×4 or 4×6-inch photos (depends on the size you set) in the mail afterwards. For a lazy bum like me, I love how convenient it is to do all that even without having to stand up. Hahaha.

As I don’t have any of my original photo files on my phone, I downloaded the Instagram pictures I wanted to print off my account on Webstagram. It’s not high-res, but I thought I’d try and see if it’ll look good as a 4×4 print anyway. I uploaded my relatively low-res travel photos on the Pixaroll app on the App store (also available on Google Play and Windows 8 phone store) and received my prints in the mail from the Pixaroll HQ in Singapore seven days after.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
Prints in the mail!


The prints came printed on 190gsm matte photo paper. Remember when we used to have film pictures developed and printed? No? What are you, 11 years old and too young to remember? Anyway, the paper is kind of like that– not thick, but not flimsy either. The print quality is pretty fantastic. I have a graphic design background so I’m more particular than most about things like pixels, resolution, and print quality, but considering I used non-high-res photos to print, Pixaroll passes the test. I still can tell (if I look very closely) that my printed photos were originally low-res, but the difference in quality is negligible. The average person (non-designers and non-professional photographers) probably won’t be able to tell, even.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
My travel photos printed with Pixaroll


And the colors! It amazes me that the photos turned out exactly the way they look on my phone– very vivid and saturated, as they were originally. It’s really hard to get colors to print the way they look on screen, so this impressed my inner graphic designer.

I also uploaded several of my 4R and 6R-sized Pusspins illustrations for printing– who says you need to stick to printing just photos?

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll[pinit]

Again, Pixaroll knocks it out of the park with color matching. The images on top are my digital files. The photo at the bottom is how they came out printed: fabulous! And since I uploaded high-res files this time, I saw just how crisp and clean printing was for these graphics. On a side note, wouldn’t these Pusspins images make great greeting cards for cat lovers? πŸ˜›

[ Check out Pusspins, my pet project ]

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with Pixaroll. I love how they’re able to reproduce in print what you see on your screen, and I love the convenience of doing it all straight from your phone. And as an illustrator/designer, my head is just filled with lots of ideas I can use Pixaroll for, beyond just photo keepsakes: wall art, product hang tags (print strips of images in one file, cut up the strips), drink coasters (Mod Podge your images on cork board?)… I can even use these to show around a mini-portfolio of my illustrations. And the price of their prints aren’t bad– a 4R print is $0.39 USD each if you have more than 20 photos printed.

Printing Instagram photos/my illustrations with Pixaroll
My Instagram photo of hot air balloons at the 2012 Philippine Hot Air Balloon festival

Check out Pixaroll’s website to learn more, and like their Facebook page to stay updated on the service!

Pixaroll FAQ page:
Facebook (Philippines):
Facebook (general):

[ Full disclosure: I am part of Pixaroll’s Star-Rollers (“a community made up of our customers that love to share their PixaRoll experiences through their crafts”) and received fifteen free prints from Pixaroll to try them out. I ordered five more prints I paid for myself. This is an unbiased review of their service, which I am happy with and see myself using again and again πŸ™‚ ]

Review: Stampin’ Up! Undefined Stamp Carving Kit

Look what I got to play with recently! It’s been a while since I carved any stamps because I’ve been busy with illustration work. I’ve been itching to dig my tools into erasers and rubber and this came at a perfect time!



It’s a Stampin’ Up! Undefined Stamp Carving Kit which comes with everything you need to start carving your own custom rubber stamps. Fun! I’m not a fan of pre-made creativity and apart from the time I was ten and bought some kiddie stamps from a neighbour’s garage sale, I’m not the type who would buy ready-made stamps.

Some old stamps I got from a garage sale

I like making things my own way and I love carving stamps, so how perfect is the Stampin’ Up! Undefined Stamp Carving Kit? Here’s what’s inside:


Continue reading “Review: Stampin’ Up! Undefined Stamp Carving Kit”

Singapore’s Bras Basah Complex and Art Friend, the Asian equivalent of Michaels Arts and Crafts

(Read the first part of this two-part series here)

On our last full day in Singapore, my family and I decided to go our separate ways one afternoon since we all wanted to do different things. My parents went to Bugis, a street/flea market (they later complained that it was just like Manila’s Divisoria), my brother did touristy stuff like the Gardens by the Bay since he didn’t know what else to do (haha), and I took this chance to go to Bras Basah Complex.

Photo: Wikipedia

Continue reading “Singapore’s Bras Basah Complex and Art Friend, the Asian equivalent of Michaels Arts and Crafts”

Singapore stationery loot: kikki.K and The Little Happyshop

As you may have noticed (or not) from my last Wordless Wednesday, I was in Singapore recently. I was there together with my brother and parents for my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary.

I don’t have a travel journal for Singapore and probably won’t be making one (at least not for this trip). Singapore is nice. REALLY nice. But that’s all it was to me– nice. Singapore is a destination a lot of Filipinos have been to due to its proximity to our country (3 1/2 hours by air), the abundance of cheap airfare from Manila, and the lack of need for a tourist visa. A lot of people, tourists and Singapore locals like, say there’s not a lot to see and do there except eat. And walk. And ride the MRT. I found that to be very true. I skipped the touristy stuff (wasn’t interested in botanical gardens, theme parks, and museums) and checked out a few stationery and arts and crafts-related stores instead.

The first one I came across was kikki.K, and quite unexpectedly. My family and I were meeting some of my brother’s friends in ION Orchard mall for dinner and we got off the Orchard Road MRT. kikki.K was right there at the turnstile exit and I think I may have taken off and made a beeline for the store as soon as I saw it.

Pretty! It’s like IKEA for stationery junkies.

kikki.K is a Swedish home and office lifestyle store selling stationery and gifts. I believe it started in Australia, and I remember my Australian-based friend giving me the link to their website a few years ago. I was looking forward to checking out their Singapore branch. It didn’t disappoint! Everything was so chic, pretty, well-designed, and minimalist… and also pretty pricey, as the rest of Singapore is. I didn’t take pictures in the store as coming from Manila where photography in retail stores isn’t allowed (why, nobody knows– not even the store attendants), I wasn’t sure if I could.

I had my eye on a blank, hardbound 365 journal, which I saw on their website prior to flying to Singapore.


I ended up buying two! What appealed to me are the numbered pages, one page for every day of the year. Perfect for daily drawings/journals/photos/recipes/whatever. I’m still thinking of what to do with these.

ION Orchard
Shop 44-46, 2 Orchard Turn
Singapore, 238801

* * *

A week before the trip, I went over to Lorra’s blog and dug through her archives for her post on Singapore’s fun, crafty places. It was through her blog that I learned about The Little Happyshop in Holland Village. And so it was where I found myself a week later, browsing through a little happy shop of colorful merchandise, journals too pretty to write on, and stationery made just for hoarding. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures (this time, I forgot).

I bought a few rolls of MT washi tape (my favorite washi tape brand!).


I also bought some Japanese rubber carving blocks for rubber stamp carving as my carving block supply is down to a small square and I also wanted to try other kinds.

Bigger carving block – $11.50 SGD | Smaller, colored carving blocks – $9.50 SGD

I was asked to do a review on Instagram and here’s what I can say, in a nutshell: these rubber blocks carve LIKE BUTTER. Literally like butter. I noticed the difference as soon as I sank in my X-acto knife to carve my outlines. They carved so smoothly– too smoothly, in fact, that you have to be extra careful so that your knife doesn’t slip and you don’t over-carve your lines by accident.


I carved out a crafty set of scissors and dashed lines to try out the blocks. I also turned some of the leftover triangle ends into stamps as I didn’t want them to go to waste.


In the end, though, I think I still prefer using my cheap, Faber-Castell erasers to carve my smaller-sized stamps as they’re more readily available and the carving quality is firmer and just as good.

The Little Happyshop
Holland V Shopping Mall
My directions: Get off at the Holland Village MRT station on the Circle line (orange). Take exit C, turn left and walk straight until you reach a little street (Lor Liput) then turn right. Keep your eye out for the Holland V Shopping Mall on the left side of the street. Enter the mall (it’s more of a small shopping complex with little stores and not really a proper mall), go up the escalator. The Little Happyshop will be at the end of the left corridor.

* * *

I wasn’t able to go around Singapore as much as I would’ve liked as I was traveling with my family, but on one afternoon, I did get to venture out on my own and it was then that I discovered the Asian equivalent of Michael’s (the arts and crafts store) in the US. But that’s another blog entry, for another day. Stay tuned πŸ™‚

EDIT: Click here to read part 2 of this blog post.

How to carve eraser stamps

When I first started carving eraser stamps early this year (2012), I knew only ONE other person locally (Lorra of Stars For Dreams), who was also doing the same thing. In the last few months though, crafting, and stamp carving especially, has been the trendy thing to do among twenty- and thirty-somethings in Manila (along with calligraphy and washi tape!). The DIY/handmade/crafting movement has been going strong for the last few years internationally, thanks to Etsy, and Manila has started to catch on. Crafting is not just for kids and little old lolas anymore!

Some of my rubber and eraser stamps.

I’ve sporadically been posting my eraser stamps on Instagram over the past few months and I’ve always gotten questions about where I get my tools and materials, so I thought of writing a post to answer all these. Then I thought, why not throw in a tutorial as well? Eraser stamp carving is pretty straightforward and I see people plunging into it immediately without a need for a tutorial, but in the course of carving my stamps, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks to make stamp-carving a little easier and more enjoyable, and I thought I’d share them with you.

This coffee cup stamp is the stamp I’ll be demonstrating in this tutorial.


Continue reading “How to carve eraser stamps”

My DIY chevron Chuck Taylors

What do you do with an old pair of white Converse Chuck Taylors? You decorate it with a black fabric marker, that’s what!

DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors

This certain style of Chucks has a reversible tongue — you can choose to wear it with the tongue underside displayed if you wish. I decorated the pink tongue with polka dots.

DIY chevron Chuck Taylors

I drew a chevron template to use as a pattern for the shoe. Chevron patterns are very trendy right now, and while I’m usually not one to follow trends, this is one trend I like. Also, it’s easy to draw. LOL.

DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors

My cats seem to approve.

DIY chevron Chuck Taylors
DIY chevron Chuck Taylors

I wore them last weekend on a trip to Bacolod for the MassKara Festival.

DIY chevron Chuck Taylors