Archives for September 2008

Choosing a Calligraphy Brush

Calligraphy is an ancient art, closely linked to the beginning of writing. Today, many people choose to learn calligraphy as either an art, a tradition, or even just for fun! Before beginning calligraphy, one of the most important things is choosing the correct brush.

If you’re considering calligraphy as one of your many hobbies, read on!

Choosing the Brush

When choosing a brush, one of the first things you need to know are the 3 categories of brush hair. These are: soft, stiff, and mixed. Pay attention because you’ll want a different brush depending on the kind of calligraphy you want to do.

Soft Brushes (for the experienced)

Soft brushes are better for more experienced calligraphy artists. As you may have guessed, soft brushes have soft tips. This means the brush has more flexibility. This is great if you’re experienced, but it may be difficult to control if you’re a beginner.

Stiff (for beginners)

Stiff brushes are made from a variety of materials, including horse hair and rabbit hair, but they’re most commonly made out of red sable. Stiff brushes are less flexible but they give you better control. In addition, stiff brushes are best for small calligraphy.

Mixed (my personal favorite!)

Mixed brushes contain both stiff and soft hair. For this reason, mixed brushes are my favorite. They seem to combine the best of both worlds—they’re not too stiff for the experienced calligraphist, yet not too flexible for beginners. In addition, they can be used for all kinds of calligraphy work.

Other Factors to Consider

While knowing the difference between soft, stiff, and mixed brushes is important, there are some other questions to ask yourself before purchasing a brush.

Is it Sharp?

A good calligraphy brush comes to a point, forming a defined tip. If the brush isn’t somewhat sharp, don’t buy it.

Is it Round?

This may sound contradictory, but the brush in addition to being sharp, the brush should be round. This means the body of the brush is full. Pretend to write with the brush and see if it holds its shape. If so, you have a good brush.

Is it Even?

The hairs on the brush should be even. If you see stray hairs, look away! Find a brush with straight, even hairs instead.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Some brushes are purposefully uneven. If you know you want a brush like this then go for it!

Stay tuned for more articles about the art of calligraphy!

Singing in Choir—Including Some Unexpected Places to Sing

Have you always wanted to join the choir but have been too scared to actually do it? While in the shower, do you secretly belt out the tunes to your favorite Broadway show stoppers? If so, you may want to begin seriously considering singing in the choir as one of your next hobbies.

It isn’t hard to do. In fact, there are all sorts of unexpected places that offer opportunities to join choir. Try some of the following:


If you already attend church, you’ve got a head start on singing in the choir. Most churches have choirs that perform during regular service. If not, they may have a special choir for Christmas or Easter services. Check with your local church to find out whether or not you need to audition.


If you’re a student, spend a semester or quarter singing in the choir. Most high schools have choir programs, and even colleges offer credited classes. Some schools even have choirs for the teachers! If there isn’t one already, ask around to see if others are interested. You may be able to start a new trend among teachers.

Your Job

Okay, please don’t start singing during work. Surprisingly enough, some workplaces actually have after-work choirs. If there isn’t one already, ask your coworkers if they’d be interested in starting something up. If you can’t gather enough people for a choir, at the very least you’ll have a snazzy duet or barbershop quartet!


Local organizations sometimes have auditions for choir. Check your local theater or other community programs.

If you’re involved with a nonprofit, see if you could raise money for charity by putting on a show!

Friends & Neighbors

Ask around your neighborhood. You might be surprised to find that the couple next door can belt it out like the best of them. Hobbies that involve friends and neighbors really are the best. You’ll bring the community together while doing something different and enjoyable.

Remember: you don’t have to be afraid to join a choir. A good attitude and a desire to sing are enough for some choirs. If you prefer, you can take individual lessons from a private instructor before joining a choir. Whatever you do, approach it with a positive attitude and you’re sure to have a great experience!

10 Journal Keeping Ideas that Will Enhance Your Life

What should I write about? Will it sound dumb? Will I run out of ideas before I even get started?

Keeping a journal can be a rewarding experience, but lots of people don’t know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to decide what kind of journaling you want to do, though this isn’t always easy. There are all kinds of different strategies, ideas, and purposes behind journaling.

My personal favorites are reflection and goal journals, but everyone has a different favorite.

And that’s okay!

1. Visit Dream Land

There was a green robot. It had three fingers and twenty toes, and it was eating a peanut butter sandwich, and…

Dream journals are a lot of fun. Most people write in their dream journals immediately upon waking, which allows them to “get down” every aspect of the dream they had while sleeping. Furthermore, dreams often tell us things about ourselves we didn’t know, and many people have found “dream journaling” to be a rather insightful experience.

2. Record-Keeping

A “record-keeping” journal is nothing but the facts. Whether you’re on a diet or keeping track of the various birds you see, a record-keeping journal let’s you record and store information. These kinds of journals are also great to look back on in attempt to find patterns in the information.

3. Be Grateful

Gratitude journals are extremely rewarding. Write a list of 5-10 things you’re grateful for every single day. If you can’t think of 5-10, write down 1 or 2 things you’re grateful for. Your list is sure to grow as you begin noticing new great things about your life. If you already have more than 10, consider yourself an extremely lucky and grateful person!

4. Online journal/Blog

Online journaling, or blogging, has gained popularity in recent years. Whether you’re using Livejournal, or hosting your own blog through WordPress, online journaling allows you to connect with an audience. This separates it from traditional journaling, which is typically an isolated experience.

5. Collage/Art

If words aren’t your thing, consider a collage or art journal. Cut pictures out of magazines or draw your own–it doesn’t matter! Expressing yourself through art can be just as rewarding as writing down your emotions.

6. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas,

Are you the brilliant thinker? The entrepreneur in the crowd? Use a journal to write down those wacky ideas your friends are always making fun of you for. Don’t hold back. This is the place to express yourself. If an idea sounds crazy, write it down anyway. It may develop into something more over time!

7. Academic

Scholars regularly publish in academic journals, but what about keeping your own personal academic journal? Whether you’re reading Proust for the 3rd time or observing butterflies in your backyard, write down your insights and hypotheses. You never know what brilliant phenomenon you might discover.

8. Journaling as A Gift

A gift journal is unlike every other journal because *gasp* it’s not meant for you. A good example is a parent who keeps a journal for his/her small child before giving it to them when they turn 18. But it doesn’t have to be a child, of course. Record memories, insights, and loving thoughts for any special person in your life.

9. Personal Reflection/Therapy

Therapy and personal reflection journals can be difficult. You might not want to delve into certain aspects of your past or remember the bad things that happened to you.

But it can be extremely helpful in allowing you to move on from those things. Many psychologists even recommend journaling to their patients as a way to work through their feelings.

10. Goal-Oriented

A goal-oriented journal is probably my very very favorite. The premise is simple: Just record your goals–both long-term and short-term–and track your progress. You’ll be amazed (and proud!) when a month, a year, or a decade goes by and you can look back and see all that you’ve accomplished.

Many people like to incorporate several journal ideas into one–and that’s fine! Just pick your favorite ideas and begin journaling.

Do you keep a journal? Has it has enhanced your life in any way?