You’ve decided to jump on the calligraphy bandwagon. You’ve dreamt of writing those beautiful letters for a while now, but when you search for ‘calligraphy supplies’, 1001 results show up and you don’t know where to begin! These essential calligraphy supplies will get you up and running in no time.
Don’t worry my friend. I’ve been exactly where you are, which is why I’ve created this small guide to help you get started quick and easy! Like I’ve said in my previous posts, you don’t need to invest a whole lot of money into this hobby. The supplies recommended below will hardly cost you $15 and last you a long time. Who says beginning a new hobby has to be hard? 🙂
1. Pen Holder
If you’re a beginner, it would be best to start with a straight holder. It looks like any other pen lying around your home, plus it’s relatively easy to use. After using a straight holder for a while, you’ll begin to understand the nib dynamics as it plays with paper- thus setting the stage for an oblique holder.
When I started doing calligraphy over a year ago, I first used a Speedball Straight Holder. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to you. The Speedball has a standard mount (the ‘mount’ is the part of the holder where the nib attaches to the pen). The standard mount is not the most friendly to a wide variety of nibs. What I mean is, if you plan to stick with the beginners nibs (say, the Nikko G) then you should be ok. But if you plan to move to the more flexible nibs (like the Brause EF 66), then it won’t work because the mount profile won’t let you insert a nib of a different size.
Which is why, a pen with a universal mount is a way better option. Recently, I’ve begun using this pretty Manuscript pen holder. Like I said, you can use a variety of nibs with it and it’s so pretty that I love styling with it as well!
To learn how to insert your nib into the universal insert, check out this video that I made specially for you.
The second most important supply that you’ll need is a good nib. For beginners, any G nib works best. These nibs are not too flexible which is just perfect for someone new to pointed pen calligraphy. As you get accustomed to using a pointed pen nib, it’ll be natural for you as you move to the more flexible nibs.
If you were to start directly with a flexible nib (for instance, the Brause Rose), it’ll not only cause you a lot of frustration but also not allow you to understand how much pressure to exert and when.
Nikko G and Zebra G are the best for beginners. They are easy to use, easy to clean, and last a pretty long time. Because they are stiffer than other nibs, they are also less prone to breakage. When you’re trying to understand how much pressure you need to apply to your downstroke, it’s natural to press a little hard in the beginning. The Nikko G and Zebra G won’t let you down.
If you’re wondering which of the two you should purchase, I would purchase both. They are relatively inexpensive. Plus, you could see for yourself which of the two you liked better. Experiment, my friend!
If you’ve seen my posts on Instagram, you would know what I’m talking about. Sumi Ink is a dream to use. It has a gorgeous texture! It also tends to ‘sit’ on your paper instead of blending into it, which is great when you’re working on wedding envelopes or other commissioned work. The only downside is that this ink is very acidic. The acidity tends to corrode the nib rather quickly unless you clean the nib frequently as you write.
BTW, you’ll want to move your sumi ink into a more ‘friendly’ container. The bottle that the sumi ink comes in has a very narrow ‘neck’ because of which it isn’t possible to dip your nib. Which is why, I transfer some of my ink into an old jam jar (thoroughly cleaned before use!). Not only is it easy to use, but using this tiny jar helps me keep my ink fresher for a longer time as well. Win-win!
I know. I laugh every time I include this ‘calligraphy supply’ in the list. But trust me, a potato is gonna be your best friend soon.
A potato is crucial to your pointed pen success. First, you’re gonna need it when you prep your nib. If you’ve read this blog post, you’ll know that you need to prep your nib before you use it for the first time. Brand new nibs come coated from the manufacturer to avoid rusting before use. If you were to use a nib as is, without prepping it, you’ll notice that the ink will ‘bead’ on to the nib and it won’t flow.
So, before you use a brand new nib, stick it in a potato for 15 – 30 minutes and you should be good to go! I would recommend you to read this blog post for more information on how to prep your nib.
Secondly, as you write, sometime the ink just won’t flow. When that happens, stick the tip of your nib into the potato only for an instant. This will get your ink flowing again in no time!
5. Water dish
If you don’t have a potato, you can use water instead. Fill up a small dish or mug with water. Like I said previously, if you’re using sumi ink you’re gonna need to dip your nib in water every few minutes and clean it off. Because this ink is very acidic, your nib will begin to rust quickly if you don’t clean it off frequently.
Also, similar to a potato, you can quickly dip the tip of your nib in the water if your ink won’t flow. As soon as you do that, your ink should be flowing again!
Sometimes I use both the potato and water on particularly stubborn inks. I’ve had numerous cases when the Bleedproof White just wont flow off my Brause EF 66. When that happens, I first insert the tip of the nib in the potato for an instant. If it still won’t work, then I try dipping it in water. If it still won’t work, I stick the nib in the potato for a few minutes, remove it, clean it off and then try again. That always does the trick for me. 🙂
6. Paper towel
You can use a paper towel or an old, smooth cloth to clean your nibs as you write. I use an old dinner napkin that works perfectly for me. Irrespective of what you choose to use, make sure it isn’t rough or fibrous. If it is, the nib will catch on to the fibers. The fibers will interfere with your ink as you write. We don’t want that, do we?
So there you go! Assembling your calligraphy tool kit is one of the best and most fun parts of the journey! I remember how thrilled I was when I placed my first order for my supplies. I can only imagine how exciting this must be for you!
If you have any questions or would like to share what your supply kit looks like, I would love to hear from you! You can (a) email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (b) DM me on Insta or (c) simply comment below!