When I first got started with calligraphy, I had no idea what kinds of supplies I should be buying. My husband bought me a calligraphy set for Christmas (which I was super excited for!), but I quickly realized that this was a set for traditional Roman and italic calligraphy and not the modern calligraphy supplies I was looking for. My first few calligraphy practice sessions were filled with a lot of unnecessary frustration and some not-so-pretty lettering. Keep reading if you want to learn about my favorite calligraphy supplies!
To get started, you will need a pen holder and some nibs. There are 2 types of pen holders - straight and oblique. The straight holders allow you to put the nib directly into the top of the holder. I prefer oblique holders where you put the nib into the flange (the small part that sticks out of the holder that holds the nib). These help you to put a slant into your writing and hold your pen at the correct angle. I know some calligrapher's (like Laura Hooper) prefer using a straight holder and create amazing work so it's up to your personal preference which one you choose to use.
For the longest time, I used the Speedball Oblique pen holder. It was only $1.99 and it worked for me for years. I recently graduated to the Yoke Deuce pen holder. The Yoke Deuce is cool because if you remove the metal flange, it turns into a straight holder! It's only a few bucks more at $6.49. Such a steal in my opinion!
The little metal pieces that hold the ink are called nibs. Different nibs have different flexibilities and generally, the more flexible a nib is the thicker lines you can create. Some nibs are super flexible and sensitive and require very little pressure to get those thick lines, while others require you to use a little more pressure. Many calligraphers recommend the Nikko G nib for beginners and I totally agree! It writes very smoothly and doesn't catch on paper as much as other nibs. My all-time favorite nib is the Brause Steno pen nib nicknamed the "Blue Pumpkin." If you look carefully, you can see the name of the nib written on the bottom part of the body.
When you buy ink, it usually comes in a large jar that is too big to dip your nib into. I love putting my ink into Dinky Dips and the wooden holder keeps the little vials from tipping over. (Good news for me because I can be super clumsy and have spilled ink all over my work on more than one occasion...) As you can see, that wooden holder is very well used. I mainly use Speedball India ink for my black ink. I love that it does not smear after it's dry and it dries relatively quickly. This is good for me because I can be super impatient when I'm waiting for my ink to dry so I can erase my pencil lines.
When I'm not using black ink, my favorite white ink to use is Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White. This ink comes really thick when you first get it so I usually put a little into a Dinky Dip and then mix in drops of water until it becomes a milky consistency. This process definitely requires some trial and error. The same goes for my favorite gold ink: Finetec Gold watercolor palette. I add drops of water directly onto the pan and let it sit for a few minutes, then mix with a brush until it's a milky consistency. Then I brush the gold ink onto the front and back of my nib before writing.
Lastly, I use this glass eye dropper filled with clean water for when I'm mixing ink. Some people say that you need to use distilled water when mixing ink, but I haven't found any issues with just using tap water. I love the way that this glass eye dropper looks and it's also very convenient to have water on my desk at all times instead of running back and forth to the sink to get water.
This was just a super basic overview of my favorite calligraphy supplies. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or if you would like to see more specific info in a future blog post! Thanks for reading!