When I began practicing calligraphy, I struggled to find a concise source of the tools that I needed. I spent so much money on the wrong tools that now just take up space on my desk. At first I started with those calligraphy pens with the square tip, but couldn’t get my writing to look modern. After not getting the results that I wanted, I put this hobby away for months.
On one trip to the art store, I decided to take a risk and bought an oblique pen holder with nibs and some black ink and took the risk of discovering on my own. I struggled for months. Researched, tried different things, wrote poorly and spent a lot of money.
I still have a lot of ah-ha moments of discovering something new that works better than what I was doing before, but after a year, I have figured out what works best and a few tricks along the way. Lately, I’ve had a lot of people asking me about what tools that I use, so I am compiling them here!
The Zebra Comic G Nib. This was a game changer for me. Wow! The ink flows steadily and the sturdy metal creates a smooth line. One trick that I learned was to prepare the nib before use. At first I used it straight from the packaging until I found out that in manufacturing, they put a coat on the nib to protect it from rust. Sometimes this gets in the way of a good ink flow and can either restrict the ink from flowing at all or cause huge globs of ink falling on the page.
Straight Pen Holder. I got this off of Amazon (intrigued at first by the grip) and I just love it. My first one was the Speedball straight pen holder and it actually split down the middle after a bit of use.
Oblique Pen Holder. This is the first thing that I purchased after the calligraphy pen. I loved it in the beginning and still like using it on occasion. When I want a whisper look, light handed, I pull it out.
A Light Box. Okay, if the nib was a game changer, the light box was a life changer. I just figured this one out after drawing lines with a ruler for the past 8 months. I’m not sure how it look me so long, but one day it dawned on me that I could use graph paper UNDER the cardstock and I wouldn’t have to draw and erase each time. I found this one for pretty inexpensive on Amazon after looking on CraigsList for a while and it was such a great deal.
I love Sumi Ink. I’ve tried tons of different inks. This is my favorite for every day use. Don’t forget to clean your nib if you’re going to set it down for a while and especially after your last use of the day. You don’t want the ink to get caked on!
Bristol Smooth Paper. If you feel the nib catching on the paper, it’s probably because it’s not the right paper. I spent way too much time using the wrong paper and getting tiny splatters. Good paper is key to easy ink flow.
Graph Paper is fantastic to practice (and put on the lightbox!) It will help you learn spacing and is cheap so you can practice practice practice.
A polymer eraser is best if you are going to use pencil on your designs prior to the ink. Once your ink is dry, you can erase without tearing the paper or pulling anything up other than the lead.
And if you need help learning your basic alphabet, you can buy my practice book in the shop. It’s a download so you can print and use it as many times as you need to practice until you feel comfortable on your own!
Don’t hesitate to email me or comment with any questions or issues that you run into.