Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {The Materials}

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Interested in learning the basics of modern calligraphy?  You’ve come to the right place.  This is the first of a three-part series about advice, tips, and best practices used to create beautiful calligraphy.

I should preface this: I am in no way an expert. I’m a crafter who thought modern calligraphy looked interesting and taught herself by piecing together some fantastic resources.  With that being said, I’ve learned a lot, practiced a lot, and built up a solid foundation of knowledge in regards to dip-pen calligraphy.

Ready to start?  Great!

 

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Materials

First things first.  Calligraphy pens are not made like normal pens.  They come with two pieces: a holder and a nib.  The holder is the part of the pen that you grasp and it holds the nibs.  Nibs are the pointed metal part of a calligraphy pens that you insert into the holder.  The nibs hold the ink and are the piece of the pen that does the writing.  Nibs come in broad and pointed tips, but for the sake of this tutorial we’ll be talking about pointed tips.

Nibs

There are two nibs that I would recommend for beginners: the Brause Steno (also called the Blue Pumpkin) and the Nikko G nibs.  I love both of them, but I favor the Nikko G.  Both are easy to use and perfect for beginners.  I recommend these because they don’t have a lot of flex (they’ll give you less problems) and they are generally easy to work with.

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Holders

The only holder I have ever purchased and still continue to use is the cork holder shown below.  It has a comfortable grip and a universal insert.

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

If you decide to go with another holder and want it to fit more than one nib, make sure you get a holder with a universal insert.  Universal inserts consist of four metal prongs that will fit any size nib.  If you get a holder that does not have a universal insert, you will be limited to using one type of nib.

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Inks

For beginners, black ink is the best place to start.  Colored or white inks are often more difficult to work with.  Black inks flow smoothly off of the nib and will be the easiest to start with.  Two of the best black inks are Sumi ink and India ink.  I have both Sumi and India inks and I don’t really notice a difference in writing.

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

(In terms of these two specific bottles, I like the Sumi ink (on the right) better because the bottle is simpler to pour from and you can easily pour extra ink back into the bottle.  They both write the same, but I prefer the Sumi because of its ease of use.)

Other

If you choose, you can get a notepad to practice on.  I recently purchased a Rhodia paper pad and I love it.  You can get them lined, dotted, or blank.  You can also use coverstock or cardstock.  If I want a little more structure to my practice, I print out some lined paper to give some guidelines to my letters.


In addition, when you are practicing there are some good supplies to have at the ready that you probably already have at home.  If your ink isn’t in a container that you can dip your pen into, have a cup or container ready to put the ink in.  I use either the lid to my Sumi Ink or an old glitter container that I washed out or re-purposed. A small, resealable container will be your best bet.  (Old film canisters or small jars work well as ink containers.)

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Also, have a cup of water ready in case your ink is having trouble flowing (more on this later).

Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy: The Materials | Materials Needed to Create Modern Calligraphy | Nibs, Holders, and Inks | Destination Decoration

Finally, have a rag, paper towel, or other cloth so that you can use it to wipe off clogged ink.  I used to use an old pillowcase, but since then I’ve started using a paper towel with one wet side and one dry side.  (Note: If you decide to use a paper towel, you’ll need to make sure that the fibers don’t get caught in the nib.  If they do happen to get caught, simply pick the pieces out with your fingers.)

Now that you know the materials you’ll need, put these materials to use in Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {The Basics} and learn to form letters and words in Getting Started with Modern Calligraphy {Letter Formation}.

Looking for a practical way to practice calligraphy?  Get the Christine style calligraphy worksheet below.

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