In a time where we are ruled by technology and the digital space, we yearn to be creative with our hands and greatly appreciate the art of calligraphy. Pointed-pen calligraphy is calligraphy you see where there are beautiful thick and thin strokes in each letter and throughout a word using a pen, nib and ink. This type of calligraphy dates back to days when we didn't have printers and trained calligraphers hand-wrote books, documents, certificates, etc. Nowadays, we widely see calligraphy in marketing advertisements, weddings, personal journals or bullet journals, and on social media where people share their enjoyment of simply learning the art. It has been making a come back in the past decade and we are all here for it.
Pointed-pen calligraphy requires great accuracy, focus, and patience, so you'll need the right tools to get you started. It's also relatively affordable to get good quality materials and you can use it for a long time before having to purchase new items.
Over the years of practicing and teaching calligraphy, below is the list of supplies that I reach for over and over again. It's the supplies I personally use for practice and client projects and it's also the supplies I provide in my workshops for students. All supplies are good for all levels of experience, left and right-handed writers, and especially great for beginners.
The general list to get started with calligraphy is below, you'll need:
This Oblique Pen holder is shaped to comfortably fit in your hand, it's light and it's multi-functional. It's both an oblique pen holder and a straight pen holder and you can actually twist the body open to store a couple of nibs inside. It's great for traveling and it's comes in an array of colors, metallic and matte.
If you're looking for an upgrade to your basic start pen holder, the Moblique Pen holder is a perfect upgrade. If you're just starting calligraphy and don't mind paying a few extra dollars to start your practice with a good quality pen holder, I highly recommend this one!
To do pointed-pen calligraphy, you will definitely need a nib! There are dozens of different nibs out there and they all have different flex points. Some nibs split open easily with not too much pressure and some split with more fine-tuned pressure. Usually, for people just starting in calligraphy, your fine motor muscles have not been developed enough to use a nib that flexes wide and easy, so a sturdy but flexible nib is the best way to go. Below are the list of nibs perfect for beginners as well as for the seasoned calligrapher.
Zebra G Nib - this nib is a great starter nib. It's flexible and sturdy at the same time.
Nikko G Nib - this nib is very similar to the Zebra G, it's a tiny bit less flexible, but for starters you won't be able to tell.
Leonardt EF Principle - if you're learning the Copperplate script, this nib will give you very thin upstrokes and beautiful downstrokes.
The combination of good quality paper, ink, nib, and a pen holder will set you up for success in your calligraphy practice. You'll want to use paper that is smooth, bleedproof and a little bit thicker than regular printer paper. Printer paper or cotton-y paper in some notebooks will not work because of the cotton quality. Once the ink is on the good quality paper, the the ink should stay wherever you set the ink and it will dry in place rather than bleed out.
Rhodia Graph Paper - All Rhodia products are perfect for practice. They have blank, dotted, lined and graph versions. I choose the graph paper because it can help with the proportions of your letters.
What ink should you use? That is the question. Usually, people are familiar with ink that goes into fountain pen ink cartridges, but that's not the type of ink that is used for pointed-pen calligraphy. Calligraphy ink is about the consistency of a watered down make-up foundation. It's not too watery and not too thick. Below are my favorite inks to use for calligraphy.
Japanese Black Sumi Ink - there are many brands that I use that work for me, these are the brands that I use: Yasutomo Permanent Liquid Sumi Ink, Daiso Sumi Calligraphy Liquid Ink, and Moon Palace Sumi Ink (pictured above)
White Ink - Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleedproof White Ink, this one you need to mix 1 part water and 1 part Ink. It's opaque qualities and bright white color is perfect for writing on darker colored paper
Daniel Smith Walnut Ink - Acid-free, Natural Walnut colored drawing ink.
INK HOLDER/INK WELL
To have an ink holder or ink jar is important to bring your calligraphy practice in flow. It would be annoying to have to constantly put ink on your nib with a dropper or even tilting an ink jar every time you need to dip your nib in ink. It's best to have an ink holder close to you for a successful session of calligraphy.
Square Small Dinky Dip - These mini inkwells allow you to see your nib as you dip into the ink, allowing you to easily control the depth. They are especially well-suited for pointed pen. Each has four plastic vials, four screw-tops, and an unfinished wooden base.
Silicone Single Dinky Dip - This is a single ink well with a silicone suction holder to keep the well in place on the table. Simple press down on the suction holder and dip away.
If you're looking to fulfill that itch you have for pointed-pen calligraphy, getting these supplies will get you half way there! After that, it's like anything, you got to put in the practice, patience and more practice until you see progress!
Feel free to share your favorite pointed-pen calligraphy supplies below in the comments!