When I was a kid, my mom used to have parent-teacher meetings to talk about how absolutely awful my handwriting was. So penmanship obviously not my forte. I picked up calligraphy for a couple reasons. 1) Too much free time. 2) I wanted to see if I could do something as disciplined as calligraphy-something that takes deliberate patience and care. Things I’m not sure I have too much of as a person. But anyways, it’s turned into a consistent calming part of my day. I promised one of my good friends that I would write a post sharing the supplies and resources I used to get started. So here’s my long overdue post!
I started with a speedball kit from Michael’s, which I impulse bought after spending too much time on Instagram. It was somewhat helpful to get started, but here’s what I would really recommend. Note there are tons of calligraphy scripts and these are mainly for pointed pen scripts. I use them specifically for copperplate.
There’s tons of really nice pen holders out there. Don’t feel pressured to drop big bucks for a fancy one right away. These Speedball Oblique Pen Holders work great. They’re cheap and plastic so no pressure if you lose it, break it, or stupidly let a nib rust it in, like me. Sadface.
The nib that came in my kit was a Hunt Imperial 101 with a busted tine so not much to say on that. My favorites right now are pretty popular ones across the copperplate community.
This is the first nib I got comfortable with. It’s flexible, much less stiff than the Nikko. It also gives really nice hairlines. However, the tip is pretty sharp and I find that it can snag a lot more than other nibs. Sometimes my lines can skip or get shaky if I’m not careful.
My current favorite nib. Smooth lines, relative little snagging. Personally I feel like I have to dip a lot more with the Nikko, but inkflow is about the same if you write slower.
I followed Piecescalligraphy on Instagram for about two days before I gave in and bought a pack of tombow dual brush pens. I love these. They’re portable and make it really easy to practice wherever. I also find that I can write a lot faster with these than with dip pens. It does take a few tries to adjust to controlling the angle and pressure of the pen. I had trouble getting consistent widths at first, especially with hairlines. All you need is a couple pages though and it’ll be smooth sailing. Only other con is that big is definitely better with the Tombows. They make great thick lines so writing small isn’t going to happen.
I forgot to make a sample, but I used this pen to write the word “calligraphy” in the first photo. This pen is much finer. It’s easy to write big or small and you can get great width variation by changing the angle of the brush. I’m a little sad though because it seems to dry up pretty quickly. It doesn’t write quite as smooth as the Tombows.
PAPER AND INK
As for ink I’ve only used Higgins Eternal so far. Solid black ink that’s easy to get your hands on.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES
There’s plenty of online tutorials and introductions, but when it comes to mastering the letterforms, I found it incredible helpful to get an actual book. Here’s my go to. It’s simple and straightforward. I’ve only worked through miniscules and letter connections so far, but my understanding of copperplate increased exponentially after getting it.
It’s hard to just magically master the angle. If you’re terrible with a protractor or just lazy like me, these guide sheets from IAMPETH are a lifesaver.
And that’s it! Hopefully this post helps you kickstart your calligraphy! If anyone else has helpful links/resources/suggestions, feel free to pop them in below.