I'm Ginny-- Calligrapher, watercolor artist, educator, wife, and mom to a mini aussie.
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The Best Calligraphy Tools for Beginner’s Success

You’ve decided to learn calligraphy! Yay!!

Maybe you’d like to up your snail-mail game with beautiful envelopes. Mare you want to start a side hustle someday. Or maybe you just want to learn for the fun of it!

The hardest part about all of this is knowing where to start, right? With seemingly endless types of paper and calligraphy tool options for dayyyssss.

Friend, I get it.

Before you head into Michael’s and feel like a fish out of water (the sheer amount of options is totally overwhelming), read through this list!

Through years of trial & error, I’ve compiled my personal favorite supplies to help cut the guess work and give you a quick-reference guide to  everything you ACTUALLY need (hint: a pen pillow is cute, but not necessary to get started).

If you want to know which nib glides and won’t catch on paper fibers… or how to choose an ink that sits nicely on the paper instead of feathering or bleeding… or which paper is best if you’re planning to pair watercolor art with your calligraphy design… look no further!

No more hours of Googling, k? Let’s save time so you can be able to do what matters… practice calligraphy!!

So, without further ado

Speedball Oblique Holder

This inexpensive pen is a classic for beginners just learning pointed pen calligraphy. It’s great for left- or right-handed writers. As you progress, you might find a couple of problems with this pen, like how the downward-pointed plastic flange causes you to hold your nib too far past the midline of your pen, making it a bit tougher to achieve that right-leaning angle. But overall, I recommend it to beginners. It’s the pen I learned with!

Brass Flange Oblique Holder

This is a step up from the plastic Speedball holder! Its adjustable brass flange will hold your pen at just the right angle.

(A similar but pricier option is the Ziller Oblique holder from Paper & Ink Arts. There are a few variations of this penholder depending on which nib you’d like to use, but the one I linked is for the Nikko G nib.)

 

Blackwell Wood Holder

This one is a beauty! If you’re looking to splurge a little and gift yourself a nice, new penholder, this is the one I’d recommend! You’ll have it forever. The brass universal nib holder can be adjusted to fit any nib, but especially smaller nibs like the Brause EF66.

Here is a beautiful but much more affordable option on Amazon!

 

 

Nikko G nib

A beginner’s best friend! The Nikko G is a very popular nib to start off with because it’s so user friendly. It will be helpful as you learn to control the pressure of your pen. It’s also very smooth, so it won’t catch the paper fibers easily.

 

Brause Extra Fine 66 Nib (EF66)

This nib has mastered the art of thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. I looove how springy it is! However, it can feel finicky at first and catch on paper fibers. Make sure to get used to the pressure and feel of calligraphy before trying this one!

 

India ink

I was trying to decide between India Ink or Sumi ink, but I went with India. It’s available in most craft stores and is fairly inexpensive. This is a smooth ink that dries with a shiny sheen (instead of matte and flat, like Sumi ink). My favorite thing about this ink is that it is waterproof! Definitely a necessity if you want to watercolor over it. No smudging!

Something weird and messy about this ink is that it can congeal over time, getting lumpy. I mix in water when this happens. Just something to be aware of!

 

Walnut Ink

My go-to ink! It dries in beautiful hues of light brown to darker brown, creating a more vintage feel. I find that it’s extremely smooth and works well with most of my nibs. You can buy it in crystals or pre-mixed (linked below!)

 

32# Laserjet Paper

Printer paper is great for drills and practicing! It’s the clear winner as far as price goes, and it’s very smooth so the pen glides easily over it. If I want to combine mediums (i.e. calligraphy with watercolor) I won’t use this paper because it will bleed and rip. But it’s perfect for practicing, or for spot calligraphy. Not all printer paper is good quality, but here is my favorite:

 

Rhodia pads

My favorite practice pads! They come in many sizes, which is convenient for travel, and you can choose between plain, dotted, lined or graph! They also have a low absorbency level and are sooooo smooth!

 

Strathmore Bristol Board

Bristol paper is very versatile, white, smooth and uncoated, so it’s a great choice for calligraphy projects. Available in all different sizes and weights.

 

Strathmore Mixed Media

My favorite for…get this…mixed mediums. If I’m making a piece that requires smooth paper fibers my nib won’t snag on, but it has to be thick enough for watercolor paint, this is my go-to!

Here is an option for mixed media cards! How cute!

I hope this is very helpful for you as you start (or continue) your journey to becoming a calligrapher!

If you’re wondering how to prepare that new nib, head to THIS post for some helpful tips!

Until next time,

Ginny

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  1. […] if you’re not sure which nibs to start off with, head over to THIS post for some […]

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