What Calligraphy Supplies you need when you start your Calligraphy Journey
Calligraphy is such a blessing and a rewarding hobby! Therapeutic and relaxing, it soon transforms into a passion-obsession! :) But the beginning can be a bit frustrating. Why? Because either you cannot find all information in one place, either you cannot purchase all calligraphy items you need from one shop. Therefore, when you start to learn calligraphy, you buy a lot of calligraphy supplies and tools that are never useful for what you will actually create and work with during your practice.
How it all starts
Let’s see how it starts! You accidentally bump into some lettering video on social media, you see some beautifully flourished words, a friend tells you about a friend that attended a calligraphy course, then, when arriving at a wedding venue you see a welcome sign in calligraphy and so you start noticing the letters all around you. And since you already knew how to write, you start thinking it might be a creative skill you can achieve. And that is completely true and you need indeed NO special talent to have a nice calligraphy! The trap is just about to come. Since you already know how to write, you suppose calligraphy comes natural for you, so you start searching the Internet for information, tools and materials. You discover some styles you resonate with and decide to learn Copperplate or Modern Calligraphy or whatever and that is fine. And because you picked some info from here, some from there, you start ordering calligraphy supplies: nibs, inks, practice pads, paper and much more. The thing is that as you try to clear things out and form some letters, you realize you don’t know how to use a lot of items you just bought or that they are more suitable maybe for other arts or styles. You end up confused with a need of more detailed instructions. Here you have two options: you are determined and keep searching and learning, or give up and think calligraphy is not for you. This would be a pity, of course. But why waste great resources just for the sake of being self-thought?
How to be efficient with your resources while learning calligraphy
How can you avoid wasting time and resources? Usually calligraphy artists also provide proper calligraphy supplies for the styles they teach. And if they don’t, they can at least direct you to some arts and crafts shops where you can buy your calligraphy supplies from. So find an instructor whose work you like to start your calligraphy journey. Believe me, if you have the chance, take a course and buy a calligraphy starter set for beginners. It will spare you time and nerves. Once an instructor tells you what you need and, most important how to use tools, you are on the right track to achieve a beautiful script.
Let’s see what you should look for when purchasing a calligraphy starter set. Any calligraphy kit for beginners should contain a pen holder – straight or oblique – nib, ink and paper.
Let’s take them one at a time. The pen holder is the tool you need to hold your nib and write. This can be straight or oblique. Considering the slant of some classic styles, an oblique pen holder might be of great use to achieve the writing angle needed. This type of calligraphy pen holder is specific to pointed pen calligraphy and you can find 2 options for it: with the flange on the left side or on the right side. Usually the ones with the flange on the right side are for lefties, but don’t panic if you are a left handed and you don’t find this pen holder. Lefties can use a straight pen holder because the way the hand positions towards the paper is usually already in the right angle. Also, if you don’t find an oblique with the flange on the right, you can definitely use a calligraphy pen holder with the flange on the left side – you will eventually have to set up until you find your comfortable area and position to write, but I know many lefties using an oblique for right handed. The pen holder can be subject of your own preference when it comes to looks – you will find various colors and models, so here it’s up to you to choose the aesthetics.
Then comes the nib. If you wish to achieve elegant and delicate styles, like Copperplate, Spenserian or even Modern Calligraphy, then it’s a pointed nib you need. So pay attention not to but any broad edge nib – which is good for other scripts like Italic, Gothic and much more. So it’s a pointed nib we need because we have to generate thin and thick line with the same instrument while writing. The pointed nib has 2 tines that spread when pressed and can generate swells alternated with hairline strokes. Nibs can vary in color, form and size, but most important, they are different when it comes to the thickness of the tip and the flexibility. For beginners I recommend rigid or medium flexible nibs with medium tip, so not too sharp.
Then comes the calligraphy ink. Here you will find so many possibilities! We have black or colored inks, but also thinner and thicker consistencies. Here you will have to test and try which works best for you when it comes to the ease of work and aesthetic preferences. I personally prefer mate and opaque finish inks, which are usually denser. With these thicker inks you should work very slow to allow the ink to flow easier. If you prefer an ink that is more fluid, you have to learn to control the ink flow, in order to avoid blobs dropping. This comes with practice, so take your time and be patient to yourself!
When we say paper, if we talk about Copperplate Calligraphy, since it’s a very structured script, using special grids would be of great help. Not to say how useful some Practice Pads would be! A set of calligraphy practice pads with instructions – on using tools, applying principles, posture and position – and traceable letters is great to guide you in the beginning. Working on grids help you form the right proportions and write in a straight line.
Because there is so much information, it might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Look for a complete calligraphy starter set that can provide all these and get rid of the whole research époque. Purchasing a calligraphy kit from a calligrapher if of great ease, as you benefit of his experience when it comes supplies provided and instructions. It really spares resources, as you with a calligraphy set you only get tools and materials you need in order to develop your script, not dozen of items that might not be suitable for the style you are looking to achieve. Of course, you can always find calligraphy online courses and private sessions so that you can benefit of more guidance and feedback in case you feel you miss something.
So, bottom line, once you have set the style you want to achieve, find a complete calligraphy set for beginners, follow instructions and start confidently your calligraphy journey! Keep in mind that practice makes progress, be patient and consistent and enjoy the ride!