Calligraphy Supplies You Need
The Basic Supplies Introduction
When I first started as a calligrapher, I had the most basic calligraphy supplies you need. Really, they are all you need. Paper, a pen holder, nibs, and ink.
Mine were not quality supplies and I wish someone had guided my search for better supplies without all the trial and error spending I did.
This was before social media was big and shopping on-line was not as common. It’s both easier and more difficult to find supplies since everything is available on-line. Also, most true art stores with those supplies have closed and things are not as easy to inspect in person before buying.
Now, you can put together a good calligraphy starter kit on your own with ease.
Calligraphy Supplies – Paper
Paper is the first of the calligraphy supplies I would get. You want a paper that is going to hold up to the ink and not bleed. This means the paper needs to have a tight weave and the appropriate amount of sizing in it.
I like this laser paper for every day practice. It can stand up to some bad habits and isn’t too expensive.
Calligraphy paper that is smooth to write on is a must. Also, you don’t want it being too fibrous and chance picking up those fibers with your pen. When I really want to practice and get great results, I always use my Rhodia or Claire-Fontaine paper. These are a dream to write on with regards to smoothness and lack of ink bleed.
Additionally, I use the Rhodia for all of my digital work.
Visit: How to Digitize Calligraphy to learn more about the tools and process I use for that.
Calligraphy Supplies – Pen Holder
Being a left-handed calligrapher, this calligraphy supply is important. I use the exact same pen holder as right-handed calligraphers! There are many options here for your calligraphy supplies though. Some are inexpensive and some pen holders can be very expensive.
I truly use one of the least expensive oblique pen-holders around. It is plastic and sturdy and for me, just the right size. I like the metal flange to fit my nibs just right. This is a pen holder that I have multiple of (6) to fit the different nibs I use.
I also really like this wood one from Paper Ink Arts. And while I have some other more expensive pen holders – these are the ones I pick up the most for writing 8 hours a day.
You can get pen-holders in plastic, wood, acrylic, metal. All are great. My recommendation is to get something that is lightweight to prevent fatigue. Also, if you have arthritic hands, a wider staff (the solid part) is best to prevent an excessively tight grip.
Another great option for the left-handed calligrapher is a straight pen holder. This does not have the extra bent piece (flange) at the top and sets up your hand to be straight in-line with your writing. I also use this holder depending on the script I am working with.
The nice thing about these straight pen holders is the flange can fit different nibs without adjustments needed.
Calligraphy Supplies – Nibs
The nib is the part of the pen that holds the ink and puts the ink on paper. It has a pointy tip for copperplate calligraphy. (or a flat edge for italic calligraphy). Personally, I like a flexible nib and my top picks are always the Leonardt principal or the Hunt 101. Both available from Paper Ink Arts.
I know the Blue Pumpkin is nice because it has a less sharp point and it a bit easier for beginners to pick up right away. Also, the Nikko G is viewed as a beginner friendly nib because it’s a bit stiff and can handle the pressure used.
Personally, I don’t ever use the Nikko G just because it was not available when I was starting and I had to learn how to use the lightest touch from the beginning. This nib just doesn’t give me the swells I like because of my light touch.
Calligraphy Supplies – Ink
Ink is another major factor in purchasing your calligraphy supplies. The right ink will make or break you.
My recommendation is to start off with 2 inks, a nice black sumi. This is a quality ink and will not bleed on quality paper. Next, I would use a walnut ink. When I think about the calligraphy supplies that are useful in the beginning, they always help me improve. I like the walnut ink because it shows each stroke and where the ink pools since it has a transparency to it.
Of course, colors are fun and you can get pre-made acrylic ink or gold ink. I love working with these. But, when building a calligraphy starter kit, stick to the basics.
Other Calligraphy Supplies
It is easy to go crazy buying calligraphy supplies in the beginning (or middle!). There are a few more tools that I consider essential. If you want to see all the supplies I use and recommend, check out my Amazon List Here.
- Ruler – Yes, now I have all the rulers. However, when thinking about a calligraphy starter kit, the ruler I find most essential is the c-thru ruler in the 2 inch width. While I have about 10 of these in multiples and different lengths, this is my most used. Want to see the other rulers I have and love? Check out my Amazon Storefront here.
- Pencil – This is the most underrated tool in the beginner calligraphy supply kit. You can practice, line paper and measure with a pencil. It helps teach pressure and release. I prefer a mechanical because sharpening is messy.
- Eraser – The humble eraser is necessary for fixing mistakes and cleaning up guidelines. My preference is the plastic eraser. But I also keep a kneaded eraser on hand for less eraser dust.
- Red Pencil – Similarly, the red pencil is essential for making corrections.
- Writing Blotter – The blotter is a great cushion for your writing. It helps keep your pressure correct and
- Quality Cleaning Rag – You don’t want fibers catching on your nib. It took me awhile, but I finally found what I like for my calligraphy supply kit.
- Light – Finally, working under quality lighting is really the only way to practice. I use a task lamp that is on the daylight spectrum. It doesn’t flicker and it’s LED so it’s lasted forever.
In conclusion, creating a calligraphy starter kit is simple and requires minimum items. You can go crazy buying calligraphy supplies. It’s fun and colorful and helps make art! But, I hope this list of the essential quality calligraphy supplies helps you keep your initial investment at a minimum until you decided what YOU like.
Want more? Visit these posts that dive deeper into the options for calligraphy supplies:
Paper for Calligraphy