Hope you’re all doing fine! 🙂
I always get asked about calligraphy supplies that people need for them to start the wonderful art and where to buy them. I love answering questions like these because it gives me the opportunity to meet new calligraphy enthusiasts in the city, but I fail to answer every single one of them because I can’t be online all the time. Since the demand for information has been high and my supply for answers has been low (I should really check my Instagram direct messages more frequently), allow me to try to answer your queries in this blog post.
Here are the most basic pointed pen calligraphy tools you will ever need, and then some.
THE MOST BASIC OF BASICS
- Speedball Oblique Holder
Oblique holders are best for writing with slants compared to straight holders. I personally prefer oblique holders over straight holders because of the grace and femininity slanted letters achieve.
- Speedball Straight Holder
The straight holder is great for practicing your grips and glides. This particular straight holder fits a lot of medium-sized nibs, so it’s convenient for anyone who wants to try out different nibs but is not ready to purchase a pricier holder.
The nib hoarder in me has decided to include only two favorite nibs for beginners:
- Hunt 22B
With its thin hairlines and elegant swells, this is a mainstay in my nib case. I use this for most of my calligraphy projects like calligraphy on wedding envelopes and it has not failed me since. I would try out a variety of nibs, but the Hunt 22B has always been a fail-safe nib. With its medium stiffness and medium sharp points, you’ll need a bit of pressure to produce swells, but maintain an angle and glide that avoids snagging papers.
- Nikko G
Definitely one of the most durable nibs I’ve had! Accidentally dropped it a few feet from my table once which gave me a mini heart attack, but this strong little one worked as perfect as new after the fall. I personally think this is the best nib for beginners with its medium flexibility and fairly dull point (compared to other nibs) that produces fine hairlines and goes on paper smoothly. Above all, it does not easily rust!
- Hunt 22B
- Sumi Ink
The first time I tried Sumi ink was at a workshop by Swirls and Strokes PH last summer. Right there and then, I fell in love! They dry with a nice sheen and texture, and go on a lot of surfaces really well. You can use this for brush or pointed pen calligraphy.
- Calligraphy Paper
The simplest tip I can give you when choosing calligraphy-friendly paper is to go for papers that are 90gsm or higher. A few calligraphers use 80gsm papers and they’re okay, but I’m the type who doesn’t want to gamble so I opt to use papers that a lot of calligraphers swear by. More on that when you continue reading this post. By the way, the notebook you see above is from Muji. The pricier Muji notebooks handle ink pretty well, but sharper nibs tend to catch on the paper.
So that’s really it for the most basic of basic calligraphy tools to get your calligraphy journey started. But since I promised more, allow me to share one of my favorite purchases this year (out of the many purchases I’ve made this year, which makes this particular buy really special).
Meet my first wooden oblique holder made of acacia and glazed with clear varnish. Got this little baby from Mommy Goes to Market a few months ago because I’ve always wanted to know how it feels to use a wooden holder with a brass flange. Curiosity led me to purchasing this beautiful thing and it has been my favorite since. I have three other wooden holders–a carrot holder from The Curious Artisan, a Tachikawa holder from a friend, and a straight wooden holder from Scribe Writing Essentials–but none of them can compare to this.
You might be surprised if I say that in the calligraphy community, we compare paper to babies’ butts. Read on to find out why.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PAPER
Paper has always been a necessity to me, or so I would like myself to believe. From all the stacks of paper in my room, here are a few calligraphy-friendly paper brands that want to be your friend, too!
- Rhodia Pads
I first read about these pads on The Fountain Pen Network when I was looking for calligraphy resources on the internet because back then, I had nobody to ask about these things I’m telling you now. I got them from Fully Booked and Scribe Writing Essentials. These pads come in dotted or grid pad variants and are perfect for practice and drills.
- Calligrapads by The MD Writes
Have you ever touched a baby’s butt and told yourself, “I want paper as smooth as this”? Neither have I. Lucky for us, we don’t have to because we already have Calligrapads! These super smooth pads come in different colors and sizes, perfect for indecisive hoarders like me who usually end up buying each of every kind anyway. Seriously, they’re as smooth as a baby’s butt! <3
- Swirls and Strokes Dotted Practice Pad
I got this pad from the Swirls and Strokes workshop. I love the minimalist cover design and the calligraphy-friendly paper that has the right amount of smoothness and thickness in all its creamy, 85gsm glory.
If you check out Calligrapads, you will see that this certain NotePad design is no longer available. I bought this when they first started and their Instagram account was still non-existent that you had to e-mail Dr. Gail of The MD Writes to order. The text on the cover and the logo behind were handwritten by Dr. Gail herself. Amazing, right? 🙂
To close this list of lists, there’s one last thing I believe any aspiring calligrapher must have: a good resource material.
THE READING NEVER STOPS
Besides medical books, I read these books too so I can further my knowledge in calligraphy and someday, become a good resource person for you as well. Now, you don’t have to buy every book in the photo as not all of them are available in our local bookstores. Here are some of what I read:
- Calligraphy School by Goffe & Ravenscroft
A friend lent me this book because her brother does calligraphy as well. It contains a lot of ideas for calligraphy projects.
- Complete Calligraphy Skills by Vivien Lunniss
This is one of my favorites, information-wise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a lot of material on modern calligraphy which is why I bought the third book.
- Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe
This is the third book. It’s incredibly popular among modern calligraphy aficionados. There aren’t a lot of information on technique, but plenty on modern calligraphy styles and project ideas.
- The ABCs of Hand Lettering by Abbey Sy
Who doesn’t love Abbey Sy? This book features some of my favorite calligraphers and letterers in the country. It talks mostly about lettering, which is the art of drawing letters.
Apart from these books, what I always tell my workshop students or friends who are interested in calligraphy or are planning to buy calligraphy supplies online is to do a lot of research on calligraphy and on the items they want and need. It took me a lot of trial and error just to obtain the right kind of paper, ink, nibs, etc.
A few months ago, calligraphy supplies in Iloilo were so difficult to find that I had to order everything online or shop for them in Manila, and none of those ways are convenient. Should you like to know more about calligraphy supplies or if you have questions that need answering, just comment below or send me an e-mail, whichever works for you, and I’ll try my best to answer. Calligraphy has been spreading like wildfire in our little city and I’ve always been eager to help anyone and everyone interested in this craft.