If you’re like me, I’ve always found videos of calligraphy that show up on my Facebook newsfeed really therapeutic and mesmerizing to watch. And so, two years ago, I began to rummage through the internet for online tutorials and printed out masses of practice sheets to begin my newfound hobby.
I started from my local craft store, Michaels, and bought several nibs, nib holders, black india ink and a pad of smooth marker paper. From there it was practice, practice, practice until I started developing a preferred style of writing that seemed most natural to me. Below, you can see a layout of the nibs I have collected over the past two years, along with a few of the pen holders that accompany it.
Nibs + Holders
The Speedball/Hunt nibs were the first few I bought from DeSerre’s: they come in a pack with two holders. The great thing about nibs (or calligraphy in general) is that they are really affordable…but keep in mind that they are also fragile if you don’t store them well. The ones I buy typically range ~$1-2 CAD each. My absolute favourite nibs are the Leonardt 40 (I use this one the most) and the Hunt 99. I find that I tend to steer towards nibs that are more flexible (less stiff) because it helps me write more naturally.
Nikko G and Zebra G are the couple I read lots of blog posts on. I was able to track down a couple of small art stores that carry these nibs in Hong Kong, and being super inexpensive they also came in packs of three in the case that one may accidentally be broken or misplaced. Here’s a quick comparison between the raved on Nikko G and my favourite Leonardt 40.
I don’t believe there’s anything special to talk about about my holders. The one you see on the top with a part that sticks out is the oblique holder. It basically helps you write on an angle that some people may find difficult when writing with a regular holder, but I don’t tend to steer towards it. I find that I grab my Tachikama wooden holder the most as most of my nibs fit in it. For my smaller nibs I use the brown Hunt holder that I purchased with the nibs — again, really affordable.
Ever since I laid hands on my Finetec Pearl Metallic Inks palette I have never let it go. I absolutely LOVE the iridescent glow that it produces when activated with water. Used typically for watercolour brushes, I use a few drops of water and mix it with a small brush for several seconds, then paint it onto the nib. It’s not the cheapest out there, and I purposely purchased it on my last trip to Hong Kong because it was difficult to find in Vancouver. Nevertheless…absolutely stunning.
I did start off with using black india ink but it’s been getting old and I haven’t thought of replacing it since I always just use the Finetec palette. With the help of Photoshop, I digitize my writing and invert the metallic ink on black paper which gives the look of black ink written on white paper (#lifehacks).
I started off using your standard white paper, but found that the sharp (fragile) tip of the nibs would repeatedly catch onto the paper and gave a rigid feel to my writing. I purchased a marker pad from Michael’s that really helps with that problem. The paper is really soft and light, which helps with write smooth, continuous lines so I definitely recommend it for practicing. Typically, I like to use just any card stock I can get my hands on. My mom really enjoys making cards and she has collected a TON of coloured card stock paper, so I usually just take some to use and it’s great for calligraphy too.
Calligraphy really does take time and practice. At one point when I started, there were times when I did feel discouraged because I wasn’t satisfied with it! In the beginning, I had really wonky, awkward strokes and it really didn’t feel right to me. Those are also the times you need to push through and give yourself even more reason to keep working on it because it takes time so remember to be patient with yourself. Once you start to feel progressively more comfortable, you’ll start to develop your own writing style. I still do feel incompetent sometimes and I really do like keeping calligraphy as a hobby because I know I definitely still have room for improvement! Hope this helps.