Want to start calligraphy but do not know what basic calligraphy supplies to buy and how to choose from? I have been there and I hear your pain 🙁 In this post I am mostly going to concentrate of budget supplies, how to choose from the many varieties and brands, and help you get started with your calligraphy practice. But before that I highly recommend that you read my earlier post on “beginners guide to calligraphy & lettering” to know what supplies suit your style of calligraphy and then come back here for knowing more on the basic calligraphy supplies.
Basic calligraphy supplies : PEN
The first and basic supply you need is your pen. Depending on whether you want to pursue brush pen calligraphy or pointed pen calligraphy, you would either need a brushpen or a pointed pen set.
POINTED PEN CALLIGRAPHY :
If you have gone through my earlier calligraphy posts, you would’ve sure understood the fundamental of pointed pen calligraphy. Unlike a fountain pen, a pointed nib is way more flexible, in the sense that the moment you apply a slight pressure , the nib will split open along the tines at the center, enabling you to write in strokes of varying width, which is the basic thing you need to learn in pointed pen calligraphy.
We are so used to writing with so much pressure and stress that as a beginner working with flexible nibs, it can be a bit overwhelming to see the nibs going wide open and also cases where they never get back to its original shape 😛 I started off with nikko- G after reading reviews & recommendations by the postman’s knock and I have been forever grateful to her for the post she has on her blog. Even thought it has a relatively lesser flex, I still couldn’t manage to accept how much it was opening up with even the slightest pressure but I swear it has been the most forgiving nib I have ever owned! The nikko-G is a relatively long nib, its sharp, its less flexible and it has a big well, and it fits into a universal nib holder. Now for a pointed pen, unlike a fountain pen, they don’t come will body, cap and ink storage. They are just plain nibs that you have to insert inside nib holders so thats one another thing you must buy along with the nib itself.
Talking about holders, your nib is of absolutely no use without a nib holder – yes I made that mistake of ordering a holder for some “manga” nib or so I had no idea there was something called “universal holder” ! Most of the nibs will fit into universal nib holder excepting a few, so be sure to read the product description of the nib where recommendations for the nib holder will generally be mentioned or even linked.
There are two types of holders – straight holders and oblique holders. I had both of them from the beginning but I started using the oblique holder only a few days back because so far I never really understood how both worked differently 🙈. The straight nib holders retail for less than 150INR in Amazon so it’s pretty cheap. As for the oblique holder, as a beginner you dont need it but still if you feel like owning one, please do not buy the plastic speedball one – they arent that great.
BRUSH PEN CALLIGRAPHY :
Brushpen calligraphy is fairly simpler as you don’t have the trouble of assembling a pen, dipping it every time in the ink etc. Its more simpler to work with and also interesting but choosing the right supply is a bit confusing as there are just too many brands marketing too many types of brush pens and all of them look more or less the same! For starters, have a clarity on whats the kind of output you want – you want to make big posters? then you would need a thicker brush pen. Want to address names in envelopes? you need a thinner brush pen. Want to write wedding signboards? Go for a chalkboard marker. If you haven’t yet finalized your ultimate goal, then try the basic thick and thin tipped brush pens and gradually build your collections with what you like.
I am not much of a brush lettering enthusiast so I haven’t quite tried many brands of brush-pens but my suggestion from hat I have tried would be – Tombow fudenosuke soft tip, pentel brush pen, tombow dual tip brush pen. You have Camlin and Adgel pens retailing their own styles of brush pens but the nibs are big so you really cant write in smaller fonts with them, but worth a try.
Basic calligraphy supplies : INKS
The next basic calligraphy supplies you need is a calligraphy ink and never ever think of trying fountain pen ink for this, like I did 🙈 Calligraphy inks have more sticky thing (gum arabic) going on unlike fountain pen inks and that helps the ink in flowing properly, like this unbroken layer of ink flow even when you are flexing the nibs to the max. If you use fountain inks, you might feel the ink bubbling up into small drops over the surface of the nib and it will not have a steady flow at all. A good calligraphy ink is one of the best long term investment and I say this because I lost a couple of nibs in the learning but I am still using the one ink bottle which was my initial purchase. My first buy was speedball ink which now solidified because I hardly used it after falling in love with sumi ink. Sumi is jet black, it doesn’t spread unlike speedball which i felt spread one selective papers, and most importantly, the sumi ink dries off which this pretty shine giving it an embossed feel. I bought both of them from Amazon and it cost me somewhere around 400INR for the small bottle. Other than black, I own a gold again sumi, and I love it but I hardly use it but it has such awesome shimmer. I bought a white correction ink and diluted it for use as white ink but it never really worked out as my dilution consistency went wrong 😂 Dr.Ph Martins white Indian ink is my best friendn when I want to write on darker papers.
Basic calligraphy supplies : PAPERS
For either of the calligraphy practice, you need paper. Papers are important too, especially for pointed pen calligraphy, where in the beginning, you might feel like your nib is scratching the paper and the paper fibres get stuck between your nib. Try to use smoother paper, that have less fibres coming out so that your nibs move very smoothly. Any paper that doesn’t bloat and is smooth & thick paper is good.
I used to practice in classmates notebook but I felt that the paper becomes wavy as the ink takes time to dry. I however enjoy writing on fabriano dot grid book. I bought this book out of a whim because all calligraphers seemed to write on them. Although I have no idea why the dots are there, I like the paper, it’s smooth also is thick enough that you can write in both sides ( I hate that the book is glue bound – the papers keep falling off as I open 😂). There has been so much hype about rhodia and HP printer paper ( forgot the GSM) among calligraphers abroad but both these supplies aren’t available in India. I had a pack of JK printing paper (70gsm) that I was using for practicing earlier, right now working in the fabriano book, and when I run out, I’m gonna buy BILT executive sheets that I had tried earlier 😁
So winding it up, if you would ask me for a beginners basic calligraphy supplies kit, I would ask you to buy these :
- Nib : Nikko G – 8MYR (Rs.135) on stickerrificstore
- Holder : Straight nib holder – Rs.140/- on amazon
- Brushpen : Tombow fudenosuke soft tip , hard tip & dual tip combo pack – Rs.412/- on amazon
- Paper : Fabriano dot grid book – Rs.187/- on amazon.
- Ink : Sumi Ink 60 – Rs.399/- on amazon
You have got a really good basic calligraphy supplies kit under Rs.1250/- yaaay! So ready to kick-start your calligraphy journey? One last post in this series will be posted next weekend, mostly covering beginners mistakes ( which of course I learnt from my experience :P) and I hope you guys should be good to go and experience it all by yourself and learn through practice and progress.
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