Hi! My name is Han! I have been doing modern calligraphy for a couple of years now, and when I first started, I scoured dozens of calligraphy blogs to find the “best calligraphy supplies for beginners.”
While most calligraphers will agree on some supplies, others will be entirely based on your own preference. I’m hoping this blog will help you narrow down the items for your starter kit, by showing you my absolute faves!
I have had the hourglass oblique from PaperInkArts since I started, and it is my true workhorse. I tried the straight holder, but found that the oblique holder made slanted writing a lot easier, and I have never looked back! The hourglass holder has a bullock flange, which makes it super easy to use any size nib.
(PS. I use this screwdriver set to adjust the small screw of the bullock flange, and it also comes in handy for one of my favorite tools – to be covered in a later blog.)
Last year, I treated myself to nicer obliques from Huy Hoang Dao and Chic Obliques that I love for their lightness. However, they do not have bullock flanges and will require reshaping with pliers for use with different nibs.
My favoritest nib is the Blanzy 2552, a vintage French nib that can be found on Ebay. Ink flow is easy, the nibs last a long time, and it has great flex. A great addition to any beginner’s stash.
My second favorite nib is the Brause EF66 – a tiny nib with a big heart! Capable of really thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. This nib is my go to for writing on agate slices.
Most calligraphers will also recommend:
- Nikko G, a bit stiff, so good for heavy handed writers. I might be the only person who doesn’t love this nib, since I prefer nibs with some flex
- Blue Pumpkin nib (two versions available, one from Brause and one from Leonardt) – huge blue nib that is easy to write with – very smooth
- Leonardt Principal EF – lovely thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, very flexy
- Hunt 101 – a great one that is almost as flexible as the Leonardt Principal
Inks and metallics!
My primary go-to ink is Moon Palace sumi ink. I bought a 15 oz bottle one year ago, and still have half of the bottle left, despite using this ink for everything! Practice, dipdying, marbling, painting, and envelope addressing! It’s an amazing ink – and it is not super corrosive on nibs, as compared to other sumi inks.
PH Martin’s bleedproof white is the best white ink ever. The ink can sometimes appear chalky if it’s mixed too thick, so try to thin it with water to a light cream consistency. The ink may also dry out in the bottle, but just add water, let it soak in, stir and good as new! Endless life!
For non-paper goods, such as agate or marble, I use acrylic ink, so that the calligraphy is water resistant and more durable:
- PH Martin makes my favorite gold ink –previously called Spectralite 54 18k gold, it seems to have been renamed PH Martin 34PC gold (still looks exactly the same). PH Martin Iridescent Gold is great also, but the Spectralite is a little brighter.
- FW Acrylic makes the perfect white acrylic ink that works well on rocks, glass and agate.
Finetec is probably the most beloved item in every calligrapher’s stash – the mica pigment is so sparkly and wonderful. Just add water to the pan, swirl your brush, and brush it onto the backside of the nib, and then write!
Pearl Ex, mixed with gum arabic, makes lovely metallic inks for the pointed nib – Bien Fait Calligraphy has a great how-to video on that. The ink mixture can also be dried out in the container, and revived with water for use again and again!
(As seen in the photos, I put distilled water and gum arabic into smaller eye dropper bottles for more control in thinning inks and adding water to Finetec palettes. These cheap blue bottles are my favorite!)