Calligraphy Beginner's Tips

I often receive inquiries about mastering the art of calligraphy, and while I can't share proprietary information on my ink, nibs and other materials, I would like to share some general information on how to get started with calligraphy.

The most important thing is finding the right pen and ink that works for you - it is a personal art and every hand is different. The best pen for you will depend on how heavily you hold it and press down. I tend to have a heavy hand, so I press really hard on my nibs (the part of the pen that comes into contact with the paper surface and deposits ink) and therefore need a firmer nib so the ink doesn't spill out on the paper. I use pens with interchangeable nibs because I have to change them often due to my volume of work. With more "wear and tear" the nibs go dull and start to not work effectively. They can catch on the paper and splatter the ink, or the ink will not flow as nicely onto the paper. If you find that your pen is catching and splattering and you are using a brand new nib, or that all the ink is running out onto the paper, you probably need a firmer nib!

The next step is finding the type of ink that best suits your writing style or the work you are doing. I don't like India ink because it tends to bleed a lot, and I also stay away from waterproof ink as it often clogs the nib and doesn't flow well. Windsor and Newton makes a good ink. Bottles run about $2-$10 each varying by brand. Sometimes you will put your pen to the paper and it will just bleed and bleed -- not a good look for your beautiful calligraphy. So what I like to do is put a few drops of Gum Arabic into the ink to thicken it up. The gum arabic makes the ink rise off the paper, rather than bleed into it and is very effective. You'll want a few types of inks because not all inks will work well with all papers.

I recommend ordering a Copperplate starter set online from Paper and Ink Arts {a source that is a fantastic resource for calligraphy supplies} and several different types {and colors even} of ink. The set comes with about 12 different nibs, so you can test them all out and see what works for you. Then you can order the individual tips you like best on their own once you figure it out. It’s all very subjective and experimentation is best to see what works and what you like and don’t like.

Good luck!


Claire. said...

Thanks a lot for thoses tips ! I'm doing calligraphy today for my sister's wedding, and it's quite a big job... I'm not a pro at all, but I love it !:)

Parsing Nonsense said...

I love fine calligraphy! I took a calligraphy class in 6th grade and it's something that's stuck with me. Such a beautiful art...

{The Perfect Palette} said...

Such great tips! thanks for sharing!

She Escobar said...

Your calligraphy is elegant and stunning! You just earned yourself another fan! :)

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