When you're just getting started in calligraphy, it can be pretty overwhelming to consider what supplies are needed. There are so many different types of inks, nibs, holders, paper, etc. that without guidance from more experienced calligraphers, you'd have no idea what you need or what you don't. At least that was how I felt. (Retweet, anyone?) So after more than a year or so practicing calligraphy now, and quite a bit of research on many different products, I've found there are a few supplies that I consider my staples.
Stephanie's Favorite Calligraphy Supplies
- Nikko G Nib - My current favorite nib as it's more rigid / firm than the Brause nib and it makes a very nice hairline stroke. If you're like me and keep a death grip on your pens / pencils when writing, then you might really enjoy this nib. I feel like I have better control when using this one. I also recommend trying the "Zebra G" as it's slightly more flexible than the Nikko.
- Brause 66EF Nib - Old faithful. This is the nib I first started practicing script calligraphy with. It's very flexible and I often think I might break it while writing. Many of my friends have. Nibs aren't meant to last forever, so it's a good thing they aren't expensive.
- Speedball Oblique Holder - The oblique holder helps you to achieve the correct angle when writing in script. These are great little holders for practice! These are really great and inexpensive little starter holders. If you plan on practicing calligraphy more regularly, then I'd recommend upgrading to a holder tailored more specifically to your favorite nib, and one that's a "comfort grip."
- Bienfang Translucent Marker Paper - I use this paper when practicing my letters or doing the layout for a piece I'm working on. It's translucent which makes it perfect for layering over a grid when practicing. And it doesn't bleed! (Note - the link takes you to a generic Bienfang page, so just be sure you get the pad that says translucent.) It's also really great when you're planning to digitize your work.
- Black Sumi Ink - The most basic and really good black ink. It has a nice consistency and looks really nice on most papers. Others to try are Higgins Eternal or Moon Palace Sumi.
- Modern Calligraphy book by Molly Suber Thorpe - I love this book. It includes many great instructions and tips for getting started, and my favorite part of the book is the section on samples of variations of letters. I never thought I could imagine so many ways to draw all 26 letters of the alphabet!
- Dr. Ph Martin's Copperplate Gold Ink - Gold, gold, gold - give me everything gold. I say it, and I know you say it right now, too. Everyone does. And this is the perfect gold ink for calligraphy work. You just have to mix it frequently as the pigment will settle at the bottom. I also recently ordered the silver and copper, and they are also great!
- Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White Ink - I love this white. It's my favorite. I find it to be a bit too thick for my personal preference, so I mix it with a bit of water until it's a better consistency for my work. Distilled water is recommended for adding to your inks to keep it pure and prevent potential molding over time.
- Huion Light Pad - I could probably do a whole post on how much I love this light pad, and I probably will. Let's be honest, as a beginner you probably won't need this, but as soon as you start doing jobs for people, especially lettering envelopes, you'll start thinking you need a light pad. This is a darn good one - thin, variable light options, and large surface! And it's a super good price for a light pad.
- Clear T-Square - This comes in very handy when lining up your work or getting your spacing right. I like the clear ones so that I can see exactly how my letters are spaced.
A few other things that I didn't include on this list, but couldn't do my work without are pencils for sketching, little pots to hold your ink, and good quality erasers.
Where to Shop
My favorite store to shop for supplies is by far John Neal Bookseller. They are fast and super friendly. Another great resource is Paper & Ink Arts. And if you're lucky enough to be in the Dallas area, then there are some great shopping options here: I highly recommend checking out Asel Art Supply for markers, some inks, gouache (for color mixing inks), etc. And in my opinion, Susie-Melissa at Calligraphic Arts has the best selection of nibs to shop in Dallas. She is, after all, the guru and the nicest person ever.
If anyone has other supplies that you use and love, I would love to know about them in the comments!