Basic Calligraphy Kit
Nibs what? - Don’t fret my friend, I got you! But first, woohoo! It’s so exciting that you decided to dabble on this beautiful art called calligraphy. And I genuinely understand the overwhelming feeling of looking for tools and materials that you need to invest EXACTLY at this early stage. I will share with you the materials and products that I actually use and recommend, and where to buy them locally in the Philippines.
I hope that this helps you source the right tools you need to start your learning journey. Ready to dive in? Let’s go then!
First off, let’s talk about the paper. In calligraphy, you need a good paper that is smooth and can hold up ink intended for calligraphy use. For practice, I personally use Rhodia A4 size unlined pads and PaperOne Digital 100 GSM which are available at National Bookstore branches.
The smooth textured paper makes it more ideal and friendly for beginners as the nib will glide on it effortlessly. Also, it will be easier to put the guidelines underneath or print directly on them for more effective practice. As you grow your skill and confidence in writing and control, you can then start trying out a more textured paper like watercolour paper (rough or cold press type) and handmade papers.
Aside from smoothness, you also need to consider the paperweight. I recommend both papers because they can hold up ink well and prevent bleeding or feathering. It is essential to use the right paper type and weight to avoid frustration because your ink looks blotchy or scattering away. At a minimum, you should use all-purpose or digital papers with 80 GSM weight.
There are tons of ink to choose from, and you might fancy using those pretty metallic, shimmery ink. But hold your horses (or wallet?) because you don’t need them just yet. For a start, one of the main goals is to learn how to use calligraphy ink and control its flow from your nib as you write. The best option you need to have in your kit is a good-quality walnut ink and black Sumi ink.
A walnut ink may come as granules that you can dissolve with water or as ready-to-use ink. I like walnut ink because of its beautiful brown, organic colour. It is however not waterproof but is totally fine for practice. You can buy a bottle of walnut ink from The Craft Central.
I have tried several black Sumi inks that are available locally, and my personal favourite is Kuretake Sumi Black Ink, which is available in National Bookstore and Craft Carrot. This ink is waterproof, made from high-quality materials and flows beautifully. I also use this ink for my client projects!
The pen holder is the tool that you are actually going to hold in your hand, acting as a bridge between you and the steel nib. Pen holders are usually made from wood, plastic, acrylic or resin and come in two different types: straight and oblique.
Straight pen holder looks similar to a normal ballpoint pen, where it has a straight shape and holds the nib at the end part. Oblique pen holders, on the other hand, has a metal flange at the end that holds the nib at an angle, making it easier to write following a particular slant.
Just like any other tool, choosing the right pen holder goes down to personal preference and will depend on your muscle movement. For a start, I recommend that you get an affordable, quality pen holder that you can try and practice with. As of writing, there is a 2-in-1 pen holder, called Moblique, available in the market that can transform into either straight or oblique pen holder. This lets you experience both styles and help you find out which type of pen holder you are most comfortable with.
Personally, I prefer to use an oblique pen holder as I find it more comfortable with my hand.
There are different types of nib for different calligraphy style, and for this series, we’re focusing on pointed nibs. Nibs are made of steel and are disposable. This little piece of steel is the one that you attach to your pen holder, dip into your inkwell and touches the paper as you write or draw.
For beginners, I would recommend the G nibs like Nikko G, Tachikawa G or Zebra G. These type of nibs are considered not too flexible (medium flex) which makes it perfect for who is starting out in learning how to use and control the nib. Being fairly stiff has its advantage as it will not easily break, and let you focus more on holding the pen, the letterforms and arm movement. Although the G nibs are not too flexible, it can still create a variation of line thickness depending on the amount of pressure you put. If you have a naturally light hand as you write, you can try a more flexible nib like Hunt 22B or Hunt 56. Compared to G nibs, this nib requires less pressure to make thicker lines.
And that’s all you need to have for your first, basic calligraphy kit! Nothing fancy, but a right and straightforward materials that can help you get started and progress with your study.
You can buy calligraphy materials from my trusted online stores (Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by these shops, but they are my go-to sites when it’s time to refill my supplies and for some occasional hoarding! Teehee!):
Hope this help you out in choosing and buying your first calligraphy kit. If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to put it in the comment section below! :)