There is definitely something romantic about the ancient art and historical nostalgia of calligraphy. To simply define it as ‘beautiful writing’ is apt as it comes from two Greek words: ‘kallos’ which means ‘beauty’ and ‘graphein’ which means ‘to write.’ The personalised and tactile experience of creating expressive, rhythmic brushstrokes and beautiful lettering with artistic flourishes is almost magical and a wonderful reprieve from impersonal and generic technological emojis, gifs and Whatsapp acronymic lingo.
The elegant penmanship achieved with calligraphy art supplies has many artists and crafters putting pen to paper. Nib pens, little jewel-coloured ink bottles and handmade paper are just the beginning of a love affair with fancy lettering.
The basics of mastering the art of calligraphy start with investing in the right tools and supplies. This is followed by learning the various techniques and understanding which pens suit the various scripts or styles.
If you are a beginner, here are a few basic calligraphy supplies you will need before you put pen to paper.
#1 Calligraphy pens
As a beginner, you will soon become aware of the vast range of calligraphy scripts out there and that certain pens are better suited to specific scripts (aka styles). The different size nibs result in different size strokes.
- Broad edge pens are ideally suited for scripts which include Gothic, Italic, Roman Capitals and Foundation Hand. as a beginner, it is easier to practice with a broad edge fountain pen (which uses cartridges) compared to a broad edge nib pen which will need loose ink to dip into.
- Pointed nib calligraphy (fountain) pens create delicate, smooth flowy and elegant line strokes. If you are in love with the Copperplate, Spencerian, and Modern scripts, then these are the pens to invest in. They also use cartridges (in a broad range of colours) which allow continuous ink flow.
- Dip pens with pointed nibs come either with a straight holder or oblique holder which helps with achieving varying angles. These calligraphy nib pens are probably more suited to more professional calligraphy artists as they require a bit more practice and need nib maintenance. But once you have mastered some of the practice strokes, they certainly crest beautiful lettering.
- Brush pens/markers are the most popular option for modern calligraphy enthusiasts and novices. The colours, flexible nibs and constant ink flow allow ease of practice with the contrasting upstrokes and downstrokes as well as beautiful penmanship results.
#2 Calligraphy paper
Once again, calligraphy paper supplies are broad but also dependent on the type of pen you are using. If you are struggling with feathering, bleeding or fine hairlines, then your paper is probably the problem.
- Rhodia paper is perfect if you are partial to calligraphy cartridge pens or nib pens and will not allow bleeding or smudging. It comes blank, lined or with gridlines for everyday practice.
- Onion Skin paper is really affordable and see-through; making it ideal for laying on top of calligraphy guidelines. It is also super smooth and photographs and scans really well. It will always handle calligraphy ink better than tracing paper.
- Marker layout paper is semi-transparent but more substantial than tracing paper and therefore able to handle calligraphy ink pens and brush pens.
- Tracing paper and heavier-weight printer paper (32lb) are best suited for calligraphy brush pens or markers.
#3 Calligraphy strokes
Practising the art of calligraphy is as simple as mastering a few basic strokes. The golden rule to bear in mind for any stroke is that the upstroke is always light and the downstroke is always heavy – creating the contrast thicknesses that calligraphy lettering is renowned for.
Here is a list of the basic strokes you need to master:
- Upstrokes – light or no pressure (hairline)
- Downstrokes – full pressure
- Entrance and exit strokes – curvy upstroke connecting letters
- Underturn stroke – a thick downstroke curving to thin a thin upstroke
- Overturn stroke – a thin upstroke curving to a thick downstroke
- Compound curve stroke – a combination of underturn and overturn stroke
- Oval stroke – Always start from the side, not the top
There is an innate appreciation of beauty in each one of us. And it is so easy to be awed by the elegant penmanship and beautiful art of calligraphy lettering. Investing in a couple of art supplies is one of the simplest ways to appreciate the simple beauty of calligraphy scripts, express your creativity and say what you feel with a flourish.