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The 5 basic materials you MUST have for modern calligraphy (and certainly #5 is an important one!) | The 5 basic materials you MUST have for modern calligraphy

by Judith Joosten 06 Mar 2019

Would you like to be able to do beautiful calligraphy ? But you have no idea where to start? In this blog you can read the 5 things you absolutely need for calligraphy success - so that you can start with modern calligraphy with confidence.

1. The pen holder
We'll start with the most obvious part: the pen holder. For modern calligraphy you need a completely different pen than the normal ballpoint or fountain pen. You can buy a very fancy pen (especially because it looks nice) but a pen holder like this one will also suffice. I am often asked whether you can achieve the same effect with a fountain pen as with a dip pen, but unfortunately that is not the case. You really need a ( straight or oblique) pen holder, along with the next part…

2. The Nib
The nib (also called the nib) is the smallest, but most important part of your basic materials. Before you start calligraphy, slide the nib into your dip pen to complete your pen. You dip the nib (almost completely!) in the ink and place it on the paper, releasing ink when you apply some pressure. This is how you form your lines and ultimately your letters. There are many different nibs with different character traits and it takes some time to find which nib works best for you. These and these nibs are experienced as the most pleasant by my novice course participants.

3. Ink
There are many different inks to choose from - but there is a difference in quality. Typically, my students expect India ink to be the way to go and while I understand where this is coming from, I wouldn't recommend starting with this. India ink is very watery and a bit fragile. It drips quickly from your pen and causes 'blobs' on your paper. It is also difficult to wash out of your clothes and believe me... With modern calligraphy, messing is inevitable!

What is a good alternative then? Sumi ink . And preferably the slightly more expensive version. The result is exactly the same as India ink, but it stays on your nib better while you write, allowing you to focus on writing the letters instead of being frustrated about the smudges on your paper... And, it's washable. Win win!

4. Paper
Good calligraphy paper is not difficult to find - you just have to know what you want to look for. A good point to pay attention to is the smoothness of your paper. Is it stringy? There is a good chance that the ink will run off. Try to use smooth paper with little structure. Rhodia is my favorite, but marker paper or basically anything smooth without a coating is fine to use. Have you gained some more experience with your dip pen? Then you might want to try watercolor paper. It is less smooth, but black ink looks beautiful on it!

5. Good explanation
Yep, the most important point if you ask me; the right explanation! You don't know how many stumbling students I've had at the table who got as far as purchasing the right materials, but ultimately didn't know how to use them. And I get it, learning calligraphy goes completely against your habits in many ways. You hold the pen in a different way, the pressure on your pen is different from your normal writing style and then you have that notebook that is all written together... A lot to pay attention to in the beginning!

That is why it is extremely important that you receive a clear explanation. Find a calligrapher who has a lot of experience and is consistent in his or her story to explain it to you. Of course we will also give you tools to get started; all you have to do is follow the upcoming blogs! Much good promises to come...

Do you want to be sure of the right combination of calligraphy materials and good explanations? After years of trying and gaining experience, together with Splendith, I have put together a starter kit that fits perfectly for the novice calligrapher.

Subscribe to our mailing list for updates & unique information!

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Would you like to be able to make beautiful calligraphy ? But have no idea where to start? In this blog you will read the 5 things you absolutely need for calligraphy success - so that you can start confidently with modern calligraphy.

1. The pen holder
We'll start with the most obvious part: the pen holder. For modern calligraphy, you need a completely different pen than the normal ballpoint or fountain pen. You can buy a really fancy pen (mainly because it looks nice), but a pen holder like this one will do the trick. I often get the question of whether you can achieve the same effect with a fountain pen as with a dip pen, but unfortunately, that is not the case. You really need a ( straight or oblique) pen holder, along with the following part ...

2. The Nib
The nib is the smallest, but most important part of your base materials. Before starting calligraphy, slide the nib into your dip pen to complete it. You dip the nib (almost completely!) in the ink and put it on the paper, which releases ink by applying some pressure. With that, you form your lines and ultimately your letters. There are many different nibs with different characteristics and it takes a while to find out which nib works best for you. These and these nibs are the most pleasant to work with, according to my former workshop participants.

3. Ink
There are so many different inks to choose from - but there's a difference in quality. Most of the time my students expect India ink to be the way to go. While I understand where this comes from, I wouldn't recommend starting with this. India ink is very watery and a bit fragile. It quickly drips off your pen causing a "blob" on your paper. It's also hard to wash out of your clothes and believe me .. With modern calligraphy mess is inevitable!

What's a good alternative then? Sumi ink. And preferably the slightly more expensive variant. The result is exactly the same as India ink, but it sticks better to your nib as you write, allowing you to focus on writing the letters instead of getting frustrated with the marks on your paper ... And, it's washable. Win win!

4.Paper
Good calligraphy paper isn't difficult to find - you just need to know what to look for. A good thing to look out for is the smoothness of your paper. Is it stringy? There is a good chance that the ink will run out here. Try to use smooth paper with little texture. Rhodia is my favorite, but marker paper or basically anything that is smooth with no coating is fine. Have you gained a bit more experience with your dip pen? Then you can try watercolor paper. It's less smooth, but black ink looks beautiful on it!

5.Good explanation
Yeah, the most important thing if you ask me; the correct explanation! You don't want to know how many stumbling students I've had at the table who got to the point of purchasing the right materials, but ultimately didn't quite know how to use them. And I get it, learning calligraphy goes completely against your habits in many areas. You hold the pen in a different way, the pressure on your pen is different from your normal writing style. Then you have that font that's all written together ... A lot to pay attention to in the beginning!

That is why it is extremely important that you get a clear explanation. Find a calligrapher who is experienced and consistent in his or her story to explain it to you. Of course, we will also give you the tools to get started; all you have to do is follow the upcoming blogs! Much good promises to come...

Do you want to be sure of the right combination of calligraphy materials and a good explanation? After years of trying and gaining experience, together with Splendith, I have put together a starter kit that fits perfectly for the novice calligrapher.

Subscribe to our mailing list for updates and unique information!

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first name
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