Calligraphy, also known as the art of beautiful handwriting, is an art form that dates back to ancient China. I first became interested in this beautiful handwriting 6 years ago while planning my wedding. Even though I was a total beginner, I taught myself how to calligraph my invitations and was immediately hooked on this soothing hobby.
If you’re asking yourself how do I start calligraphy at home? I’ve got you covered. I’ve compiled a list of calligraphy essentials that I’ve trusted and used for years.
The Calligraphy Nibs That Are Perfect For Beginners
Whenever my friends are thinking about getting into calligraphy and ask my advice about which nib to start out with, I always recommend the Nikko G, which is one of the most popular nibs on the market. There’s a good reason for this.
The style and construction of this calligraphy nib make it not too flexible but also not too rigid, meaning you can use it for thin upstrokes and wide downstrokes with ease. Don’t forget to remove the protective coating before you use them for the first time. I just give mine a quick wipe down with rubbing alcohol.
The Straight Calligraphy Pen Nib Holder That’s Classic And Versatile
Now that you’ve got your nibs, you’ll need something to attach them to. This Calligraphy Penholder by Speedball is a favorite among amateurs and professionals. The plastic construction makes them virtually indestructible and they’re designed to hold a variety of nib styles.
This classic penholder is designed to fit snugly in your hand to maintain comfort and reduce strain. To use, simply insert the end of your Nikko G nib into the circular hole at the top for a tight and secure fit.
The Oblique Calligraphy Pen Nib Holder That Makes Strokes Easier
I have both a straight nib holder and an oblique version in my set and I always recommend having both options available for people who are just starting out with calligraphy. I go back and forth between the two depending on what project I’m working on.
While the straight version is, well, straight, the oblique one has a little flange that sticks out from the side that holds the nib. The oblique is usually recommended for beginners because it supposedly helps you to create thick and thin lines more naturally, but I suggest you try out both and decide which one you prefer.
The Calligraphy Ink That’s The Best Of The Best
Ask any avid calligrapher what ink they use for 90% of their projects and they’ll all say the same thing: Sumi Ink. This stuff has been popular among the hand-lettering community for decades, and it’s surprisingly affordable for such a high-quality product.
It’s a supremely dark, rich black that’s exceptionally smooth and becomes a lovely matte color that stays waterproof once fully dried. Sumi ink is one of those calligraphy essentials that everyone needs to have in their starter kit. I insist on keeping a bottle or two in my house at all times!
The Bleed-Proof White Ink That You Can Use On Various Surfaces
This brilliant white ink is completely opaque and is a great choice for writing on dark paper or envelopes as well as other more unique surfaces. I’ve used this to write names on gemstone slices for placeholders for a friend’s wedding and they turned out beautifully.
The bleed-proof nature of this Dr. Ph. Martin’s White Ink is a great way to increase your confidence when you’re just starting out since it ensures a strong, straight line every time. I recommend mixing it with a bit of water to thin it to your desired consistency.
The Metallic Calligraphy Ink That’s Oh-So Pretty
This gold ink was what I bought to address my emerald green envelopes for my wedding invitations, and I fell completely in love with calligraphy the minute I tried it (even though my letters looked fairly sloppy for the first 20 or so envelopes).
You may have noticed that this is the second ink from Dr. Ph. Martin’s on this list, and that’s because it’s been one of the most popular brands of calligraphy ink since 1934. If you’re looking for a rich, coppery gold color, this stuff delivers.
The Best Calligraphy Brush Pens On Amazon
Brush pens are another way to achieve the desired look of hand-lettering without the mess and cleanup that comes with traditional calligraphy tools. And while they take practice in their own right, once you’ve mastered them, they can be incredibly fun to use.
These Hand Lettering Pens by MISULOVE are a great set because they include various brush widths ranging from extra thin to a full-sized brush. I like to use these on more casual projects, like writing in a scrapbook or journal.
The Best Paper For Calligraphy That’s Smooth And Strong
Choosing the right paper is crucial when you’re first starting out. If you try to write on something that’s too coarse or doesn’t have a strong pound weight to it you can easily pierce the paper, which can get really frustrating. Trust me.
This pad not only has an ideal texture, but it also features slanted lines to give you the guidance you need to practice drawing letters and numbers. This builds your muscle memory and makes for consistency in your handwriting and lettering.
The Calligraphy Guide That I Still Use As A Reference
There are lots of calligraphy beginner’s guides out there, but I’ve found this one by Molly Suber Thorpe to be the perfect combination of easy to follow instructions, beautiful photography, and helpful tips. Even with my years of experience, I still refer to this book frequently.
This truly is the perfect guide for beginners, since it walks you through warm-up exercises and stroke drills so you gain confidence quickly. It’s also a great resource for learning difference flourishes, which add a lot to your projects and help you develop your personal style.
The Mechanical Pencil That Maps Out Your Projects
It’s really nice to have a quality pencil when working on calligraphy, and I like a mechanical pencil because it’s really thin with a softer weight lead so it erases really easily. I use it to draw guidelines and map out my project before I start them so there’s less of a chance that I’ll have to start over.
This style by Morning Glory has a soft lead that can be drawn super finely and is easily erased. Also, the thicker lead means you can practice your calligraphy strokes with it and not worry about wasting your ink. I’ve had this pencil for years and it’s still in perfect condition.
The Kneaded Eraser That Won’t Leave Behind Shavings
You may have heard of “gummy” erasers, which are known for their flexibility and soft texture. I love to use these to remove my mechanical pencil markings and am always shocked by how seamlessly they erase and leave zero shavings behind.
Also known as “kneaded erasers”, these ones by Faber Castell come in their own cases so they stay clean and protected. These are made specifically for erasing charcoal and pencil lines and, because it comes in a pack of 4, gives you a perfect supply for your starter kit.
The Calligraphy Ink Wells That Are 100% Leak-Proof
These nifty little ink wells are ideal for office/desk use or traveling. The lids screw on tightly and the bottoms are completely flat so you don’t have to worry about knocking them over and spilling your ink everywhere. I’ve ruined more than one project this way!
Because they’re glass, you can clean each bottle thoroughly and easily reuse. I use these to thin out my bleed-proof white ink with a bit of water or to mix powdered pigments with water to create vivid colors. The included funnel makes them easy to fill.
The Calligraphy Ruler Template That Make Adressing Envelopes A Cinch
I wish I had known about these Calligraphy Stencil and Ruler Templates by Letterings back when I was planning my wedding. I must have thrown out 500 envelopes because I didn’t space out my addresses correctly. These things are total game-changers.
The clear design helps you to see exactly what your script will look like on the envelope, and the two different sizes give you options for larger and smaller fonts. I got these for my sister-in-law when she was planning her wedding last summer and she still talks about how helpful they were.
The Laser Level That’s A Clever Calligraphy Hack
Here’s a great hack that I’ve turned a ton of my fellow calligraphy-obsessed pals onto: A laser level. This is the secret to writing straight lines without having to erase your pencil lines. Simply point it across your paper and turn it off when you’re done.
This one by BLACK+DECKER is surprisingly affordable and extremely accurate. I got it for my Mom when she first started doing calligraphy and it helped her immensely. I’ve also used it to re-hang all the artwork in my house, which I’d never noticed was ridiculously crooked.
The Calligraphy Pen Cleaner That Keeps Your Tools Clean
Sure, cleaning your tools after using them is probably the least fun part of calligraphy, but it’s also the most essential. Over time, ink can corrode nibs, meaning you’ll have to replace them more often. Cleaning them consistently is key for longevity.
Speedball makes an effective and easy-to-use pen and nib cleaner that you can buy on Amazon for under 10 bucks. To use, soak your nibs and nib holders in the cleaning solution for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.