Essential supplies and kit for modern calligraphy beginners

When I decided to start a calligraphy business one of my reasons was the low setup cost. Writing costs almost nothing – the main investment is your time. But what are the very, very basics you’ll need to try calligraphy?

I wanted to write a short & sweet guide to learning modern calligraphy from scratch. I hope it might help and encourage you to dip your toes in calligraphic waters!

Image: Emma Pilkington Photography

Day 1: your kit

If you were to start calligraphy as a brand new hobby next weekend, this is what you couldn’t do without – your most basic shopping list.

  1. Decent printer / copier paper (at least 100gsm)
  2. A dip pen and nib (straight or oblique penholder and a pointed nib – I recommend the Nikko G)
  3. Ink or paint – basic ‘Calli’ ink, or watercolour / gouache paint

Your total spend for that first day doesn’t need to be much more than the price of your lunch.

Image: Emma Pilkington Photography

Making those first marks on paper is simple – but you absolutely must have the right nib (a pointed one with the right amount of flex for beginners – most ‘G’ nibs are fine) – and a penholder it will fit.

I like Nikko G nibs – they’re reliable, well made and not too sharp, so they’re easy to use.

Speedball oblique or straight penholders – the black plastic ones – are affordable, comfortable to hold and easy to use.

Paper is important. Cheap papers (80 or 90gsm) will cause your ink to ‘bleed’ on the page, which is so frustrating when you’re trying to practise.

Likewise inks can cause bleed issues. I recommend Calli inks because they’re widely available even in high street craft and art shops. They’re OK quality wise, and certainly good enough for practice. Avoid cheap fountain pen inks and Indian inks though – some are very poor quality and will cause bleed on your paper.

If you’re arty and have watercolour paint or gouache lying around at home, these work just as well as ink. Mix to a runny consistency with water and off you go!

Find beginners modern calligraphy tutorials online and enjoy!

Try my online calligraphy workshop for just £30

Buy my book here… An Introduction to Modern Calligraphy

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