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Learn Calligraphy – Four Things You Need To Start
Calligraphy is known as the art of “beautiful writing” and while it is relatively easy to learn it requires dedicated practice to master.
Many people nowadays start by learning what is called Modern Calligraphy as it is a great to learn the techniques involved in calligraphic strokes.
Fortunately practicing Calligraphy can be enjoyable and relaxing in much the same way that the Adult Colouring craze is. Some people even describe practicing Calligraphy as a kind of mindful meditation.
Before you can start to learn and practice Calligraphy, however, you will need to gather some supplies.
A Guide To Sourcing Supplies
The first item you should purchase is a nib.
A nib is the the pointed end of a pen that distributes ink on a page. Calligraphy uses nibs that are placed in a nib holder – more on that later – and they have a flexible pointed tip.
The flexibility of the nib is what makes the calligraphic lettering look interesting and also is what adds to the need for practice.
The sheer variety of nibs can be overwhelming to a beginner. As you begin to learn calligraphy you should begin using one or two models and practice with those until you become comfortable with them.
After you practice with your initial models you can then move on to other models. I recommend experimenting with one at a time, learning these thoroughly before moving on to another model.
I recommend the Nikko G (I would link here to what you have in stock) when you are just starting our as it is sturdy and reliable.
Calligraphy Nib Holder
Next up on your supply list with be a straight nib holder. There is one other type of nib holder the oblique holder. The straight holder is what I would recommend for the beginning calligrapher.
The nib holders(link to your stock here) come in plastic or wood and they tend to be fairly inexpensive. The straight holder can come with a universal/metal insert or a plastic inset.
The universal insert roughly resembles a four petaled flower with the petals facing inward.
The plastic inset is just a circular hole that allows you to insert the nib
Make sure when you are choosing your nib holder that you choose one with the universal insert.
Image Credit: GroupHunted’d
The metal flanges on the universal nib insert are adjustable with needle nose pliers to fit a variety of nibs.
Now you have your nib and nib holder and its time to consider your choice of calligraphy ink. You can do calligraphy with other mediums but I recommend using ink to start out with.
Sumi inks are carbon based and are good for both dip pen – or nib – and Chinese Calligraphy. Sumi would be my preferred choice for beginning calligraphers as it is a well-behaved ink that can produce both thick swells and thin hairlines.
Which Paper To Use When Starting to Learn Calligraphy
When it comes to Calligraphy not all paper is created equal. Two of the most common problems that occur with paper when writing calligraphy are bleed through and feathering.
Bleed through and feathering occur because poor paper quality or when the calligraphy ink is too wet for the paper.
Feathering refers to tiny hairline fractures spreading out from the original pen strokes.
Bleed through is the appearance of the ink leaking through the underside of the paper that has been written on. Severe bleed through will result in the underside of the paper being unusable.
When you practice you will want to use a smooth paper that is almost transparent – this is so you can use guide sheets underneath as you trace the letters. Layout Paper can be used as it doesn’t bleed and the surface is nice and smooth and won’t snag the nib.
I would not use normal printing paper. In general look for a paper that has a heavier weight – 80gsm or higher. One type of paper that is favored by many calligraphers and fountain pen users is Rhodia Paper. It is 80 gsm, high quality and smooth.
One of the best calligraphy papers is Tomoe River Loose Leaf. It is from Japan and is high quality and smooth. Though this paper is only 52 gsm it is slightly translucent and doesn’t bleed through or have feathering.
Preparing Your Nib and Workspace for Practicing Calligraphy
Now that you have your calligraphy supplies there are a couple of last preparation steps before you an begin practicing.
All manufacturer’s coat their nibs with a chemical residue to keep them from rusting. If this chemical layer is not stripped from the nib, it may not function correctly and cause you problems when you are writing.
Don’t worry though: removing the chemical layer is easy!
To remove the chemical from the nib simply dip it into alcohol or scrub it with soap and water. After you have washed the nib, rub it gently with a cloth to remove the oily residue.
When writing calligraphy, you move your entire arm including your elbow. This is unlike regular writing where you just move your hand. Therefore make sure your calligraphy writing space has room for you to move your arms freely.
Your workspace should allow for you to easily move down,turn your paper and to dip your nib in ink without causing you to knock anything over.
To facilitate you dipping your nib in the ink with ease make sure you place the ink well at the hand you write with. This will also prevent you from dripping ink on the paper.
If you are using a guide sheet to practice your lettering, you may want to tape it under your paper.
As you begin to practice sit as comfortable as you can and breathe slowly and deliberately.
Finally, when dipping your nib into the ink, make sure it gets covered evenly about halfway up the nobs well (this is the little hole you see in the middle.
Now you are ready to learn how to write calligraphy!
You Have The Supplies, Now Practice!
In this article we looked at the essential supplies you need to learn calligraphy.
You now know what type of nib and nib holder to use. You have an understanding of calligraphy ink and paper to ensure your successful practice and craft.
Now all that remains is for you to go out and do it.
I hope that you enjoy writing calligraphy and get many years of satisfaction out of this beautiful art form.