My Favorite Tools for Calligraphy

10 April: Updated with link to the stores mentioned!

So a new month new year! 

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Perhaps in the new year you’d like to pick up something new, or you have always wanted to learn calligraphy, so here i am sharing my favorite tools for calligraphy! 

So first, the pen holder! 

See how well loved (aka dirty lolol) these 2 holders are

See how well loved (aka dirty lolol) these 2 holders are

For the beginners who are absolutely clueless on learning calligraphy, the one on the right is the one that normally i recommend-Speedball Pen Holder. It doesn’t break the bank (RM18) and it allows one to get familiarise on how to write with these wand like thing! It comes in oblique and straight, i’d recommend using oblique as you may find yourself putting too much pressure if you are using the straight holder. An oblique holder allows you to control the thin and thick strokes better!

And when you feel you are getting better, you can try getting the hand turned holder (RM120 and you can find them in both cziplee and stickerrific). I use this holder for almost 2 years and they indeed provide a better grip compare to the speedball.

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These 3 pen holders are from Michael Sull and i really like them alot! If you are just into modern calligraphy, the previous 2 mentioned pen holder will do the job fine. However if you decide to advance your skill and take things more seriously, i’d suggest to invest in a good pen holder, especially from those penman who specialized in that particular script (e.g Copperplate, Spencerian, Italian etc), as it actually has a certain angle that allows you to write the script perfectly. There are alot of fancier penholders (painted, galaxy, ergonomic etc), but these Michael Sull’s pen holders are really light, very good angle for Spencerian script, and they are not that expensive too (approximately RM290 when i bought them that time). So i guess i’ll be using them till death lolol

Next up, nibs

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There are lotsa nibs out there. Soft, medium, hard. These two are my favorites-Nikko G and Hunt Principal. One is hard (Nikko G) while one is soft & flexible (Hunt Principal). Initially i like flexible nibs alot and i really do not like Nikko G, but after attending Michael Sull’s workshop seeing how he works with Nikko G makes me change my mind on this nib, and it’s one of my fav now!

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And once you are comfortable using either, perhaps you can try these two-EF66 and Blanzy 2552. It may require you to have extra investment, as EF66 is a smaller nib so a different pen holder is needed, while for the Blanzy it’s actually a vintage nib, so you can only get them online (ebay or etsy), where currency is not on favorable for us in Malaysia T.T 

And Ink!

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Walnut ink! I love it so much till you see i have a 4oz walnut crystal, which i think will last till forever lol. I love that how you can dilute them to make them watery, or make the consistency thicker as a very dark ink! One jar of crystal cost around RM20 in Stickerrific (the one on the bottom with gold cap) and it’ll last you for quite a long time! 

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For black ink especially if for digitizing work i always use this Sumi ink (see how kiasu i am to buy extra bottles just in case). It’s super dark and has a glossy finish which makes it looks great when scanned. However i find them quite corrosive to the nib so make sure you clean the nib properly after use!

Lately i’ve been using Ecoline watercolor ink alot too for calligraphy (the “january 2018” picture was written with Ecoline!). Especially this grey 718, i love how soft and vintage look it gives! 

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And if you’d like to try out colored ink, i recommend this two brand-Ziller ink and Dr PH Martin’s. Both are acrylic inks so they are waterproof and very suitable if you’d like to write on envelope, custom pieces, or on glossy surface such as agate slices. I especially love this Dr PH Martin’s as they are not only waterproof but shimmer too! Which makes it perfect for many custom work. While for the Ziller Ink personally i love their white ink, and this periwinkle blue which is so dreamy. You can get Dr PH Martin’s ink from Scrap-n-Crop, while the Ziller Ink unfortunately have to order from overseas (try Paper Ink Arts!).

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There are alot of gold inks in the market, and these two are the ones i used the most-Finetec Arabian Gold and Dr PH Martin’s Iridescent Coppler Plate Gold. I especially love the latter as it’s waterproof, but Finetec allows one write with a very beautiful hairline work which is super gorgeous too!

So these above are some of my favorites and go-tos when working on custom pieces. Despite having other tools, somehow always i’ll come back to these. So if you have quite limited budget, just get the basic ones first, practice your skills, and slowly add in more to your collection. 

There are currently alot of calligraphy workshops available in Malaysia, personally i recommend Kligraphy’s class, as it’s a 5-hour workshop that really allows you to immerse yourself into calligraphy, practice the strokes and understand how to write (there's where i learned my calligraphy!). And i always encourage people to learn Copperplate first, so that once you are familiar with the strokes you can then break the rules and create your own style!

Another thing i’d recommend is to get in touch with other calligraphers or hobbyists, initiate an art jam or pen meet, from there you can try out more tools or materials without breaking the bank! This is why i love to meet up with fellow calligraphers so i can try their stuffs for free muahahahah (opps my secret is leaked lolol)

So there you have it! Hopefully it helps you in learning calligraphy, and let’s keep on creating in this new year!