The art of calligraphy can be a fun and rewarding hobby. However, walking into a store to buy your first pen can be a little daunting. With so many pens, inks, and paper types to choose from, where do you begin? Keep reading for some tips from experienced calligraphers.
Katy Willis, FCMA
Katy Willis is a passionate crafter, calligrapher, master herbalist, and homesteader who runs her own content business, Content By Design, and a natural living website, Real Self-Sufficiency.
Don't get too fancy
For folks who are buying their first calligraphy pens, my advice would be - don't get too fancy!
Beautiful feather quills, dip pens, or bamboo pens with intricate carvings are lovely. They fill that romantic, fanciful notion of crafting breathtakingly gorgeous word art by candlelight like a Medieval scholar.
In reality, these are not good options for beginners. They are more difficult to use, and they force novices to have to learn an additional new skillset while they're trying to grasp the basics of an already complex hobby.
A beginner needs a simple, solid pen. I'm a fan of good quality cartridge pens with interchangeable nibs. Ideally, get a small set that contains a few different calligraphy nibs. This allows you to learn the core skills - how to hold your pen, how much pressure to apply, when to increase and decrease pressure, the angle at which you should press your pen to the paper, and the flow you need to achieve smooth curves.
Everything else is just distraction and decoration, and it makes learning the skills you need to become a happy, confident calligrapher much more difficult. So, start with a simple, quality starter kit. Get to know it. Learn its quirks and how to get the best from it. Then when you're confident, you can upgrade to something fancier.
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