I’m Liz, a modern calligrapher based in Vancouver, Canada. I first started practicing italic calligraphy when I was 10 years old. Many (many) years later, I fell in love with the pointed pen style and picked up the pen again. Blogging has long since been on my mind, but I was a bit apprehensive as I wasn’t sure what to write about or if people would find value in what I had to say. However, I have been getting a lot of questions about calligraphy and how to get started in this great hand lettering practice. This series of posts will begin with pointed pen supplies for the beginner. I will start with nibs and holders first. Ink and paper will be covered in future posts.
Each nib is different, similar to Goldilocks trying out beds, until she finds one that is not too hard or too big. While I like using different nibs for different mediums or projects, the following are some of my favourites and will be great in a beginner’s arsenal.
G nibs – Nikko G, Zebra G, Tachikawa G - These stiff nibs with medium flex are great for beginners who are looking to get a feel for a pointed nib. Beginners tend to have a strong hand when writing so these will stand up to the pressure nicely. They are a bit sharp so they are capable of producing super thin lines but also tend to catch on to more fibrous types of papers.
Brause EF 66 – This was my first flexible nib, and you never forget your first. What joy it was to use a nib capable of producing thick lines. It is physically tiny so I felt like I was wielding a tiny sword ready to flourish with it. However, over time I broke up with it as it tends to be difficult to start on some paper and does not last very long especially once paint or ink goops on. Because of its tiny size it may not fit in all holders.
Hiro 41 – The workhorse nib, it does everything, except making my coffee. It’s a medium flex nib that is not too sharp, provides good thick and thins, long lasting, and works well with most ink or mediums. It’s not very sharp so it cannot create super thin lines but that also means it will not catch on most types of paper.
Naturally you’ll also need something to attach to your nib to facilitate writing, here are some great ones to start out with!
Speedball straight plastic black holder – We may have seen this floating around Instagram as it’s inexpensive and does the job well for beginners. It fits a variety of sizes of nibs, including all the ones I mentioned above. It may be tricky to write on a slant with a straight holder so that is when you change to an oblique holder.
Speedball oblique plastic black holder – This is a good, inexpensive oblique holder to start with as oblique holders can get pricey especially with different materials and custom lengths, etc. The one (and big) drawback is that it does not fit all nibs. Surprisingly, bigger nibs like G nibs that a lot of beginners use don’t sit at a proper angle when inserted into these holders, which can result in your nib catching on the paper during the upstrokes. Many calligraphers work with these so it’s all about your preference. However, if you want something that may save you a little headache and a huge learning curve, see my next one.
Peerless Oblique Holder – I would say just skip the speedball plastic oblique and go to this one. I still use it today as its body is cushioned to reduce writing fatigue. It fits all the nibs I mentioned above because it has an open back end so your nib can sit lower or higher in the metal flange.
If you’re in the market to buy an oblique holder, consider which nibs you like to use. Some retailers now offer adjustable oblique holders that are fitted to your particular nib. Consult their website! I’ve listed some great places to procure calligraphy supplies.
The following online retailers are American but have generously offered my lil Canadian blog some perks!
Paperinkarts – They have a wonderful selection of nibs and they have graciously offered CocoNibs readers 5% discount by following the link HERE.
John Neal Bookseller – They have a nice chart matching nibs to holders. They have generously offered Coconibs readers 5% discount. Here is how to get it! Note in the comments box (located underneath where you enter shipping info) that you want the “5% blog discount per Adam”. Visit John Neal HERE.
Your local art supplies store, check out what’s in your area. Generally, big box arts & crafts stores may not have a lot to offer in terms of nibs.
That’s all for today, I like to keep my blog post short as I don’t know about you, but my attention spam is about the size of a carrot. Stay tuned for my recommendations on ink and paper next!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!