This weeks post is all about my favourite basic calligraphy tools. To start off with I am keeping it simple, the ultimate basics kit that you need to get you started and the items that I still use day in day out. I will extend on these in future posts about other tools that I use frequently. But for today let's start at the beginning.
When I first started to teach myself calligraphy I was using a little calligraphy kit that I bought in an art shop which was full of squared off nibs (the kind used for traditional calligraphy) so I wasn't getting the modern look that I wanted. I then went on a hunt and bought a load of vintage nibs off eBay, very pretty and I still have them in little jars, but not the most practical. It wasn't until I started Molly Jacques Skillshare course and bought Molly Suber Thorpes book that I finally found the tools that worked for me and to this day, I still pretty much stick to these basics.
The Nikko G is my absolute favourite nib EVER. I have a box full of different nibs, which I will go into further detail in another post, but I always go back to the Nikko G, it is without a doubt my number one workhorse. The Nikko G is a strong but flexible nib making it great for beginners and those with a slightly heavier hand, myself included.
I have a whole pot full of nib holders yet it is this cheapy one that I always pick out. Light and comfortable to use you really don't need anything else from a nib holder. From the beginning I have always used a straight nib holder over an oblique one. It is what I started with and it just works for me, but this is purely a preference thing. Many calligraphers prefer an oblique holder. They are cheap enough so I would advise trying both out once you are more confident with your calligraphy skills. To start with I personally would recommend a straight holder, it's less scary and complicated!
My ultimate favourite ink has always been Higgins Eternal however recently I have fallen in love with Sumi Ink, it has such a shiny finish and looks great. However, Higgins is still my go to as it dries much much quicker than Sumi. So if I am doing envelopes or place cards that I can leave to dry then I will use Sumi, however if I need to scan soon then I will use Higgins as it just saves time! For drills and practising, I would recommend Higgins-less chance of smudges everywhere.
Gum Arabic is great and essential in my opinion for beginners and day to day calligraphy. At the beginning of your calligraphy journey you may come across some ink flow problems, I definitely did, and Gum Arabic was my saviour. If you are and you have made sure that you have first prepped your nib by cleaning it with some toothpaste, saliva, or running it through a flame quickly (new nibs come with a film on them to stop them rusting) then dip your clean nib in gum arabic, then in clean water and wipe off with kitchen roll this should help with your flow problems.
Both of these papers are really smooth and easy to write on as well as being really great for scanning in if you are going to digitalize your work. Generally there is no bleeding or catching and both types of paper are thin enough to put guidelines underneath and see them through. Rhodia pads also come in gridded and dot paper which are really useful for sketching out and practising letter forms.
Also always good to have to hand is kitchen paper, pencil and eraser.
So there you go, that is a list of my absolute favourite essential items and those that I would recommend for beginners, armed with these tools your calligraphy journey will hopefully be easier. Sign up on the homepage to receive emails when I post new blogs about further tools and other insider information!