Tools | Resource Books

Hello! Happy Thursday! Apologies for the lack of post last week, and the fact that this is being posted on a Thursday....things have been a little crazy around here. BUT it does mean that we have lots of upcoming shoots to share with you all over the summer! 

Todays post is all about particular books that have really helped me on my calligraphy journey. 

First up it is the first calligraphy book that I bought when I first started and one that I have mentioned previously-Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe. Getting this book was such a breakthrough for me as it finally gave my learning some structure. Molly was one of the first calligraphers I discovered on Instagram and I did and still do find her book immensely useful. There are so many different variations of the letters that you can really play around and find your own style. She also explains the basics of nibs and pen holders perfectly and after you've done all the practise there are some great little projects to try. Definitely recommended!

Next up is a newish release, Nib and Ink by Chiara Perano of Lamplighter London. I will be the first to admit that I am the biggest fan girl when it comes to Chiara from Lamplighter. She was my first introduction to calligraphy in the UK and I think her work is flawless. So needless to say I was very excited to get her book. The look, feel and design of the book is absolutely gorgeous. She introduces the art of modern calligraphy and the tools needed and then there are examples of her gorgeous alphabet and style and pages to practice (I have not used the book for practice and am unsure how easy it is to write in though.) at the end there are some fun quotes and sayings to try out as you grow with confidence if you are a beginner. This book is probably aimed at someone who is more of a beginner than me but I like to dip into her alphabet ocassionally to try and find new ways to write.

Now we move away from the more modern scripts and onto books looking at Copperplate Calligraphy with Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters, Calligraphy in the Copperplate Style by Herb Kaufman and Geri Homelsky and Script Lettering for Artists by Tommy Thompson. These books are proper workbooks and they are great for learning the rules of calligraphy. All the letters are broken down into strokes and examined and everything is really well explained. I must admit I probably skipped over the 'learning the rules' part of teaching myself calligraphy a little too fast and now I wish my copperplate skills were better. However, it is something that I am planning on practising more and these books will be my go-tos.

I have linked all these books so you can go and examine them on amazon and maybe purchase them if you fancy some extra learning! My main recommendations would be Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe and Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters. Go treat yourself and enjoy! 


Tools | Favourite Basic Calligraphy Tools

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.

Nib - Nikko G

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. 

Nib Holder - Speedball Straight

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! 

Ink - Higgins Eternal & Sumi Ink

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 - Daler Rowney Gum Arabic Solution

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. 

Paper - Rhodia Pads and Daler Rowney Marker Paper

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! 


Mixing calligraphy Inks: diy guide

Hello! Hope you are all well on this Sunny albeit slightly chilly Spring day. Todays blog post is about mixing calligraphy inks. I am by no mean an expert - and most of what I know and do I have learnt online and through trial and error - but I have got a bit of a process at the moment that seems to work well for me! I will split this post into metallics and flat colours, as the process for mixing these inks is a bit different.

Flat Coloured Inks

When it comes to actual calligraphy inks I only really use black ink (find out which ones in next weeks posts about tools!). I have a couple of other colours but I never seem to use them as I don't feel that I get a great look out of them - maybe it's me, maybe it's the inks. When it comes to making custom colours for inks I use Gouache. My go to brand is Winsor and Newton, but I also like Daler Rowney (especially for metallics-the copper is the bomb). I tend to order them online as and when I need them in the hope that it doesn't feel like I am spending quite all my money on paint...and I can slowly build up to having a pretty broad spectrum and the ability to make most colours.

Essentials for mixing flat coloured calligraphy inks

  • Gouache 
  • Gum Arabic Solution - You can also get powder but I always use the fluid.
  • Containers - I use these from Lakeland, you can also steal mini jam pots from hotels (I do this too..ssssh) there are also other options online go for at least 30ml in my opinion.
  • Paint Brush
  • Test Paper
  • Water
  • Pipette
  1. Firstly get an empty container, I love mini jam jars - they just look cute - but you can use anything as long as it does up tightly, you don't want any spillages.
  2. Squeeze in your gouache colours, if you are doing a light colour then put the white in first and add the colour a tiny bit at a time, you'll be surprised how little you need of a bright colour if your making a pastel.
  3. Add a tiny splash of water and mix the paints thoroughly so they are totally combined then you can see if your close to the colour you want and what else you need to add. **Tip: Paint a little bit on your test paper and see what it dries as it will dry darker than it looks in the pot.** Continue doing this until you have desired colour.
  4. Now its time to add a bit more water and then pour a little bit of gum arabic in...I tend to eyeball it but it is probably better if you start off with a pipette. Mix in thoroughly.
  5. Add more water until you get a good consistency, I tend to aim for cream consistency, but it is quite a personal choice. I always use a Nikko G nib which is quite a hard nib so my ink is probably slightly thicker than someone that uses a softer nib like a Gillot 303. But experiment and youll soon find out what suits you. **Tip: If you add too much water then leave the lid off for a bit and it will evaporate. 

Metallic Inks

Metallic Inks are a bit of a different ball game. The basics are still the same but thanks to a wonderful wonderful invention called Pearl Ex powders you can make them EXTRA sparkly and metallic and all in all just bloomin gorgeous! I have always found it a bit tricky to find metallic inks that I loved, I have the finetec palette but find it a totally pain to use a brush (Lazy i know) so I much prefer making my own.

Essentials for mixing Metallic Inks

  1. Empty container (as above)
  2. Start with your metallic gouache. For the pale gold pictured I used silver as the base, and for the copper it was copper gouache.
  3. Little bit of water and mixing to get it super smooth.
  4. Add a bit of Pearl Ex, using a small spoon (I use a 1/4 teaspoon one). For pale gold I used brilliant gold and for copper I used a mix of super copper and pink gold. Add a little spoonful at a time and mix thoroughly. You will need to keep adding drops of water so that it doesn't get too thick and hard to mix. Keep testing on paper, this is essential!!! Keep doing this until you get desired colour. 
  5. Add Gum Arabic and mix in thoroughly.
  6. Add water until you get to the correct consistency for you. 

Mixing calligraphy ink is all about trial and error and finding what works best for you. If you want to get started on your calligraphy journey straight away, I'd recommend a modern calligraphy starter kit

If you want to mixing inks yourself, make sure that you have a load of scrap paper on hand so that you can keep colour testing. Once you think your ink is at the right consistency, grab a pen and try it - sometimes it takes a while of adding drops of gum arabic and water for me to get it to the right consistency. Also, remember that if you store the ink and go to use it after a while, you will need to add more water as some of it would have evaporated.  

Good luck with all your ink mixing!!! If you have any questions feel free to ask :)