Calligraphy Supplies and Learning Resources
I often get asked what resources I would recommend for new calligraphy enthusiasts who want to learn but don't know where to start. After retyping the same email response several dozen times, I finally got smart and typed up a response that I could share repeatedly whenever asked. Today I thought I might take that one step further and share those recommendations here for a broader audience to enjoy.
This list is far from exhaustive, but will hopefully be a helpful jumping off point to fuel your desire to learn this magnificent art form. Now on to the fun stuff:
Naturally, in-person workshops are a fantastic way to quickly familiarize yourself with tools and give you the confidence to jumpstart the learning process. For those serious about learning calligraphy, I'd highly recommend a full-length classes that can go into more detail than a couple hour workshop. If you're not sure if full length classes are offered in your area, you can always check with local community colleges, or find your local calligraphy guild and ask them.
You can learn an awful lot from self study. Here are a few of my favorite resources for self study:
- Pointed Pen Calligraphy: Script in the Copperplate Style - a magnificent free e-book by Dr. Joseph M. Vitolo
- Mastering Copperplate by Eleanor Winters - she gives a great explanation of each letter form.
- Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber-Thorpe. This book is a fun introduction to modern calligraphy and also has a number of pages with creative projects to inspire you as well as exemplars you can use to practice modern letter forms.
Online Forums & Resources
- www.iampeth.com - If you want to learn from masters of old, this site has TONS of rare books and instructionals scanned in for free viewing. You won't find a site like this with so many specimens of master penmanship anywhere else. Plus, IAMPETH hosts a week long conference each summer with incredible teachers. If you ever get the chance to attend, DO!
- www.theflourishforum.com - This website forum has free lessons and a wealth of shared information from a broad spectrum of both new and experienced calligraphers.
Online Calligraphy Courses:
- Logos Calligraphy: Younghae is a magnificent teacher and I whole heartedly recommend her course for those wanting to learn traditional copperplate script.
- AcornArts.org Master Penman Harvest Crittenden offers a series of online courses at different times throughout the year and also partners with other talented teachers to offer courses through Acorn Arts.
- Calligraphy.org This is another great online option for those wanting to learn modern calligraphy, brush script, or chalkboard lettering. I've not personally taken any of these courses, but I know that Melissa has been teaching for a while and really values providing valuable feedback to her students.
I would credit the friendships and inspiration I've gleaned from instagram as being one of the most influential elements in my calligraphy journey. There is nothing like having friends to share your work with and to be inspired by. Though there are hundreds who I've enjoyed connecting with through Instagram, here is a very abbreviated list of some of my favorite artists for inspiration and great teaching:
BASIC Calligraphy SUPPLIES FOR BEGINNERS:
I’m biased, but I think it's fairly safe to say that most “calligraphy kits” that you find on the shelves of the average craft store are complete rubbish. So, in lieu of a kit, here’s a few items I would recommend for a beginner:
- Pen Holder: use an Oblique Pen holder if you are right handed, or a straight holder if you are left handed (although some lefties still like obliques). The holder linked here is a simple plastic one, but for $3 it gets the job done okay. I don’t think you need anything too fancy as you begin. If you want a step up from the this one, I do recommend getting one with a metal flange like this one as some nibs do not fit properly in the plastic holders.
- Ink: Walnut Ink is fabulous for practicing. Sumi Ink is a great dark black ink for “final” work (dilute it a bit for ease of use). An easy to use gold for beginners is Dr. Martin’s Copperplate Gold. You’d be safe to just get the walnut ink to begin with if you want to keep things simple.
- Nibs: I like to recommend the Nikko G nib for beginners. It's a stiff nib that I still use fairly regularly (its one of my top 3 nibs). Nibs do wear out after a short while, so you’d want to get a handful of these to begin with just so you can have some on hand to change out when they are done being of use. Other great nib to try is the Hunt 101.
- Paper: I highly recommend the JNB Copperplate Practice pad – this has a grid and slant lines already in place which can be Super helpful! Nina Tran has also provided very helpful guidelines that you can print out onto HP Premium Choice Laser Paper as a great economical option.
- A Practice Pad by logos calligraphy. Younghae makes one of the BEST practice pads I’ve seen compiled and she makes it really easy to practice each letter with the examples she's provided on each page.
I will be sharing a more exhaustive list of my favorite supplies in a future post, but these items cover the basics for those just wanting to get a start.
I hope this is helpful for those looking for some encouragement and direction in learning calligraphy. Sending my best wishes for smudgeless practice, non-bleeding ink, no hand cramping, and a Happy New Year of learning!