Every calligrapher has a nib that she or he enjoys above all others. For me, that nib is the Brause Extra Fine 66! I use it for (almost) everything … it’s a wonderful little tool! In this blog post, you’ll learn a little bit about this lovely nib and become better acquainted with its nuances…
If you’re looking for a little nib that packs a powerful punch, try the Brause EF66! This tiny nib is my favorite because of its incredible stroke contrast. Hairline upstrokes are as easy to make as thick, sumptuous downstrokes. In today’s post, I want to tell you more about this nib, its attributes, and its quirks.
Where Does the Brause EF66 Nib Come From?
Brause makes the EF66 (short for “Extra Fine 66” — a.k.a. the “Arrow”) nib. Brause is a German company that was established in 1850 in Iserlohn, Germany, a region that was then famous for its steel craftsmanship. At first, Brause made needles. Then, they moved on to bicycle wheel spokes. Finally, in 1895, they found their niche in pen nibs! The EF66 is one of their most popular nibs, along with the Rose and the Blue Pumpkin. I love all three of these Brause nibs, but the EF66 has my heart because of its manageable flexibility!
The Brause EF66 works so well for pointed pen calligraphy because of its flexibility. This nib has tines that will splay out a significant distance if you exert just a bit of pressure. That means that when you pull your pen down to make a downstroke, the tines work together to make a nice, wide line. However, when you lightly push up to make an upstroke, the tines spring back together to help you achieve a fine line. The difference between the EF66 and comparable nibs (e.g. the Hunt 101) is the EF66’s strength. Where other fine nibs have delicate tines that catch on paper easily, the Brause EF66 is a bit more cooperative.
That said, the EF66 is not a nib that I would recommend for a brand-new calligraphy learner! Before you attempt the EF66 nib, I would definitely spend a few weeks playing with the Nikko G nib. (This is why I include both the Nikko G and the Brause EF66 nib in TPK Calligraphy Starter Kits!) The Brause EF66 will probably not be kind to you if you haven’t gotten your bearings yet as far as pressure exertion (ink spatter will ensue); conversely, the Nikko G is very tolerant if you’re figuring out how to apply pressure, which means it’s great to learn on.
Finding an EF66-Friendly Pen
Before you buy the Brause EF66 nib, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a pen that will fit it. Plastic pens (like the black Speedball models that you see in craft stores) won’t do because they don’t have a universal insert/ferrule.
The straight calligraphy pens you want to use for this nib have universal inserts. If a pen has a “universal insert”, that means it has little metal curved “petals” like the ones pictured below. You can wedge any calligraphy nib between the outside of the petals and that metal rim.
If you wish to use the Brause EF66 with an oblique holder, which is what I do, you’ll want to get an oblique that is specially fitted for this tiny nib. They’re not easy to find, but as of September of 2019, I personally create and stock them! You can find one here. I enjoy using the EF66 with an oblique pen versus a straight pen because the oblique pen gives me, as a right-handed person, a better angle. While it is more than possible to write using the EF66 and a straight holder, I find it a lot easier to use an oblique.
Cons of Using the Brause EF66 Nib
The Brause EF66 nib is tiny, especially compared to other nibs. With that in mind, you’ll find that the EF66 holds significantly less ink than, say, a Brause Rose or a Nikko G. That means that you’ll probably need to dip your nib in ink a bit more often than you’re used to!
As I mentioned earlier, this little nib is flexible! That can be a good thing because flexibility translates to stroke contrast. It can also mean technical difficulties for beginners! If you are not careful about exerting balanced pressure to both tines of the nib, it’s really easy for one of the tines to dig into the paper, which can cause ink spatter.
Finally, I do observe in workshops that many beginners have trouble getting the nib “started”. Sometimes, ink flatly refuses to descend from the nib! If you’re sure the nib is properly prepared and the ink sufficiently diluted, then you need to give the nib a gentle wiggle on the paper. As soon as you encourage one tiny dot of ink out of the nib in this manner, more ink will freely flow!
Become Acquainted With this Nib via Video
While the text of this blog post serves as a sufficient introduction to the Brause EF66 nib, I think it’s even more effective to show you the nib in action! If you cannot see the video below, you may watch it on Vimeo by clicking here.
One of the most common questions I get is: “I live in _______; where can I purchase calligraphy supplies?” I have a large list of calligraphy suppliers by country, which you can find here, but here’s a quick list of sources where you can purchase the EF66 nib: