• Favorite Calligraphy Nibs

    It can be tough to choose which calligraphy nib to buy, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a fledgling calligrapher. Read about some of my favorite calligraphy nibs in this post, and get inspired to create both calligraphy and illustrations with your new nibs!

    Drawing with a Hunt 100 Nib | The Postman's Knock{In this photo, I am using the Hunt 100 nib on a commissioned illustration.}

    Recently, I have received a lot of questions about calligraphy nibs — people want to know what to buy, which is a valid question that any calligrapher, fledgling or established, can — and should — have. The truth is … calligraphy nibs, for me, are like restaurants. {Before you raise an eyebrow at my strange metaphor, let me explain!} Every month or so, I get obsessed with a new restaurant that I can’t get enough of. I’ll eat there all the time and rave about it to anyone who will listen. Then, I discover a new restaurant, forget about the old restaurant, and the cycle begins again. So it goes with nibs; I get obsessed and use one to bits, and then the next best thing comes along. Essentially, this post may be a little dated depending on when you’re tuning in, but I will keep you updated in subsequent posts when I find new nibs that I love.

    This post covers my most recent all-star team of nibs that I can’t live without. Our first contender is the Nikko G, which I love using in an oblique holder.

    Nikko G Nib | The Postman's Knock

    This nib was introduced to me by Rodger Mayeda a month or two ago. Once I used it I was addicted. It works best for me in an oblique holder, and I have put a lot of mileage on it making Persian-inspired gold envelopes for an Atlanta bride. I really like this nib for gold calligraphy and watercolor calligraphy because it’s easy to paint your medium on the back side of the nib.

    Gold Calligraphy Ink | The Postman's Knock

    It’s a nib with substance that also gives a nice, thick downstroke. I have read reviews that say it catches, but that hasn’t been my experience.

    Nikko G Nib | The Postman's Knock

    You can find the Nikko G nib here.

    Another favorite of mine is the Brause Extra Fine nib.

    Brause Extra Fine Nib | The Postman's Knock

    It’s a multi-talented nib that you can use for quite a few things. For example, I put it in a straight holder the other day to create this commissioned illustration of a tree:

    Line Drawing of a Tree | The Postman's Knock

    And, this is probably a no-no, but I often cram it into a standard oblique holder to create extra fine calligraphy with a nice contrast of thick downstroke and thin upstroke. The reason I say “cram” is that the Brause Extra Fine nib is not sized for the oblique holder; that’s blatantly clear. However, I am a strong-willed woman, and when I want that sucker to fit in the oblique holder, I wedge it in until I’m sure it won’t come out. I love the result, which is fine and elegant calligraphy. {Yes, I just used the term “that sucker” and “fine and elegant calligraphy” in one paragraph.}

    Brause Extra Fine Nib | The Postman's Knock

    You can purchase the Brause Extra Fine nib here.

    The Hunt 100 nib is my absolute favorite when it comes to line drawing, and has been for quite some time now. It’s like writing with an extremely tiny needle, and you can make lines that are thin like you wouldn’t believe.

    Hunt 100 Nib | The Postman's Knock

    For example, here’s an illustration for Schellie and William of Six Hearts Photography that I created with the Hunt 100. It’s a groovy octopus couple in a space ship {I told you: never a dull moment with Schellie and William!}.

    6 Hearts Illustration | The Postman's Knock

    See how delicate the crosshatching is? {Crosshatching is the shading technique used here; small crisscrosses make you understand where the shadows are.}

    I prefer to use a light holder with the Hunt 100 because it makes it even easier for me to draw barely-there lines. My artisan-made pen holder is wonderful for that. I have attempted to use the Hunt 100 to write with; but it’s simply too delicate to create calligraphy with real substance. If you need to write something tiny {like the street names in my wedding maps}, it’s perfect! But otherwise, you’re better off writing with the Brause Extra Fine nib.

    You can purchase the Hunt 100 nib here.

    When I am creating calligraphy in a straight holder, the Brause Blue Pumpkin is my go-to.

    Brause Blue Pumpkin Nib | The Postman's Knock

    Formally known as the “Steno Pen”, the Blue Pumpkin is nice and firm, with enough give to create a modestly large {but not super significant} downstroke. It should be noted that its upstroke isn’t extra fine, either. I use it all the time to create Amy style calligraphy.

    Amy Style Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock

    I don’t generally use the Blue Pumpkin in an oblique holder because I get better results with other nibs in an oblique holder. But if you want to create calligraphy in your straight holder … Blue Pumpkin all the way!

    You can find the Blue Pumpkin here.

    The Rose nib is another wonderful Brause nib.

    Brause Rose Nib | The Postman's Knock

    Not only is it beautiful, but it creates compelling results when paired with an oblique pen because it’s nice and flexible. A word of caution, though: you need to pay special attention to the pressure you apply. On the downstrokes, apply a normal amount of downstroke pressure; but on the upstroke, apply nearly no pressure in order to simply drag the ink up. If you don’t do this, you will get oafishly wide upstrokes. If used correctly, though, the Rose renders beautiful results.

    Brause Rose Nib | The Postman's Knock

    You can purchase the Rose nib here.

    You will notice that all of my nib links go to Paper & Ink Arts. It’s a store in Nashville that I love buying from because their shipping prices are so reasonable, and they are very speedy. Before I discovered them, I purchased from MisterArt.com … and effectively spent $7.50 shipping for the tiniest thing {e.g. calligraphy nibs} with every order.

    Here are a couple of things to note after reading this post:

    1. These calligraphy nibs reflect my personal preference as of right now. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa! Calligraphy nibs are so cheap that you should feel free to experiment and see what’s best for your preferred style of calligraphy {and possibly drawing}.

    2. When I first started creating calligraphy, I had no idea how to identify my calligraphy nibs … or how people knew to call it a “Hunt 100” or a “Speedball 103”. The secret is to closely examine the body of the nib; you will see some etching there that says a number or some words.

    3. As I am creating my pieces, I constantly douse my nibs in water, then dry them off with a repurposed dinner napkin. This “resets” the nib and allows for better ink flow.

    Ink Rag | The Postman's Knock

    I used to use a paper towel, but its fibers constantly caught on my nibs and would affect my work by dragging obnoxious extra ink at the worst possible time. The fabric of this napkin is tightly woven enough that I no longer have to contend with that problem!

    4. It’s recommended that you store your nibs in a dry, airtight container. I get the “dry” part, but I’m not sure why it needs to be airtight {anyone know?}, so I’m a little lax on that. I’m the queen of using things beyond their intended purpose — I’ve got an impressive shot glass collection, which I use not for vodka or rum, but for making gouache inks — so I actually use a Schick Intuition razor cartridge holder to contain my nibs. It’s tiny and portable; what more could I ask for in a nib holder?

    If you have favorite calligraphy nibs, please share in the comments! My list is certainly not the be-all, end-all; and I love discovering new tools. I am always so glad when I find cool stuff through you guys — which is why I just modified my calligraphy spacing post to reflect the new, more efficient, technique I am using as suggested by Kathleen of Paper Bouquet Studio.

    Thanks so much for reading; and talk to you soon!

    XO, Lindsey | The Postman's Knock