• Eight “Special Treat” Calligraphy Supplies

    You really only need a couple of basic supplies to create calligraphy … but once you’ve mastered using those calligraphy supplies, why not branch out and try new tools? In this article, you’ll learn about eight fabulous calligraphy supplies that go beyond the basics.

    Pointed pen calligraphy quote bookmark featuring gold and silver filigree leaves on black cardstock
    This bookmark was created using three supplies from this list: gold and silver watercolors from the TPK Finetec Palette, white ink, and a Brause EF66 nib (in an oblique pen).

    The core supplies that you need for pointed pen calligraphy are basic: a pen, a nib, ink, and paper. After you master calligraphy with those four tools, though, it’s fun to switch things up by collecting some “special treat” supplies! In this list, you’ll find eight indulgences that will help you to up-level your calligraphy creations.

    1. A Quality Light Box

    A nice light box is useful for calligraphy because you can use it to shine guidelines up through light-colored papers. Among other things, you can also rely on it for making illuminated letters, sketchbooking, and making projects like illustrated maps. I have used my light box about 3x/week since 2015, and I’m amazed at how much easier it makes my creation sessions! The light box I use — the Artograph 930 (affiliate link) — is a hefty investment at around $120, but it’s one that will last you for years to come.

    Writing on a Light Box | The Postman's Knock

    Note that the Artograph 930 is only one option in a sea of light boxes. I encourage you to do research and read reviews before deciding which light box is right for you. There are several options available, many of which are cheaper than the Artograph.

    2. A Parallel Glider

    I hesitate to include the parallel glider on this list because they’re so tough to find! A parallel glider with an aluminum base works so much better than its plastic counterpart, and having this tool makes it easy to draw parallel guidelines and perfect slant lines.

    Envelope Guidelines Template from "Marvelous Mail"

    I have these in stock every once in a while. If you’re interested in purchasing one, you can check their availability here.

    3. Handmade Paper

    You can use calligraphy to write on handmade paper to produce a swoon-worthy piece. There’s something about a deckled edge and rustic textured paper that is hard to resist. That said, you have to buy the right handmade paper. Many handmade papers are too fibrous to comfortably or successfully write on. The best pointed pen-friendly handmade paper that I’ve found is made by Indian Cotton Paper Co. I wouldn’t call it a beginner’s dream, but the intermediate calligrapher will be pleased at how smooth and easy it is to write on compared to other handmade papers.

    You can purchase handmade paper sheets or envelopes at Indian Cotton Paper Co.

    4. White Ink

    One of the biggest perks of being able to write with a pointed pen? You can create vivid white letters on dark papers. At $10-ish per bottle, white ink isn’t cheap, but the bottle lasts a very long time. Be sure to get a white mechanical pencil, too, to make drafts and calligraphy guidelines!

    Flourished Swan Envelope
    Schin Loong is the creator of this envelope design. Read her tutorial over how to make it here!

    You can find white ink in the TPK Supplies Shop.

    5. The Finetec Palette

    People might like white calligraphy, but they love metallic calligraphy — especially gold. Get a Finetec palette, and you’re opening up a whole world of project possibilities! You can make illuminated letters, shimmering family trees, or seasonal envelope art … just to throw out a few ideas.

    ✨ Making Illuminated Letter "V" Art: Real Life Edition

    I designed the TPK Finetec Palette to include the metallic watercolors that I find to be most useful. If you only see yourself using gold, you can always just pick up a pan of Arabic Gold watercolor.

    6. Shinola Sketchbook

    Even if you’re solely interested in calligraphy — and not art in general — I’d recommend getting a sketchbook. A sketchbook gives you a place to practice and play! You can figure out what calligraphy styles you love and which ones aren’t your favorites. And, if you’re so inclined, you can complement your lettering with illustrations.

    How to Add Color to Your “Day in the Life” Sketchbook Layout
    If you need some sketchbook inspiration, you can check out TPK’s sketchbook tutorials. Most of the tutorials on this site include a calligraphy component.

    My favorite sketchbook is made by Shinola. It’s the perfect portable-but-not-too-small size and has a high-quality (but not too heavy) paper weight.

    7. Brause EF66 Oblique Pen

    The Brause EF66 is my favorite nib. It might be tiny, but its tines boast a powerful flex that allows you to create bold downstrokes. The problem with the EF66 is it can be difficult to find oblique pens that accommodate it. After I started using a brass-flanged EF66 oblique pen in 2015, though, my calligraphy vastly improved. My favorite nib was suddenly much more comfortable and responsive to write with.

    Using White Calligraphy Ink
    There are a lot of videos of me writing with an EF66 oblique on Instagram! I use an EF66 oblique pen 95% of the time.

    You can get a Brause EF66 oblique here on TPK.

    8. Iron Gall Ink

    If you’re looking for a smooth ink that never needs dilution and makes stunning stroke contrast, iron gall is the way to go. Centuries of reputable users — including the Vikings and Leonardo DaVinci — have put pen to paper using iron gall ink. Note that iron gall ink is dynamic: when you first write with it, it looks dark gray, with noticeable gradation. As time passes and the ink oxidizes, your calligraphy will turn a velvety black.

    The Ultimate Embellished Vintage Banner Illustration Tutorial
    Iron gall ink allows you to make delicate lines, like those shown in this hand-drawn banner. It also facilitates excellent stroke contrast.

    The story of iron gall ink is fascinating, and so are its nuances. It’s true that it “eats” nibs (though not at a staggering pace), and it’s not ideal for calligraphy beginners. But, if you’re an intermediate calligrapher who craves a powerful, low-fuss ink, it’s a dream come true. You can find iron gall ink in the TPK Supplies Shop.

    I want to reiterate that none of the supplies listed above are imperative to your development as a calligrapher. The last thing I want to do is portray calligraphy as an expensive art form that requires a lot of bells and whistles — it’s really not. The items in this list are just some suggestions to add some spice to your lettering process. Sometimes, new supplies can really help to keep things fun and fresh!