The core supplies that you need for pointed pen calligraphy are very basic: a pen, a nib, ink, and paper. After you master calligraphy with those four tools, though, you might want to switch things up by collecting some “special treat” supplies! In this list, you’ll find seven items that have helped me to up-level my calligraphy. I know that you’ll love some of these indulgences, too — and you’ve got enough time to tell Santa all about them. 🎅
A nice light box is useful for calligraphy because you can use it to shine guidelines up through light-colored papers. You can also rely on it for sketchbooking (see how I use a light box for sketchbooking here) or 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 creative life! The light box I use — the Artograph 930 — is a hefty investment at around $160, but it’s one that will last you for years to come.
You can find the Artograph 930 LightPad at Paper & Ink Arts.
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 dip 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.
3. White Ink
One of the biggest perks of being able to use a dip pen? You can write in vivid white letters on dark papers. At $10 per bottle, white ink isn’t cheap, but the bottle lasts a very long time. Be sure to buy a white mechanical pencil, too, to make drafts and calligraphy guidelines!
You can find white ink in the TPK Supplies Shop.
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.
I have the Finetec Golds and the Finetec Pearl Colors palettes in the TPK Supplies Shop. The Pearl Colors (pictured above) is the more popular palette of the two, but the Golds is my personal favorite.
I hesitated to include the parallel glider on this list because Alvin — the company that makes them — is no longer in business. But, if you can find one, it’s worth buying! 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.
It looks like there are still parallel gliders available at Paper & Ink Arts. If you’re interested in owning one, I would buy it now. (I’ve noticed that the parallel glider price has gone up significantly at other merchants because of their now-limited availability!)
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.
My favorite sketchbook is made by Shinola. To me, it’s the perfect size and the perfect paper weight.
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 received a gorgeous brass-flanged EF66 pen oblique from Rodger Mayeda in 2015, though, my calligraphy vastly improved. My favorite nib was much more comfortable and responsive to write with!
Unfortunately, Rodger’s pens are almost impossible to get a hold of. BUT, Rodger was kind enough to teach me how to make Brause EF66 custom flanges for the pens that I sell here on TPK. So, you can watch Rodger’s shop for updates, or you can get a Brause EF66 oblique here on TPK.
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! And hey: it’s always nice to have a solid wishlist around the holidays.