We all have different living situations and different tendencies when it comes to keeping things organized, so naturally there are going to be variations from artist to artist as far as how he or she stores calligraphy supplies. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how I keep my supplies stored and organized! My hope is that you can A) be assured that your current storage situation is correct; and/or B) get some new ideas for storage solutions for your own calligraphy supplies.
My calligraphy pen storage is pretty straightforward … I keep them all in a mug, nibs inserted and ready to go. It’s a pretty low-maintenance situation, but there is one key thing to remember should you choose to store your pens like this: always make sure your nib is dry before you put your calligraphy pen back in the mug/container. If there is a little bit of residual moisture on it, that’s okay; it will evaporate off. However, excessive moisture will cause rust to both the nib and the pen (if the pen has metal components).
As far as the vessel you choose to hold your pens, the size and shape doesn’t really matter. I, personally, like to keep my supplies in vessels that make me happy to see on a daily basis. I had a pleasant internship at Mother Earth News my senior year of college, and that’s why the pens go in the complementary (wahoo!) mug I got while working there.
I’m gonna tell it to you straight here: you can put your nibs in practically anything as long as it keeps them safe (as in, away from forces/impacts that could splay the tines of the nibs) and dry.
I use a Leonardt nib tin because I like the way it looks, but you can use any small container that appeals to you. For example, an Altoids tin, especially a small one like this, would work great! If you want to step up your organization to the next level, you could keep your nibs in a pill container. That would help you to quickly identify specific nibs without sorting through a pile.
Some inks come in containers that you can go ahead and dip your pen in from the get-go — for example, McCafferey’s inks. However, the majority of inks will need to be transferred to a different container before you can use them. It’s advisable to store your inks in containers with screw-top lids; a 1 to 2 ounce size is ideal. For example, these little cosmetics jars would work great! That’s not to say you have to get those, exactly; they should just give you a good idea of what to look for. Little glass jam jars work well, too!
Screw-top lids are your best option as far as ink goes because lids that have to be pried off tend to make a mess. I have a couple of ink containers sitting on my desk right now that have pry-top lids, and I notice that I avoid using them simply because it’s such an ordeal to cleanly remove the lid! The action of prying the lid off always causes ink to either drip onto the table or stain my fingers. You can see how much trouble I’ve had with the pry-top lid container pictured below!
In short, small, screw-top containers are definitely your best bet for reliable and airtight ink storage!
You can keep your “art water” — the water you use to clean off nibs and brushes as you’re creating — in any vessel that you deem practical! I keep my water in an old mug for two reasons: first of all, I like the mug and it makes me happy to look at it. Secondly, mugs are sturdy by nature. I can’t tell you how many times I have accidentally hit the mug with my hand and it held up to the force beautifully! The ink-stained, paint-caked mug has, effectively, saved many an art/calligraphy piece from being soaked with spilled water.
Where you store your paper mostly depends on what storage options you have available; for me, the best place to keep them right now is upright on a shelf. If you store them upright, though, you need to make sure there’s a tight fit. If they are allowed to slouch at all, the paper will curl! An equally effective, arguably better storage solution would be to store them horizontally in a drawer or flat on a shelf.
I like to keep my art cloths — which really are just old dinner napkins — draped on the back of my chair. I make sure I put them there every time I get up and leave the desk, otherwise they’re just one of those items that you absentmindedly put down goodness-knows-where and they never show up again! I alternate between using the same two dinner napkins; they’ve been in commission for 3-4 years now and have a many years left to go. As long as your art cloths are able to wipe water off of brushes and nibs, they’re still good! Of course, a less visible storage solution would be to keep your art cloths in a drawer. Whatever works for you is fine!
If you keep any of the Learn Calligraphy for a Latté worksheets in a binder, you may find it difficult to navigate around the rings in the center of the binder as you are writing. For this reason, I recommend stapling your calligraphy worksheets at the top left corner or holding them together with a paperclip. That way, when you’re using them, you don’t need to worry about angling your arm to avoid the binder rings. When the worksheets are not in use, you won’t have loose sheets of paper floating around! (Of course, you can still store your worksheets in a binder; but make sure they’re not in the binder when you’re actively using them.)
If you are a fan of Kaitlin Style calligraphy and you don’t want to mess with the printing/stapling, you can actually buy the Kaitlin worksheet pre-printed and bound from Scribblers! The workbook will fit neatly on any bookshelf or in your desk.
Old Calligraphy Practice Pages and/or Filled-Out Worksheets
You may wonder why this is even on the list! The reason is this: it’s always a good idea to keep examples of your calligraphy around as you are learning and creating. I’m not saying that you should hoard every piece of calligraphy you ever write — you can recycle a good majority of it! But try to keep at least two pages every month. Whenever you are feeling discouraged, go back and look at your calligraphy from a couple of months ago; I guarantee you will see an improvement! I keep all my old pieces in a three-ring binder, and I am always amazed at my progress when I flip back through the pages.
The most important thing to remember about storing calligraphy supplies is it’s okay to just do your own thing! As long as you can find the stuff you need when you need it, that’s what matters. If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in the Traveling with Art and Calligraphy Supplies post, which presents smart and safe storage solutions for on-the-go creation!
Thanks very much for reading, and have a great weekend!