Half of my family lives in the US (where Hernán and I are), and the other half lives in Peru. That means that we do some serious traveling for the holidays, and I’ve learned to travel smart! Today, I’ll share the recipe for the perfect calligraphy travel kit … one that’s worthy of making it to South America and back without a hitch.
1. Your Favorite Dip Pen
There’s no need to pack multiple pens — just choose the one you gravitate toward the most!
2. Your Favorite Nib + a Duplicate
Pick your favorite nib, then pack a fresh duplicate just in case something happens to the first nib.
Make sure you pack your nibs in a protective container! Any small container will work; feel free to upcycle. I’ve used everything from pill bottles to empty lip gloss containers to hold my nibs.
It’s important to keep your nibs in a small container so they don’t move around in your bag and potentially get ruined. If the nibs can move about freely, the tines may permanently splay if (unintended) pressure is exerted on them.
3. A Watercolor Set + a Paintbrush
Yes … a watercolor set! Years of traveling to Peru have taught me that it’s a hassle to fly with ink. Two years ago was the last time I tried, and I was rewarded with a pitch-black sandwich bag full of sumi ink. Thankfully, it didn’t leak, but that’s when I decided: I’m just traveling with watercolors from now on.
So, why watercolors? Well, you can easily create calligraphy with watercolors (just use the watercolor calligraphy technique). In addition to providing many different color possibilities for calligraphy, watercolors are very portable — they pass straight through airline security in a carry-on. Once you finish writing with them, you just let them sit with the lid off until water evaporates out.
In order to create calligraphy, you’ll of course need paper to write on! The size and format of your paper depends on personal preference … and how much room you have in your suitcase. No matter what you pack, I’d give it a test run at home to make sure it’s a high-quality paper that doesn’t allow ink (or watercolor) to spiderweb out!
5. A Cloth
Don’t forget a cloth so you can clean your nib and your paintbrush!
6. Other Miscellaneous (and Optional) Items
The items outlined above comprise the core calligraphy travel kit! Other items that can make life easier but aren’t completely necessary include:
Pencil and Eraser
You may want a pencil and an eraser to draw guidelines for your letters.
A ruler is also indispensable for drawing calligraphy guidelines!
If you are working on learning a certain calligraphy style, take an exemplar with you! That way, you can have a reference as you practice the letterforms.
If you want to, you can put all your supplies in a little pouch. It’s good to be able to keep all of your calligraphy stuff grouped together in a container — that way, you don’t have to fish for everything.
So, there you have it — the essential mess-free calligraphy travel kit! This is a kit that works well for me, and I suspect it will meet your needs as well. To recap, here’s what you need:
- Your favorite dip pen
- 2 of your favorite nib (put these in a small container)
- Watercolor set + paintbrush
- Optionally: pen + eraser, ruler, calligraphy exemplar, pouch
Remember that we all operate a bit differently: if you want to add or subtract some elements of this calligraphy travel kit, be my guest! It’s all about packing supplies that will encourage you to create no matter where in the world you end up.