Ah, the written word. All the books, letters, journals, and diaries that have been penned throughout history. Some we know of, some have been lost in time. Still, our appreciation of them is great, with whole communities forming around a text from long ago, admiring and rereading it every chance they get.
Words and language in general are the main things separating us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The ability to express ourselves both verbally and in written form is keeping us as a species on the pedestal we’re currently on and will remain on for years to come.
Beautifully crafted sentences are always appealing, but when those sentences are written in an appealing manner it makes everything all the more special and magical. That magic is called calligraphy.
Even since ancient times, calligraphy has been an ability that was highly valued and considered a trait only the highly educated could possess. Nowadays, even though handwriting has been replaced by typing, calligraphy remains unchanged, enchanting the eye of the viewer as well as it did thousands of years ago.
With many trends of the past growing in popularity, like for instance the fun retro wallpaper, it seems that calligraphy too has once again taken the world by storm. If you’re one of those interested in calligraphy and would like to join the few that can still do it, here’s what you’ll need to get started with this beautiful work of art!
Get Your Hands on a Proper Pen
Calligraphy is all about the flowing motion between letters and words, creating a smooth line, and letting the sentence, no matter how simple, acquire a life of its own and captivate on two levels, both in looks and in meaning.
To achieve this flowing effect and be able to infuse words with a dose of art, the first thing you’ll need is a proper pen. You can either buy a calligraphy kit that will have a pen included or you can shop for a pen individually and construct your own calligraphy set. Either way, there are some things you’ll need to pay attention to when looking for the perfect calligraphy pen.
Firstly, it’s important to know the two main types of calligraphy pens – fountain pens and dip pens. The difference between the two is the way they use the ink needed for writing.
Fountain pens, as the name suggests, are pens in which you can insert an ink cartridge and begin writing after you’ve scribbled a bit on a piece of paper to get the ink flowing.
Dip pens are a bit more complicated, though really wake the spirit of the olden times up, and need to be dipped into a container of ink every now and then throughout the writing. Instead of in a cartridge, they hold the ink in the nib itself.
For a beginner, I’d recommend using a fountain pen first, as dip pens are a bit more difficult to use and require you to pay attention to things like spills and drips that may ruin your work.
Don’t Forget the Different Pen Nibs!
No matter if you decide to go for a dip pen or a fountain one, there will always be different nibs for different kinds of writing. Think of elementary school art classes and how we used to draw with ink and a dip pen. Back then we used only one or two types of nibs in order to create different textures and details in the picture, but in calligraphy, there are a lot more nibs that can be used.
The main difference between calligraphy nibs is their tips. Just like with ordinary pens, the tip decides how the lettering will look like, how wide it will be, how precise it will be and so on. The tips are also relevant to the surface you’re writing on.
When choosing nibs pay attention to the shape of the tip and its size. This will give you a pretty good idea of what you’ll be able to do with that particular nib and how your writing will look when using it.
If you’re buying a pre-made calligraphy kit you’ll have nibs alongside the pen ready to go, but if you want to go full DIY and make your own calligraphy kit you’ll have to pay attention.
Stores selling art crafts might have examples of the writing a nib can produce next to it, or you may ask to see an example. If they don’t, you can research online the size and tip and find out exactly what kind of writing you’re going to get.
Make sure to get metal nibs that won’t hold too much gunk or clog up with leftover ink. They will last quite a long time. Also, make sure to clean your nibs properly after every use to avoid the aforementioned situations.
The Right Ink & Paper Combo
Way back when special inks were a luxury item and black was the most common colour. Nowadays, however, there is a virtually endless selection of inks you can use for your calligraphy that will only add spice and magic to your writing.
Black is, of course, still around and is a very popular choice, but there are also inks in all the colours of the rainbow and specially mixed inks that are one-of-a-kind and can only be bought in a limited capacity. Inks with glitter mixed in are also available, so you’ll really have a field day when the time to shop for ink comes along.
When it comes to paper, you also have a pretty big selection. You can start out on regular paper, but as you get more serious about calligraphy you’ll have to buy thicker paper that will hold ink much better.
There are calligraphy sets that come with paper and ink included, but eventually, you’re still going to have to buy your own supply, so make sure to know the differences between types of papers, which inks pair well with them, what kind of writing they can be used for, and so on.
Art supplies store clerks will be very helpful with these decisions, so go straight to the professionals and ask for advice, they’ll be happy to provide it.
The Bottom Line
Once you’ve acquired your calligraphy set it’s time to really get into the intricacies of the art and learn how to weave words that will captivate everyone’s attention.
Calligraphy, as much as it is considered a hobby, can also become a profession for those who are dedicated enough, as many people want to order beautifully handwritten cards or invitations to add a bit of a spark to an event.
If you stick with calligraphy and practice often you’ll be able to create your own styles, really master the craft, and ultimately turn it into a beautiful and relaxing profession that not many people are involved in.