Interested in calligraphy? Start here.
So you're interested in calligraphy but don't know where to start? Look no more my friends as this post is dedicated to budding calligraphers, chock full of tips and ways to get started.
First of all, you need to choose how you want to learn. Are you a visual learner or do you prefer learning in a classroom environment? Thankfully due to the rising popularity of calligraphy there are a variety of options.
Option 1 - An online course with support from an experienced calligrapher enter https://istilllovecalligraphy.com/
I Still Love Calligraphy is a month long online course with videos, guidelines/sheets, set work and support from Melissa Esplin the calligrapher behind I Still Love Calligraphy.
I Still Love Calligraphy costs $95/£66
Option 2 - A step by step guide to creating different styles of calligraphy using printable guidesheets and templates.
Enter Learn Calligraphy for a Latte by The Postmans Knock.
Learn Calligraphy for a Latte is a great source if you learn best by repetition. Tracing over the letters on the templates helps you learn the structure and form of each letter. There are several Learn Calligraphy for a Latte courses, each showcasing a different style of calligraphy, there's also a Hand Lettering for a Latte course too!
Each Learn Calligraphy for a Latte course costs $5/£3.50.
******Learn Calligraphy for a Latte has now added video courses priced at $10/£7.*******
Option 3 - Attend a calligraphy class.
If you learn best in a classroom environment calligraphy classes may be best for you and they are becoming more and more popular so there's great choice available.
Quill London offers regular modern calligraphy workshops in a variety of locations in London at beginner and intermediate levels. Each class costs £49.
For dates and further details go to http://quilllondon.com/collections/modern-calligraphy-london-course
Next you will need to buy calligraphy supplies. Classroom courses generally include a starter kit so check before you buy any supplies.
You will need:
Penholders come in straight and oblique form. Oblique penholders are usually recommended for pointed pen calligraphy as they provide the best angle. They feel a little strange to write with at first but once you get used to it fairly quickly. Some calligraphers prefer straight penholders, particularly lefties so don't worry if you don't get on with the oblique, just do what works best for you. Speedball penholders are great starter tools, they come in straight and oblique styles and are widely available.
Oblique penholders with flanges (the bit on the side of the penholder where you slot the nib) are even easier to write with. This is because when in place the very tip of your nib should be in line with the centre of your oblique penholder for the best calligraphy results. With mental flanges you can adjust the nib so that it is in the right position.
I'm going to talk about nibs for pointed pen calligraphy here (ie copperplate, modern and spencerian).
Nibs come in all differents shapes and sizes. Nikko G, Zebra G and Tachikawa G are usually the recommended nibs for a calligraphy newbie as they are a balance of not too stiff and not too flexible, they don't catch easily and last forever (okay not forever but a lot longer than normal nibs). They are a bit pricier than your standard nibs at £2.00 a pop but they last a lot longer.
Brause Rose is a very flexible nib therefore can be great for beginners.
Once you are progressing into calligraphy and you may want to try some new nibs. My personal favourites are Leonardt 40 - a flexible nib that glides smoothly over paper, Leonardt 41 a medium flex nib that has a blunt end to minimise the nib catching on the paper and lastly the Brause EF66 - a tiny nib that gives lovely thick downstrokes and delicate hairlines.
Vintage nibs are fairly easily available if you want to try something different.
Black ink such as Kuretake Black or Sumi ink is a great starter and beyond ink. When you're ready to branch out you will be spoilt for choice as there is an amazing array of inks out there! We'll talk about other inks available in a future blog post.
Rhodia paper offers a selection of grid, dot, plain and ruled pads and is a popular choice for calligraphers. The paper is very good quality, most inks don't bleed or feather on Rhodia paper. It's also really smooth so great for calligraphy.
Clairefontaine is also a popular choice for the same reasons as Rhodia.
If you're in the UK and on a budget I would recommend Paperchase. Ok their paper isn't quite on the pedestal that Rhodia and Clairefontaine are but they do have grid and dot pads and they are fairly good quality for practice paper.
So where are you going to get all your calligraphy supplies from?
Here are my recommendations:
Blots Pens: http://www.blotspens.co.uk/ - a great supplier based here in the UK. Great choice of supplies available, well priced, quick delivery and great service. My go to supplier of choice.
Scribblers: http://www.scribblers.co.uk/ - another great supplier in the UK. Good array of supplies - including Dr PH Martin's Bombay and Hydrus inks which are not commonly found in the UK.
Paper and Ink Arts: http://www.paperinkarts.com/ - based in the US, amazing variety of calligraphy supplies including penholders. If you're in the UK it's still worth having a look.
Bureau Direct: http://www.bureaudirect.co.uk/ - UK company. Cheapest place for A4 Rhodia Pads at £4.50. Other supplies include Palomino Blackwing pencils, fountain pens
Penman Direct: https://www.penmandirect.co.uk/ - Based in the UK this company are the only place in the UK (and I think outside the US) selling Rodger Mayeda handmade penholders. One of few UK sellers of the finetec gold palette.
So there you have it, the guide to getting started in calligraphy, I hope it's been helpful. Now go get started!