Investing in good tools and supplies is crucial to your learning experiance.
Use tools that work for YOU instead of AGAINST you.
Here's a list of all my favorite tools and supplies that I use on a daily basis.
From day one I have been using one of these oblique pen holders. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. You can change your nibs easily and it's very pocket friendly :)
Deuce by Yoke Pen Company - The most affordable Metal Flange Pen holder on the market and it's TWO Pen Holders in ONE - straight and oblique.
Luis Creation Moblique Holder - Moblique 2-in-1 is a budget straight & oblique penholder designed by Luis Creations. It has a compartment to hold nibs inside the body. It comes in many chic colors for you to choose from
TBLC’s Oblique Holder for Beginners - Custom-made oblique holders designed by yours truly to get you started in your calligraphy journey. (Launching soon)
We all like to upgrade every now and then, after a couple of months or years of practice, and below are a few high-end holders I absolutely love
Michael Sull wooden oblique holder - I’ll never forget the day he adjusted my flange so patiently at IAMPETH
AB Holders - Handmade wooden oblique holder with an adjustable flange made by Aqino is one of my all-time favorites.
TBLC Holders - Our very own premium holders are made in collaboration with a renowned pen maker in Italy. They’re made of hardwoods, and brass flange and give an excellent ergonomic grip.
The G series nibs are best suited for beginners which include Nikko G
, Tachikawa G, and Zebra G - these nibs are very sturdy and inflexible which is why it’s good to get started with. They also work very well on handmade paper as the tip is not too sharp so it doesn’t pick up fibres.
As you progress, you want to try out other nibs and see what works best for you, my personal favourite is Principle EF.
Principle EF. was the nib I started using and is still the one I reach for most frequently. You can achieve beautiful, thin hairline strokes as well as thick down strokes by simply adjusting the pressure applied. It’s strong, it’s sturdy, and an all-around great nib. It will take some getting used to, especially if you are just starting out, so give yourself time and grace to practice and learn how nibs work.
Hunt 101 and Hunt 22 are two of my most used nibs after Principle EF, they’re great for practice, it also works really well for addressing envelopes and working on finished pieces. They produce very fine hairlines and thick swells which gives a delicate look overall.
Gillot 303 - I’ve found it to be especially useful while creating flourishes, it just glides over the paper so easily letting us create some beautiful strokes. Super fine hairlines, and great swells.
Brause Steno aka Blue Pumpkin is an excellent nib and the best one for writing on very large X heights as it’s very flexible.
Note: What I have found very helpful over the years is setting aside a different holder for different nibs. By doing this we adjust our flange to suit a particular type of nib so we do not need to readjust it.
There are a variety of inks that can be used and over the years I have found my go to inks for practice as well as final work as given below
Sumi Ink - In my experience, it’s the best black ink available and recommended by artists across the world. My go to Sumi ink is a famous Japanese brand called Moon palace and is available with another brand called Kuretake.
Walnut ink - It’s a beautiful natural ink made from the green husk surrounding the nut of walnut. The ink comes in two forms: liquid or crystals that are mixed with water before use. I love the inconsistent shade of brown that is produced with walnut ink.
Fox and Quills are the most stunning home-brewed inks made by my dear friend Serge in California. The colors are beautiful, and vibrant and they work like a dream. We’re so proud to be their sole retailer in India.
Ziller Inks are perfect for steel pointed nibs, broad edge pens and brushes. They are a multi-faceted medium for wherever your imagination takes you. And I absolutely love the variety of shades available.
Krishna Inks are a recent discovery made by a doctor in Chennai, India. These are beautiful pocket-friendly inks, more suited for broad-edged, but on the right paper, it can be used for pointed pen too.
Higgins Eternal - It’s another favorite of mine when it comes to black ink, the consistency and shade are absolutely stunning.
Dr Ph Martins has a beautiful range of iridescent shades, they’re the finest metallic inksTheir white ink called the Bleed Proof white is hands down the best white ink available.
Windsor Newton - Inks that have been formulated with carefully chosen pigments to ensure maximum brilliance of color. The 18 colors in this range are lightfast for long-lasting results.
Quick Tip: If you feel your ink is too thick you can always add a few drops of distilled water to improve the viscosity of the ink. Alternatively, if you find that your ink is too watery, you can add a little bit of gum arabic.
Good quality paper is crucial for your learning experience. It’s important to use calligraphy friendly paper which means that it should be bleed proof and 100 GSM +
We, at the Bombay Lettering Company, have also curated our own pads, which work well with all ink types. Copperplate practice pads that comes in two different X heights - 5 mm and 9mm, Dotted and Grid Pads
TBLC Mix Media Paper - The smooth texture and premium quality of these sheets makes it our go-to paper, especially for final pieces.
TBLC Handmade Paper - Beautiful handmade cotton rag paper with a natural deckle edge, suitable for calligraphy, digital printing, and other media. With natural, delicate, and feathery deckle edges, each of these sheets is made by hand using age-old techniques from 100% cotton, making for soft, strong, and luxe paper. Available in various sizes and colors.
Fabriano - 250 GSM Acid Free paper with ultra-smooth surface, ideal for all mediums.
Brustro Bristol Ultra Smooth Paper - 250 GSM paper available in A3 and A4, ideal for solvent based markers, felt tip pen, watercolour, ink, airbrush, pencil & charcoal. Perfect for illustration, design and manga.
Dinky Dips: Dinky Dips Despite the funny name, Dinky Dips are genius tools! It is a small plastic ink well that is leakproof and holds just the right amount of ink. Whenever I’m working, I’ll add my ink from the main ink bottle with the help of a dropper into one of the inkwells and ll it up all the way to the brim so that I can easily reload my nib without any hassle.
Drying Racks : A must-have tool for commercial calligraphers. If you've worked on envelopes, name tags, or place cards, you know the struggle of ensuring they all dry out without sticking on each other and smudging all the ink. Get this beautiful rack and save yourself from that trouble, you can conveniently insert them into the grooves and let it dry while you work on the rest of them
Layout paper: Layout paper is excellent for both tracing and refining your work. However, tracing paper has another great use when it comes to transferring your work to premium paper that you don’t want to mess up with those excessive pencil marks – especially if you work on multiple words and intricate lettering compositions. Ps- I always place a layout paper over my guide sheets while practicing
Sand Eraser YES! An eraser that rubs off ink, Tombow makes these amazing erasers that come in handy when you’ve made a spelling error in a big piece and don’t want to rewrite everything. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you may not be able to erase an entire line but a stroke or a few letters would work out just fine.
Xacto Knife: You can use the Xacto knife to pick out tiny ink splatters and small portions of ink from your paper. It essentially removes the first layer of paper fibers on which you’ve written. You want to be extremely careful while doing this so as to not tear it into the paper.
Prep Powder: Meet your new secret weapon against unruly writing surfaces - rubbing just a little bit of prep powder before you write on non-calligraphy-friendly paper-like handmade sheets will help reduce the bleeding to a great extent.
Copperplate/Spencerain Ruler: This amazing tool from Aquino da Silva makes drawing Copperplate guidelines simpler and faster. This ruler allows users to rule lines from 3mm to 7mm x-heights; 1:1:1, 2:1:2 and 3:2:3 proportions, and a 55-degree slant. Portable and can easily fit into your pencil case. 1.75” x 4.25”
Glass Pencil: This pencil works on almost any surface and comes off easily if you wipe it with a cloth.
Document Camera: A document camera is very useful, especially for teaching workshops, it’s an external camera that directly plugs into your laptop and can be used in addition to your laptop camera, the one I use and is most recommended is from IPEVO.
GooseNeck Stand: The gooseneck stand is a great one to begin with if you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest in a document camera. It’s very handy, you can easily clamp in on your table and it works well
CANVAS (Tripod + Lights): I use CANVAS which is basically a tripod along with ring light.
Light Pad: A light pad is basically a thin box or tablet with a translucent surface that is lit from inside. You simply place a sheet of paper on it that has guidelines and then place another sheet of paper on top of that. When you turn on the light, it allows you to see the image on the paper beneath. A few nice brands are HUION, Artograph.
Laser Level: A laser level shoots a red laser line across the page which you can then use as a baseline. My laser liner is from a brand called Black and Decker.
Ipad + Pencil: I use my iPad and pencil to create digital artworks of everything that goes into laser cutting or is used for spot calligraphy. The model I use is the Apple Pro 2017 12.9 inches with a second generation Apple Pencil.
Magnetic Ink Stirrer: The ink stirrer can be a life-saving tool when working with metallic inks. If you’re wondering why, the pigment in metallic inks usually settles at the bottom, that’s where the stirrer comes in handy - it saves you from the hassle of constantly shaking.