My Favorite Tools | Calligraphy: Nibs + Pen Holders

If you are a friend of mine, you've probably had an interaction with me where I start uncontrollably gushing about something I'm excited or passionate about. A natural part of my personality is to enthusiastically share with those around me the things that I love. So when I get asked about my favorite artist tools, learning calligraphy, watercolor, paper types, etc.. It pains me that one of 3 things ends up happening:

  1. I completely forget to respond. 
  2. I take a long time to respond.
  3. If I respond, I feel as though I am not really being helpful because I have more information in my head than a text or a quick DM suffices!

I've only been in business about a year and a half.. so I am still eagerly learning, growing, and trouble shooting as I go. It feels a little insane to think about how much I've learned since I first threw myself into the fire July of 2015.

I don't believe in the "self-made" mentality. I am technically a "self-taught artist".. but what a cheat to not mention, or share, the impactful resources and wisdom that have been shared with me from those ahead of, or beside me. I have read countless blogs, and books. Watched tutorials, listened to podcasts; and spent time with some incredibly smart business men and women.

So, I am excited to share with you Part 1 of the Favorite Tools Series. I hope you find these things helpful!

My Favorite Tools: Nib & Pen Holders

Straight Pen Holders

A necessity as a calligrapher. Especially as you learn, I recommend everyone first learn on a straight pen! You definitely don't need anything fancy. I love my everyday cork Straight Pen Holder, mostly because it allows you to use varying sizes of nibs thanks to the prong design inside. But if you're feeling fancy Paper Ink Arts has several beautiful straight pens to choose from. 

Oblique Holders

Once you have your technique down with straight pens, get yourself an oblique pen! Obliques allow for a more dramatic slant. And are what I most commonly use now. In fact I use this guy in just about every calligraphy project. If you are just trying to learn and don't want to break the bank I recommend the wonderfully cheap Speedball Oblique Holder. He's not fancy.. but he gets the job done!

Some others I like : Paint-Your Own Oblique Holder, Long Oblique Holder, and I'm dying to get this little buddy, Truvium Oblique

Disclaimer: if you are left handed you will need a Left Handed Oblique Pen.


Oh nibs... Nibs are complicated. Mostly because of their unique relationship with the ink, pen holder, and paper you are using. This is why I think it is very important that you order a variety of nibs to try out. 

As an "organic" or "modern" calligrapher .. the chemistry I create between my ink, pen holder, and paper, as well as my handwriting; is what makes my style, my style. So to me, nibs are very important to not only your unique style, but to what you are trying to accomplish in your project.

I will dedicate a more involved post to nibs in the future, but for now I will leave you with a list of several I have tried, and have continued to use. Once again Paper Ink Arts is a wonderful, affordable resource for nibs.

The Nikko G is my favorite every day nib.. and I've found that it works well for many other calligraphers. It is strong therefore you will likely have less frustrating snags. The Brause Rose, Brause Extra Fine 66,  Hiro 40 Nib, are also other wonderful nibs that I have been using consistently for years!


Once again, I hope this was helpful to you! I would love to hear your questions, and any other topics you'd like me to cover in the future! I believe calligraphy is accessible to just about anyone, but can be made over complicated by simply using the wrong Speedball tools from Michaels. 

Seriously.. don't buy those.