Beginning and Continuing Calligraphy

Beginning and Continuing Calligraphy

Note: If you are a beginning calligraphy student, your materials fee payable on the first day of class covers all items on the basic supply list.

Basic Supply List (total $25; covered by materials fee)

  • Pen Holder
  • Practice Pad 50 Sheets
  • Higgins Eternal Ink
  • 4 Brause Nibs- .75, 1, 1.5, 2
  • Mixed Media Pad

Additional Suggested Supply List

  • Drawing Board
  • Calligraphy ruler
  • Rolling Ruler
  • T-square
  • triangle with a 90 degree angle
  • paper towel (useful for keeping your work area clean)
  • Ruler
  • Gouache
  • Watercolor paper
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Pencils
  • Pallet
  • Water Container

About Calligraphy Supplies

  • NIBS- Nibs, also called points, are writing tips that are inserted into the end of a pen holder.  Nibs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the task they are designed to perform- each releases the ink differently for a unique line quality.  The italic nib has an angled tip for producing slanted letters.  Nibs can vary in size from brand to brand.  Jennifer likes Brause nibs; they are very stiff and create a nice edge.


  • RESEVOIR- A resevoir is a small metal piece that slides over the nib to help control the flow of ink from the nib for smooth writing.  Each brand of nib will have its own particular reservoir.


  • PAPER- Hot-press, or smooth watercolor paper is the best choice for general lettering, whereas cold-press watercolor paper is ideal for illumination projects.  Jennifer uses cold-press paper because she likes the texture.  Rough watercolor paper is difficult to on but is wonderful for drawn letters.  You will want to have a supply of practice paper, such as layout bond or translucent paper which you can place over guidelines or graph paper.  Printmaking paper and other fine art papers may also be used.  Too thin of paper and paper that is “cheap” can cause ink to bleed, which is very frustrating.


  • INK- Non-waterproof black carbon ink is the best ink to use for basic lettering, such as Higgins Eternal Ink.


  • GOUACHE- Designer’s gouache is similar to watercolor paint, but it contains more filler, which makes it opaque.  It can be thinned to a consistency suitable for flowing from the nib.  Jennifer mainly uses gouache because she likes how she can mix them to create almost any color.  Use gold or silver gouache to add gilded accents that mimic the brilliance of leafing.


  • PAINTBRUSHES- Use paintbrushes to mix your colors, load or fill the pen and paint large areas.  Also use small round brushes for painting fine details.  Jennifer uses a broad paint brush to load her nibs.


  • PALETTES- Palettes with several wells will be handy when you mix colors.  The wells allow you to keep an array of thinned and mixed colors handy and prevent the colors from running together.  Make sure you have a contained for clean water for mixing gouache and cleaning your nibs.


  • PENCILS- You will need pencils of varying hardness.  H pencils have hard leads.  These pencils are best for producing fine, light lines, but be aware of the amount of pressure you apply; it is easy to score the paper.  B pencils have softer leads- the higher the number, the greater the softness.  These pencils make soft grades and are great for general purpose drawing.