Use the handy guide below to make sure you have everything you need on-hand before you start your dip pen calligraphy project. Please be aware that we may receive a commission from purchases made through links on this site.
Dip Pen Calligraphy pen holder
Straight or oblique calligraphy pen holder
Straight holders, like this one available on Amazon, are ideal for vertical styles, and broad tip nip styles. Oblique holders, like this one from Speedball, are designed to achieve the angles necessary for styles like Copperplate and Spencerian.
Dip Pen Calligraphy nibs
Broad or pointed nibs
Broad nibs are best suited for styles such as Blackletter, Uncial, and Chancery. Pointed nibs are best suited for styles such as Copperplate, Spencerian, and sans serif block print.
India ink, acrylic, watercolour, gouache
Dip pen calligraphy is versatile and works well with a wide variety of inks. Each has its own properties and benefits. An opaque white ink can be used to cover mistakes.
Some of the reliable inks I’ve used that are available at Amazon are linked below:
- Higgins Eternal Black: a great go-to ink for writing on traditional papers.
- Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink: these have beautiful jewel-tone colours and great flow for calligraphy.
- Dr. Ph Martin Iridescent Inks: these are so much fun to use and add an eye-catching element to any project.
- Dr. Ph Martin Pen White: this is a solid choice for a standard white ink. It does need to be diluted to get the correct flow, but not too much that it loses opacity.
- Winsor & Newton Gouache: gouache is the perfect choice when opacity and finish are important. Gouache dries with a gorgeous, velvety matte finish and has very high opacity. Check out my review on Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache.
- M. Graham & Co. Gouache: another fabulous gouache set. My review is posted here. This set has three primaries, plus black and white.
A small, narrow dish or glass to hold ink makes it easier to dip the pen, and can be used to store excess ink. Inks like gouache are extremely easy to store and can be remoistened for use later. This makes it ideal if like me, you usually create too much for your project or take on projects that last more than a day.
Full confession: I use clear shot glasses that I probably got from my parents when I was in college. The narrow shape, heavy base, and shortness work for me. I love that they are clear and super easy to clean before using for other non-calligraphy activities. If you’re willing to accept this unconventional ink vessel, this Anchor Hocking set is very similar to what I have. Storage is as easy as popping some cellophane on the top.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, a paint tray like this one by Transon is a great for both mixing and storage.
As with ink, there is a wide variety of paper types suitable for calligraphy. In general, one that is acid-free with a smooth surface and heavier weight (90lb +) is best for calligraphy.
Ruler & Pencil
A ruler or t-square that can be used to measure and create guidelines. Clear ones like the ones in this 4-piece set make it easy to create exact grids and angle.
- Eraser (make sure it is a high-quality art eraser like this one)
- Water dish
- Paper towel
- Scrap paper