Interested in giving calligraphy a try? I’ve gathered a list of the best calligraphy pens and inks (and have a few more must-have lists coming soon!) to feed your creative passion or budding business.
I remember standing in front of a small selection of tools at Hobby Lobby (and, even worse, looking at an overwhelming selection online) and feeling lost on where to start. I wasted my money on a lot of sub-par products and was amazed at how my skills improved so quickly once I found good, quality products! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tools and the best calligraphy pens and inks out there – take a look!
The sturdy Hunt 101 nib is great for beginners to practice with. One of the harder parts of calligraphy is learning to control the pressure variations between upstrokes and downstrokes (that’s what gets the super fine upstroke lines and super thick downstroke lines!). The Hunt 101 nib is a little sturdier – allowing you to more easily control the pressure placed on the nib while you’re developing muscle memory for writing. It’s even great for more experienced calligraphers – especially for writing larger letters!
The Zebra G nib is slightly more flexible than the Hunt 101 but still a great beginner nib. With increased flexibility, it allows you to put less pressure on the pen to get a thicker downstroke. If you don’t normally write with heavy pressure, this may be the best beginner nib for you! It’s main bragging right is it’s durability – something incredibly important when you’re calligraphing several hundred envelopes.
The Blue Pumpkin nib is my all-time, absolute favorite. It’s my go-to nib for everything from envelope addressing to agate place cards. The Blue Pumpkin and Steno nib (linked) are basically the same, though the Steno claims to be more durable. I honestly just grab whichever one I see first – I can’t tell much of a difference. To me, these nibs allow you to more easily see if you have excess ink on the nib (this can create sudden “blobs” while you’re writing that often lead to tears and another glass of wine 🤷🏼♀️) and they seem to produce the smoothest writing and most consistent ink flow.
There are two types of nib holders – straight and oblique. Which one you should use boils down to your personal preference. I’ve always used straight and, since I learned that way, I’m far more comfortable using that type of nib. Buy one of both and give them a try to find your perfect fit!
**Best Calligraphy Pens Tip**
When you buy a new nib, run it over a flame a few times before you use it! Nibs are often coated with an oily finish that leads to inconsistent ink flow and the awful ink blob. Running it over a flame burns the oil off of the nib and preps it for use!
My favorite gold ink, hands-down, is Dr. Martin’s Copperplate Gold. I tend to be a bit picky when it comes to gold colors and this is the best not-too-yellow, not-too-shiny gold ink. It flows well right out of the bottle and adheres well to so many surfaces. I’ve used this ink on this project!
An industry favorite, it’s hard to beat Dr. Martin’s Bleedproof White Ink. It comes as an almost-solid and has to be diluted a bit but the result is always a completely opaque ink. The ability to customize the consistency makes it a great choice for writing on a variety of surfaces.
Have a little fun! I’ve yet to meet a Dr. Martin’s Ink I don’t like – and their India Ink colors are BEAUTIFUL. Grab a few to make your practice sessions colorful and fun.
To be honest, I’ve only used PearlEx pigments a couple of times – mainly because gold is the most popular metallic color and I’m in a long-term, committed relationship with Dr. Martin’s Copperplate Gold. 😍 But, I will say that the PearlEx pigments provide the ability to customize the metallic colors that come in a million different shades (looking at you, Rose Gold!), making it easier to match to other elements in an invitation suite. There is assembly required (the bottles come with a fine metallic dust inside) and you will make a mess but, in many instances, it’s necessary!