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Calligraphy Tools – Resources List

Resources page for “Introduction to Calligraphy Pens
published on article center, Sept 14, 2015

In the US, there are two specialist calligraphy art supply stores: John Neal Books and Paper & Ink Arts. Both have nice printed catalogs as well.

Below are the materials I referred to in the videos, plus a few extra.
To the right are links to the artist websites mentioned in the text.

(JN) refers to the item as listed on  John Neal Books store.

*** Click here for John Neal's SHOPPING LIST PAGE ***


Traditional Nib & Holder:
(JN) N09-S6. Speedball C Set of 6 Nibs
(JN) N02-S9. Brause Set of 9 Nibs
(JN) H65. Speedball Colored Pen Holders

Pilot Parallel Pen:
(JN) FP67. Pilot Parallel Pen (recommend 6mm and 3.8mm sizes)
(JN) FP70. Asst Color, 12 Refills for Pilot Parallel

(JN) P10-50. Boris 9x12 Layout Pad 50 Sheets
(JN) P39. Cotton Comp Pad
or any good marker paper pad, or try a sample pack:
(JN) P103. Pad Paper Samples

Fine paper: Arches Text Wove is a perennial favorite as it shows fine hairlines but also has a little texture. Or try a sample pack:

(JN) PS101. Calligraphy Paper Sample Sheet Pack




(JN) N113. Nikko G Nib
(JN) N154. Pointed Nib Sampler


(JN) H95. Speedball Deluxe (Comfort Grip) Oblique Pen Holders

My rosewood holder is from Rodger Mayeda, RodgersPenBox (Etsy shop). (Note that Rodger will put his store in vacation mode when he has enough orders for the month!)

You might even treat yourself to a custom pen holder from Christopher Yoke (pictured right). See Yoke Pen Company's website and Facebook pages.

For help adjusting the flange on an oblique pen holder:

Smooth paper that doesn’t bleed, like Layout Bond or Pro-Marker:
(JN) P10-50. Boris 9x12 Layout Pad 50 Sheets
(JN) P36. Clairefontaine Blank Pad (Unlined)
Rhodia pads and notebooks, such as
(JN) P53. Rhodia Blank Pad (Unlined)

INK - see INK section below, plus McCaffery's for pointed pen (not broad-edged)
(JN) I37. McCaffery's Penman's Ink


INK & Stuff

I use Sumi ink with just about any pen; add a few drops of water to your small container (not the bottle) if it feels thick. (I avoid using sumi if my hands need to look clean; if it gets under your nails/cuticles, it can take days to get it out...)

(JN) I70. Moon Palace Sumi Ink

I used gouache mixed with distilled water in the videos. I also like sumi ink (above), but gouache doesn’t stain your fingers like sumi ink does (something I had to think about when recording!).

(JN) WNG331. W&N Gouache: Ivory Black

Lots of other ink will work too; everyone has their favorite. I use acrylic ink only when a waterproof result is necessary.

(JN) I27. Dr. Martin's Spectralite Ink
Dr. Martin's Spectralite Liquid Acrylic Color

This metallic ink is gorgeous with pointed pen, especially on black paper.

Gum Arabic:

I apply a touch of gum arabic to a nib at the start of a session to make the ink stick better:
(JN) I84. W&N Gum Arabic: 2.5oz.

Dinky Dips:

Along with a small container of water to rinse your nib, you’ll need a small container of ink to dip into – don’t dip into a full bottle of ink! Not only will your holder get dirty, but you’ll forget to put the lid back on and the ink may dry out and thicken.

I love these screw-top Dinky Dip containers from John Neal:

(JN) S934. Small Screw-Top Dinky Dip
Small Rectangle or Square Dinky Dip, with 4 screw-top vials.

(use one vial for gum arabic)

(JN) S935. Screw-Top Dinky Dip Refills
Packet of 8 vials. Refills for S934.

(buy refills only if you plan on buying lots of different inks)

Labeling Tip:
If you buy lots of black ink, you’ll soon lose track of which ink is in which vial. I stick an Avery 3/4” round white label (#6736) to the top and write the name of the ink or color on the label.

(Note: I do not recommend the smaller dinky dips with the flip-top lids; I always get ink in my fingers when I flip the top off, the plastic tops crack and break easily.)


(JN) BR01. W&N 995 Chisel Lettering Brush

Pointed Brush:
(JN) BR22. Escoda Brushes

Large Brushes:
Liquitex Freestyle Paddle Brushes, from Dick Blick and



There are also ruling pens for expressive calligraphy, which I didn't have space to cover.

Happy Lettering with the Right Tools by Marika Koskimäki-Ketelä, published by John Neal, covers these ruling pens and cola pens in a fun little book. (Expressive calligraphy is actually where my interest lies these days; hopefully I will have time to cover these tools at another date!)


Tip & Tricks

Paper & Ink Arts' Blog is just started a series of Tips & Tricks:

Tips & Tricks Part One: Nibs & Holders (9/16/2015).

It includes a couple of tips I submitted:

• Create your own nib cleaner. Trish Meyer shared the following ingenious tip with us: “Carrie Designs (Carrie Imai) has a great tip: She breaks the top off a toothbrush and glues it (with Liquid Nails) to the inside of a small container. Fill it with water, and it makes it easy to clean and scrub your nib as you write. My cleaning dish is a sponge, clean water, and this toothbrush container – top right of pic (I use an old microwave dish as it’s heavy and doesn’t move).”

• Trish Meyer has also found a great product for cleaning nibs. She says, “I use Maas metal polish to remove dried ink and tarnish. You will need to treat the nib like a new nib afterward, but it will look like one, too.” Available at Amazon.

Calligraphy Societies

Society for Calligraphy, Los Angeles. My first guild; very active with lots of workshops and events by good instructors; SfC host a nice conference in February each year in LA.

Escribiente: Albuquerque’s Calligraphic Society – my local guild - is open to anyone interested in the fine art of beautiful lettering. I keep a list of resources on their website.



If you have a question, there are many good Facebook calligraphy group pages, as well as The Flourish Forum, where you can do more research and ask questions.

Making Guidelines

Some sites have interactive tools, others are PDFs:




Broken link?

If you find a broken/dead link, please



Mastering Calligraphy: The Complete Guide to Hand Lettering by Australian calligrapher Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls. Gaye covers every major script along with plenty of “variations” and includes inspirational interviews with leading contemporary calligraphers from around the world.

See also other versions/translations:

Amazon UK - British version

Amazon France - French translation

Amazon ES – Italian translation

For more advanced essays, I really enjoyed the book Hand to Type: Scripts, Hand-Lettering and Calligraphy, edited by Jan Middendorp.

If you're interested in “modern calligraphy” with the pointed pen, see Modern Calligraphy book by
Molly Thorpe on Amazon US.

Calligraphy Artist Links

Below are links to the calligraphy artists mentioned in the article, plus a few more:


Denis Brown

Sheila Waters

Carrie Imai (above) - s.a. "Dancin' Pen" book page



Demonstration video by John Stevens on YouTube

Rudolf Koch (1876-1934) - google images

Luca Barcelona

Julian Waters

Steve Czajka

Pat Vizzini (above) - see Showcase interview

Blackletter Typography Resource page



Neils Shoe Muelman

Pokras Lampas

and more at Calligraphy Masters

calligraffiti live performance with brush



Mike Kecseg

Jake Weidmann

Kathy Milici

Barbara Close

Xandra Y. Zamora (above)

s.a. IAMPETH’s Rare Books archive



 John Stevens (above) + YouTube Channel

Stephen Rapp

Iskra Design

Eliza S. Holliday (above)