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Starting Calligraphy – pen or nib?

Starting Calligraphy – pen or nib?

“I want to learn calligraphy, but I do not know what equipment I need “We are asked this many times.  As with any new activity at first it all seems quite bewildering, with so many choices.  “Do I need this, do I need that”.  However, the basics are straight forward.  First of all, which pen? Well, there are basically 2 choices, either a fountain pen or a dip pen. And of course there are benefits and disadvantages to both.

A Fountain Pen is the easiest to use. It either uses ink cartridges or a converter to fill the pen using a bottle of ink. They are typically used for learning the basics of calligraphy and for writing in greetings cards etc. Disadvantages of the Fountain Pens are; they are not so flexible – you can only use a limited range of coloured inks, they are harder to clean and can be expensive.

A Dip Pen or nib has many advantages; wide range of nibs to choose from, wide range of uses, much cheaper and easy to clean.  A much wider range of inks can be used with a dip pen. In fact you can use some paints as an ink with dip pens.  By mixing Gouache paint to an ink consistency you can write in any colour.  The only real disadvantage of dip pens or nibs are they are harder to use at first and sometimes it can be awkward getting the ink to flow.

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