How To Choose a Calligraphy Pen

Calligraphy pens come in a huge array of sizes, shapes, weights and prices. It can be difficult to know just which pen is right for you, especially if you're a beginner to calligraphy and fountain pens in general. Here are a few tips to help guide you to a pen that will feel comfortable and work well in your hand.

The best way to choose a calligraphy pen is to test drive a few different brands and sizes. Find a reputable dealer and try them out. Art supply shops usually have a good variety of calligraphy pens, and will allow you to try before you buy. There are some specialized pen shops out there, but they can be tough to find especially if you don't live in a major city.

It is very important that your calligraphy pen feels comfortable in your hand, and that you can use it without straining or holding your hand at an unnatural angle. Writing should be fluid, and the pen should rest easily in your hand.

Here's what you should look for when you try out a calligraphy pen:

  1. Nib Width - The width of the nib will depend largely on the type of calligraphy you want to do. Wider nibs will work best with larger text, while thinner nibs will give more detail to smaller writing. To start off with, try a nib that measures about one and a half millimeters in width and gradually work your way up to the larger ones.
  2. Nib Shape - Calligraphy pen nibs come in a variety of shapes, with rounded, wide or chisel points. Chisel points are often the easiest to begin with, as they are less likely to scratch or tear your paper, but still give crisp edges and lines.
  3. Flexibility - Calligraphy pen nibs can be very rigid or fairly flexible, depending on what they are made of. This difference in flexibility gives an experienced calligrapher more control over her work, but if you're just starting out, you'll want to make sure you can use your nib and pen easily. If you tend to press hard on the paper when you write, choose a stiff nib for better control. For varying thickness in your writing, a more flexible nib will do a better job.
  4. Pen Weight and Thickness - This is really a matter of preference. Pens come in all weights and sizes, so choose one that feels comfortable in your hand.

There are many manufacturers that make calligraphy starter kits for beginners. These usually contain one or two pens, several nibs in various widths and shapes, different colors of ink, as well as a book with assorted alphabets to copy and paper on which to practice. These kits can be expensive at first glance, but when you consider the price of individual pens, nibs and ink, they can actually be quite a bargain. The downside to a kit is that, if you don't like the feel of the pen, you'll have to purchase a replacement anyway. On a positive note, you'll have lots of different nibs to try at home.

Remember, the most important thing about choosing a calligraphy pen is comfort. If the pen feels good and you can write comfortably with it, you'll enjoy the art of calligraphy much more, and with greater success!


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