Starting Copperplate Calligraphy


If you're here then you must be looking to embark on the exciting journey of calligraphy! There is no right or wrong method or the perfect tools, always try as many nibs and inks on as many papers you can lay your hands on.

Which penholder should I choose?
As a general guide, right-handed calligraphers should use an oblique pen holder as nib will be pointing at a correct angle for copperplate writing. Left-handers are recommended to use a straight penholder because your arm and hand will already be at the correct angle. This does not mean right-handers are not able to use straight holders, it's a matter of finding your angle as you write.

Which nibs do I get?
There is no ‘best nib’ for Copperplate or Spencerian writing. It is advisable to buy a selection of nibs to try as the most suitable nib is a very personal choice. Copperplate flexible nibs often vary in size, flexibility and strength (pressure required). One person’s favourite nib might be unsuitable for someone else. Once your nibs start to wear or rust, you should replace them as soon as possible.

This is a selection of suitable nibs to buy for Copperplate:

Nikko G
Brause 66EF
Brause Rose 
Brause Steno
Leonardt G
Leonardt EF Principal
Leonardt Crown Nib
Leonardt Copperplate 2 Point Nib DP111

All nibs come with a protective wax coating straight out of the box, make sure to prep your nib by soaking it briefly in hot water, running it through an open flame for 1-2 seconds or washing it off with kitchen detergent before wiping it dry with a microfibre cloth.

Always wash your nib with soap after every use and store in an airtight container to prolong it's condition.

What ink do I use? 
There is no such thing as ink for beginners, but for practice purposes you will probably want the most affordable ink you can get. For this we recommend using either Walnut Ink (they come in crystals which you will need to dilute using warm water and a stirrer) or Sumi Ink. Dip pens allow the use of carbon based, acrylic inks and gouache. Carbon based and pigmented inks are generally permanent and resistant to fading. Finetecs are also popular and available in watercolor pan form, one will need to hydrate it with water before using a brush to apply it directly to the back of the nib. 

Water-resistant or waterproof inks are often, unecessarily, avoided as ink can build up on the nib. This risk can be reduced by frequent rinsing and wiping of the nib. Water resistant ink can be ideal for addressing envelopes, the addition of a illustrations and for the general protection of work which may be otherwise unprotected.

Purchase our Starter Kit here