Calligraphy is the art of creating decorative lettering by hand. The word calligraphy comes from two Greek words meaning ‘beautiful’ and ‘writing’. This art was widely practised before the printing press was invented, when all books had to be written by hand. Calligraphy is considered by most people as ornamental lettering but those who practise it find a much deeper meaning. It is about the letters or symbols themselves being a piece of art as opposed to just being part of a piece of art.
Ink – When it comes to calligraphy there are three types of ink available. The first is fountain pen ink for use with fountain pens. Secondly there is calligraphy ink for dip pens and thirdly Chinese and Japanese stick ink which is again used with dip pens. As well as looking at the type of pen the ink is going to be used with you should also decide what shade is required, whether you need a permanent ink and/or an ink that is waterproof.
Ruler – In order to draw accurately you need to draw up lettering guidelines on your calligraphy paper. Specialist calligraphy rulers are available to buy from most stationers and on-line retailers.
Nibs – Whilst there are a wide range of calligraphy nibs available you will probably find that you only need a small range to start out with. Thick and thin strokes can be created using an italic chisel-point pen which has a sharp edge to ensure that the transition between thick and thin is very clean. You can also get a stub nib to create both the thick and thin lines but with a softer transition. There is also another type of italic nib known as cursive italic.
Brushes - If you are planning to do any eastern style calligraphy then you will need a calligraphy brush. A lot of calligraphy brushes are made up of two layers; short hairs on the inside and long hairs on the outside.
Pencil – You will need a pencil to draw your guidelines. Don’t choose anything too thick or soft as it can smudge when you come to do your calligraphy.
Paper – Squared (or graph) paper can be used for practise and a good quality sketch book will work well for your calligraphy projects.