It’s that time of the year again, when we worry about buying the perfect gift for that certain someone for Christmas. Especially calligraphers, man.. those darn calligraphers are such sticklers when it comes to gifts.. you don’t want to buy them supplies, God forbid, cos it’s kind of like buying a housewife a mop, and besides calligraphers are very finicky about what they use and chances are they have plenty already. You want to get them something useful, but still fun!
Well never fear! This year’s gift guide is full of awesome stuff you can get that letter-lover in your life, stress free. Check out these options:
A Fancy Pen Holder
No matter what your calligrapher uses, chances are they will have a penholder or two in their arsenal. It’s kind of like a fancy bottle of perfume, every lady has one but it never hurts to get them another one. Of course I must promote the Painted Pens, which is a collaboration between Brian and I, but check out his regular shop as well. There are also other wonderful handmade penmakers, Chris Held, Rodger Mayeda and Salvador Mendez. Tell em I said hi!
A Fountain Pen
Another great gift for calligraphers is a fountain pen. These don’t necessarily have to be $1000 Mont Blancs, these days decent fountain pens range anywhere from $7 to 100. One of my favorite pens are the Lamy and Parker, the Metropolitan is a good all-around pen, but there are so many different brands that it’s best to shop according to your budget.
If you want to go the extra mile, look for a flex pen as a gift. Regular fountain pens write only with a rigid line, but a flex pen has the ability to generate thick and thin lines, just like what calligraphers use. These flex pens can be very expensive, but there are options if you want to impress your giftee. The Pilot Falcon is a favorite (don’t flex it too much though or it’ll be damaged) but the Noodler’s Konrad also flexes well. Greg Minuskin sells vintage flex pens, but if you want to know more before you buy, read up Gouletpen’s Flex pen review.
If you want to go the extra extra mile, and your giftee is perhaps an artist who likes tinkering and playing with new tools, then maybe try a flex dip pen. These are kind of like fountain pen/dip nib hybrids.. it is basically the exact same nib a calligrapher uses but with a fountain pen cartridge/ink reservoir, so it doesn’t require much dipping. The technology on these isn’t super advanced yet, but I have tried them both and they are pretty great.. only if your giftee doesn’t mind tinkering and getting messy hands once in awhile. As far as I know, Desiderata Pen and Akkerman Pens makes them.
Ink and Paint Set
A pretty impressive gift would be a set of gouache paints. Gouache is used as ink for calligraphy, but they are very expensive.. up to $10 a tube! Many calligraphers can only afford a few at a time.. but a set like this would be sooo cool. Holbien and Winsor & Newton are good brands.
Magazines and Books
Another great gift is a subscription to a calligraphy magazine. These will provide a constant source of inspiration, most are published quarterly. Dasherie Magazine is a new magazine that caters to modern pointed pen calligraphers, Letter Arts Review is a wonderful international magazine for calligraphy all around the world, Bound and Lettered is mostly for book binding and paper arts, but there is lots of inspiration for calligraphers too.
In the same vein, you can get special books as gifts, such as Donald Jackson’s amazing St. John Bibles, the historically intriguing Elegant Hand, Sheila Water’s Foundations of Calligraphy, or Scripsit issues.
A fancy inkwell is another welcome gift. Usually calligraphers will use just any plastic container the ink came with, so a fancy one would be a nice statement for his or her table. It doesn’t have to be super ornate, you can get functional yet gorgeous stainless steel or brass inkwells from McCaffrey, or this china inkwell.
You can also look for vintage ornate inkwells on ebay, and a good selection usually turns up. Be careful of spending too much though, as some of the ones on there may be reproductions.
Sealing Wax and Letter Writing Accessories
Chances are, your calligrapher is an avid letter writer. They would usually have their own stationery, but it’s always fun to send letter writing accessories that they may like. Wax seal stamps is always fun, though I recommend supplying them with Atelier Gargoyle sealing wax to go with it because the cheaper kind will just break in transit. Maybe throw in a box of vintage labels to seal the letter with? And if they’re really crafty, maybe some washi tape?
Fine stationery sets is also great, but make sure they are good quality. Rossi has gorgeous Florentine designs, Crown Mill has beautiful elegant sets, or these lovely colorful cards. In addition to these places, Etsy is another source of gorgeous artist made letter writing sets, with designs to suit every personality. One tip though, make sure you search for ‘stationery’ as well as ‘stationary’… sigh.
Artworks and Gifts
Happy shopping! No matter what you get, remember it’s the thought that counts.