Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

Recommendations for quality tools

You’ve got a lot of great work here. Just started getting interested in calligraphy (more specifically Spencerian) and am scouring the internets for tips and such. There’s this YouTube channel with the same name and was wondering if this is yours. Also, & I’m sure you get asked this all of the time, but what do you recommend (as far as pens & such goes) to get started. I don’t want to invest in cheap (quality) items. I know this is something I’ll work on for awhile so I’m willing to invest. Thx!

Thanks! Yes, I keep a Youtube channel with the same name so yep that’s me. As for as quality tools recommendation.. ooh it’s so exciting to be asked this!

Usually when I recommend tools for beginners they always ask for the more affordable stuff, which is understandable as one doesn’t want to spend too much money beforehand. But if one is willing to fork out the dough, good quality materials can act as a short cut to eliminating bad work. For example, a cheaper ink can save a few bucks but may end up causing more trouble than it is worth.

If I was a beginner with money and knowing what I know now and totally serious about Spencerian/Ornamental Penmanship, I’d buy:

  • A Michael Sull holder, because it is beautiful and functional and the flange is set perfectly well and ready to go.
  • At least 50 Leonardt Principals, a punishing nib to start with, but the best option we have for OP/Spencerian. At least 50 because usually beginners get like one or two nibs and start to treasure and baby them too much, and start writing slower or taking too much care in case it ‘breaks’ or whatever. Well, it’s gonna break anyway.. and with 50 nibs on hand, I think one will lose the ‘my precioussss’ mentality and really get working on em and testing em. And if it breaks or splatters or springs.. well never mind, there’s 49 more! Throw it out and get back to work!
  • Walnut ink for practice and Walkers ink for letters. As close as I can get to what the masters used to use, which is iron gall or whatever that can create those fine hairlines. A cheaper Higgins or Chinese ink just won’t cut it, even with a Principal nib.
  • A few Rhodia pads for practice and Conquerer for letters. The subject for paper is touchy, because some papers work and some don’t, but I’ve tried very many and I know what I like and what I like are the above.
  • Volume 2 of the Spencerian Script and OP book.. it’s not even optional if one really wants to master OP and Spencerian. It is kind of a bible, containing thousands of examples to study from.
  • This is optional but I feel it could help a lot… an original specimen of good OP from the masters. You can find some on ebay, a little expensive but even a scrap of their original writing can show you just how fine the lines are supposed to be. Books and high-res scans and print outs are great and all, but ultimately it is all at the mercy or pixels and inkjet printers. Personally I am obsessed with the originals.. written and seen exactly how they’re meant to be, in person on the hand.. which is what started my little collection.

Wow, that was intense! I hope it helped!

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