The First Paper-Ink-Pen Combination That Worked for Me

calligraphy, supplies

So after scrounging the web for calligraphy tutorials, I decided that I finally need an actual calligraphy pen.

I’ve considered the kinds that some say are the best “for beginners” and reached out to the only place that I know (at that time) sell pointed nibs of my choice in the country (CforCalligraphy on instagram). Long story short, it’s Paperline Gold 100 gsm – Daiso Sumi Drawing Ink – Hiro 41 in a straight holder.

001

Long story, having never seen or touched calligraphy pens, they are almost a magical mistery to me. I should tell you right now that you needn’t be too enchanted. People used to use ‘calligraphy’ pens for just ‘writing’, so for them, they were just ‘pens’*. And some people still use them for drawing now, and that says to me, you can manipulate them however you want. But this I can tell you: to start writing with ‘calligraphy pens’ at all is about finding the combination that works for you, because it is different for everyone.

pointed-pen

How Pointed Pen Works

Anyways, in June 2015, I got my very first calligraphy supplies and they are:

  • 1 straight holder – IDR 100.000
  • 1 Zebra G – IDR 25.000 (surprisingly cheapest… $1.95 on paperinkarts)
  • 1 Hiro 41 – IDR 30.000 ($0.60 on paperinkarts)
  • 1 Gillott 303 – IDR 50.000 ($0.73 on paperinkarts… yes, I’m a comparatist like that)
  • + 1 Sumi Drawing Ink from the local Daiso – IDR 25.000

Hoping to make do with one nib at a time, I prepped and tried the Zebra G first (being the cheapest and closest to the Nikko G that I originally wanted) – but I couldn’t get it to flow the way I want it to. Frustrated, I prepped the Hiro 41, dipped it into Sumi ink and wrote on 80 gsm copy paper, and to my delight, I was able to produce my first pointed pen lettering. However, perhaps because my Hiro is rather worn, or my paper stack somehow acquired some level of moisture, with 80 gsm I find my lettering to feather and seep through the back. That’s why I recommended the 100 gsm†. Unfortunately, per January 2016 Erica from The Flourish Forum “no longer recommend the Hiro 41 nib due to production issues” (this seems to have been going on since 2014), so I don’t know if it’s a good idea to stock this up right now.

Out of curiousity, I ended up trying my Gillott 303 as well, but it’s scratchy, snags, and runs out of ink too quickly for me now, so I can only conclude that it might be more suitable for more advanced level (some say that he’s preeetty sensitive). My Zebra G has improved, but hasn’t 100% worked for me (I still have a few tricks I haven’t tried, so we’ll see).

A local, continually-well-stocked calligraphy supplier still seems such a dream right now, but if you live in Indonesia, I would love to hear where you get your regular supplies – please share!

S.

*Fountain pens are different from calligraphy dip pens. As far as I know, they work differently and use different inks.

† I also would advise against school grade drawing books. Despite the apparent thickness, I find mine to be pretty fibrous, causing bleed.

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