Like cleaning your nib every fifteen minutes, the preparation for practice is almost automatic after a while – it’s really nothing you should be worried about. Everyone’s calligraphy set-up is different, and it should be – you should always customise it to fit your needs. Below I share my set-up in the hope that it might inspire your own.
Next to you (reasonably distanced from possible ink spatter area) should be the guide book or exemplar of the calligraphy hand you’re practising. For quick page-flipping, I use post-its as bookmarks. If you’re having a hard time keeping it open at the right page, use heavy clips on the lighter side of the book.
- Paper, ink, pen + nib
Your paper might be printed or drawn with guide lines or a blank sheet of paper. As an ink container, I use a small, shallow jam jar. Its heavy constitution means it doesn’t get knocked over easily, and it being shallow means I can easily see the tip of my nib when dipping (even when it’s only half-filled with ink). Having a pen rest is handy, too, so you know where to put your pen without smudging ink anywhere when you need to pause. Just remember to clean your nib as soon as you can to prevent ink build-up.
- Flat surface pad
It’s preferable that you have a flat surface pad between your writing paper and your desk or whatever underneath. I use a thick stock board paper. The first function is to protect your writing, since the slightest unevenness will affect the quality. The second is to protect your desk from ink that might blotch through. Make sure you remove this pad along with your practice papers when you’re done. If you keep it on the desk like me, you’re more likely to forget that you’re not supposed to draw with a wet brush or put a wet rag on the pad, causing it to absorb moisture and crease.
- Water container + rag/paper towel
For the water container I use a one-handled children’s drinking cup. Being plastic, it won’t break if I drop it. But I’m not likely to do so, because on water-rinse commutes I can easily hook the light cup on my fingers – allowing me to securely hold pens, brushes, and other paraphernalia. For rags, I have cut-ups of old t-shirt.
- Red marker
I have a red colour pencil at hand so I can instantly mark a good form that I make or areas that need improvements.
I use my phone and keep it away from ink and water.
- Light, glasses, posture
Do take care of your eyes. Make sure you have a good light, use your glasses if you need to. And be aware of your posture during practice. Sit up straight with your feet level on the floor or a footstool.
Can’t practice without music or a cup of tea? Share your set-up below!