February 5, 2016

The universal day of love is fast approaching. Show the one you love, like or tolerate, just how much with an adorable hand-written Valentine’s note. We team up with master calligrapher, À L’aise Stationery to get to grips with the basics. From choosing a nib and ink to practising basic letters, you’ll be writing your beau sweet nothings in no time.

Choosing a nib

With this style of modern calligraphy, a relaxed form of copperplate, you need a flexible a nib. A flexible nib is one that produces both thin and thick lines; nice thin lines when you gently move the pen in an upward stroke and a thicker line when you pull the pen down with a little more pressure. The nib produces a thin line when the very tip of the nib is still tight together in an upward stroke and then it produces a thicker line when you pull it down, and apply a slight pressure as the tip of the nib separates; this is what makes it a flexible nib.

So, you need to look for a copperplate style nib, these are flexible nibs. I would suggest trying any of the below:

Nikko G
Zebra ‘G’ Nib
Leonardt Shorthand Nib nNo40

Like wizards and their wands, calligraphers will each have their own nib, although the right one won’t find you, you’ll have to find it. The three I mentioned above are all very popular.

A nib holder

A nib holder is just that, it holds the nib, it’s your pen’s handle. I would always suggest an oblique nib holder for beginners. This means that the nib holder is off at a funny angle, it ensures that the tip of the nib sits flat against the paper. This is very important, as you need the flexible nib to open and close with ease as you write.

Choosing an ink

The one thing I wish I had known when I was learning calligraphy was what ink I should be using. Calligraphers are very divided by this. I strongly believe Iron Gal ink is the best. It is the oldest type of ink and it is made from ground pine kernels. It is black in colour, which I know isn’t very exciting, but this ink will become your BFF. With calligraphy, you have to constantly dip the nib into a pot of ink. You will find when learning that some inks will flow straight through the pen when you pull down and you will be left with a big splodge of ink on the paper. You’ll get frustrated, and say you can’t do it. DON’T GIVE UP! Give Iron Gal ink a try, the ink flows really nicely through the nib and hopefully won’t leave quite so many splodges all over your page.

Step 1

Unfortunately it is true, practice does make perfect. Although I know you want to rush ahead and be a calligraphy master, we have to do this first. Here I have created some practice exercises to help you get used to creating thin and thick lines. Work your way through them, remembering to keep the tip of the nib flat against the paper. Just to recap: when the pen is moving in an upward stroke the tip of the nib should be together and you will be creating a thin line and when the nib is on a downward stroke you should apply slightly more pressure and the tip of the nib should separate to create a thicker stroke.

Step 2

Now you have mastered both thin and thick strokes, it’s time to move on to letterforms. I have gone through the alphabet below. Work your way through the lowercase alphabet.

Step 3

I have drawn out the uppercase alphabet below. Work your way through this. Although you can create many different style letters, when starting out it is often best to follow one style, once you’ve mastered these you can go crazy and try lots of different styles.

Step 4

Start writing a beautiful note for your valentine!

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