What Materials Do I Need for Learning Calligraphy?


Calligraphy is a very elegant form of penmanship. It was widely used for many centuries and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Calligraphy is not only a fun hobby; it can also be a way to make money. People hire calligraphers to address invitations for events such as weddings, fundraisers and other social functions. Learning calligraphy is inexpensive and requires very few tools.


  • The word calligraphy originates from two Greek words, "kalli" which means beautiful, and "graphia" which means writing. There are three forms of calligraphy, Western, Chinese and Arabic, although Western is practiced most in the United States. Calligraphy evolved into typefaces used for printing purposes since the middle of the fifteenth century, according to the calligraphersguild.org.


  • Fountain pens can be purchased with changeable tips, and with proper care and cleaning these will last you a very long time. Fountain pens are available at office supply and hobby stores. Be careful when attempting to use a fountain pen while traveling by air or during a thunderstorm, though, as sometimes changes in air pressure can cause the pen to leak ink and be very messy.

    Pens with steel points are great for tiny detail work or in calligraphy where you need hard or bold edges. These pens do have to be refilled every couple of words with an eyedropper and this can be time consuming. There are also disposable calligraphy markers available in different colors and sizes. You will find these very convenient to use, especially while you are learning the craft.

    Ink cartridges are available at office supply and craft stores and these are what most people use, but if you want to make something permanent that will last for many generations, you can use ink wells, according to the calligraphycentre.com website.

    Long ago people used feather pens to write calligraphy. You can make your own feather pen by exploring the banks of a pond and finding duck feathers. Let them thoroughly dry in the sunshine and then sharpen the point with a knife.

    A plain lead pencil can be used for this artistic writing and can be particularly useful when you start out to see if you want to invest in the tools, according to Charles McGavren's article "A Fast Way to Make Hand Lettering Interesting." Just use a very sharp blade to sharpen the pencil lead. Instead of the pencil having a conical tip, sharpen it on two sides to have a tip like that of a flat head screwdriver.

Types of Paper

  • Start practicing the art of calligraphy on plain notebook paper. You can use an instructional booklet and trace over the letters to get a feel for the penmanship, or go online for examples of the alphabet. Most people find that beginning with the lowercase letters is easiest. Sometimes trial and error and plenty of practice are the best ways to succeed as a calligrapher.

    Once you have mastered the craft, you can invest in different types of paper that will readily accept water-based artwork. Parchment, rice paper and watercolor papers are an excellent choice. As your skill increases, you may want to invest in vellum or handmade paper products. Framing a favorite poem you have written in calligraphy makes a lovely gift.


  • There are many instructional books available for those who want to learn calligraphy. You can purchase these at bookstores or places that sell craft supplies. Often these kits will contain beginner supplies such as pen and ink, an instruction manual and practice paper.

Instructional Classes

  • There are many instructional classes available to learn calligraphy. Many schools offer these classes at night or during the summer as continuing education classes. Hobby and craft stores often offer classes as well. Working with a teacher who is knowledgeable in this form of art can help you learn the tricks of the trade, particularly if you want to earn money by doing calligraphy.

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