Getting started can be the hardest part of any new endeavor – particularly if you don’t know what you need. You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need a whole lot to begin learning Copperplate calligraphy.
What you absolutely need are: 1) basic supplies; 2) at least one reliable resource; and 3) some calligraphy buddies.
Alright, technically, you need more than just 3 things, but who’s counting?
There are 5 basic materials that you need to begin your Copperplate journey: paper, ink, nibs, a penholder, and a printed guide sheet. The cost of materials can add up quickly if you don’t know what to buy. You don’t need a lot of tools to get started. If you’re new and you just want to try it out, you don’t need to buy a 200-dollar oblique holder, every color of ink, or a case of 1000 nibs. You simply need the right tools that are beginner-friendly and are of good quality. The key is to purchase materials that are that work well together. At the early stages of your practice, there is nothing more frustrating than feathering letters, snagging nibs, or scratchy paper.
Here’s a list of beginner-friendly supplies that I would have recommended to myself when I was first starting:
Paper: Rhodia paper (blank, bloc, or dot)
Ink: Kuretake Sumi Ink 60
Penholder: Speedball oblique penholder
(or a straight holder, if you’re left-handed)
Guide sheet: Printed Guide Sheet (which you can find in Bianca Mascorro’s blog)
You can find all of the of the listed supplies at paperinkarts.com. Note that when purchasing nibs, it’s a good idea to purchase at least 2, unless you’re just sampling them. Nibs wear and tear as you use them, so it’s good to have a spare nib available.
A great resource is essential to have when learning and practicing Copperplate (or any script, really). A reliable resource should at least cover basic materials and how to use them, key concepts and basic strokes, and include an exemplar of the lowercase and uppercase alphabet, and numbers.
You’ll need at least one Copperplate resource. It’s important to note that there are many different styles of Copperplate; however, the basics and the fundamental concepts are essentially the same regardless of which style you choose. If you have an iPad, I highly recommend downloading Dr. Joe Vitolo’s free interactive eBook. Dr. Vitolo’s website zanerian.com has a excellent variety of printable exemplars and lessons.
Eleanor Winters’ book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy: A Step-by-Step Manual is also a good place to start if you prefer the English Roundhand style.
Workshops are also excellent ways to introduce yourself to new hobbies.
- Calligraphy Friends
There’s nothing like having calligraphy buddies and a supportive community to help you along your calligraphy journey. They’ll not only inspire you with their work, but they’ll encourage you and motivate you to keep up with your practice, give you feedback on your work, as well as give you advice on the latest penholders and inks, or the best nibs.
Where can you find such friends?
Well, you may look up a calligraphy group around your area that meets regularly, or join a Facebook or Yahoo! group. I’m going tell you right now: the BEST calligraphy community is on Instagram. What an amazing group of kind, talented, and determined people!
In every corner of the world, there is a calligrapher. Everyday, there are dozens of people who are picking up a pointed pen for the first time. You are not alone. Having the right tools, comprehensive resources, and some calligraphy buddies will make the beginning of your practice easier and more fun.
Your Copperplate Companion,