5 In Calligraphy/ Lifestyle

Choosing Inks for Calligraphy


There are so many possibilities when it comes down to ink. Professionals will use different inks as well as a paint called gouache, but for this post I will be introducing the inks for personal practice and perhaps small projects. Because different inks will react differently to different types of paper, the best thing to do is experiment the different combinations before you start a project. Some of the commonly used inks for practicing calligraphy are: Pelikan 4001, Higgins Eternal, Sumi, Winsor & Newton, McCaffery’s, Dr. Ph. Martin’s, J. Herbin, Iroshizuku, Diamine, Noodler’s, and much more. There are also some other options such as Walnut ink which is made from walnut husks, and watercolors. I personally enjoy using the Pelikan 4001, J. Herbin Perle Noire, and walnut ink as my basic practice inks. They flow easily from the pen which makes them a joy to use.


The first inks I used were the Winsor & Newton, when I received the Winsor & Newton calligraphy set as a birthday present back in 2010. While the wooden box it came in makes for a nice organizer, it came with 8 color options that left much to be desired. The nibs were also frustrating to use as a beginner because you have to figure out how to attach the reservoir and such. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend most of the sets that I’ve seen on the market as they usually include something you don’t necessarily want or need to drive up the price. Frustrating experiences make it easier to give up (like I did 6 years ago), so please please please learn from my mistakes.

It’s much better to pick your own inks as you get to pick your own color! The rest of the colors I’ve collected individually, one bottle at a time. It’s a lot more fun to grow a collection of inks in colors that you’re actually fond of! If you’re stuck trying to pick an ink, I would recommend buying a bottle of Pelikan 4001 and maybe some walnut ink powder. Some people recommend starting with the Higgins or Sumi, but I haven’t tried them because I’m still on my first bottle of Pelikan 4001 ink! Walnut ink is fantastic for practicing because it has a beautiful brown color, and it’s economical because you can buy the powder form and mix up your own walnut ink!

Your turn ♥ What else would you like to see in the starting calligraphy post series?

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