When it comes to calligraphy, we love our classic dip pen, paper, and ink, but sometimes it’s fun to switch it up and add lettering to other surfaces! If you are looking to letter on something that’s not paper-based, check out our guide below to know which pen to use!


SURFACE: Windows, Glass, Mirrors, and Acrylic/Plexiglass

We Recommend:
For water-resistant/semi-permanent lettering, try:
Oil-based paint pen
Acrylic paint marker
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White, with calligraphy pen/nib

If you’re looking for temporary lettering, try:
Chalk Pens
Water-based paint pen

SURFACE: Chalkboards and Wood

We Recommend:
For water-resistant/permanent lettering, try:
Acrylic paint marker
Oil-Based paint pen

If you’re looking for temporary lettering, try:
Chalk Pens
Chalk paint with brushes
Chalk sticks/pencils


We Recommend:
For water-resistant/permanent lettering, try:
Oil-based paint pen
Acrylic paint marker
Acrylic paint with brushes

In general:

Chalk Pens: work well on blackboards, glass, mirrors, some wood, canvas, and more

Acrylic Paint/ Paint Pens: work well on glass, wood, ceramic, metal, plastic, fabric, terracotta, walls, and more

Oil-Based Paint Pens: work well on wood, metal, glass, plastic, pottery, stones, and more

Water-Based Paint Pens: work well on paper, windows, and glass.

Happy Lettering!

Learning calligraphy can seem a little daunting at first, but with the right tools and enough practice, anyone can learn to write with ink and a dip pen!

1. Build your toolkit

To begin learning calligraphy, you’ll need several items- a straight holder (or oblique), a nib, ink, and paper. It can feel overwhelming at times because there are so many tools out there, but when building your kit, we recommend starting slow! Focus on the basics first: Ink– we always recommend starting with black ink. We use Sumi ink in class and find that it works really well for both beginners and professionals. There are tons of inks you can purchase or make on your own, however, keep it simple to start!

Paper– When it comes to paper, you want to make sure it’s going to be thick enough for the ink to be absorbed. Although it may be tempting to grab a bunch of computer paper that you have lying around, it won’t work too well because it’s very thin. Make sure the paper you choose is thick enough for the ink! Our picks: tracing paper, Rhodia pads and watercolor paper.

Nibs– There are so many nibs out there and each calligrapher has their own preference. The best way to learn what nibs you like is to purchase sample packs! We love Hunt 512, Hunt 101 and Nikko G nibs to start!

Pen– we recommend starting with a straight holder, but feel free to also grab an Oblique pen to see if it helps your own writing! We like to give oblique pens out to our lefty friends because it really helps to achieve the desired writing angle! 

When you’re looking to advance, check out our intermediate kit!

2. Practice

We wish there were a trick to would speed up progress, but when it comes to getting better at calligraphy it really does come down to how much you practice! We always recommend starting your practice with a warm-up of basic strokes, but don’t forget to also have fun with your writing and get creative!

3. Know about your nib!

Like we mentioned above, there are so many nibs out there and we suggest trying out as many as you can! But regardless of which nib you choose, they all have very similar anatomy and it’s important to understand how the nib works. The nib is a flexible piece and when pressure is applied to the tines, the slit opens and closes.

*Bonus tip: keep a cup of water and a paper towel on hand while you practice. After writing for a while, your nib can get sticky, and the ink can get thick, ultimately affecting the ink flow. For best results, rinse your nib off throughout your practice!

4. How to hold the pen

One of our most FAQ’s is how to correctly hold the pen. When you think about writing with a normal pen, you typically hold the pen in a vertical direction. But with the dip pen, you want to make sure that your tines are even on the paper. Keep your hand under the pen and make sure the tip of your pen is always pointing towards the top of your paper. Every time you pull your nib up, you don’t apply pressure. When you pull your nib down, you apply pressure, letting the tines open, ultimately giving you a thicker stroke variation. Upstrokes = light, downstrokes = heavy!

5. Attend a class!

Whether you’re a newbie to the calligraphy world, or you’re looking to advance your skills, taking an in-person class can help so much! Being able to receive instant feedback on your writing, as well as have questions answered, helps to ensure you’re learning the skills properly! Bonus points if you take a class with us

We hope that these tips help you start your calligraphy practice! As always, we love to see what you do, so tag us on Instagram using #sipandscript. 

We have a thing for cute shops. Especially ones that are filled with bright blooms, female-owned and have a blush pink storefront!

We took a trip to Charlestown and held our Intro to Modern Calligraphy class at the sweetest shop, Junebug. For those who haven’t heard of it before, it’s a full-service florist and gift and plant boutique, and it’s by far the prettiest shop on the whole street! We had the best time sipping prosecco, chatting and lettering with everyone who came. It was so nice to see how connected the Charlestown community is considering most of the attendees were locals. 

We couldn’t help but do a little holiday shopping ourselves while we were there. From the market bags, (Jess’ personal favorite!) to the jewelry, candles and potted plants, there were so many cute items lining the shelves!

It may be 2019, but we are still swooning over photos from this class, and are already planning our next trip in! To be the first to know about upcoming classes and all things Sip & Script, sign-up for our newsletter and head on over to our events page to see where we’re going next!


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