What you need to get started with dip pen calligraphy!

When starting dip pen calligraphy, it can be a little intimidating to say the least! You may not know where to get supplies, or which supplies you need, and to be honest - it can be a little overwhelming! If you're reading this, chances are you are at the beginning of your calligraphy journey and I was there just 2 years ago! I picked up a calligraphy kit from Michaels and thought it was what I needed to get started and after an hour or so of not being able to make out one word that I had written, I called it quits for the time being. A few weeks later, not willing to admit to defeat, I started researching calligraphy supplies, how tos, you name it. I was determined to figure out why calligraphers made it look so seamless and graceful when I couldn't get more than a crooked line with ink splatters everywhere. I quickly learned that supplies make such a huge impact (and SOOO much practice of course)! 

I ordered my first set of quality calligraphy supplies and sat down, hoping it would at least be better than the first time around. I was honestly shocked how well I did. It was like night and day. In order to help you skip all of those moments of uncertainty and doubt, I put together a list of calligraphy supplies that you need to get started. These are some of my favorite supplies for beginners or just for practicing and I created this list based on the minimal materials needed to get started to show you that it's an inexpensive craft to try if you start with only the necessary materials. Of course you could invest in gold ink, custom pen holders, etc. and easily start racking up hundreds of dollars in supplies but this is all of you need to get started and everything together is under $30 and free shipping (praise Amazon Prime).

Paper - Hp Premium Choice Laser Jet Paper

Pen Holder - Speedball Pen Holder

Nib - Brause Steno Blue Pumpkin Nib

Ink - Higgins Eternal Ink

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DIY Ring Dishes

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about Valentine’s Day and some simple DIY gifts that I could create for some of the lovely ladies in my life and these little clay ring dishes seemed like the perfect gift! They are simple to make (even for those of you that may not consider yourselves very crafty) and inexpensive for the amount of ring dishes you can make with one small package of clay! I ended up having some smaller bits of clay left over and decided to make a keychain as well as a name tag for my papa’s new stray cat that recently wondered up and has now become a little companion for him. He named him “lucky”! How sweet is that!?

Here’s the list of supplies you need (I put optional by a few of them because they’re mainly just helpful and not particularly required)..

Materials Needed:

  • Sculpey’s Oven Bake Clay (8 oz makes around 4 - 2.5inch ring dishes and 2 keychains or pet name tags; also - Sculpey’s is what I used but any brand will do)
  • Gold Leaf paint
  • Paint brush with small tip
  • small bowl approximately 2.5 inch in diameter to make circle cutouts for the dishes (this is optional.. you can just use your hands if necessary and I found it works almost just as good)
  • round object to roll the clay to a consistent thickness (optional - I did this without it the first time and it worked but using something definitely helps. Also - using glass probably isn’t the best idea so I would advise using a rolling pin instead or at least take caution with the pressure you’re using when using other objects)

Whew (sorry for all of the side notes on the materials list but I wanted to share alllll my thoughts with you along the way!). Also - all of these materials should be able to be picked up from your local craft store (I've seen all these supplies in Michaels but I purchased mine through Amazon).  Now for the fun part..

Step One:

I took about 2 rows of the clay and broke it in half horizontally and that was enough for one ring dish (keep in mind the dishes I made were appx. 2.5 inches and about 1/4 of an inch thick). You then want to roll it up into a ball. This might take a few minutes as the clay is a little thick.

Step Two:

Once you have the fall formed, lay it on a flat surface (I did this on my desk). Take a rolling pin and roll it flat until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and consistently the same thickness throughout the entire piece of clay. It may stick to the rolling pin at first but just pull it off and continue rolling it and it should stop sticking to it.

Step Three:

Take your round dish and place it on the clay to make a round cutout. If you do not have a bowl to use, you can use the back of your paint brush to draw a circle and then pull the outer parts of the clay off that are outside of the circle (hopefully that makes sense). You will then make it into a bowl shape by pulling up the edges of the circle and then I squeezed the edges of the sides to create little straight edges to give it more character but whatever you prefer is fine!

Step Four:

Time to bake! Preheat your oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it’s preheated, you will put your clay dish on parchment paper on top of an oven safe pan and bake it for 15 minutes. Take it out once it’s done to let it cool off. 

Step Five:

Once it’s done cooling, you’re ready to paint!! Instructions aren’t really needed here because this part is completely up to you! You can add speckles, calligraphy, paint the rim of the ring dish.. the possibilities are endless! Just have fun with it! Once you get done painting, let it dry and VIOLA!!

P.s. for the name tags or keychains, those are created using mostly the same steps but I didn’t use a bowl to cut those out. Instead, I just used my hands and then using the back of the paintbrush, I created a hole through it so I could add string.

I hope you enjoy this DIY! Let me know below if you do! Andddd of course if you have anyyy questions, leave them below and I’ll answer them! Thanks lovelies!