Hello Wonderful Human,
You have stumbled upon my art supply list and I'm SO thankful you did! Some of you have asked what kind of supplies I prefer, so here ya go! I’m not being endorsed by any of these companies, these are just the supplies that work really well for me.
Debbie's Fav Supplies for Calligraphy and Watercolor
Click on each link below to be taken to my Amazon Shopping Lists!
I’m pretty passionate about calligraphy/pen/watercolor supplies and I take my choices seriously. Why? Because higher quality supplies = higher quality results. Just getting started? It's still worth it to invest in some of these options...producing better results will encourage you to keep on going! Having good supplies will help build your confidence and propel your motivation. Art supplies (especially calligraphy supplies) can be finicky and hard to sort through. Over the past five years, these are the supplies that I’ve found to work best for me after a lot (a lot a lot) of trial and error.
These are supplies I use regularly for modern, pointed pen calligraphy. This is not the same as broad edge calligraphy or brush calligraphy. There are other supplies more suitable for those styles.
Below expands on why I have item on my list, but you can find all my calligraphy supply suggestions here.
Calligraphy Pen Nibs:
My longtime favorite but can be finicky and scratchy if the paper isn’t smooth. But it’s still my number one because it has a lot of character and put out a lot of ink for how small it is.
Nikko G Nib
Very reliable and consistent. A favorite of many, very cost effective. A bit thinner on downstrokes than some other nibs so it’s not always my go to. However, it’s very VERY neat and tidy. Would recommend it for beginners.
Brause No361 (affectionately known as the Blue Pumpkin)
This pen has STYLE and puts down a lot of ink. If I want something to look fancy, sophisticated, flourishy, or anything of the sort, I’ll pull this pretty babe out.
Calligraphy Pen Holders
Takiwacha (Straight Pen)
It comes with a comfy grip holder and a pen cover which is why I love this guy. Also, I’m a fan of the look. This is a pen recommended for left handed calligraphers but I also love it as a right-handed calligrapher.
Speedball Plastic Oblique Pen Holder
I’ll be honest--this is the only oblique pen holder I’ve ever used. This one has always worked well enough for me so I’ve never branched out. Benefit: it’s very cheap! If you're right-handed, using an oblique pen is a popular option.
Please note that there is a WHOLE WORLD of inks out there. For all intents and purposes, the inks listed are what I prefer for solid black ink. These inks are not interchangeable with fountain pens.
Higgins Calligraphy Ink (Black)
This is a favorite among calligraphers and it’s not without reason--this is some good and reliable ink. I use this brand the most.
This type of ink is preferred by a lot of calligraphers. It is smooth, consistent, and highly reliable. I typically use Higgins Ink, but have used Sumi before and have only positive things to say. It is clean, strong, and holds in the nib very well.
This is where I encourage you to find what works well for YOU. High quality calligraphy paper (thick, smooth, durable) will make a huge difference in your results. No need to break the bank on this purchase, but also writing on generic printer paper or lined paper will make you feel sad and wanting better results. It’s not you, it’s your paper! That being said, my favorite paper may not be your dream paper.. DON’T GIVE UP. There is some paper I’ve bought per recommendation of professionals and it hasn’t worked well for me. Keep on looking for paper that works well for you and encourages you to keep going. Rather than focusing on brand, I encourage you to focus on finding paper that is smooth but also can retain a lot of ink without bleeding through/wrinkling the paper. Cardstock and Bristol paper are typically great options for this. My go-tos are...
I typically buy Strathmore brand but honestly will buy any brand that’s on sale.
Canson XL Series Watercolor Paper for Wet and Dry Media--90 lb (in bulk)-. All in all, watercolor paper is NOT ideal for calligraphy. It’s super thick and tough. That being said, sometimes I like to do calligraphy in the middle of a watercolor floral wreath or background. So how to balance the two? This paper! It’s cold-pressed watercolor paper but thin and smooth enough to be a good option for calligraphy as well. I am including this paper because it is an exception to the rule.
Alllllright, this is where I get bougey on you. I use my trusty cutting mat underneath every single calligraphy project. It’s lasted me over 5 years (so far) and I wouldn’t go back. Is this extra? Yes. But also wonderful...hear me out. Calligraphy nibs are finicky and sensitive. It makes a big difference if you put a couple extra pieces of paper underneath the one you’re writing on to help with smoothness. Within the first few months of trying my hand at calligraphy, I got a cutting mat per recommendation of a blogger online (I have no idea where I found this but whoever you are, I am forever indebted to you). Having a cutting mat means I never have to use extra pieces of paper and I can ALWAYS guarantee a smooth and scratch-less surface for my calligraphy. Also I am a very messy person and my cutting mat has been very well loved and very loving towards me. It has caught countless ink stains. The best part though? I ALWAYS have a ruler underneath my paper to help with lines. For this reason alone, it’s worth the investment.
Alvin Company Cutting Mat-
Comes in lots of sizes so you can get one that works for your space!
Also extra. I am very bad writing in a straight line and also don't love to spend a bunch of time tracing lines I'll have to erase later. This helps me create a perfect line for calligraphy without all the extra work. I line it up underneath my cutting mat and it makes for a perfect line every time.
Black and Decker Laser Level (BDL220S)
This option is one of the least expensive options and is powerful. Also can serve multiple purposes around the house! Wahoo!!
Fountain Pen Supplies
Interested in trying out Fountain Pens? You are in for such a delicious and historical treat. I very recently became interested in the world of fountain pens because of the dynamic lines they produce. Illustrating flowers and backgrounds with fountain pens has become a favorite past time because a fountain pen adds a lot of dimension and variety to pen work. In addition, there is a ton of history behind fountain pens! Using fountain pens slows me down and gives me a chance to meditate more while drawing and really focus on what I'm creating. Find my list here.
Fountain Pens I currently use:
Kaweco Student Pen: This pen comes from a highly respected fountain pen company and is my go to. You can purchase the pen here.
Esterbrook Vintage Pen (1950s)
I recently started reading more about the history of fountain pens and found myself down quite the rabbit hole that ended with this gentleman’s inspired and inspiring etsy shop. He restores vintage fountain pens and shares a wealth of knowledge just in the descriptions alone. Explore and be amazed! I purchased a pen within my price range. It works beautifully and I can’t wait to save up for another one. Check out ImpulseTradingCo.’s Etsy store!
LAMY Safari Pen--This is widely known as a great starter fountain pen, and I’d have to agree. I was able to get it in my favorite shade of yellow (the brightest shade there is) and it makes writing oh-so-fun. Just getting into fountain pens? This is a great place to start!
Fountain Pen Ink
Fountain Pen ink is not transferable with calligraphy pen ink. When buying ink for your fountain pen, please read the label carefully!
Schaeffer Scrip Black Universal Ink Cartridges
These are single use ink cartridges. The ink is reliable and I use it per the recommendation of etsy store owner ImpulseTradingCo. He used this ink in grade school and still recommends it. Doesn’t get much more reliable than that!
Waterman Fountain Pen Ink-
This ink is great if you have a pen converter (see below). This contributes to a less wasteful and more economic option. Always a fan of that. I highly recommend this brand!
If you buy the fountain pen ink outside of a universal pen cartridge, you’ll need a converter like the one on this list. It’s reusable and can be used with any fountain pen ink. This also allows you to try out lots of different inks.
Fountain Pen Paper
Less finicky than Calligraphy pens, fountain pens can be used on a much more diverse range of papers. Not going to lie to you, I use fountain pens on all sorts of paper (except for things like tracing paper where the ink will most definitely bleed). My results vary High quality fountain pen paper recommendations:
Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook
Rich in history, this company has been producing high-quality stationery products since the 1850s. They work hard to be sustainable and their products are environmentally friendly. Clairefontaine contributes to the development of the environment. Read more here.
Rhodia Classic Ice Top Staplebound Notebook
This paper is SMOOTH and versatile. It’s also more affordable than some other fountain pen paper options
HP 11310 LaserJet Printer Paper
This was recommended to me for calligraphy paper. It’s not my favorite for pointed pen calligraphy (wrinkles the paper when I used my favorite brand of india ink) but I absolutely love it for fountain pens. Really smooth, great quality. I do suggest you use a couple pieces of paper underneath the sheet you use to provide maximum smoothness and consistency of ink flow.
Drawing and Watercolor Supplies
There are so many great resources for high quality drawing and watercolor supplies. This is not an extensive list by any means but here are some of my favorites!
I have been a faithful subscriber to Micron PIgment Liners for well over five years. Last year I made the switch over to Staedtler Pigment Liners after trying them out in a nearby art store and haven;t gone back. Both brands are great and precise, but I like the ink and consistency in the Stadtler option.
Staedtler Pigment Fineliner Pens (Black)
The sizes I use the most are 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5. Same goes for the Micron brand. However, I currently have the 12 piece set (in my shopping list) and I appreciate having such a wide variety of pen size options. It helps with shading and drawing more dynamic pieces.
I only use the Toison d’Or Graphite F pencil. It’s light enough for me to erase pretty much anything. It's another item where I found it early on and didn't really branch out after I settled on it.
Koh-I-Noor Toison d’Or Artist Graphite Pencil Set
I usually get my graphite F pencils individually at my local art store. I have attached the full set on amazon because they don’t sell graphite F pencils individually online. Also, look at all those options!
Not necessary, but this eraser is one of my faves because it leaves no residue.
Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber Eraser
Available in different sizes! Available at a lot of art stores and several different brands offer these kneaded erasers.
Staedtler Mars Vinyl Eraser
This one leaves residue and will lighten a lot of ink. That being said, this one is great for getting rid of all pencil lines if residue is no biggie!
I didn’t put too much thought into my brushes until very recently. These brushes hold so much color and make each painting so much more vibrant and full.
Princeton Artist Round Neptune Brush
I use sizes 10 and 18. These two sizes allow for beautiful floral illustration. Consider other sizes for pieces requiring finer lines.
I was always a bargain girl when it came to watercolors until I tried Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolors. I had heard about them for years and never thought it was worth splurging on them. I was wrong. It’s worth it. Their starter travel-size set is a little over $20.00 and a great place to get started.
Winsor and Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers Pocket Box -- 14 half-pans-
Great quality, cost-effective, and long lasting!
I am always on the hunt for new watercolor paper. There are so many options. I have included three of my go-to's but it doesn’t even scratch the surface on all the possibilities. My best suggestion is to try out some different papers and see what works best for you. Make sure to look for cold pressed paper (how the paper is manufactured) with a high poundage (at least 90 lbs but my favorite has been 140 lbs.)
Fabriano Studio Watercolor Paper-140lbs.
Cold-pressed, very thick, this paper is dreamy to say the least. It will absorb your color and lines VERY well.
Canson XL Watercolor Paper-140 lbs.
Cold-pressed, same poundage as Fabriano but much more cost effective. I think the quality is higher in the Fabriano paper but the cost-efficiency of this product allows me to try out new paintings on good quality paper that won’t break the bank.
Canson XL Watercolor Paper-90 lbs.
I wouldn’t suggest going any thinner paper for watercolor pieces. I like this paper because it’s smooth enough for me to use my calligraphy dip pens but thick and porous enough to hold a good amount of watercolor. If you’re not going to use paper for both calligraphy and watercolor, I recommend disregarding this option.
Thanks for stopping by! I love to approach each project with an open mind and am always excited to try new supplies. Have some suggestions? What are your go-to supplies? Let’s talk about it! I love hearing about supplies that work well! I don’t have all the right answers but I have been so thankful to be able to rely on these quality products and excited to continue to learn!
Lots of love, I am sending you good vibes for your day and all your artistic endeavors!
In Good Company,