I want to get into the art of calligraphy. Where do I start?

Start from the beginning. Perfect your basics. Here are links to Jake's recommendations for books and supplies available on the market for beginning your endeavor into the art form. 


For those looking for a place to start specifically with Spencarian script, this book is a must read!


There has never been so many resources for the art of calligraphy as there are today. The art form has seen an uptick in popularity in recent years and there are many forums to participate in for those looking for education and community. 


With all the various trades that I put my hands to, I am frequently asked what tools I use to create each work of art.  So, in order to satisfy the curiosity of those who follow my work, I decided to begin with Calligraphy.  More specifically, the pointed pen. Starting from the surface up…

Writing Surface


   Cushion Sheet

      I use a leather pad from Saddleback leather. I've used scrap leather in the past to get the kind of surface I wanted, but this leather desk pad has made for a sweet writing/desk experience. 

Check out the Saddleback Leather Desk Pad here.


You want your table flat and your paper smooth. An extremely smooth paper surface gives your pen the freedom to dance fluidly. Avoid paper with fibers that will quickly absorb your ink, lift, and gum up your nib. Avoid paper that is too rigid and stiff, like card stock. These types of paper will negate the supple surface you created with your cushion sheet.

The types of paper I recommend…

  For practice paper :


For Finished Work:




 There are endless varieties of paints and inks that can be used.  To make things simple, these are the ones I use most.

  For practice and correspondence, I suggest:

1. Iron Gall

 This is the choice ink of past masters as it offers ideal viscosity and fluidity for ornamental penmanship. Although this ink is acidic and will cause faster wear and tear on your nibs, it allows you to create beautiful hairlines and dark, bold shades. My two favorite brands are: McCaffery's and Old World


5. Sumi Ink



And what about other ink storage possibilities? Something like this would work well for keeping your ink in an air-tight container and at-the-ready for your next calligraphy project!



 Again, there are countless types of nibs on the market, making it sometimes difficult to know which ones to choose from. Here are my top three choice of nibs: 1. Leonard Principle 2. Gillott 303


3. Zebra G


     The two primary characteristics to be mindful of when choosing a penholder are functionality and comfort. Here are the top two (oblique) penholders I recommend:


1. Ergonomic Oblique Penholder As some of you know, I create my own penholders, the Ergonomic Oblique being one among many. In the beginning of my calligraphy career, I found many of the penholders available on the market to be unsatisfactory. I exclusively and whole-heartedly recommend my penholders as I have made them to be the very best, faithful tool I have ever known in the art due to the care and tailored craftsmanship that goes into each one.

My Ergonomic Oblique Penholders are individually carved in various types of wood and hand-poured resin. They can be purchased through my website starting at $350.00. Sign up for my weekly newsletter and follow me on Facebook and Instagram to found out when new penholders are available in the gallery.

2. Brian Smith of Unique Oblique Penholders, a talented pen maker from Louisiana makes some beautiful pens that I have had the honor of owning. You can check out his available penholders on his Etsy site at


Wishing you all the best in your calligraphic endeavors!