Trying out a new tool can bring a gust of fresh air into your practice. What I list here are just ideas for you, and by no means a list of must-haves if you want to advance your calligraphy skills. Remember: you can learn everything important with very basic supplies. See it as an inspiration to try out new techniques. Some tools on this list serve as a time-saver, too.
Really practical if you start creating pieces on thicker paper and need to trace your draft. I use my lightbox every day, not just for calligraphy, but also for inking lettering and illustration sketches. Some lightboxes come with a slanted surface, so if you like to write at an angle, this might be for you. Just a reminder that the hard surface of a lightbox might make it a little more unpleasant to write on – especially with harder nibs.
Oblique Pen Holder
Oblique pen holders serve the purpose of adjusting your writing angle so that you can write at a more extreme slant. Some calligraphers love the oblique holder and write almost exclusively with it (I do), and some never use it, it really depends on personal preference and on your writing style. If you want to give it a try, check out my blog post about oblique holders.
Color: Gouache, watercolor and acrylics
Practicing with ink is great, but if you want to add some color to your calligraphy, how about mixing those colors yourself? You can get creative with gouache, watercolors or acrylics (depending on what you may have at home or the effect you want to go for – watercolor is more translucent, gouache and acrylics will be opaque when dried). You should find little containers to mix your colors and store them airtight, they will last quite long this way. I’ve used film cans, small glass jars, small containers from the drugstore and from art supply stores. If you’re into experimenting with color, I’ve written a bit more about mixing paint here.
Writing with Gold or Silver
This can look absolutely stunning and beautiful, but I recommend becoming familiar with regular inks and funky nib behaviour first because it can be quite frustrating when you add metallics into the picture. These metallic inks (or sometimes paints, I’ve had good results with metallic watercolors) contain small particles that might clog up your nib or make it splatter. I’ve written a bit about different metallic inks/paints here.
You can use paint brushes for a lot of different things. If you already have watercolors, you can combine it with calligraphy for some beautiful effects. With flat wide brushes, you can make ink and watercolor washes (for beautiful backgrounds), with smaller brushes you can apply color to your nibs, mix paint or try your hand at some real brush calligraphy.
Cutting knife, rulers & bone folder, artist tape
These are productivity tools I always have lying around.
With a cutting knife and a decent ruler (the one in the picture has a grid and a metal edge on one side) you can trim paper with precision. A bone folder lets you make clean creases in paper without scratching it or making it look damaged. Some bone folder are actually made out of bone, but there are plastic models available too.
Artist tape is very useful to keep your drafts in place when you want to trace them, just make sure you use tape that can be removed without destroying the paper. Washi tape works fine, too.
Curved rulers or compasses can help when you want to explore nonlinear layouts, or you can also make a wavy guide from foamboard or thicker paper.
Boxes for organizing nibs
A valuable helper for keeping your nibs organized are these little tool boxes you can get for a few Euros in a hardware store. Look in the area where they have storage boxes for nails and screws. These boxes are an inexpensive alternative for similar items you can buy in art supply stores.