Calligraphy tools that AREN'T pens

Ok. So you wanna do some calligraphy do ya?! Neato! There are lots of blogs and articles out there on pens (including THIS ONE by Tayne & Ashley!) to get you started with your calligraphy practice, but what about all the other tools that you see people using in their Insta stories? You’re in luck, because that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to show you today.

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Measuring

Ruler: Any old ruler will do! I use mine a lot in conjunction with the scotch tape to ensure that things are even. It’s also a good tool for prepping your paint pens on! I’ll also reach for a ruler when it comes to wood signs, smaller wedding signage and creating guidelines for jackets.

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Scotch Tape: This scotch tape is the BOMB. I first heard about it from a Cabin Calligraphy interview with the Happy Ever Crafter, and then I finally stumbled upon it at my local Michael’s! I use it the most for seating charts and wedding signage on mirrors and other surfaces. It’s stickier than painter’s tape, so you’ll want to be mindful of that if sticking it to paper or a similar surface. You can get it from Amazon HERE.

Martha Stewart Cutting Mat: This kind of belonged in measuring and layout, as I use it for both purposes! This is super handy for measuring on the fly and keeping things level with all the grid lines. It’s also grippy, so projects don’t slide all over the place. I got mine at my local Michael’s. Amazon link is here.

Layout

Painter’s Tape: This is a staple tool! It’s perfect for making guidelines and leaves your surfaces without any adhesive marks at all. I also enjoy how pain free it is to readjust as necessary. I go through a ton of this tape when I’m making anything on a mirror or on acrylic. It’s also great for guidelines on wood too, and doesn’t lift stains. I often make measuring marks on the tape, which are easy to see and don’t go through the tape. You can find it at almost every hardware store and in the “home improvement” sections of stores like Walmart. Amazon link is HERE.

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Laser Level: This bad boy is soooo handy. I use it mostly for signage and the occasional watercolour commission. Lots of my fellow calligraphers use it for envelope writing, but I prefer other things for that myself. It’s the perfect item for someone who needs a guide for straight lines (aka everyone) but doesn’t want to be tediously drawing out lines to erase later. If there’s a simple phrase or hashtage on a wood sign, I don’t even bother with painter’s tape and just use my laser level to mark my line. Easy peasy! This can also be found in the wild at your local hardware store! Amazon link to the rescue!

Chalk: Any chalk will do, and I’m not kidding. I sharpen my chalk to a point and then will use it on wood and fabric to do my layout! On wood you can erase it away with an eraser, and water will remove it from denim or leather. The key here is taking the time to sharpen the piece of chalk and using a light hand. You can find chalk at any office supply store or in the “office” sections at Walmart/Target etc. No amazon link needed!

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Eraser: There are SO many erasers out there, but these are MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITES. Why? Because they' don’t smudge, which is SO crucial when working with envelopes. I went through several brands of white erasers (thinking white eraser, white envelope, it’s alllll good) before I realized that they all tended to break down and smudge which made horrible markings on the paper. I finally found these at my local Walmart and all has been right in my world ever since. LOVE these. Link is here.

Light Pad: So as I mentioned before, I don’t use my laser level for envelopes because I prefer something else. I LOVE my light pad for envelopes and doing watercolour quotes. For envelopes, I tape a template down to the pad, turn on the light, line up my envelopes and start writing. It’s so simple and as long as you’re careful to line things up the same for each envelope, everything will turn out perfectly level! I received this one for Christmas, but here’s the link to it. There’s lots out there to choose from.

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Paint & Ink

Leather Paint: This is the leather paint that I use on the leather jackets that I’ve done. It takes about three coats before I’m happy with it’s opacity, so with dry time in between each layer it actually takes a good chunk of time to do a leather jacket for someone. If you make a mistake and act quickly with a q-tip, you can erase the paint with just a bit of water. I haven’t had any jackets I’ve painted long enough to know the longevity of this paint, so I can’t speak to that. I found this paint at my local Michael’s! I couldn’t find a white on Amazon.ca, so there’s no link for you. If looking at your local store, make sure that it specifies that it’s for LEATHER.

Denim Paint: I’m actually just about to start a denim jacket for a client, and this was the fabric paint recommended by Becca Courtice from the Happy Ever Crafter. As I haven’t used it yet, I don’t have a lot to say, but I’m excited to try it out! Link for a much bigger bottle is here! I got it from Deserres, a local craft store in Ottawa.

Paint Brushes: I’m not going to lie, I’m not even remotely picky about the brushes I use. I don’t even know where these ones are from to be honest! I grab brushes at Walmart or Michael’s that aren’t expensive, as I tend to abuse them and couldn’t be bothered to spend big money on a brush. The key with using paint brushes is to take your time when painting, and practice a lot before you go in for the first coat of paint!

Ink: I use the Kuretake Sumi Ink for all my pointed pen work. I love how rich and dark it is! It flows beautifully when used with a prepared nib and looks stunning once dried. It is NOT waterproof however, so it’s not ideal for anything with watercolour (unless already dried). Amazon link is right here.