We had some fun experimenting with calligraphy the other day. It is a refreshing way to appreciate the art of handwriting, which unfortunately, we do less and less nowadays.
Writing with dip pens (a dip pen is basically a fountain pen that does not have a reservoir for the ink) was not easy, but it was certainly worth the experience. Unlike modern day pens, which can be used without any thought (some can even be used upside down), writing with a dip pen requires concentration and care. You need to hold them at a certain angle relative to the paper; that magic angle seems to be around 45 degrees. Also, the pressure you apply makes a big difference. The point of flex nibs, like the one in the photo above, opens when pressure is applied. So the more pressure you apply, the wider the stroke becomes. There are many types of calligraphy pens (both nibs and holders for them); so you can experiment with lots of different kinds.
A note to left-handed writers: As you can see in the photo above, my daughter is a lefty. Before our calligraphy experiment, we did not realize that left-handed calligraphers need to hold their pens differently from right-handed writers. But we quickly found that out! So, here are a couple of links with recommendations for left-handed calligraphers: how to hold your pen and set up the paper and Tips for lefties: Advice from five left-handed calligraphers.
Calligraphy definitely requires a lot of practice if you want to write well. But, we did have a lot of fun trying to write beautifully while focusing on the shape of each and every letter. If you would like to learn more about calligraphy, here are some links that you may find helpful:
Only after experimenting with old fashion dip pens and ink, did I learn that it is sometimes recommended that calligraphy beginners start with regular gel pens to familiarize themselves with the production of beautiful letters. This gel pen method is called faux or cheating calligraphy, because you fake the calligraphy-like writing with a regular pen.
This method does not require that left-handed writers hold their pens in a special way. So, my daughter was happy to be able to create some pretty letters without twisting her wrist or positioning her paper at an unfamiliar angle.