Caring for your Calligraphy Nibs

As a calligrapher, your nibs can make or break your piece! We all know the annoyance of seeing one piece turn out perfectly, only to have your calligraphy look like patootie later on for no apparent reason.

The most important thing you can do to keep your calligraphy looking crisp is to care for your nibs. From keeping them safe from damage to clean, here are my top tips for caring for your calligraphy nibs.

Protect the Tines

If you travel with your nibs, or keep them in a drawer, make sure that they are stored in a way that won’t damage the tines! Breaking or bending the tines of your nib will ruin it, and that adds up quickly! I keep mine stored in a drawer inside little ramekin bowls. I have one bowl for each type of nib, and another for nibs that have been used.

Remove Ink

The worst thing you can do for your nib is to let ink dry on your nib! Dried ink will clog up the tines of your nib, and make all of your lines look thicker. To keep this from happening, make sure to clean your nib off periodically as you are working. If you stop working for a few moments to answer an e-mail or grab more coffee, clean the ink off your nib first! There are some strong ink cleaners that can clean off dried ink, but some stubborn inks will always stay put!

Keep Your Nibs Dry

After you clean your nibs, make sure to dry them off! Nibs are metal, and metal rusts – and it is a guaranteed bad time when your nibs rust. Make sure that they are dry before you store them, or prepare to replace them!

Don’t Wear Down Tines

I frequently have couples who ask for atypical place cards – from oyster shells, to slate. These atypical mediums are not easy on your nibs and will quickly wear down the tines of your nib into a sharp point. If you try to re-use this same nib on paper later on, you’ll end up scratching your paper and causing yourself huge headaches. For that reason, I typically keep a set of nibs specifically for tough mediums like slate, and a set only for paper. That way I don’t damage my good paper nibs!

I hope that these simple tricks help you to better care for your nibs, and in turn have better calligraphy!


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