How to pack a Calligraphy Traveling Kit
I'm a terrible “light” packer.
I'm getting better for sure, but variety is the spice of life and I always feel like I need to be prepared for whatever I might need while I'm traveling.
Yep, that applies to my lettering supplies too.
Chances are, if you're a budding calligrapher and you like to travel, you’ve had bad experiences taking inks and pointy things onboard planes. I’m talking clothes covered in Higgins Eternal (infernal is more like it, that stuff just refuses to wash off anything!), fountain pens leaking in pencil cases, and messes that are just horrific to clean up.
A mechanical pencil won’t suffice for the long plane rides, or if I find a bit of inspiration on my vacation. What if I need color?! There was a lovely time in Chiang Mai, Thailand when Matt and I were having breakfast on a terrace overlooking rice paddies, watching the birds with the breeze in our hair...I couldn’t help but take out my watercolors to enjoy the moment. Imagine if I only had a Sharpie! The horror!
Anywaaaayy... supplies. Unless I'm going on a trip that involves a calligraphy workshop (heading to conventions and the like!) when I know I will need my inks, I prefer to stick to a little—or not so little—pencil case with the items pictured below. They don't spill, leak, or tarnish my clothes, yet it’s a versatile enough array of tools to keep me entertained should the moment strike. Several of these come in a multitude of ink colors but for the most part when I travel I stick to black pen ink, plus a couple in gold for variety!
My Travel Calligraphy Kit
From the top left going clockwise:
1) Three Pilot Parallel Pens in different sizes. Perfect for some broad-nib practice like Fraktur or Italic.
2) Staedtler Mars Graphic 3000 Duo. I love the spring of this brush tip and the quality of the ink. Very crisp and gives you a solid line whether you go thick or thin.
3) Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen Big Brush. Great for some brush lettering with a big tool.
4) Sakura Pigma Brush pen. This one is fantastic for smaller brush lettering, but is also perfect for filling in some pencil sketches as I find the tip has great control.
5) Sakura Micron pens. These are great as I'm sure most of you know. A variety of fine tips to choose from, I usually carry a 005, 01 and 05 with me.
6) ZIG Wink of Luna brush pen in gold. These come in an array of metallic colors, but I usually bring the gold with me if I only take one. Black and gold is my favorite color combo!
7) Sharpie in gold. Sharpie has these in paint markers and oil based paint markers, but for travel purposes I'll stick to the standard fine-point permanent marker variety.
8) ZIG Cocoiro pen. Lovely tiny brush-like pointy tip that flexes, allowing you to create distinct thicks and thins by adding pressure (in the same way a pointed nib would!). Not a replacement for pointed nibs of course, but its an interesting pen to have in the tool box!
9) Pentel Water Brush. I carry around one of these filled with fountain pen ink (best option for good flow), right now it's a medium gray color in there. I know I said I prefer not to use ink, but this doesn't really spill easily.
10) ZIG Memory System Calligraphy marker. Two broad-edged sides, one 2mm and one 5mm. Comes in a delightfully large array of colors so sometimes I'll pick a fun one and throw that into the mix!
11) Winsor & Newton Artists' Watercolor Field Box. This thing is awesome. It's teeny tiny and contains 12 half pans of top quality watercolors. Also in the little fold-out box is a water container and bottle, two palettes, a sponge and a folding travel brush! I have definitely taken this out mid-flight to the surprise of fellow passengers.
12) Pilot Parallel Pen ink refills. While I do often reuse parallel pen cartridges by refilling them myself with fountain pen inks, I keep cartridges on hand when I travel so I don't have to carry a potentially leaky bottle around! It's all just much easier and safer.
13) 6" ruler. You never know when you'll need a straight edge!
14) MUJI 6-in-1 ballpoint pen. My go-to pen for taking notes. I like writing in different colors for different things I have to remember so I like having the 6 colors (most only have 3!). It's also shaped like a normal pen (unlike those 10-in-1 pens you used to have as a kid!), so it's still pleasant to use. They're expensive on Amazon but you can find them elsewhere too.
15) Pentel GraphGear 0.7 Drafting Pencil. I like these the best of all the mechanical pencils I've used. Before I insisted on using traditional pencils for sketching but it's just such a pain in the bum to carry a sharpener around (especially when you have a heavy hand and go through lead super quickly!). I've learned to like these just as much, especially for lettering work you can get a precise edge. I like to use 0.7mm HB or 2B lead.
16) Staedtler Stick Eraser. I use both the block and the stick version of this eraser but I find because its shaped just like a pencil its easier to slip into a small bag, pocket or pencil case.
17) LAMY Scribble 3.15mm lead pencil. This thing is great for large scribbles and sketching out quick ideas. The lead is wide and while you can sharpen it I prefer to just have it wear down naturally. It lends itself well to idea generating and layouts.
18) Yoropencil. This type of pencil used to be really popular back in Asia when I was growing up. The Yoropen is the “World's Best Ergonomic Pen” but I use it because it's kinda like an oblique nib holder! I use it sometimes if I just want to do some drills or practice shapes since I don't have an dip pens and ink around. It's not as easy to find the full size these days so I only have the mini ones!
19) Copic Wide marker. These are super fun for when you need a really really wide writing tool!
Phew! Okay, there you have it, my typical pencil case of stuff for weekend trips or long vacations! Do you use similar tools? What do you carry?
Are you a letter-lover just getting started with calligraphy?
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I’m always learning myself, and I’ll share insights as I go along!