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How to Use Speedball Calligraphy Pen Sets

Speedball nibs and pen holders are good tools for producing handwritten lettering.
calligraphy icons image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com

Calligraphy is the art of drawing decorative letters by hand. You can do this with metal nibs inserted into a grooved pen holder. Each nib has a different type and size of point that allows you to make different styles of lines. Speedball is a well-known brand of calligraphy equipment as well as other art supplies. Speedball produces calligraphy sets with different numbers and styles of nibs and pen holders. Calligraphers must take special care of their equipment and produce the letters with a particular posture and technique.

Things You'll Need:

  • Lettering Charts
  • Small Sable Artist Brush, Round
  • Ink
  • Soapy Water
  • Paper Towels
  • Practice Paper
  • Paper
  • Speedball Calligraphy Set

Select a Speedball calligraphy pen set from the wide variety available. The sets consist of a selection of nibs and one or more Speedball pen holders. Buy the size and quality of set you desire depending on whether you are just trying out calligraphy or are certain you will use the pens for a long time to come.

Select a Speedball nib and insert it into a Speedball pen holder. The rounded edge will slip easily into the groove in the end of the holder. The nib should seat firmly without movement.

Use Speedball ink because it is thin enough not to clog the nib. Dip the end of a small, round sable artist brush in the ink to take some of it up into the brush. Touch the tip of the brush to the hole in the reservoir to load the ink into the pen. Since Speedball nibs have built-in reservoirs, you do not need to worry about adjusting the reservoir in relation to the nib tip.

Choose a paper with a somewhat hard surface designated for pen and ink. Speedball recommends this because a paper that is too soft will cause the ink to bleed from your lines and also will cause loose fibers to accumulate in the metal tines of the nib, destroying the clean edges of your lines.

Sit or stand straight close to your writing surface as suggested by the Speedball lettering chart. Hold the pen in one hand comfortably but not too tightly. Hold the paper flat with the other hand.

Hold the Speedball pen holder between your thumb and forefinger. The Speedball lettering chart recommends contacting the paper in three points with your writing hand. One point is the Speedball nib tip, the second point is the tip of your ring finger and the third point is the side of your palm.

Keep the nib tip flat on the paper and draw the pen across the paper with your entire arm. Rest briefly at the end of each stroke and then lift the pen and put it down at the beginning of the next stroke. Do not overlap the ends of strokes.

Study the Speedball lettering chart for stroke techniques. Use lined calligraphy practice paper to learn how large to make each letter in relation to the others. Practice regularly.

Clean the pen handle and nib in Speedball pen cleaner and dry them completely to prevent rust as soon as you finish lettering. Never let the ink dry and clog the nibs.


Remove the protective coating from new nibs before use with Speedball pen cleaner. Dry them completely.


  • Always keep the Speedball nibs dry. Wet nibs will rust and they are useless when rusted.
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