Tip of the Week: Straight or Oblique Nib Holders?

Posted by Jen Maton on

Straight Nib Pens


Which is better... oblique or straight pens when learning hand calligraphy?

AHHH... that is one of the most common questions that I get on a regular basis. Let's dive into the differences between the two and then I will tell you what I actually recommend.

FIRST, oblique pens have a flange ( a connecting flat rim ) that sticks out and holds your nib. When purchasing an oblique pen you must pick your holder according to whether you are left or right-handed. Some people love these holders because they say that it helps them achieve the proper angle when writing. True for many, but not everyone!

NOW, the straight holder is exactly what it says. It's straight and can be used by anyone. It doesn't matter if you are left handed or right handed. It does not have a flange, just a place to insert your nib. Many nibs will fit into the basic holder ( I like the Speedball brand ), but there are some smaller drafting nibs and irregular size nibs that use a different type of holder. 

YOU SEE, I have nothing against those crooked little pens! I just teach a little differently from some of the rest of those calligraphy experts out there. I personally teach my students to use the straight pen.

SAY WHAT!? Are you thinking, why on earth would Jen make her students have a harder time learning calligraphy?

I get it! Let me explain...

Even though it can be a little more difficult to use as a beginner calligrapher, the GOAL I have for my students is to learn to rely on their guide sheets and guidelines, rather than the pen holder doing it for them.

Why do I do this? Well, it's simple! My method of teaching wants you to learn without the crutch in case you run across the need to use a different size nib that might not have an oblique holder counterpart.

ALSO, there will rarely be a time as a beginner that you don't use some sort of guide. Therefore, I want you to use guideline sheets to help with your angle.

With straight pens you will want to move your PAPER or PAD, rather then your wrist to get a comfortable angle and achieve optimum results. I will also shift my body sometimes to get a better lettering effect. This is most often seen when I am flourishing.

SO... what does this mean for you?

I say it depends on the person and whether or not you have the patience to work through the beginner lettering woes. One thing I will say is that neither is wrong! Try the straight holder first. Then if you really get frustrated take a chance with the oblique holder. 

Comment which you prefer! I would love love love, to get your feedback! 

Until we meet again...

Happy Lettering Journey to You!



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