The American stationery and art supplies manufacturer, Speedball is headquartered in North Carolina. The original company, the Hunt Company, was set up as early as 1899. As all old ink pens that are used for the fine art of calligraphy, Speedball calligraphy sets were initially dip pens. You still get the finest of these. In 1997, the company’s name changed to Speedball. This was the name of the company’s signature pen. The dip pen for calligraphy art was introduced in 1913.
The Nibs Have It!
When the calligraphy nibs were first created, the “A” style nibs were well-known for producing great lettering forms. These had a head that was square-tipped. As a result, broad lines were produced, working well with some kinds of art lettering. Then the company innovated and started producing “B” nibs. These had a round shape and sufficed to round off teach stroke’sstart and end oade by the pen. The chisel-like nib is yet another nib, called the “C” nib. This is really a great product in the crafty hand of the calligrapher. It is a standard nib in Speedball calligraphy sets.
Today, the “C” nib is versatile and convenient, offering the ardent calligrapher and the novice the ability to create beautiful lettering. The nib allows you to make thick and thin lines, depending on the angle at which you hold the pen. The “D” nib is a pen nib that is oval in shape. This is the nib that is classic in any Speedball calligraphy pen ensemble, making Gothic and italic lettering font come alive. The company is famous for its steel brushes as well. From the original pens, the recent ones of today have been shaped and molded to create better and better letter art.
Products for the Present Day
Besides its famous calligraphy sets, Speedball makes blocks and screens for printing, and brushes, papers, paints, charcoal sticks and the like for artists. They make a whole range of art and print materials and innovate constantly to provide artists the necessary tools they need. A significant number of artists have used Speedball pens to write their comic books, and many continue to do so.
Speedball Pen Mechanisms
If you want to write in calligraphy with a Speedball pen, you are essentially writing with a fountain pen or a calligraphy pen nib. In case you are using calligraphy nibs, these are attached to a holder (common for any nib to be affixed to). Typically, in a Speedball calligraphy set, you will find the following features of writing instruments, and it’s noteworthy to know about how these help in creating beautiful lettering and fonts:
- Nib – Speedball pen nibs are famous for thicker and rounded tips. These make writing easy and smooth flowing for the expert calligraphy writer. If you are learning, the tip ensures writing effortlessly. If you are writing in italic font, you have to diligently maintain a narrow writing angle. The stub nib makes this easy to do, especially for new writers.
- Spread of the Tine – If you’ve ever noticed the tip of the nib of a fountain pen, you will see a tiny gap made by two spokes in the metal nib. This is in the center of the nib. This facilitates the seamless flow of ink. These spokes are the tines. They need to be at an optimal distance or the ink will not flow properly. The tines in a Speedball calligraphy set are just parted enough for smooth ink flow.
- Ink Cartridge – Every fountain pen comes with a cartridge that the ink is filled in. The cartridge has a double sealed cap that ensures that the cartridge is sealed properly. This is not the thinly sealed plastic cap that most other pen cartridges have. Such a cartridge is made of poor quality material that will wear out soon. Plus, quality Speedball pen cartridges have no chance of ink leaking out.
- Ink Channel Duality – Calligraphy pens made by Speedball have dual ink channels that make ink flow out evenly and without mess. Whatever your writing speed, the flow will adjust to your hand movements with refined fluidity.
- Ink Port – Speedball fountain pens may come with ports in which you have to fit a pre-filled ready ink cartridge. Speedball calligraphy sets have pens with cartridge ports measuring standard diameters of 2.6 mm. Any cartridge, of any brand, can fit into this. An ink converter has this standard measurement too, so any brand of ink converter will be a flexible fit as well.
- Ink Quality – Although you are free to use any ink with your Speedball calligraphy fountain pen, you would be wise to use Speedball’s own ink. The ink formula is ideal, balancing opacity with viscosity to transport prime ink that works flawlessly in Speedball pens on any paper quality.
Loading a Pen
Speedball ink is made from highly carbonated black pigment. It is easily applied by a brush, pen, airbrush, or steel brush. It is non-clogging and waterproof, ensuring no fuss writing. To fill ink in a broad-edge Speedball fountain pen, dip the pen nib to about half-way into the reservoir from the top. For a flex point pen, dip the pen to the midpoint of the keyhole of the nib (the small opening in the nib). Dip pens are best suited to calligraphy, but if you use Speedball cartridge fountain pens, your work will be just as good.
Dip pens or fountain pens can be tough on the novice calligrapher, but they’re easy to get a hang of. Following some basic steps will get you off to a head start. Try to get your hand accustomed to the pen first with a mock “air stroke” session. Hands must be kept steady for calligraphy to work its magic:
- Begin with a straight dip pen – To begin at the most fundamental level, you should start with a straight dip Speedball pen. The “C” series nibs are good to start with. These offer a great deal of flexibility no matter how much pressure you apply. For instance, exerting pressure on the incorrect part of the nib will result in ink flow problems. Speedball calligraphy sets have instruction booklets included in their sets, and you will probably find all you need in there. Your first calligraphy session should be a breeze.
- Calligraphy-friendly paper – use paper that takes to calligraphic ink easily. You can use any drawing paper for your first attempt. Draw guidelines with pencil – three pairs of equally spaced horizontal ones and a single vertical one in the center should do it.
- Write in pencil first – With a pencil, using the horizontal guidelines for your direction, write a phrase or words in your largest cursive writing. You can imitate another style, choosing from fonts on the toolbar of your laptop, for example.
- Use your dip pen and go over your pencil writing. Remember to dip the pen properly, just to a bit above the keyhole in the nib. Give the pen a shake (not too vigorously) to get excess ink off. Make sure, as accurately as you can, to keep a 45-degree angle between the pen and the paper. Try to exert an equal amount of pressure on both the nib tines.
- You need to let your work dry thoroughly. Usually, this take 5 minutes on the safe side. After this, firmly hold down your calligraphy and erase the guidelines very gently. Be careful around the edges of your work. Too rough a hand may crinkle the work. Mars plastic by Staedtler is a fine eraser to use.
Aspirations of Artistry
Speedball calligraphy sets offer the newcomer to calligraphy a unique and exciting experience. You can opt for fountain pen sets which come with two black cartridges. Sets are also offered. These are of two varieties – the Basic Calligraphy Set (a fountain pen set) and the Deluxe Calligraphy Set (a high-end fountain pen set). The basic set is a good place to start if you are a beginner. With this, you can go a long way even if you become more proficient at your work. The basic set of the Speedball Calligraphy Set includes a signature fountain pen with three nibs of 1.1 mm, 1.5 mm, and 1.9 mm, respectively. There are 8 ink cartridges in this set too, 2 each of blue and black, and the rest in 1 each of red, green, pink, and purple.
Writing Tools for Everyone
Speedball writing instruments’ beauty is that you can try out a number of writing tools to achieve what you exactly want. Depending on how you fare as a calligraphy writer, and the levels of progress you reach, you can graduate to pens that make your work real pieces of art. For true calligraphers around the globe, the dip pen is preferred over the conventional cartridge pen. This has various nibs that can be attached to a holder, common to all nibs.
The C-series is a good place to start off with, as this is a nob that creates the illusion of a quill the most. A universal nib, it makes broad ribbon-like strokes for very classic and traditional calligraphy. Speedball has a wide range of pens and nibs to give the finishing touches to your fine art writing.