NIB ID CHART II am not sure if this tip will give you a little too much of a glimpse into my neurosis or have you going “aha!”  When I showed you my last post on how I have been able to identify my nibs a lot of you were excited about the prospect.  The labels on the nib holders have been very helpful for me, but my lettering system needed a little more help.  Since I am new to lettering/calligraphy I have collected many nibs to try, some I adore, others I can’t get to work to save my life. I have found that I can’t always remember what nib produces what results on the fly; meaning I can’t look at my nibs + holders and think ‘Ah, I need this one for, this type of lettering’. Some nibs produce similar results and I often find myself practicing with them and coming back to my samples having no clue what nib I used.  I am working on a little project now for a mock wedding dinner shoot and I know I want to use a fine nib and I do have samples that I like in my calligraphy cache, but since I don’t know what nib I used previously I have been going through my collection and just driving myself into madness!  I saw on this blog, how the teacher (so smartly) had her students tape nibs to cardstock and above it added stroke samples that the corresponding nib could create.  I currently don’t have enough nibs to tape and I personally need more than just a stroke to jog my memory.

NIB ID CHART IIMy solution has been to take similar nib types and write out the same or similar words on a sample chart I created. I have found that my writing changes with each new pen or nib I use, I don’t know why this is. In traditional calligraphy this wouldn’t fly, but for hand lettering/modern calligraphy I think it’s a great reference to know how a nib responded. I made a little chart for you to download if you so choose, or you can riff on mine.  I have found this to be so helpful for me, especially after long stretches of time when I can’t get practice in to be able to come back and know which nibs to work with is so much less stressful. My chart has spaces for you to write in the name of the nib (I used this one and this one for the photos), the type of paper (this is a current fave), the ink I used (I am a fan of Sumi inks and have been using this brand lately) and the guidelines I used (I like this one). These are the variables I feel that make a difference in my lettering outcome. If thinking of making this chart feels too overwhelming, (which of course is never my intention), maybe use the idea to spark a better one for your own lettering practice.

NIB ID CHART IIIaOh, and what does this happen to do with a baby-centric themed week you may ask? I have been trying to find a name for my girl as mentioned and of course I am going to need to know what it looks like written out, right?

P.S.  I found a great little resource post for you created by the talented Stephanie Fishwick. If you are in the Charlottesville, Virginia area she will be teaching a workshop soon and from her portfolio it looks like she will be a teacher well worth taking a class from!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.


  1. Your letting is beautiful, Tristan! So amazing! Also, is Lux one of the names you are thinking of for your little one? My step-brother had a little girl last year and her name is Luxe (spelled with an E on the end though) and that was the first time I had heard that used as a name. Took me a bit to get used to it as it was so different but it`s really cute. :)

  2. I agree, your lettering is so beautiful and distinctive. My back to school project is work on my lettering/calligraphy skills. You are such an inspiration. It is a skill I truly want to accomplish. It would be so useful, and fun. Your baby names bring back memories. I spent hours daydreaming and practicing writing names. I love the names you are considering. It is a tough decision. With our oldest son, once we chose his name, we began using his name instead of referring to the baby. It was wonderful. You have a lifetime of wonderful moments coming your way!

  3. I agree, it’s SO tough. I had so many wonderful boy names and they were all very masculine so they wouldn’t work well for a little girl, sigh!

  4. Thank you, I am trying to develop a style, it’s really difficult! I was thinking of Lux for a middle name, it means light in Latin and I love that andit was also a characters name in a book I enjoyed. My husband hates it, lol!

  5. Thank you Kathy! You are so creative, I am sure that if you practiced you would do so well! It definitely is a skill that needs to be nourished, not being able to practice really has set me back!

  6. Such a great idea! I definitely need to make a log of my nibs. Did you write the words on the canson marker paper, tape it to regular computer paper and then scan it or did you print the chart on the canson paper and write the names directly on the printed sheet?

  7. Hi Christine, I did it both ways to show how it can be done. The scanning would take a lot longer, but in my opinion is neater looking BUT if you were using a specialty paper or cardstock it might be more beneficial to have the ‘live’ samples:)

  8. Oh, yes, I think Martine is the sweetest I knew the most beautiful little red headed girl named Martine and I thought she was sublime. I think Martie, Marti, Marty is a darling nickname too!

  9. Great resource … as a printer I am constantly creating proofs of EVERYTHING! one can NEVER have too many! Can’t wait to hear the name decision … how exciting! I am loving how Clementine + Porter are looking :-)
    Do I spy a Bailey in there??? …. the name of our previous Golden.

  10. I can’t wait to visit and see YOUR system! I think Porter Bailey has a pleasant ring to it, but the better half thinks it’s too masculine. This naming thing is going to be much harder than I thought!

  11. Thank you Danielle! Up until a year ago I never even wrote in a script since I was so used to printing all uppercase for YEARS (architect hand). It’s such a relaxing adventure!

  12. Do the nibs you buy come with their own reservoirs or do you have to buy them separate? Will one reservoir work for all of your nibs? Do you have to buy a separate pen holder for all of your pens? Will a nib fit a pen holder from a different brand? Can you remove and switch nibs in a pen holder? Sorry, I am full of questions. I learned how to write calligraphy with a fountain pen. :)

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