Nib Identification System

Nib Faves Besotted Blog

I am a bit of a Type A personality. I once remarked that I was not a perfectionist because I could never get anything perfect which made the room of girls that heard my sentiment erupt in laughter; I guess I didn’t understand the meaning of the word and they all knew me too well. I always learn the hard way.  One of the things I have been struggling with in my lettering practice is being able to identify a nib once it is in its holder. Even though I feel like I thoroughly clean my nibs after each use there’s always ink that hides the nib identification and the nib holder hides the other part. I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time removing my nibs from the holder. I have even tried the suggested jewelery pliers and only succeeded in breaking my nib in the holder thus rendering it useless and almost losing an eye.  In these novice stages of my lettering adventure it’s important to me to know which nibs I am enjoying so I can reference back to them for the future, if I can’t read what they are (and trust me it is hard enough without ink on them and being hidden in the holder) then I am working blindly. I decided to start from ground zero and replace nibs + holders and use a label ( a sheet of label paper cut to size). I am so happy with this system! Eventually I plan to create a chart so I can reference the different effects I can achieve with each nib. This may seem like a lot of extra work that you aren’t up for and you may wonder why I have so many different nibs. In this nascent stage I want to find the nibs that work best with how I create my letterforms. I am very heavy handed and a flexible, ‘bouncy’ nib creates a completely different look than a stiffer nib for me.  I haven’t been doing this very long, but I feel like I have already outgrown some of my earlier nib favorites in favor of nibs that respond to my heavy-handedness.  My main goal for the identification system is to be able to have a quick reference so I can re-create a look.  I also want to reiterate that what I am doing is not traditional calligraphy (although I admire that very much), although I do reference traditional calligraphy techniques like using guidelines and referencing calligraphy specimens. My goal is create my own hand(s) and thus the need/desire to experiment with multiple tools (nibs).

Since I get this email about 20 times a day I thought I would make sure I included my current favorite nibs, these most likely will change in the coming months but these are the ones I have been gravitating towards and why:

Hiro Leonardt No. 41-I would not suggest this for a beginner, it is very flexible and delicate. This is my favorite nib to create loopy girly letters, it makes loop forms like a champ.

Blue Pumpkin– This seems to be a favorite of  modern lettering artists/calligraphers (for good reason) such as Meredith Bullock of Hazel Wonderland. Both Poppy Pedals and Holly Hollon love it for cotton envelopes which have a lot of pulp. It is similar to the the above nib, a little stiffer. Again, this may not be the best nib to try if you are just starting out. I feel like I can control this nib well when I want to create very thin hairline strokes and a balanced down stroke. Sample lettering.

Gillot 1068A-I honestly don’t remember why I bought this, a mistake? Perhaps. It has turned out to be a happy accident. It’s very stiff and I would recommend for an advanced beginner. It works best on smooth surfaces so if you have any texture it will catch. You can get very nice angular/sharp letter-forms with this nib. Sample lettering.

Zebra G-I can’t recommend this nib enough. If you are starting out buy this nib, please.  It’s a little more flexible than the Nikko G (these two are very similar). It’s a nice stiff + smooth nib. When you are starting out with your lettering/calligraphy practice you have so many new things to worry about (angle, pressure, inking, substrates, etc.) just make it easy on yourself and get a nib that won’t be too wonky in your newbie hands and that won’t get caught on your paper and cause messy disasters. You can create nice fine hairlines (which seems to be what calligraphers around the globe covet). As long as I am lettering this nib will be in my lettering rotation.

Brause Rose-I have mentioned this nib before, I LOVE it! This nib is very flexible and the nib I go to when I want to re-create an almost brush like stroke, the upside is that it can also create very thin hairlines. Again, not a beginner nib (stick with stiff nibs), but it is a nib that you may want to add to your nib arsenal if you love the look of brush lettering but can’t get the hang of using a paint brush to letter. Sample lettering.

Nikko G-This nib is so similar to the Zebra G and the reason I mention them both is in the off chance you can’t find one or the other you have options. Stiffer than the Zebra G, again a great nib for beginners. I really love Japanese nibs they are precision cut, the Nikko G by hand! So smooth–like butter.  This is another nib that is in regular rotation. Advanced letterers will love this nib as well.

What I have learned in this lettering quest is that anyone can learn calligraphy, it’s about practice + practice (and then more practice), dedication and a passion for the art. I absolutely want to learn traditional calligraphy in the near future, but I have been so happy with where this project has taken me both personally and (recently) professionally. Let me know if you have specific questions I am interviewing an amazingly talented calligrapher for an upcoming feature and would be happy to pose some of your questions to her.

P.S. I have linked to the nibs in this feature (companies I trust like Amazon + Dick Blick), but you can always reference The Directory and look under Calligraphy Supplies for vendors I recommend. If you have a reputable Calligraphy supply company overseas that you like please let me know and I will add.  I want everyone to be able to find calligraphy supplies at a great price without worrying about outrageous shipping fees or long delivery times.

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Moira McLaughlin Curator Besotted Blog copyI can’t believe how many of you have emailed me to be considered for the Pinterest Curator series, the response has been as enthusiastic as the actual feature and I am so grateful! The best part is that the submitted boards have been extremely well curated, original and have amazing diversity!  I felt so lucky that I have so many creative readers (yes, I absolutely consider Pinterest curation a creative pursuit). Moira had emailed and when I saw her boards I knew I had to work on her feature. The one thing I loved most about the boards is she allowed her passion for Canines to be prevalent throughout her boards in a very interesting and sophisticated manner. I dare say, one of the best collections of dog imagery on the interwebs. Some of the boards that knocked my socks off were–Dogs:Musicians + Muses, Dogs: Artists + Muses, Dogs: Writers + Muses. You don’t need to be a dog (or animal) lover to appreciate these boards (but if you are get ready to swoon). It’s a fine collection of vintage images of dogs and their famous human best friends such as Picasso, Coco Chanel, Charles Dickens and the list goes on. It’s a nostalgic visual treat. Moira is a pretty prolific pinner so be prepared to lose yourself in some rustic, bohemian, vintage goodness. Be ready to explore, I admittedly spent way too much time at Moira’s boards under the guise of ‘research’. And for those that prefer their dog chatter to come with a little cute on the side, Moira has a delightful blog post on arguably the world’s cutest dog (take that Boo), the indomitable Mr. Winkle.

On another note, I suppose I have gone to the dogs this week as I am reading A Small Furry Prayer and quite enjoying it.  It’s one part memoir, a hefty dose of both historical and scientific data plus the inevitable heart string tugging (you can’t discuss animal rescue without it). I bought it on impulse because the author is married to the writer of  a book I really loved called ‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’, it was $1.99 and had a photo of a cute dog on the cover.  I am obviously very indiscriminate to what I am willing to read and why. Good thing this book has exceeded my expectations and it is far better than it’s $1.99 price would infer. For those that own a Kindle, check out the book deals, there’s always a lot of them and not all the books on the list are half bad, some are even very good, for under $3.99 you can’t go wrong, my husband is currently reading ‘The Unexpected Hero’ about Winston Churchill (one of my personal historical favorites) a $2.99 purchase that he has been quoted as saying, “Sucked me in from the first sentence.”

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Elements of Style Besotted Blog

One of the goals I have this year is to work on my poor grammar.  I am very insecure about it and it’s a wonder I ever get a blog post up.  Putting my foibles out there is not my usual modus operandi. The problem I most run into with learning grammar is that it is a bore; granted I often find I get bored when I am having difficulty learning a subject. On the flipside of that coin, I believe with the right teacher or materials you can learn anything. Since I have decided to work on my grammar I thought I should just really bone up on my writing skills in general. I have some resources for you if you wanted to do so too. The above book, The Elements of Style is a classic, with the addition of Maira Kalman’s charming illustrations you will want to keep it on your desk, which I highly suggest for both aesthetics and reference ease. Roy Peter Clark a professor at The Poytner School of Journalism wrote a book aptly named-Writing Tools that looked interesting . I considered it for my Kindle, then I found out that it was available as a free podcast, read by Mr. Clark, each lesson is broken up into bite-sized pieces (think 1-2 minutes) and goes over 50 writing strategies. I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments during the listen and can’t recommend it enough. There’s Grammar girl which I wish I enjoyed more, but I don’t, a lot of people do so I thought she would be worth a mention. If you prefer a little more structure Media Bistro (a community for media professionals) offers on-line writing classes (and a grammar too). I have always wanted to take a class there, but it is a little spendy for me.  And for those that mentioned they would want to write a book if they knew they would not fail, I thought I would share this nugget-If you write one page a day, every day from today for the rest of the year you will have nearly 300 pages completed at the end of the year, that’s plenty for a book!

If you have any other suggestions for me–classes, books, tips + tricks please feel free to leave them in the comments. If there are grammatical errors on this site that are making you want to gouge your eyeballs out, please email me and I will try to rectify immediately (I do know there are plenty) and I wouldn’t want you to cause bodily harm to yourself on my account.

And…speaking of resources I spent an awful lot of time over the weekend updating The Directory, take a peek and let me know if you have anything to add, a subject you want covered or if you think your company/business should be included. Please keep in mind the directory is a creative resource so please keep your suggestions relevant.

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Wow. I can’t tell you how inspired I was after I read your answers to the question, ‘What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?’ I felt a little embarrassed (and greedy) because I think I would try to do pretty much everything everyone wrote (and then some)-Write a book, fly, open a store, stop world hunger, travel the world, start a new business, go back to school, sing in front of a live audience, gosh the list goes on and on. I am now trying to figure out how I can help you turn those wishes into a reality, give me time, I am a great problem solver and it seems like all these goals are pretty attainable. I have some ideas. Check back with me and I will let you know if I have gotten any closer to figuring this out for us.

For today’s Bestowal I am giving away the Parcel Twine trio, I have had several emails that asked me to do so (and I am happy to oblige). It’s one of the items that sells out a lot in the shop and since I have it shipped in from Europe it takes like forever to replenish. I won’t be getting in anymore inventory until after our move. Move? Don’t worry, I will go into that in another post. So excited for another adventure! It’s also one of my favorite items in the shop, I can’t tell you how much I use this twine, maybe it’s my fault that there’s never any in stock? It’s beautiful, eco-friendly, dyed by hand with plant based colorants, it’s just good stuff. I thought I would steal a question I read recently for you to answer-‘What’s the best thing that happened today’ the author wrote, “It actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection”. So, if you would like to enter to win, just leave your answer in the comments below, you will have an entire week to do so! Also, since I am in blog organizing mode I have added a new page so you can check each Monday and see if you are a winner, just click here. Good luck!

P.S. I know that the downloads aren’t working because I have exceeded my bandwith, which is both amazing and sad. Amazing because I know that you are able to easily access them now (finally) and sad because I am out of bandwith. I may have to start a bandwith fund, because I do like the ease of the provider (no weird ads and one click downloading).


BB Magic Besotted Blog

I thought I was going to implode all week not being able to write about this product!  I didn’t want to write about it until I had tested it for a full two weeks, in multiple situations. This is it friends, this is the product I have been dreaming  about.  It’s magic, for once truth in advertising from a beauty company–how novel?  I am going to go over all the pros and cons, but I think I may need to explain first that this product comes out of the tube a grey/white color and once applied to the skin will develop to match your skintone. I have tried a few of these color matching products and did not have the same results. The Josie Maran is very expensive, the pump breaks after a few uses making it impossible to use, the consistency is odd; it goes on oily and then dries to an extreme matte, which is not my thing, the color is nice though.  Almay’s was horrible (granted it’s not a BB cream), color, consistency, finish–don’t botherDr. Brandt has one that develops into a shade too dark for your skintone (could be good for summer), again very expensive.  The L’Oreal Magic BB?  If I could afford it I would buy every one of you a tube so you could try for yourself, that’s how impressed I am with this product.

If I could afford it I would buy every one of you a tube so you could try for yourself, that’s how impressed I am with this product.

Okay, so some details, I have dry skin, this is supposed to be great for individuals with oily to combination skin. For dry skin you will need to use moisturizer first, since this doesn’t have a sunscreen (a con for a BB cream), you may want to use something with an SPF in it. The finish is matte, I usually prefer a more dewy finish, but I use the Tarte cheek stains and they add that sheen/glow that I like. The no SPF is really my only con (and the not so pretty packaging). The pro list is much longer and includes: the price-for under $8 it’s completely budget friendly. The consistency, it’s super light, but not too ‘liquid-y’ that you will make a mess everywhere (like the Josie Maran). It’s pretty goof proof, the color is seamless, so there’s absolutely no color differentiation from jawline to neck. Did I mention it’s light? It is. You won’t feel like you are wearing anything, nor will you look like you are either.  How is the coverage?  It’s completely buildable so you start light and add where you need more (for me it’s the hyper-pigmentation on my cheeks). It doesn’t settle into creases, which is perfect for me, I have major laugh lines around my eyes, I have always had them I laugh a lot and am not going to stop for a wrinkle free visage. The tube is nice and  compact and the tip is very narrow which really assists in keeping your hand light when you are applying. It doesn’t rub off as easily as a traditional foundation or even a BB cream. What have I forgotten? Did I mention it makes you look like your pores are non-existent? It doesn’t feel like you are wearing anything and now there’s no excuse to ever walk out of the house looking like this.

P.S. If you do use moisturizer make sure it ‘soaks’ in first. I usually put it on (here’s my fave) and then make my coffee or walk my girls, which give it enough time to not be sitting wet on my face.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She feels like she has finally found her complexion nirvana.