How to Prep Your Calligraphy Nib

Have you ever heard about “prepping your nib” before you use it? If the answer is no, then I hope you find this helpful because I didn’t know about this for awhile and it would irk me when my ink wouldn’t stick to my new nib and I had no clue why!

I’ve tried a few ways from my own google searches and to be quite frank, I feel like there are two ways that make your life a bit easier.

Why do you have to prep a nib? For every new nib you get, it comes with an oil coating on top and at times makes it very challenging to get your ink to stick to it. Some people will say you don’t need to prep your nib, but every time I’ve tried without, my ink never really sticks. I do recommend prepping your nibs before you get started, and again, this is for new ones!

METHOD 1 (my preferred one): USE A LIGHTER OR MATCH

Hover it over a flame from a lighter or match for 3 seconds or so on both sides. This might sound odd, but this is the fastest way I’ve been able to prep my nibs. So after you take out your nib, you can put it into your pen holder & hover it over a flame or lighter for a few seconds (both sides). After that, dip into water and dry! You are hovering the nib over the flame, not the the pen holder. Just had to specify that part!


Putting your nib (pointy side downwards up to around the vent (or the hole) into a potato for about 15 minutes will do wonders! This one takes a little bit of time but you can do a few at once. When I would teach in-person workshops, I’d have about 5 nibs in 1 potato and that was a time saver. After you do that, take it out and rinse under water then dry. You should be good to start lettering! As for what kind of potato, I’ve only used Russet Potatoes and that has worked great for me.

And there you go! There are a few other ways you can prep your nib, such as using an eraser, rubbing alcohol, etc. but the two above are the ones I suggest because it’s less time & it works.

To find out what nibs I use, head on over here to my supplies page.

Have fun lettering!



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