Icing icing sweet chupa chups soufflé. Pie jelly oat cake jelly beans toffee sugar plum fruitcake danish. Candy canes biscuit brownie donut chocolate marshmallow dragée cake chocolate bar. Cupcake pie bear claw. Candy cake cotton candy chocolate cake toffee. Powder chupa chups cake.
You hear so often “What pen holder do I use? What is the difference between a straight and an oblique?”, from beginner calligraphers. Well, there are a few differences that may seem more obvious than others.
The structure. The physical appearance of both holders shows a distinct difference. For one, a straight holder looks like a normal writing pen (for the most part), with the exception that you place a nib into the one end that usually has a metal hole with prongs inside to keep the nib in place. An oblique one has a flange attached to the end of it. A flange is a metal piece that holds the nib, but it sticks out on the left side of the holder, creating an angle for your nib. There are affixed and unaffixed flanges: affixed ones are attached into the holder and can’t be removed, whereas unaffixed ones can be removed from the holder, which makes it easier to clean and remove the nibs, but over time it could loosen. Personally, I prefer the affixed flanges and don’t mind removing the nib with the flange still in place. Another piece of information to point out, is that there are small and large flanges. This is because there are small and large nibs (and I can talk about nibs in a different post, because we can’t neglect them can we?!). Again, I prefer a small flange simply because I have found smaller nibs are easier for me to use than the larger, but it’s all about practice!
Holding. How you hold pen holders is not like holding a regular writing pen, which is a common mistake–I even made it! With straight holders, people are more inclined to hold it like a regular pen, whereas the oblique almost corrects or prevents you from doing so, because of the flange. It’s all about the angle. If you use a straight, always remember to slant it downward at a 45 degree angle (towards you, because that would make sense, right? haha). I found the oblique holder already places me in that angled position.
Another point to make about straights–if you want a good slant to your lettering, straights make it more tricky in doing so.
Beginners. If you are a beginner, you may (or may not) have read this or been told this, but straight holders are usually more difficult to use than obliques. I started with a straight (which after talking to other calligraphers, that seems to be one of the first things they point out) because I went to Hobby Lobby and most of the holders you can buy are straight. And for the most part, it just seems most logical to people to use that one when you think about writing. The obliques look scary at first and you automatically assume that because they are an odd shape, that they will most definitely be more difficult to use. QUITE the opposite. At least, for most calligraphers. I have noticed that even advanced calligraphers seem to still use obliques more than straights. I for one don’t know if I could ever go back to a straight, but never say never.
Carrots. And NOT the ones you eat! Carrot holders can be straight or oblique. The difference with this one is simply the shape. Carrots are fatter, shorter versions of your desired holder type. I recently got an oblique one and I love it just as much as my other obliques. They have a thicker, wider grip which helps people with arthritis, or heavy handed grips. I still have a heavier grip, and I have found it is helping ease it up. When you have a heavier grip, I have noticed it hinders your movement and your lettering from being free-flowing.
Whichever holder you decide to go with or change to, you will quickly know which one is for you. And really, it’s all about becoming comfortable with one, and practicing!