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The anatomy of a nib

The anatomy of a nib

Nibs, often referred to as pens, are the metal part of a calligraphers pen that deposit ink onto paper. These humble, timeless tools have remained practically unchanged for the past 100 years. 

These days, nibs are made of metal, typically stainless steel in chrome, bronze or blue metal. Nibs can be flat, rounded or pointed and each nib varies in shape, size color and flexibility. For Copperplate calligraphy, we use pointed nibs.

TIP — usually pointed, this is the sharpest part that contacts the paper
TINES — the two sides that split when you press down to write
SLIT — the gap that opens with pressed
SHOULDER — the widest part of the nib where the nib dips in with small ridges—this gives the nib it’s rigidity
VENT — normally an oval hole usually in the middle of the nib that sends air, allowing ink to flow
BODY — the entire part from the shoulders to the base
IMPRINT or STAMP — the nib ID, name and brand embossed into the metal
BASE — thinnest part of the nib, shaped in a semicircle

Thin and thick strokes are achieved by applying different amounts of pressure to the nib. Each pointed pen has two slits that divide to allow the ink to travel down onto the page. On a downward stroke, you apply the most pressure, splitting the two slits and allowing a wider space for more ink to travel down through the nib.

There are hundreds of types of nibs, each works slightly differently and allows for a varying writing styles. The fun part is experimenting with each!

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