The Straight Pen Holder vs. The Oblique Pen Holder

“What in the world is the difference between these two pen holders? “

“Why do some calligraphers use that weird-looking oblique holder, while others use a straight one?”

“Which one should I be choosing to use?”

If you’re a beginning calligrapher and have asked yourself any of these questions at any point in time, don’t you worry – I was once there. In this post, I will (hopefully) clarify the differences between both, and also talk about my preference!

The Straight Pen Holder

The straight holder looks like the normal pen we use when we’re writing. The nib is inserted in the end that has metal prongs to keep it in place. As a beginner, it certainly is very tempting to start off with the straight holder, as it looks like what we know and what we use day to day, right? However, when writing calligraphy, we should not be using a grip that is the same as our usual pen grip. This will cause MANY problems (which we will explore in a later post).

Not to diss the straight pen holder of course. It can be useful when working on modern scripts that are more upright, as compared to the traditional scripts such as Copperplate, which works on the exact 55-degree slant. I personally find that when using the straight holder, it does something in my brain that just allows my hand to move a little more upright and a little more freely and gets the creative juices flowing in terms of finding/creating a new style/script of your own.

The Oblique Pen Holder

The most obvious difference between the oblique pen holder and the straight pen holder is definitely that weird-looking thing that sticks out on the side. That weird-looking thing does have a name – it’s more formally known as a flange! This flange is where your nib sits. Oblique pens are recommended to begin with as it helps you to naturally achieve the thick and thin lines that are signature to pointed pen script! Again, not saying that the straight pen doesn’t do that. You just have to contort your arm and find the right paper angle for it to work.

The oblique pen helps to achieve the correct angle to get the thick lines, as the flange will allow the nib to sit at the angle of your script and in turn helps to achieve those beautiful thins and thicks a little more easily.

Lefties may find it easier when writing with a straight pen as the way they hold their pen may already help them achieve the required angle of their script. However, there are also lefties who choose to use the oblique pen holder, one of them being the lovely Younghae from @logos_calligraphy! She’s found what works for her, and shares her tips on a blogpost of hers (particularly on how to angle your paper and finding the best writing position). If you are a left-hander and are interested in how to use an oblique pen holder, do head over to this link and have a read! It even includes pictures for you to reference.

Having said all of that, at the end of the day, I personally think it comes down to one’s own individual preference whether to use a straight or an oblique pen holder! Don’t be afraid to experiment with paper angle and your arm position. Find what works for you!

Again, if you haven’t already got yourself a Moblique that’s created by @luis.creations, go get yourself one! It works as BOTH a straight and an oblique pen holder. Perfect for experimenting!

Hope that this post has helped a little in clarifying some differences between the two pen holders!

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