The three fundamental calligraphy tools are:
The relationship between these three elements is what makes or breaks your calligraphy.
This is a fundamental point so please, if you're interested and you remember only one thing on this page, it should be this.
Get your page, ink and nib (or equivalents) working in harmony. Experiment and adjust, until they all balance against each other for smooth, crisp lettering.
For example, thick ink needs to flow freely onto a smooth surface that takes an even flow. Absorbent paper needs ink that's not too thin, and a nib that flows lightly so it doesn't soak in and spread. A fountain pen requires thin ink and a more horizontal surface. And so forth.
Harmonise your page, ink and nib.
After that, it's about details :-) And the details are fun: layout, design, borders, drawing, colour, ornament, illumination, gilding, historiation, quills, reeds, parchment ...
If you're just starting out, and you want to see how calligraphy suits you, you need a bare minimum of calligraphy tools and materials as follows:
I think you will find life much easier if you also have:
Personally, I would also add 'a large window' and 'an adjustable desk lamp' to the above necessities ... good lighting can't always be taken for granted, and it's a vital part of all fine artwork, including calligraphy!
What about a calligraphy fountain pen? It's up to you. I did hours of practice with a fountain pen writing certificates for a local school, and it stood me in good stead. But a dip pen is actually better to work with even though it's a little more trouble.
If you do want a calligraphy fountain pen, it's preferable to get one with a refillable 'converter' reservoir as well as cartridges. Yes, it seems cheaper to buy a cartridge pen but then you have to top up with new cartridges (which is how they make their money ...) If you get a better calligraphy pen like a Rotring Art Pen then you can also get a piston-fill converter which means that you can refill as often as you like from an ink bottle – and change colours whenever you want, too.
So, you try it out. It's interesting. Good results looks very possible. You're prepared to commit to a set of metal dip nibs. What are the next calligraphy tools and materials to obtain, the ones will carry you into the realm of gift calligraphy, greetings cards and (generally) your own written art? Well:
You make a couple of birthday cards. You do a haiku in italics, and put it in a little gold frame, and it looks fantastic. Someone asks you to write out a few words for them.
Now it starts getting a lot more fun. Suddenly, you can write calligraphy, and your calligraphy tools do make a difference! So, as soon as you find you want more, I recommend:
By now, you are doing things with calligraphy tools and materials that, to the casual observer, look quite specialised. If friends come round and see you writing, they'll say things like, "I never knew you could put the ink on the pen with a brush!" and "Wow, you write it so fast!"
Now that you know a little bit about your abilities, it's a good time to experiment again:
Pretty soon you may also find that you want more than calligraphy tools, because now you've got the gilding bug:
After that ... who knows? You may well be teaching page decoration in evening classes at the local college, or applying for membership of a prestigious lettering-and-penmanship organisation, or organising an exhibition of your own work, or too busy selling greetings cards to go shopping.
What I do know is that nowhere along the line do calligraphy tools stop being fascinating and desirable.