I purchased a flat lead mechanical pencil several years ago at a big box office supply store that I used to practice my lettering. Unfortunately, it was not stocked for long so supply of the lead was very limited. I bought several of the pencils and a bunch of the lead refills for friends but we all coveted them.
A couple weeks ago, I got a wild hair to search on Amazon to see if anyone else was making a pencil like the one I had because everyone’s supply of leads had finally dwindled. I really wanted to buy my friend one for Christmas. I got lucky and found that Morning Glory makes a 1.8mm flat lead mechanical pencil which is available on Amazon with several containers of lead refills. There is also just an option just to stockpile a bunch of the lead refills.
The images below were done in 2008 using the original Foray 0.9mm flat lead mechanical pencil in the class I was taking.
These flat lead pencils are great if you are wanting to simulate an italic edge. Once you get the point filed down at a particular angle, this is a pencil you won’t want to rotate. You’ll want to keep that chisel edge. As a left-handed writer, I found this particularly useful because I could chisel the angle to meet my particular writing angle and still attempt to achieve the correct weights on down strokes.
The Zebra MLP2 is very similar to the original Foray flat lead mechanical pencil that I used for the drawings here.It looks like more of these flat lead mechanical pencils are entering the market as an easy way to fill in standardized tests. Keep an eye out in your local office supply aisles. The leads seems to only be 2B so that the scanning machines can read them but that works for calligraphy practice just fine too.
Mechanical pencils are a minimum investment and there is no upkeep required. If you are wanting to try calligraphy in the new year, this is a great way to try it with very little fuss. All of my instructors over the years recommended practicing with pencil and these flat mechanical pencils give the sense of line weight better than a standard hex pencil.
The folks over on the BYOB Pen Club podcast were talking about methods to practice and improve Spencerian and other calligraphy skills last week with Nik Pang and it got me thinking about the things I’ve learned over the years. I’ve learned different sorts of calligraphy skills (Nik would probably call them “wrong”) but I thought I would pass along the information in case it was useful.