2014-01-11 — Good Characters (Leave a message)
The Chinese Alphabet Calligraphy Kit is the only brush calligraphy cultural and educational kit designed to enable anyone to start writing Chinese characters immediately without years of learning the Chinese language.
What’s in the box:
* Four Treasures Calligraphy Set (2 brushes, ink stick, ink grinder, water bottle, brush rest)
* Calligraphy Practice Bamboo Paper (50 Sheets)
* The Chinese Alphabet Guide
* Access card for the Chinese Alphabet animated guide website
* Tips for use and maintenance of calligraphy brushes
Good Characters has designed this calligraphy kit to encourage actual use and the good habit of daily calligraphy practice. After you complete at least 30 pages of practice, if you take a picture of your daily practice writing and e-mail it to us, post it to our Facebook page, or post it to your Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #DailyAlphabet, we will send you our official Chinese Alphabet Level One Calligrapher certificate.
The two-brush set is shown on top of the three-brush set so you can see the difference in the sizes of the two sets. The two-brush set case measures approx. 11-1/4” x 6-1/8” x 1-1/8” (28.5 cm x 15.5 cm x 2.8 cm) and weighs 8.3 oz. (235 g). The three-brush set measures approx. 11-1/4” x 9” x 1-1/8” (28.5 cm x 22.9 cm x 2.8 cm) and weighs 11.5 oz. (326 g).
The two-brush set contains six items: a large brush, a small brush, an ink stick, an ink grinder, a water bottle, and a wooden brush rest. All are contained in a lightweight carrying case.
The benefit of a carrying case is that you have all your calligraphy tools in one place.
This photo shows how the inside of the two-brush set carrying case. Every item has its own fitted place so everything is organized, protected, neat, and tidy.
Here’s another view. Clockwise: Water bottle. Ink stick. Small brush. Large brush. Ink grinder. Wooden brush rest.
The ink grinder is made of molded plastic with a fine-sand textured grinding surface to make grinding the ink easy. It won’t break or chip like a stone grinder if accidentally dropped. It’s safer for younger kids to use as well. The design of this ink grinder was inspired by the simplicity of the minimalist classic ink stone design used for many generations.
Here is a close-up of the two brushes. The total length of the large brush on the right is approx. 8.5” (21.5 cm). The brush tip diameter (the widest part, on top) is .28” (7 mm) and the tip length is 1.1” (28 mm). The small brush on the left is approx. 8” (20.3 cm) long. The brush tip diameter is .18” (4.5 mm) and the tip length is .7” (17.8 mm).
These are combination brushes that are made of natural goat hair on the outside (white color) and weasel hair on the inside (dark brown color). The natural hair has properties that synthetic or artificial hair cannot duplicate and generally produces finer lines when writing or drawing. The combination of soft goat hair and hard weasel hair gives the brush a good balance for standard calligraphy.
Top view of the opened two-brush set. It will be shipped in the paper box shown below with calligraphy practice papers.
This is the back of the two-brush calligraphy set carrying case. It looks cartoonish because it’s mainly designed for elementary school students in Taiwan, officially The Republic of China, as their first calligraphy set. You can’t go wrong with something as authentic as this!
A closer view of the back of the calligraphy set case.
An even closer view. The Chinese characters on the upper left-hand side say: 林三益文房四寶盒, meaning Lam Sam Yick Four Treasures Box. The first three characters, 林三益, form the brand name and trade name of our calligraphy product partner and maker, Lam Sam Yick. The next four characters, 文房四寶, mean four treasures, referring to “Four Treasures of the Study,” an expression used to denote the brush, ink, paper, and ink stone used in Chinese and other East Asian calligraphic traditions. The last character, 盒, means a box.
There’s a handle on the side, or top if you stand it up, of the carrying case. Personally we think it’s not very useful because one can easily hold the case in one hand. But you never know. Some students might actually carry this with the handle.
You can hold the two-brush calligraphy set this way with one hand. It’s lighter than an iPad mini.
At the bottom center of the photo above is a small water bottle. It is used to store water and drip it into the ink grinder so you can easily control how much water or how much ink you want to grind.
You can carry the case this way.
Or just hold it this way.
Or even this way.
Or present it like a food tray.
View of the two-brush calligraphy set and our messy desk.
The carrying case is very light weight and designed to protect all the items inside from damage even if you accidentally drop it. Be sure to snap the case closed or items will may fall out.
Another view of the messy desk and the two-brush calligraphy set. No matter how messy your desk is, you can always keep your calligraphy tools nicely organized in the carrying case.
Each brush comes with a tiny loop on the end so you can hang it to dry after rinsing it and patting it dry after use.
The wooden brush rest is designed to allow you to rest your brush for a short time during your calligraphy practice. It’s not meant to be used to air dry your brush and you should not leave your brushes there for a long time.
You can see the sizes of the brushes in comparison to a regular BIC Round Stic ball pen.
In the background are some of the traditional design circle or square red stamps housed in modern self-inking stamp casings. They are authentic in design and utilize a modern method of stamping, so they are essentially maintenance free and easy to use. It’s customary for calligraphers or brush painters to sign their names with a red stamp. Stamps can be ordered from our website.
You may drip water onto the deeper, sloped part of the ink grinder and use the ink stick to bring the water up to the flat surface and grind the ink by standing the ink stick up and moving it in a circular motion with the water. Or you can simply drip the water on the flat surface and start to grind.
The large brush rests on the wooden brush rest. The ink stick sits on top of the ink grinder. The brush has four large characters that say, in black ink, 祥雲大楷 (xiángyún dàkǎi), meaning Auspicious Clouds Large Brush. The ink stick has a decorative floral and plant design in gold and silver.
After you have finished using the ink grinder, you can simply drain the water and ink and use a paper towel to pat and dry it. Or you can wash the ink grinder clean with tap water. Do not wash the ink stick.
Rest the ink stick on the side of the ink grinder after you finish grinding the ink.
The benefit of grinding the ink over using liquid ink is that you have more control of how thick or thin and how light or dark your ink will be. Some also use the ink grinding time to calm themselves, warm up their arms, and get their minds ready for the practice, sort of a meditation.
These brushes are the beginner, or student, grade. They are not the best but are better than many beautiful looking but impractical calligraphy sets you see on other websites. Those are made for looks but are miniature in size and lack the quality for actual use. Our brushes are full size and designed for actual use. However, after you get used to practicing calligraphy, you might want to upgrade your tools. At that point you might want to consider our professional grade brushes and calligraphy sets.
Besides the brushes, ink stick, ink grinder, water bottle, and brush rest, you also need something to write on. We have included 50 or 100 bamboo practice paper with grids that are designed for calligraphy learners. We also provide an animated, proper sequence, stroke-by-stroke character writing guide with grid on our website so you can learn to write characters in the correct form with correct stroke sequence and gradually master the art of brush calligraphy.
View with the water bottle removed from the case.
Your two-brush calligraphy set together with 50 or 100 practice papers will be shipped in a tuck-lock box, a minimal and environmentally friendly design without excessive, wasteful packaging.
The standard kit comes with 50 sheets of bamboo calligraphy practice paper that has 9-box grids for writing 24 large characters per sheet. Or you can use the small boxes to practice writing small characters. Each sheet has 216 boxes. So in all you can practice 1,200 large characters or 10,800 small characters.
The bamboo calligraphy practice paper is very thin and lightweight. It allows more ink gradients to show than typical printing paper and enables you to see the effects of your different strokes. The ink is also less likely to run on this paper than on the typical rice or xuan paper. So a beginning calligraphy student is less likely to feel frustrated by the ink running or the paper not having the right texture. Instead, beginners will be encouraged to see their efforts resulting in good and beautiful calligraphy and will be more likely to keep on practicing.