Olive & Reid Studio


Luxury calligraphy London

Do you need a Moblique 2-in-1 Penholder in your life?


Visitors to this blog know that I love me some oblique penholders for calligraphy, but do you need a Moblique 2-in-1 penholder to add to your kit? This review is not sponsored and is based on my own personal experience and preference. The Moblique 2-in-1 penholder is both a straight and oblique penholder. It was released in May 2018, and, at the time of writing, the jury is out among those I've talked to about whether it works for them. For me, though, I was first intrigued by the innovation and its uniqueness, and now sing a resounding early yes to its usability!

But let's slow down and go back to basics.

What is an oblique penholder?

Where a straight penholder looks and moves like a standard pen (the nib is inserted directly at the top of the holder to create the pen tip you're used to), the oblique holder has an angled flange at the top that allows the nib to be inserted at an angle that will allow the calligrapher to achieve required angles of specific scripts.

Two types of penholder for calligraphy: oblique or straight
Two types of penholder for calligraphy: oblique or straight

Should you use a straight or oblique holder for calligraphy?

The answer to this one really is up to you. For the most part, personal preference (and also script choice) dictates whether you will calligraph better with a straight or oblique holder.

Oblique holders for formal calligraphy script

I began calligraphy learning formal copperplate script from Eleanor Winters' exceptional book, Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy. In it, she advises that the 54° angle of Copperplate calligraphy can be achieved "with a straight penholder and elbow nibs...[or] with an oblique holder and straight nibs."

Similarly, Veiko Kespersaks highlights in his book, Calligraphy in 24 1-hour lessons that

"oblique penholders hold the nib at the correct angle for Copperplate and Spencerian scripts, which do not require a broad-edge nib."

I do know of calligrapher's using a straight holder for Copperplate, though, so let your hand be your guide. Because I chose to learn with an oblique holder (I didn't find the elbow nib range as extensive), I now use an oblique holder most of the time for both formal and modern scripts. I switch only to a straight holder when I need a specific look (pointed pen uncials — but even then I can work around it with an oblique, or more upright modern calligraphy). I'm so used the oblique holder that I struggle with a straight holder to have a similar smooth motion.

Straight holders for modern calligraphy and broad-edge hands

Molly Suber Thorpe says in Modern Calligraphy: Everything you need to know to get started in script calligraphy

"...in contemporary calligraphy, there is no "proper" angle, so the choice of nib holder comes down to physical comfort and how slanted you want your lettering style to be."

Chiara Perano, from Lamplighter London in her book Nib + Ink: The New Art of Modern Calligraphy recommends "the straight to start with as it's more, well, straightforward". All of the modern calligraphy tutors I know teach with straight holders (with some obliques on hand to try), so a lot of modern calligraphers will be used to and stick with them.

Broad-edge scripts such as Roman capitals, Foundational, Italic, Gothic, and Carolingian all use a straight edge holder.

What is the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder?

I first heard about this unique penholder with a pre-orders tweet from Penman Direct.

We're taking pre-orders on these fabulous 2-in-one Moblique penholders on our store now - bag yourself some of the first batch to arrive from Australia! #Moblique#LuisCreations#Calligraphyhttps://t.co/3jvU8ch18Ihttps://t.co/t8vglDNGxApic.twitter.com/AWMAZQvHAQ

— PenmanDirect (@PenmanDirect) May 9, 2018

As you can see from the pictures, the Moblique is a sexy little number with a very low price tag. Exactly my style. Designed by Luis Chiang of Luis Creations, the holder is deemed 2-in-1 as it can switch between being a straight holder or oblique by adding the flange.

See the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder switch in action


Where can you buy a Moblique 2-in-1 penholder in the UK?

At the time of writing, two suppliers are approved stockists of the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder:

I bought mine from Kim at Penman Direct as I've used their service before and love them. I learned about The Creative Nib after purchase, when Caron Romney post about it in the UK Calligraphy Classes and Workshops Facebook Group.

How does the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder compare to other penholders?

Selection of oblique penholders: Yoke Pen Co., UFOblique, Speedball, Moblique 2-in-1 Penholder, English Pen Crafts
Selection of oblique penholders: Yoke Pen Co., UFOblique, Speedball, Moblique 2-in-1 Penholder, English Pen Crafts

When I unboxed the Moblique, I realised quickly that it had a much steeper angled flange than I'm used to, and was very wary about how this would affect my script. I was pleasantly surprised to realise that the steeper angle has improved my copperplate script.

*UPDATE After a little more testing, I've upgraded 'pleasantly surprised' to 'absolutely ecstatic'. Key strokes that I thought I was incapable of achieving for the last four years are suddenly not a problem. Essentially, creating square tops and bottoms. This has been a killer, and a little disheartening for my Copperplate script, so I'm over the moon to see that this slight angle switch of the flange has fixed the issue! Also, the top bowl on the lowercase 'k' has always given me grief. No more! I will forever sing the praise of this tool.

Ranking my penholders

  1. Moblique 2-in-1 straight and oblique holder I should reiterate that this is NOT a sponsored blog post. It's purely based on my own experience, and I've kind of fallen in love with this holder in the short time I've had it. But it rarely takes me long to work out if a penholder will be good or not.
  2. Speedball oblique (size 1) this was my first penholder and remains my go-to holder as it is comfortable and it holds the majority of nibs I use. It's important when buying your speedball oblique to check what size you're getting; I've heard stories of any size other than '1' not fitting a lot of nibs.
  3. Yoke Pen Co. holder from Scribblers a splashy purchase for an early player at around £55, this was the first "exotic" penholder to land in the UK from the US. While it's not particularly flashy, I find the width and length really suit me, and, again the flange fits most nibs I work with.
  4. English Pen Crafts penholder Melanie from the English Pen Co. kindly sent me this gorgeous holder. While I absolutely adore its elegance and the grip works nicely for me, the flange needs a little work because recently my nibs have been falling out. It really would just take some pliers, I'm sure, to give it a tweak, but I haven't gotten around to it! I would say that it would be otherwise tied with the Yoke Pen Co. holder
  5. UFOblique holderWhile I absolutely love this quirky holder from the guys at UFOblique, I find the grip a little tricky to maintain Copperplate consistency. However, it works beautifully for modern calligraphy, so remains steadfastly in the mix.

Where other calligraphers have commented that they find the Moblique's matt-finish penholders slippy or too smooth, I really haven't been bothered by this. It's possible because I'm using it primarily as an oblique holder, whereas my a lot of my UK calligraphy friends prefer to use straight holders.  Some calligraphers have commented that the grip is too thin for them, which is where the physical comfort aspect Molly Suber Thorpe talks about comes in. If you get used to a particular type of grip, then switching to a completely different style can cause muscle ache from working harder to hold then pen.

The only negative comment I have about the holder is that the flange does move about a little. I realise that I am heavy handed and tend to rest my thumb up against the flange when I write. It becomes quickly obvious if it's slipped forward, so I just have to push it right back into the holder and watch my thumb placement. I appreciate that the flange needs to be easily removable to make the switch to a straight holder. I'm not really begrudging it as it isn't causing any headaches with my calligraphy.

What nibs does the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder hold?

I've had success with the following nibs in both the flange and straight holder:

  • Nikko G
  • Zebra G
  • Tachikawa G
  • John Heath's First Class G
  • Brause 361 pumpkin

I had issues with

  • Leonardt Principal EF (doesn't fit flange, does fit straight holder)
  • Gillott 1068A doesn't fit either

Have you tested nibs I haven't? Let me know what's worked or not worked fo you.

Share your experience

How are you getting on with the Moblique 2-in-1 penholder? Yay or nay? Or do you have another favourite oblique holder? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.