Welcome to the Fountain Pen Network
I agree, the Speedball oblique kit (about $15 online) with six nibs is a quick starting point. You might even find a set over-the-counter at a stationary or art supply store near you. Later you can try all sorts of nibs, with the Speedball holder - vintage and new.
You'll also need some calligraphy ink. Fountain pen ink will not work as well with a dip nib. Start with some decent paper. The Higgins Eternal brand comes to mind (about $4/2.5 oz. or 74ml).
You don't need high-cost specialty paper for practice and learning. Standard virgin (not recycled) 80g/cm^2 (24lb.) office bond will do. HPJ1124 paper is pretty good, a ream (500 sheets) can be had for less than $10 USD. You can print a calligraphy guide on the paper with your computer and printer (see below).
Here's a link to some downloadable custom calligraphy guide paper (there are other sites like this on the Web, but this link popped up in my bookmarks):
Here are some nice free online Copperplate lessons. I like these because they're vintage, not someone's modern interpretation of Engrosser's Script. Do these over and over again:
You should steep yourself in the Iampeth Web site:
Search YouTube for some calligraphy examples and lessons. Watch how the writers position their body, hand and arm. Find an example where the calligrapher is using an oblique nib holder.
Go slow when you write. Embellished writing is an art, it takes time. Finally, there is no substitute for rote practice...
As for flex fountain pens:
I have the Noodler's "flex" pens (all types), and I modify (grind) the nibs quite a bit for more flex [e.g., Ease-My-Flex (EMF) modification as mentioned previously in this thread]. But if you're just starting out with fountain pens, I recommend you steer clear of the Noodler's flex pens, they most often do not work well (or at all) as they come out-of-the-box. You will have to modify (hack) the feed and may even have to heat-set the nib and feed together in order to get good ink flow, especially when flexing. Nib tuning and feed hacking are deep subjects beyond the scope of this thread IMO.
Vintage flex pens have been mentioned. I think you should get into vintage pens after studying the subject for awhile. Vintage pens are really not for someone brand new to this hobby. Without care you can end up spending a lot of money on things you may regret.That said, I recommend that when you do delve into your first vintage pens, purchase only fully restored pens from a reputable restorer. This is especially the case when it comes to vintage flex pens. Unless the restorer has tested and tuned the flex nib/feed combination, you might end up with a flexy nib - but inadequate ink flow to support it.
You can now buy modern pens with flex nibs that are supposedly as good as many vintage flex nib pens. While it is a relatively safe path to follow (even for a beginner) a new modern pen with a modified flex nib not an inexpensive trip. Expect to spend a decent wad of cash before you're done.
A Nibmeister (Pen Professional) named Richard Binder heavily modifies German solid gold nibs for full flex. (Other Nibmeisters offer this service as well.) Mr. Binder will mount these nibs on a modern pen, such as a pen from Bexley (made in Ohio, USA). In-fact Richard sells Bexley pen bodies alone without nibs just for this purpose.
Plan on spending more than $200 USD for the modified gold flex nib alone, then add another $100-$200 for the pen itself. So you're looking at a total outlay of at least $300-$400 USD plus shipping. However, you will be getting a custom made and professionally tuned heirloom writing instrument that you will likely keep forever.
Oh yes, If you want a modern custom made pen with flex, Brian Gray of Edison Pen Co. is now offering his hand-turned fountain pens fitted with Richard Binder's modern flex nibs.
Here's a YouTube video by Brian Gray of Edison pens comparing a modern pen with a gold non-flex nib, a vintage flex nib pen, and a modern pen with Richard Binder's modified gold flex nib:
Richard Binder's modern flex nibs can be found by scrolling down this page:
Edison Pen Co.
Bexely Pen Co.
That's it for me...
Have Fun, David
Edited by Drone, 05 February 2014 - 10:21.