Before there were pens, people made quills from turkey and other large birds feathers to make writing instruments. Other cultures used bamboo to make pens that would then be dipped into ink. Of course brushes can be used, but the size of the writing is much larger when using a brush.
There is an art to doing this properly, and there are scribes who still choose to use a quill. There are still some natural items in life that cannot be replicated by modern chemistry and manufacturing. (rubber tires – not plastic tires, are just one for example).
When I first was learning calligraphy, I was fortunate enough to start with a teacher who taught the right way. We used “dip pens”. These are pens with interchangeable “nibs” that effect the size of the writing. We dipped the pens into small ink wells. We never used cartridge pens, because as I found out back then the nibs weren’t sharp enough.
One of the things that I learned it that calligraphy is beautiful because of the contrast of the thick and thin parts of the lines. Those effects happen when you are using a square cut nib (see pictures) that are held at a constant angle despite the way you move your hand.
Sure felt tip pens are cut in that shape for calligraphy, but they don’t hold that edge very long. They’re good for a quick application, but not for serious work. The ink, if not permanent will fade quickly. And if it is permanent, you’ll be inhaling toxic fumes (yes, Sharpies have these fumes too!) that are very bad for you – and your children, btw!
Now there have been made improvements and there are other cartridge pens you use, and change the inks to colors. But honestly, colored ink doesn’t have the same opacity as goache paint, which is mixed to the proper consistency. And waterproof inks don’t hold fine lines.
So, in many ways, I’m a modern calligrapher, still using ancient tools and techniques.
Calligraphy Mini Kit, pens, inks, paper and paint and other supplies for calligraphy can be purchased online at Dick Blick and other stores.