Last weekend I got a rare opportunity, one that I never thought I would get to have at such a young age. In fact, it was one of a nature that I hadn’t even fathomed as something that I would be able to check off my bucket list so early on in life. In a few words, this experience was “simply wondrous.”
Fellow penthusiasts out there might be wondering if this unique adventure was what they’re thinking it may be, and, yes, it most certainly was. On Sunday, I got to sit down and have an open, honest, and flowing informal talk with a few of my idols who have been at the center of my role model collage for quite some time. That’s right, I got to attend a pen panel, also known as a penel.
This informal conversation was a once in a lifetime experience, with participants such as Mr. Copic Multiliner SP (0.35), Ms. Sakura Pigma Micron (05), and Mrs. Graphik Line Maker (0.3).
Playing the role of the host, I was able to ask the three pens a few questions that had been on my mind for a number of years. Looking back, I can say that each participant answered all the questions with incredible gusto and ease, all providing thoughtful insight into the world of pens.
We discussed the topics of ease of flow, proper storage, and grip. The highlights from the afternoon are below.
The penalists were kind enough to pose for some photos:
Ease of Flow
We first spoke about ease of flow in everyday pen life and how ink levels can affect temperatures and the day-to-day basics. I posed the question, “How often do you experience ink blockages, what is the typical outcome, and how might they be dealt with?”
Mr. Copic, of the 0.35 variety, said that ink blockages were rare over the period of appropriate use, with only a few minor casualties occurring in the final days of use. The seasoned panel veteran noted that “Being held at the proper angle” was key to avoiding ink blockage. He added that, when they do occur, blockages typically result in spotty, inconsistent writing, something that “Nobody wants.” To solve the issue, Mr. Copic recommended a light tap and to avoid shaking at all costs, unless absolutely necessary in a last resort scenario.
Ms. Sakura, who mentioned attending just one previous panel, said that ink blockages had been “A common issue for her in her recent life, especially when the proper use and care wasn’t administered.” She agreed with Mr. Copic’s notion of proper angles, requesting a perpendicular 90 degree angle when possible. She also agreed with the outcome, noting varied, awry writing with disappointing splotch marks. Getting emotional about the sensitive issue, Ms. Sakura’s final remarks touched on solving the problem, reiterating the perpendicular angle and requesting to rest in a similar position.
Mrs. Graphik, a panel first-timer, said that she didn’t mind what angle she was held at, noting that she was used to a number of versatile positions. “I like to think of myself as an all-in-one tool that can get any job done!,” she said proudly. Not having confronted the issue before, Mrs. Graphik didn’t know how she would deal with the problem, but was looking forward to asking her new friends for help if the issue came up.
Something touched on in our first segment, I asked the penalists to go into a little more detail about their storage preferences. Ms. Sakura had the most detailed request, asking, once again, to be stored in a perpendicular position, lying down on her side. Both Mr. Copic and Mrs. Graphik didn’t express any strong preferences, but said they were always appreciative of a tender touch and to be put down gently. All three of the members agreed that aggressive shaking was not welcome, nor should it ever need to be tolerated by any pen.
Something that I have always wondered about when using pens was how they prefer to be held, and, on that note, how exactly I should be holding them. Having the unique opportunity to speak with such a diverse group at the same time, I asked each pen to speak a little about grip preference, touching on types of hands, fingers used, and firmness, unless it was a subject too sensitive to talk about.
Mr. Copic was the first to speak up, boldly stating that he could take any type of grip and didn’t need to be pampered. It wasn’t till after his fellow participants voiced some concerns that he admitted a gentle hold was preferred.
Ms. Sakura nervously voiced a few concerns she had about the pen community and the general lack of awareness about grip. She said that a light grip was always best and that anything too firm could lead to nib damage which could lead to scarring. “It’s on us to spread the word about this issue,” she said, “I want as many people as possible to know to use a light grip.” Her final note focused on the fact that, if possible, the only pressure that should cause her ink to flow should be from her own weight with the hand acting only as a holder.
At last, Mrs. Graphik spoke up, agreeing with some of the sentiments expressed by Ms. Sakura, but understanding where Mr. Copic was coming from. “Sometimes it’s just easier to go with what the user intends, they rarely leave permanent damage,” she said. She followed up her statement after a concerning look from Ms. Sakura, saying that she did understand that not all nibs were the same and that some should receive more detailed and careful attention.
We wrapped up with some additional chit-chat, speaking about our favorite papers to write on, favorite words, and a few other daily happenings.
Being able to host my first penel was truly an amazing opportunity, and, like I stated, one that I would never pass up. The penalists and I agreed to stay in touch with one another through social media and snail mail, deciding that becoming pen pals seemed only appropriate, given the participants.
If you have any questions about my penel and/or the overall experience, please feel free to comment here, or reach out to me on Twitter, @pensivepenner, or Instagram, @thepensivepenner. My Pinterest board can also be found under ThePensivePenner.
As always, I would love to hear suggestions from everyone about what the blog could be doing differently or better and what type of content people would like to see. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for an exciting new post from a special angle tomorrow morning!