*Updated* Hosting My First Penel: Thoughts from the Field

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:

Mr. Copic Multiliner SP
Mr. Copic Multiliner SP
Ms. Sakura Pigma Micron
Ms. Sakura Pigma Micron
Mrs. Graphik Line Maker
Mrs. Graphik Line Maker

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.

Proper Storage

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.

Grip

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!

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Guest Post: Idle Emma’s Planner Pen Preferences

Hello fellow penthusiasts! Atticus Rice here, the publisher and creator of The Pensive Penner. It’s time to shake things up (but not your sensitive pens, please not your sensitive pens) with something a little out of the ordinary for The Pensive Penner. The following post is a review of Staedtler pens, both the Triplus Fineliner and Pigment Liner, by Idle Emma of Puddle Side Musings.

Her blog focuses on her wonderful planners, crafts, and snail mail adventures. She also offers some free printables for all to use! For those of you unfamiliar with the ins and outs of sending snail mail in today’s world, Idle Emma offers a great “Where to Start” that everyone should check out. If you’d like to get in touch with Idle Emma check out the Contact Me page over on her site or go follow her on Instagram where she can be found at @IdleEmma.


Idle Emma says:

I was asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest post for the Pensive Penner about the pens I use in my planners and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s not something I’ve looked at before; I’ve written about many craft, planner and snail mail topics over on my blog, Puddle Side Musings, but while all those topics have a good pen in common, I’ve never taken the time to consider my trusty utensil. Well, I’ll give it a go now!

Something to note about me and pens: I’m a fineliner girl. I have three reasons for this. First up, I have a peculiar habit when using ballpoint pens of gripping them really tightly when writing, especially when writing something small, which causes my hand to hurt so I only use them as a last resort. Secondly, my natural writing, as a lot of people comment on, can be tiny (I actually find it hard to write big), and fineliner pens help make tiny writing stay legible. Finally, though with similar issues of legibility, I studied Japanese when I was at university and I found that I just could not write kanji with a ballpoint pen, I had to use a fineliner.

So, those are my reasons for type but what am I actually using?

Well, I play it safe with my pens. I don’t tend to try new ones out often and stick to my favourite brands, my favourite in this case being…Staedtler, and I like using two different types of Staedtler pens in my planners: Triplus Fineliners and Pigment Liners.

Staedtler Pigment Liners.
Staedtler Pigment Liners.

With the huge popularity of colouring books these days, I think everyone is familiar with Triplus Fineliners as the two seem to always go together (and for good reason because they are good pens for colouring in all those tiny spots on detailed pictures). One of the most attractive things about these fineliners? The colour range of course! I think the Triplus Fineliners have one of the best colour ranges out there for pens. I treated myself to the 36 pack of pens (which were very reasonably priced) and have never been wanting for a colour. Hell, there’s even a selection of highlighter colours in the pack!

Now, I love using these pens to add a bit of colour to my planners and they are really useful for colour coding the calendar views I have. It makes a big difference being able to glance at a page and know that there’s something to do with a birthday going on if I see a box coloured in green or something related to my master’s degree if I see yellow, for example. The pens have a slightly softer nib on them which makes them nice to colour in things with but they’re also quite nice pens to write with, be it big or small (though based on my sample writing in the picture, you might question my idea of big writing!).

 

Staedtler Pigment Liners.
Staedtler Pigment Liners.

While I do like writing with the Triplus Fineliners and use them often for header sections in my planner, they’re not my first to reach for writing pens. No, be it for filling in my planner and organising my life, penning long letters to friends, writing pages of course notes, jotting down ideas for crafts or sketching art, Staedtler Pigment Liners are my go to pen. I just absolutely love these pens.

Like with many ranges of liner pens, there’s a good selection of nib thicknesses and with these, because the nibs are firmer, I feel at least, than the Triplus Fineliners, it’s easier and neater to write small – a must have for me! I have a selection of sizes including the 0.5, 0.2, 0.1 and 0.05 nibs. I think my favourite for using in my personal planner is the 0.1 because it’s a good size for writing (my idea of) large and small. Oddly enough though, the 0.05 is my favourite for using in my A5 planner and I often use the 0.5 in my pocket planner. Yes, the bigger the planner, the small the pen!

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner.

I do use these pens an awful lot, especially the 0.1 nib one and as a result, the nib on it does seem to have gotten a little smaller because of the pressure I put on one side when I write so it actually seems to be getting closer to the 0.05 size but it’s still a perfectly good, usable pen and like I said, it’s because I write a lot probably putting too much pressure on the pen.

But a good thing about these pens? They last for ages! They really do, even with the amount of letters and college notes I write, they just seem to keep going. Another nifty feature (yes, I said nifty) is that you can leave the cap off for supposedly 18 hours and they’re still perfectly good to write with, they won’t dry out. It’s a nice feature for forgetful people or if you’re like me and hate having to recap pens for fear that they’ll dry out after five minutes!

My, looking back, it appears I have been somewhat wordy with my considerations. I really didn’t think I’d written that much. Well, I guess I’ve rambled on quite long enough about my pen habits, Staedler love and planner quirks so I’ll leave it here!

I hope you enjoyed reading,
Idle Emma of Puddle Side Musings

Hosting My First Penel: Thoughts from the Field

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. The highlights from the afternoon are below.

The penalists were kind enough to pose for some photos:

Mr. Copic Multiliner SP
Mr. Copic Multiliner SP
Ms. Sakura Pigma Micron
Ms. Sakura Pigma Micron
Mrs. Graphik Line Maker
Mrs. Graphik Line Maker

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.

Proper Storage

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.

Grip

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!

Updated: The Proper Way to Open A Brand New Package of Pens

Editor’s Note: This post is an updated version of the post titled “The Proper Way to Open Up a Brand New Package of Pens” that was published on The Pensive Penner on September 27, 2016. This version addresses a number of updates recommended by the advisor for this project including copy edits and hinting at why this post matters in regards to the opening of pens.


We’ve all been there. You’ve just splurged at your local art supply store and you can’t wait to open your brand new pens. Then it happens. You look down at the packaging and the realization comes over you that you have no way of actually opening your treasure. Wrapped in a combination of plastic and cardboard, there’s nothing you can do to bypass Hell’s gates. You didn’t buy scissors and you don’t have a knife on you, so what was even the point of going to the art store? This is 2016, people. This tragic story must end, and I have your final chapter.

To get into the right mindset, I went out and bought three packs of new pens (well, two packs of pens and a pack of pencils (I needed them, I apologize, please forgive me)), pictured below. Then I took two different types of pens and went to work, using my pre-owned pens to open my new digs. An account of my journey with instructions and graphics can be seen in the remainder of the post.

71216

The Pens (Opened)

  • Pilot G-2 1.0, packaged in cardboard on the back and plastic on the front.
  • Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip, packaged in plastic (with cardboard inside, which didn’t affect the opening).
  • Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 Soft (pencils), packaged in all cardboard.

The Pens (Used to Open)

  • Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Point
  • Bic Clic Stic Pen (Yes, I too hate the name. Here’s what they forgot: k, k.)

1

Pilot G-2 1.0 (cardboard and plastic)

To start things off, I tested out each opener on my first package, that of the Pilot G-2 1.0 pens.

As seen in the pictures, the Pilot Precise V5 had some trouble breaking through the cardboard. I had to figure out the right angle and amount of force to apply to get it into the package, which took multiple stabs, as is visible.

Once in, not much changed. It was clear that I would be unable to use the nib on the Precise V5 to continue to open the G-2 packaging. In fact, once I gave up, I found that the Precise V5 nib had been bent due to the strength of the G-2 packaging (sending it to pen hospital, I’ll keep everyone updated).

After the failed attempt with the V5, I gave the G-2’s packaging a go with the Bic Clic Stic Pen (BCS for short).

The BCS, owning a rounder, more blunt nib, took a little more force to break the packaging, but once in, tore right through the cardboard encasing the Pilot G-2’s. See below for the action shots.

2813b3_1

Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip (plastic)

Packaged entirely in plastic (excepting the inner cardboard layer, which affected nothing), the Bic Ultra Round was much easier to open using the V5. The small, precise nib stuck through the wrapping almost immediately and made a smooth cut to open the entire package.

The BCS was much harder to use to open the Bic Ultra Round. Because of the less pointed nib, it was hard to get it to stab through the plastic, but once some tension was released it burst through the plastic. Unlike the V5, however, the BCS was unable to make a clean cut through the Ultra Round packaging.

14

b3_3

Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 Soft (pencils) (cardboard)

Working with just cardboard was much more challenging. Without any plastic to make the package easier to move, like the first two, both the V5 and BCS has trouble opening the Ticonderogas.

The V5 did nearly nothing, struggling to tear off the angled corner of the inner packaging.

The BCS, on the other hand, was able to to tear apart the cardboard in a ghastly manner to the extent that I was somewhat surprised and in shock due to the sudden force once the seal was broke (see video for a visual).

b3_2 5

What I Learned (And What You Should Know)

All in all, both the V5 and BCS worked fairly well to open the G-2, Ultra Round, and Ticonderogas. That being said, the V5 worked best to open the plastics and the BCS the cardboards.

From what I can tell, the above means that a finer nib (like the V5) works best on easily breakable surfaces (like plastic) and something more sturdy and thick (like the BCS) works best on tougher surfaces (like cardboard).

So, the next time you buy a package of pens (or pencils), make sure that you have a fine point nib or thick nib lying around, depending on if your new pens are sealed in plastic or cardboard.

What’s Next?

If you have any questions about my recommendations of how to open packages of pens with other pens, 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 next week!

The Proper Way to Open Up a Brand New Package of Pens

We’ve all been there. You’ve just splurged at your local art supply store and you can’t wait to open your brand new pens. Then it happens. You look down at the packaging and the realization overcomes you that you have no way of actually opening your treasure. You didn’t buy scissors and you don’t have a knife on you, so what was even the point of going to the art store? This is 2016, people. This tragic story must end, and I have your final chapter.

To get into the right mindset, I went out and bought three packs of new pens (well, two packs of pens and a pack of pencils (I needed them, I apologize, please forgive me)), pictured below. Then I took two different types of pens and went to work, using my pre-owned pens to open my new digs. An account of my journey with instructions and graphics can be seen in the remainder of the post.

7 12 16

The Pens (Opened)

  • Pilot G-2 1.0, packaged in cardboard on the back and plastic on the front.
  • Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip, packaged in plastic (with cardboard inside, which didn’t affect the opening).
  • Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 Soft (pencils), packaged in all cardboard.

The Pens (Used to Open)

  • Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Point
  • Bic Clic Stic Pen (Yes, I too hate the name. Here’s what they forgot: k, k.)

1

Pilot G-2 1.0 (cardboard and plastic)

To start things off, I tested out each opener on my first package, that of the Pilot G-2 1.0 pens.

As seen in the pictures, the Pilot Precise V5 had some trouble breaking through the cardboard. I had to figure out the right angle and amount of force to apply to get it into the package, which took multiple stabs, as is visible.

Once in, not much changed. It was clear that I would be unable to use the nib on the Precise V5 to continue to open the G-2 packaging. In fact, once I gave up, I found that the Precise V5 nib had been bent due to the strength of the G-2 packaging (sending it to pen hospital, I’ll keep everyone updated).

After the failed attempt with the V5, I gave the G-2’s packaging a go with the Bic Clic Stic Pen (BCS for short).

The BCS, owning a rounder, more blunt nib, took a little more force to break the packaging, but once in, tore right through the cardboard encasing the Pilot G-2’s. See below for the action shots.

2 8 13b3_1

Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip (plastic)

Packaged entirely in plastic (excepting the inner cardboard layer, which affected nothing), the Bic Ultra Round was much easier to open using the V5. The small, precise nib stuck through the wrapping almost immediately and made a smooth cut to open the entire package.

The BCS was much harder to use to open the Bic Ultra Round. Because of the less pointed nib, it was hard to get it to stab through the plastic, but once some tension was released it burst through the plastic. Unlike the V5, however, the BCS was unable to make a clean cut through the Ultra Round packaging.

14

b3_3

 

 

 

 

 

Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 Soft (pencils) (cardboard)

Working with just cardboard was much more challenging. Without any plastic to make the package easier to move, like the first two, both the V5 and BCS has trouble opening the Ticonderogas.

The V5 did nearly nothing, struggling to tear off the angled corner of the inner packaging.

The BCS, on the other hand, was able to to tear apart the cardboard in a ghastly manner to the extent that I was somewhat surprised and in shock due to the sudden force once the seal was broke (see video for a visual).

b3_2 5

What I Learned (And What You Should Know)

All in all, both the V5 and BCS worked fairly well to open the G-2, Ultra Round, and Ticonderogas. That being said, the V5 worked best to open the plastics and the BCS the cardboards.

From what I can tell, the above means that a finer nib (like the V5) works best on easily breakable surfaces (like plastic) and something more sturdy and thick (like the BCS) works best on tougher surfaces (like cardboard).

So, the next time you buy a package of pens (or pencils), make sure that you have a fine point nib or thick nib lying around, depending on if your new pens are sealed in plastic or cardboard.

What’s Next?

If you have any questions about my recommendations of how to open packages of pens with other pens, 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 next week!

*Updated* Solutions for Leaking Sakura Pigma Micron Pens and Other Damage

Editor’s Note: This post is an updated version of the post titled “Solutions for Leaking Sakura Micron Pens and Other Damage” that was published on The Pensive Penner on September 20, 2016. This version addresses a number of updates recommended by the advisor for this project including a clearer preview of the direction the post is headed in and more imagery to help understand the issues with some of the pens.


If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me and you love your pens. If you like your pens, there’s a good chance that you use them a fair amount, and that use might not always be on par with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Manufacturer’s recommendations you might ask? That’s right, some pen companies specify how exactly you should be using their products.

One of my favorite brands, Sakura, the company behind Pigma Micron pens, says, “Microns are designed to be used at a 90 degree angle,” because they are a cheap, disposable alternative to more expensive high-end pens. While they do retail for around $3.00, that small price can add up, especially when they’re not used in accordance with the exact recommendations.

This post will examine what exactly goes wrong with Sakura’s Pigma Micron pens when the recommendations aren’t explicitly followed, some alternative pen solutions, and a nifty way to use Pigma Micron pens while following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

img_4200I first ran into a problem with my Pigma Micron pens when I brought them across the country with me in early 2016. Upon my arrival, I found that several of my pens were leaking ink everywhere, making them nearly impossible to use. Wiping up the ink was only a temporary solution as the flow continued no matter what I tried.

Investigations on many other pen review websites, as well as Sakura’s, revealed that leaking Pigma Micron pens is an existing issue for many consumers. The Sakura website says the following in response to the question “Why is my Pigma Micron pen leaking?”

“Based on photos we’ve seen and descriptions we’ve heard regarding a leaking Pigma Micron pen, the source is the air vent collar located just below the silver tip of the pen. Under normal use, the air flows into the barrel through the vent area. The equalized pressure allows the ink to flow through the microscopic nib structure via capillary action. However, when the pen is unconsciously waved, tapped or spun in your hand while capped, the centrifugal force can cause the ink to come out of the air vent, which is the path of least resistance. Most people are unaware that they have used the pen as an outlet for nervous energy. We’ve seen people use their pen as a drum stick, wave it in their hand or use it as a pointer while talking, tap the pen on their desk while on the phone, unconsciously spin it in their hand, and swing it in their purses and backpacks. Centrifugal force can also be applied to the pen during shipping…” (more here).

If the above was a little too much text, it says that any excessive force can cause a leak in the pen coming from the air vent. This force can be from something as simple as rolling the pen in your fingers as you use it to waving it as a drumstick to the shipping of the pens (excuse me?).

leakingmicron1
Image courtesy of Sakura of America.

The solution that Sakura gives is to wipe the ink clean from both the pen and the cap, upon which the pen should continue to work fine. Of my many Pigma Micron pens that have leaked, wiping them clean has done nothing, so I took things into my own hands.

Back in June I sent an email to Sakura customer service and they told me that I could “carefully ship” my defective pens to them and they would inspect them and award replacements. They even promised to throw in a few extras to cover my shipping expenses (wow!). Being the lazy penthusiast (credits to a friend) that I am, I still haven’t gotten around to taking Sakura up on their offer.

Instead of mailing my pens in for replacement, I began searching for new options. While I still stand by Sakura and the Pigma Micron pen (especially with their excellent customer service), below are a few options for those of you looking for a new pen.

The Graphik Line Maker is an excellent and cheap alternative to Pigma Microns from the Derwent Pencil Company, retailing at about $3.00 a pen. While only available in three shades (black, grey, and sepia), the Line Maker is a sophisticated technical pen with nibs very similar to those of Pigma Micron pens.

A slightly less affordable yet higher quality pen is the Copic Multiliner SPwhich retails at about $10 a pen. The ink cartridges are replaceable for only a few dollars, making the light, metal casing of the pen a valuable accessory. The Multiliner SP writes a little more smoothly than the Pigma Micron and has excellent ink flow.

A third option can be found in the Superior Micro-Line pen which retails at under $3.00. While available in fewer nib sizes than the other pens mentioned, it offers excellent control and strong quality.

Each of the three solution pens mentioned above all share on distinct feature that Pigma Micron pens lack, no air filter. Sakura admits that the air filter is the cause of their leaking pens, something that becomes a non-issue with the other three options, as seen below.

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Despite finding suitable alternatives, I was determined to make my Pigma Micron pens work. With the advice from the FAQ section on the Sakura website, I decided that the only way to use their pens was to keep them at the aforementioned 90 degree angle and to not apply more force than the pen does on its own to the paper (a tip also mentioned in the FAQ section). Doing this was a challenge, but I eventually found a foolproof solution that only takes a little effort on the user’s end.

First, I obtained a clothespin and vigorously taped it to the edge of a table. Next, I inserted my desired Pigma Micron pen into the opening with the cap off and nib facing down. As seen in the picture at right, the setup is fairly simple and very doable.

Once setup, the application of the new clothespin/pen combo, the “clothespen,” is all that is left. To use the clothespen, I simply took my notebook in both hands, held it against the downward-facing nib of the pen, and applied enough pressure to the nib from the paper to produce writing. See the below GIF if you need any additional clarification.

Clothespen

If you have any questions about my recommendations of Pigma Micron pen replacements, or how to properly use the clothespen, 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.

*Updated* Sharpies: Good for Writing, Great for Accessorizing

Editor’s Note: This post is an updated version of the post titled “Permanent Fixtures: Reviewing the Sharpie” that was published on The Pensive Penner on September 13, 2016. This version addresses a number of updates recommended by the advisor for this project including references, consistency of reviews, consistency of font styles, and more clarity regarding the nature of this post.


The Sanford Ink Company introduced the Sharpie Fine Point black ink marker in 1964 and immediately revolutionized writing utensils. The Sharpie could write on nearly every surface, including glass, plastic, and wood.

The Sharpie line continued throughout the 20th century, expanding with the Extra Fine Point and Ultra Fine Point markers and eventually highlighters (sharpie.com).

While Sharpies may have changed the name of the game, they’re not always the best choice, depending on the application. To prove this, I tested a number of Sharpies on various surfaces, and then tested what else Sharpies can  be used for, other than writing.

The details:

Pens Reviewed

Surfaces Tested

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic (hard)
  • Plastic (soft)
  • Leather (baseball)
  • Glass
  • Styrofoam

The Sharpie Fine Point marker performed excellently on all surfaces. The clear, bold lettering left an imprint on every surface tested. There was a slight bleeding issue on the paper and cardboard, but that can be expected with a marker.

The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point performed quite well on most surfaces. It wrote excellently on the paper, cardboard, hard plastic, and baseball. It ran into problems with the styrofoam due to the sharp nib digging into the surface while writing, making it difficult to use. The nib glossed over both the soft plastic and glass, slipping occasionally, making it difficult to write with.

Being a pen, not a marker, the Sharpie Pen Fine Point was slightly less easy to use than the previous two. It wrote smoothly only on the paper, cardboard, and leather but all other surfaces caused trouble.

The Sharpie Highlighter was by far the poorest writing tool of them all, an obvious outcome, but it was able to highlight on most surfaces.

The Sharpie Silver Metallic possessed the largest nib of all, making it difficult to write with on almost every surface. It did turn out somewhat legible on both the paper and cardboard.

It became obvious that the Fine Point, the original, is the all-around best Sharpie to use with the Ultra Fine Point placing in a close second. The Pen, Highlighter, and Metallic are all usable, just for somewhat different applications.

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While Sharpies might write on an incredibly diverse types of surfaces, their uses go beyond simple dictation and penmanship. In fact, they’re quite useful for a number of cranial applications.

After careful research, I found that Sharpie caps can be used as hair clips and “clip-on” earrings. If you don’t believe me, see the photo gallery below.

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The Sharpie Fine Point, Ultra Fine Point, and Pen Fine Point caps work as excellent hair clips. That being said, multiple survey respondents said that the Ultra Fine Point was the optimal clip, offering the maximum clamping power without drawing too much attention.

The Ultra Fine Point also won out in competition with the Pen Fine Point for best clip-on earring. It was able to grasp the earlobe with enough force to remain in place and not pinch, while the Pen Fine Point stayed on, but caused pain from pinching.

If you’re asking why you would ever use a Sharpie cap as a hair clip or earring, I have answers for you.

I have witnessed many cases of someone using a Sharpie and their hair falls into their face, obstructing their view of what they are doing with the pen. The cap isn’t being used so it makes sense to use it to hold back those pesky hairs.

I have also witnessed times when someone arrives to a function and sees that the setting calls for earrings. With none on your person and Sharpies in your bag, taking out the caps to two of your Ultra Fine Point (or Pen Fine Point in a pinch, literally) markers and clamping them on your earlobes is a completely acceptable solution.

Sharpie caps can also be used as earrings for those without pierced ears as the cap simply clamps on, requiring no piercing.

If you’ve made it this far and think that I’m ridiculous for suggesting the use of a Sharpie cap as a hair clip or earring, think again. The majority of Sharpie caps are black, and black goes with everything, so there’s no excuse for this incredibly convenient device not working with any given outfit.

If you have any questions about writing, drawing, or decorating yourself with Sharpies, 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.