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* 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.

img_4199

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.

Solutions for Leaking Sakura Pigma Micron Pens and Other Damage

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, pen companies specify how exactly you should be using their products. 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, 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?).

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 SP which 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.

img_4199

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.