Sharpies

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I have a strange fondness for Sharpies and have several at home, both fine and ultra-fine. I like their nice sharp line, smooth writing feel, and their permanence. This last quality has proven handy not just for writing but for covering bleach stains on a black hoodie and scratches on the arms of my sunglasses.

First introduced in 1964 (their logo still has a charmingly retro flair), Sharpies are the original permanent marker. In the last few years, I’ve noticed that the Sharpie range has expanded from the traditional black marker with a grey barrel and black cap to being available in a variety of colours with different formulations. The colours are great but what has really piqued my interest are the ones labeled “no bleed through”. Because that, my friends, is the Sharpies’ greatest flaw – they bleed through almost all paper.

So do the “no bleed through” Sharpies really live up to the name? The answer is yes! Same nice line and comfortable feel without the bleed through to the other side of the page.

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If Sharpie were a person, they would be a reliable middle aged man with a penchant for self-improvement and neatly trimmed hair that is dyed black. 

Pens vs. Caps

It is so rare to have an intersection in the Venn diagrams of topics for pen and paper blogs and hockey playoffs that I just had to do a bonus blog this week to share this funny illustration.

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Don’t worry, coming up on Sunday will be a fascinating post on G. Lalo Verge de France paper.

InkJoy Ballpoint Pens

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On the opposite end of the scale from fine fountain pens are the Papermate InkJoy stick ballpoint pens I bought a few years ago when Target was still in Canada. While there are fancier versions of these pens that are retractable and have grips, the whole pack of these ones were on sale for only a dollar. One of the nice things about inexpensive pens is that you don’t care if the cat knocks one off your desk and takes it to his secret hidey-hole.

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Cheap pens come with low expectations. As far as performance goes, as with many ballpoint pens, the ink does not always start flowing immediately but once they get going I do like their vibrant colours. They come in black, orange, red, magenta, purple, blue, turquoise, green, brown, and lime green. My favourites are the turquoise and purple. The black one is missing but as I recall the ink colour was unimpressive, more of a dark gray than a true black. You could find nicer black or red pens but the novelty colours are great.

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I haven’t had any serious problems with smudging, blobbing or leaking. I also like that there is no bleed through to the other side of the paper, even on relatively thin, inexpensive paper. In fact, these are the pens I use for my daily journal because the one I am using right now does not have great paper so fountain pen ink leaks through to the reverse side. Plus I like adding colour to the page. These colourful pens have a great fun for price paid ratio.

As for how they rate environmentally, they are lightweight and came together in a plastic bag so I give them enviro points for less packaging, although that is cancelled out by their disposability.

If these pens were people they would be a group of giggly ten year olds who love to pass notes containing copious exclamation marks.

UPDATE:  A reader pointed out to me that no pen needs to be disposable in Canada as there is a pen recycling program https://www.terracycle.ca/en-CA/brigades/writing-instrument-retail-based-brigade. While that is better than ending up in a landfill, I still think it is preferable to buy products you can reuse like fountain pens.

 

Fountain Pen purchased in Mexico

My faithful readers (yup, both of them) may have noticed that last week I didn’t end with a “coming next week” teaser. That was because I hoped I would be inspired during my trip to Oaxaca, Mexico for this week’s topic and I was not disappointed.

One day as we were wandering the streets of Oaxaca I noticed some pens in a shop window. I went into El Aguila Librería y Papelería (The Eagle Bookstore and Stationery), an old-fashioned stationery store with everything behind wood and glass cabinets. Through broken Spanish and charades, I was able to communicate that I was interested in a fountain pen that I could refill myself without a cartridge (cartucho). They showed me a lovely pen that only cost 200 pesos ($13.70 Canadian dollars in today’s exchange rate) that fills with a syringe action. The shop assistant filled it with some blue Parker ink so that I could try it out. Parker still seems to be a big name in Mexico because they made a big deal about showing me a Parker pen too.

There is no brand name on this pen but the nib says 18KGP which indicates that it is 18K gold plated, although it doesn’t really have a gold colour. The other letters on the nib may be BAXR but I can’t find anything on the internet about it so it is a bit of a mystery where this pen was made. The ball on the end of the nib makes it much smoother to write with than my flex nib Noodler’s pen. The slim design has a nice balanced feel for my hand. I probably would have chosen a different colour but it only came in black. My one other complaint is that the cap is very stiff to pull off.

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This post almost didn’t happen because my luggage was held up in Calgary but fortunately did finally arrive yesterday with the contents, including my pen, safe and sound.

If this pen were a person it would be an mysterious Spanish woman with perfectly coiffed hair who can wear high heels on cobble stone streets without wobbling a bit.

UPDATE:  I have continued to try to figure out the brand of my fountain pen and think I have discovered the answer. It seems to be a Baoer, a Chinese brand of fountain pens. There isn’t much information about the company except that the pens are inexpensive and work well.

Pilot FriXion Erasable pen

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I discovered this pen in the supply cupboard at work and wondered what it meant by erasable.  As a kid, I had an eraser that was half pink and half blue. The pink end was to erase pencil and the blue half was supposed to erase pen. What really happened is that you basically sanded the ink off the page, leaving behind at best a smudge mark but usually a hole in your paper. We have come so far with the Pilot FriXion erasable pen.

This pen has an ink that is chemically formulated to “disappear” through the heat created by friction when you are rubbing with the rubbery nub on the end. The theory is great but in practice you can still faintly see the writing after erasing. Still, the result looks better than crossing out or covering up with wite-out. DSCF1759

I had to try a little experiment to see if the reverse was also true. If the ink disappears through the heat caused by friction, would it reappear if it was frozen? I put my notebook in the freezer and it seemed that the writing started to show up again, but only slightly.

Style-wise this pen looks great. I don’t know why more pen manufacturers don’t add a bit of design to their pens. As for writing with, it has a nice light feel with a soft grip section to hold. The ink is more of a very dark grey than a true black and writes smoothly with no bleed through to the reverse of the page. However, Pilot does not recommend writing on the back of page when using these pens, because the heat may transfer to the other side, causing unwanted erasing. That didn’t happen for me.

If this pen was a person, he would be charming but a bit mysterious with a stylized tattoo on his arm and wearing a snug tee shirt.

Coming next week:  Handmade Paper Valentines