Posts Tagged ‘pen’

Kickstarter: Baron Fig Squire Pen

Baron Fig Squire Kickstarter

After successfully launching their Confidant notebooks, Baron Fig has decided to tackle the pen market now too. Today, they launched their first entry into the pen market, The Squire. The simple design, aluminum pen is available in two finishes: silver and charcoal to match their signature notebooks. The Squire features a twist mechanism to reveal the pen tip and was designed to be small enough to fit in your pocket but long enough to fit comfortably in your hand.

The Squire is etched with the Baron Fig name and a sword, as in “mightier than a… ” All in all the design is clean and simple.

The Baron Fig Squire uses a Parker-style 0.6 mm fine capless rollerball refill so there are lots of options for modifying what type of refills you might use with the  pen.

The project can be backed for as little as $50 and the project has already been funded after being live for just five hours. There’s several other funding options, some of which include a special limited edition Confidant notebook too. You in?


Pen Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Nature Colors 6-colors Set

Staedtler nature colors triplus fineliner markers

First, I promise this is the last set of Staedtler Triplus Finerliner markers I will review because I have them all now. I couldn’t resist. That said, the Nature Set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners ($7.50) are probably my favorite set. It could be because they are the most seasonally appropriate here in the autumnal continental US right now. The set features Green Earth, Warm Sepia, Tuscan Red, Gray, Carmine and Mauve (which looks more like plum to me but I never think anyone names colors properly anyway). The gray in this set is actually a totally usable gray, unlike the silver gray in the Pastel set which is too pale to be usable for writing.

Staedtler nature colors triplus fineliner markers

Actually, I found all the colors in this set usable for writing and there is enough variation in color to create visual interest in note-taking to be interesting without being jarring. Sophisticated palette appropriate for nature sketches or just because.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliners feature the slim 0.3mm felt tip point, water soluble ink, triangular barrels, and ink designed to be able to be uncapped for long periods of time without drying out. The set comes in the fold-over plastic travel case which is sturdy and easy to use.

Staedtler nature colors triplus fineliner markers

Now, if Staedtler would just make a set of these markers with waterproof ink , I would be the happiest person in the world. But overall, these are wonderful and if you are not trying to combine them with watercolor or other water soluble pens or brushes, I recommend them with my highest praise.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details

Pen Review: Crayola Gel Markers

Crayola Gel Markers

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Instagram where a calligrapher was doing some amazing lettering on black paper and laying off to the side was the distinctive undulating line on the marker of the Crayola wedge marker but the marker was black. Why had I never seen one of these markers before and how was the ink standing up all opaque on black paper?!?!? I must know what this is and I must know now!!!!! Since I have access to the source that the Crayola catalog, I went hunting and discovered that the marker was a Crayola Gel Markers and I toddled myself down to our corporate store ASAP and purchased a package to test them out myself.

Crayola Gel Markers writing sample

There are only eight colors available in the set: a black that looks more dark grey than black, red, pink, yellow, purple, blue (aqua), green and white. While the color range is not super broad, the conical tip provides a range of line variation and they are actually a lot more opaque than I expected. The white is actually clear and dries white so it works best if used slowly so you can keep track of your strokes but all the other pens leave visible lines as you write. Going over the white lines will also create a more opaque white which was nice.

Crayola Gel Markers writing sample

As with all Crayola products, the pens are washable (which means they are water-soluble) and non-toxic (they may not taste great but you can lick them if you want to) so you can share these pens with your kids and they are also extremely reasonable priced. I believe I purchased my set for about $5 or $6 but I’m sure you can find them in a big box store for less.

Crayola Gel Markers writing sample

I think these would be great fun to use with coloring books or on construction paper and a fun way to practice calligraphy, address envelopes or generally spice up an already burgeoning pen collection without breaking the bank. Go forth and scribble!

While this post can be qualified as “plugging the firm” I purchased these with my own money and all the opinions expressed here are my own and are no way influenced by my place of employment.

Review: UniBall Signo DX 0.38 Hello Kitty Special Edition Pens

Uniball Signo DX Hello Kitty

I’m clearly catering to my inner 7-year-old this month. I saw the Uniball Signo DX 0.38 Hello Kitty Special Edition gel pens and the next thing I know, the whole color array was in my mail box. There are only five colors available: red, pink, orange, purple, green and blue and each sells for $3 (a $0.50 upcharge than the standard Signo DX 0.38 gel pens but KITTY!). The barrels of the pens are covered with Hello Kitty’s signature bows and feature the Hello Kitty logo and her face. Other than those little details, they are classic Uniball Signo DX gel pens with the rubber grip, metal cone above the tip, plastic clip on the cap and round, plastic barrel.

Uniball Signo DX Hello Kitty

The colors are clean and bright and easy to see. Its actually a great starter set of colors if you’ve never tried Uniball Signo DX pens before. The 0.38 width are my favorites and are great for writing on a wide variety of office papers like copies, planners, index cards and sticky notes.

They write smoothly and cleanly and are actually pretty water resistant. Safe enough for addressing envelopes and could be used in combination with water-based markers without making mud.

Uniball Signo DX Hello Kitty

If you are Kitty-averse, these same colors are available in the standard UniBall Signo DX UM-151 models in the 0.38 size. But c’mon, who doesn’t love Hello Kitty?

Review: Zebra Kirarich Glitter Highlighter and NaKniSweMo

Kirarich glitter highlighter

This may be a strange way to talk about a highlighter or the start of November but stick with me for a minute. The beginning of November for a lot of people means the start of NaNoWriMo. For many knitters, myself included, its the start of NaKniSweMo – National Knit-a-Sweater-in-a-Month. This is my seventh year participating and hopefully my seventh successful completion. I’ve had some fumbles over the years but there are seven well-loved sweaters in my closet thanks to NaKniSweMo so I’m willing to compete myself to the challenge again this year. No, its probably not as hard as writing a whole novel in a month but its good fun and a challenge just the same.

Kirarich glitter highlighter

And for me, it means that I need a good highlighter to notate my pattern and highlight the specific size I’m knitting. That’s where Zebra Kirarich Glitter Highlighter in yellow ($2.05 each) comes into the picture. I ordered it awhile ago and its become my go-to highlighter. Why? It’s glittery!!!! Its not so glittery as to be distracting. But I know its glittery. It will catch the light and sparkle and just sort of brighten my day. My highlighting is all of a sudden kissed by unicorns. Its totally ridiculous and twee but I’ve been having a rough few weeks so if glitter makes me happy, so be it.

The Kirarich Glitter Highlighters are also available in blue, pink, orange, purple and green. There’s a five pack set with all colors for $10 if you need ALL THE GLITTER or a smaller 3-pack with just the yellow, pink and green if you have a little self- control.


Kirarich glitter highlighter

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ask The Readers: Broad Nibs for the Vision Impaired

ask the readers header

Mark has a really great question, and I know that you, my readers, will have some great ideas for him:

I’m legally blind, and looking for a broad line. Currently, I use a Uni-ball Signo RT with 1.0mm refill. I’m considering the Ohto Fude Ball 1.5mm, Pilot VP with tuned broad nib, and Lamy 2000 with B or BB nib.

The Lamy BB looks nice and broad, but it has a reputation for QC issues. I’d love to see a line comparison between the Ohto Fude Ball and Vanishing Point in broad.

I tend to favor fine line pens so I’m not the best person to recommend broad nibs but that’s such a good option to help folks with vision issues. I’ve used the Kaweco BB nib and it lays down a THICK line. My instinct is that a European or US fountain pen with a broad nib, like most fountain pens, is going to have a broader nib than a Japanese pen, unless it is modified by a nibmeister.

Of course, the Nib Nook tool on Goulet Pens is a great to get a visible comparison between various B and BB nib options that they stock. Like this:

Nib Nook B and BB

In regards to gel pens, JetPens has a post on Broad Pens for its Penpedia that covers the pens it stocks from 1.0 to 1.6mm. There’s some good options there that will be both  broad and reasonably priced.

Does anyone have other thick line recommendations for Mark? Or some comparison images of some broad lines to share? If you include links in the comments, I’ll add them to the post. Thanks!

Ask The Desk: Tot Staples & MAGIC Erasers & Pens for the Signo 151


Jan asks:

Is there a replacement for the Tiny Tot staples?
I’ve had a red one most of my life and only have a few bars left. Please help it is the best thing for my small desk.

Oh, I’ve got you covered! I too collect vintage TOT staplers and discovered that JetPens stocks staples from Japan No. 10s that fit perfectly. They even come in colors. You can also do a search on the internet or Amazon for No. 10 staples and find other options.

Kimmar asks:

Are Koh-inoor Magic erasers  available in the US?

Sadly, I’ve not found a source for Koh-i-noor Magic erasers in the US but there are vendors on  Ebay that will sell them from Europe and ship them over. That’s how I acquired my last batch. Andy from Woodclinched placed an order and sent me a few. Maybe you can find a few other pencil/eraser enthusiasts online to go in on an order with you? Maybe through the Pen Addict Slack channel, FPN or other social network?

UPDATE: Our good friend Greer Chicago does stock Koh-i-noor Magic erasers but does not have many in stock currently. Grab them quickly or check back and I’m sure they will restock soon.

koh-i-noor magic erasers

Jairo asks:

I was wondering if you know a good pen holder (i.e, retro 51, Karas Kustoms Render K, ti2 tech… etc) for the refill of a uni-ball signo UM-151 0.38?

it does not have to be all metal, but an improvement over the actual body of the pen 😉

The UM-151 sized refill is the same as the Pilot Hi-Tec C so there are some options available for a good pen holder. Should you need to later refill the pen holder, that refill is listed as a  Uni-Ball Signo UMR-1 or UM-151. UM-153 and UM-100 will also fit.

There’s the Eco-Essentials Pen, the Karas Kustoms Render K, the Big I Design Titanium Pen, the Tactile Turn Mover, and the Pen Type-A for starters. The best option is to look for pens that say they will accept the Pilot Hi-Tec C refill for the widest variety.

Preview: Karas Kustoms EDK Exclusively from MassDrop (Plus Giveaway)

Karas Kustoms EDK

Have you heard about the Karas Kustoms EDK yet? The EDK is the latest machined pen from Karas Kustoms. As the name implies, this is pen designed to be your next everyday carry (or would that be “karry”?).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

This is Karas Kustoms’ smallest pen to date. It uses the same whisper-quiet retracting mechanism as the RETRAKT. The EDK is just over 5” and the pen is just under 0.5″ wide (not including the clip). When held with the clip up, the pen is quite comfortable in the hand.  The grooves in the body provide extra grip and give the EDK a unique look when compared to other pens in the Karas Kustoms line-up. The most notable difference is the pre-weathered, tumbled finish is the EDK. It looks like its been in your pocket or in the bottom of your bag for years from the minute it arrives.

The EDK will be available in Aluminum, Brass and Copper combinations with prices ranging from $55-$105 depending on materials. The brass and copper models are a smoother finish, the aluminum is the only model that’s tumbled (or if there are aluminum sections in the model you choose).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

The EDK compared with (from left): Karas Kustom 2-Tone RETRAKT, Karas Kustom INK, Karas Kustoms Render K, the EDK, Kaweco Sport in aluminum and a Kaweco Liliput

The EDK ships with a Schmidt P8126 refill, a standard Parker-Style refill and capable of taking most G2-style refills if they are trimmed down to fit which gives you a whole slew of refill options.

Karas Kustoms EDK

The EDK will be available through MassDrop on Oct. 26. You can vote now and be notified the moment these become available.

Karas Kustoms EDK

In the meantime, if you’d like a chance to win this EDK, leave a comment below and tell me where the EDK will go with you.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, October 25, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US Residents only.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Massdrop for the purpose of preview. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pastel Set

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

After my love affair with the large set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners I decided I needed more! So I decided to grab the Stadetler Triplus Fineliner Pastel 6-color set ($7.50). The set comes in a clear plastic case like the larger sets and are the same triangular shape and 0.3mm tips as all the other Staedtler Fineliners. The colors are water-soluble so plan accordingly.

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

In this set was a Light Carmine (pink), Peach (orange), Lime Green, Delft Blue (blue grey), Lavender (lilac purple), and Silver Gray. The only color that was a duplicate of the previous set was the grey which I was particularly disappointed about since the grey was so light in the original set. To clarify, the grey included in both of my sets was the silver grey not the standard grey pen (which is presently sold out on JetPens). The other colors can also be purchased individually for $1.30 per pen on JetPens if you want to pick and choose your colors.

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

However, the other colors more than made up for my disappointment in the grey. Particularly, the Lavender and Delft Blue colors. The Lavender is a smoky plum orchid color and is just lovely. The Delft Blue is a blue grey color and totally usable for writing or drawing. The Lime is a tiny bit too light for writing but would be fun for coloring in or underlining. The Peach is actually a punchy orange color and the Light Carmine is a soft dusty pink that is quite pleasing and not too My Little Pony pink.

Overall, I’m pleased with the set. The Delft blue and Lavender colors made me giddy because the colors were so unique in the world of colored markers. All the other colors in the set are fun pastels with the exception of the grey as well. I have a feeling I’ll just pull the grey out and replace it with a black Fineliner and then this set will make a great little travel pack.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Sharpie Pen Retractable

Sharpie Pen Retractable

Several weeks ago, I put a shout out on the internet asking if Sharpie made a retractable version of their Pen. Within minutes, I got replies back (all kindly withholding the urge to say “Duh, Ana! Of course they do!”). Indeed, there is a retractable version of the Sharpie Pen. So I immediately hustled out to my local big box office supply store and nabbed a pack of two. I only saw the retractable version available in black but do let me know if you’ve seen any of the colors available as well.

Sharpie Pen Retractable

Aesthetically, the most notable difference is that the Sharpie Pen retractable features a much wider barrel. The size in the hand is comparable to a Dr. Grip, multi-pen or biggie crayon as opposed to the capped Sharpie Pen which is just a little wider than a Marvy Le Pen.

This bigger grip is probably to allow room for the mechanism that covers the pen opening to keep the ink from drying out. Unlike a gel or ballpoint pen, felt tips cannot be left exposed to the air indefinitely or they will dry out.

There are a few other design modifications to the retractable model. There is a grippy rubber at the grip section which make the wider pen comfortable to hold. The clip is metal and much more traditional looking than the plastic clip on the capped model.

Finally, the retracting button is one of the longest retracting mechanisms I’ve ever seen. I compared it to the manual clutch on an old Toyota truck. The retracting button is full thumb extension for me like that old truck was full leg extension. Its not a good or bad thing, just unusual. If it lets me retract the tip of a Sharpie pen, I’m willing to suffer thumb hyperextension. It’l probably keep me from nervously clicking the button in meetings for fear of a repetitive stress injury.

Sharpie Pen Retractable writing sample

In terms of overall performance, the Sharpie Pen retractable has all the same features that made me fall in love with the original capped model: waterproof, non-toxic, acid-free ink; fine tip and good black ink color.

If you previously found the standard Sharpie Pen to be too narrow in the barrel or prefer retractable pens, the Sharpie Pen retractable is going to be the perfect upgrade. A 2-pack is $6.25 from JetPens. The price for the retractable is a bit higher than it is for the standard capped Pen but its worth it if you find yourself capping and upcapping your pen all day. Click, click! Done!

Pen Review: Sakura Ballsign 0.4 Gel Pens

Sakura Ballsign 0.4 pen header

I know, I know… I need more gel pens like I need a hole in my head but I decided I just had to try the whole rainbow of colors of the new-to-me Sakura Ballsign 0.4mm gel pens. These pens are Sakura’s entry into the already-heavily-fortified gel pen category with heavyweights like Uni Signo, Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Zebra Sarasa and many others. So, the question is what does Sakura bring to the category that the others don’t?

First thing to note is that the Ballsign pens are very slender with a bulbous grip section that has a grippy, elastomer material. Despite being odd looking, the shape is smooth and fits comfortably in the hand and the unusual grippy material is not as sticky and dust-collecting as silicone but still manages to feel good in the hand and counteract any slipping that might be caused by a tight or sweaty grip.

The Ballsign gel pens come in an array of colors. I purchased every color available in the small 0.4mm size which is the smallest tip available. There are neons, metallics and glitter options at 0.6mm and 0.8mm sizes. I will probably give some of those a spin based on my initial impressions of the 0.4mm gel pens.

The Ballgin gel pens are spring-loaded retractables and I quite like the mechanism. The tips are held in place pretty firmly with very little wiggle and the spring mechanism is easy to use. The clear barrels let you see not only the click mechanism and spring but there’s also a small transparent window to see how much ink is left. The top half of the barrel is painted in solid color to make it easy to find the pen you want.

Sakura Ballsign 0.4 pen set

The ten-pack set ($27) included: aqua blue (I labelled this Lt. Blue), black, blue, brown black, green, orange, pink, red, violet (I mislabelled this purple) and yellow. I also bought additional colors separately ($2.70 each) so that I’d have the full color range. The extra colors are: rose pink, cherry pink,  lime green, red orange, and blue. I mixed up all the pink colors immediately so I’m not sure which pink is labelled which way. Reviewing the samples on JetPens, I noticed more color differences between the pink and the cherry pink. The rose pink is the one I labelled “fuchsia”.

(Sidenote: I didn’t put the pens back correctly in the package because, like a kid, I dumped them all out and organized them in rainbow order and started doodling and writing. I do not have good impulse control when it comes to new office products.)

So now that I’ve cleared up all the naming inconsistencies, let’s discuss the performance.

Sakura Ballsign 0.4 pen color sample

The ten-pack set ($27) included: aqua blue (I labelled this Lt. Blue), black, blue, brown black, green, orange, pink, red, violet (I mislabelled this purple) and yellow. I bought the additional colors separately ($2.70 each): rose pink, cherry pink,  lime green, red orange, and blue. I mixed up all the pink colors immediately so I’m not sure which pink is labelled which way. Reviewing the samples on JetPens, I noticed more color differences between the pink and the cherry pink. The rose pink is the one I labelled “fuchsia”. So, now that I’ve cleared up all the naming inconsistencies, let’s discuss the performance.

The yellow is a bit too light to use for writing but all the other colors are very appealing. The lime green is also a little too light but its a bright, clean color so I’ll still probably use it. I love that they included the blue-black as a standard color in the 10-color set rather than the blue even though I like the blue color a lot. If I were to redo this order, I would still have bought the 10-color set but I would have only supplemented the basic colors with the red-orange and blue. The lime green is not the best and the pinks are all pretty similar. I’m not girly enough to need three shades of pink. But feel free to disagree.

Sakura Ballsign 0.4 pen writing sample

Each pen had the little globs of blue rubber on the tip to protect them from maybe drying out that I had to flick off. Once removed, these wrote super smooth and started immediately. I ended up finding the grip, despite looking sort of bulbous, are very comfortable to hold. I love the knock retractable feature.

I know folks love the Zebra Sarasa Clip clips but I’m kind of okay with the teeny tiny Ballsign clips. They keep the pens from rolling off my desk and since I don’t keep my pens in my shirt pocket, I don’t really need a big clip.

Sakura Ballsign waterproof test

At the last second, I realized I hadn’t done a waterproof test. Most gel pens are not particularly waterproof so I was going to skip it completely but I decided to test it anyway. I put a few Ballsign gel pens up against a few Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica pens I had sitting on my desk. And the grand differentiating feature was revealed! The Sakura Ballsign pens are pretty darn waterproof. After I took this picture I scavenged around and found a couple Pilot Juice and Uni Signo refills and tested those as well, for comparison sake. The Pilot Juice inks smeared with water like the Hi-Tec C. The Uni Signo refills bled a little, depending on color. The red more than the blue black I had, for example. But the Ballsign gel pens definitely stand out for water resistance in the gel pen category.

So, if you’re in the market for a wide variety of colored gel ink pens and don’t mind the comewhat unorthodox shape of the Ballsigns, I highly recommend them. Even if you do think they are a little wonky looking, add one or two to your next JetPens order and let me know what you think. I think you’ll agree with me… a little odd but a comfy, good little pen!

Review: Bic Intensity Marker Pen (Set of 7)

Bic Intensity Felt Tip Pens

When I spotted these Bic Intensity Marker Pens in a set of seven colors at my local big box office supply store, I couldn’t resist trying them out. Its not often that I spy something in the big box store that I can’t resist. I could tell form the moment I picked up the blister pack that this was Bic’s best efforts to compete against the Sharpie Pen so I needed to see for myself if it could hold its own against such a reliable tool.

Bic Intensity Felt Tip Pens

The Bic Intensity Marker Pens are listed on the packaging as smudgeproof and permanent. The package also lists the tip size as “fine” — equally vague sizing to the Sharpie Pen. The pack I bought included a black, blue, purple, orange, red, pink and green pen. The overall look of the pens is “shiny”. The black barrels are covered with zoom-y metallic silver graphics and the caps include a sturdy, metal clip. The clip is arched away from the pen cap which leaves space to attach the pen to a notebook or binder but it does make for a strange profile. The caps are also slightly metallic which wasn’t as noticeable in the vacform packaging. The ink colors are indicated by the colored plastic cap and the end cap on the pens. The colors of the plastic are not particularly true to the actual ink colors but they are in the ball park.

I don’t understand why American mass production, disposable pens have to be quite so “high tech” looking with lots of silver graphics and shimmery nonsense. Its a plastic marker pen, people… not the Space Shuttle. That said, this is not the worst looking big box pen I’ve ever seen.

Bic Intensity Felt Tip Pens

So, let’s get into the true functionality of these pens. I was a little thrown by the pen cap colors hoping that the colors of the ink would match the complexity of the cap colors. But alas, no.

Thankfully, the black ink is a pleasingly, dark black and a total competitor for the Sharpie Pen. The red is a bright, true red. The blue was not a traditional blue pen blue but rather a lighter sky blue. The green is a bluish, emerald green color. The orange is a nice, juicy orange and the pink is actually a bit muted and not as raspberry as the cap eluded it might be. And finally, the purple is a muted, lavender color. I actually really like this color after I got over the initial shock of the purple not being a true violet color. All in all, the color range is okay. Some colors I quite like but for a standard array of six colors plus black, I was expecting more “intensity,” as the brand name implies. In actuality, some of the colors are quite light or muted.

Bic Intensity Felt Tip Pens

Above you can see the wet, water test. No blurring or smudging at all which vastly improves these pens in my eyes.  Their waterproofiness means they can be combined with other art tools like watercolor, inks, pencils and the like and not blur. It also means they would be great for addressing envelopes or for anyone who might end up exposed to the elements. Big PLUS!

Bic Intensity Felt Tip Pens

And finally, a quick visual comparison of the tip size of the Bic Intensity to the Sharpie Pen and a Sakura Pigma Micron (0.3, I think). Despite my slightly fuzzy photo, you can see that the tip size is very comparable.

So, why would you choose the Bic Intensity pens over the Sharpie Pen or a Sakura Pigma Micron? First, availability. If your local discount store or big box office supplier stocks these locally, grab a pack. Second, price. The Bic Intensity is competitive to the Sharpie Pens and a little cheaper than Microns. If cost is a big deciding factor for you, than the Intensity pens maybe a little less expensive or on sale at your local shop. In terms of overall performance, you’ll be just as satisfied with these as Sharpie Pens. Finally, the more robust clip on the Intensity might be to your liking if you have ever snapped the clip off a Sharpie pen.

Let me know if you try these out. I’d love to hear what you like (or didn’t like about them).

From The Archives: Papermate Flair

from-the-archivesAfter attending Mike Rohde’s Sketchnotes Workshop, I rekindled my love for the PaperMate Flair. When we arrived for the workshop, each student was given a notebook and a PaperMate Flair. I hadn’t looked at or used one of these pens in a decade at least.

The PaperMate Flair is a simple, medium felt tip pen with a conical felt tip. The body of the pen is 100% old school. It has a softly tapered shape — wider at the center of the pen and tapering to narrow flat end at the cap. It doesn’t taper as much toward the end of the pen but the plastic has a matte look and feel. The cap has a slim metal clip.

This design probably hasn’t changed in 50 years. Actually, according to PaperMate’s web site, its only been 49 years! So its really a classic look and I’m so glad it hasn’t been changed.

PaperMate Flair Pen

While I have maintained an on-going love for felt tip pens, I have used mostly fine tip models like Sharpie Pen, Sakura Pigma Micron and Marvy LePen for the last few years. Uncapping the Flair is a trip down memory lane. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed using it after so much time. Its not the most elegant writing tool with its wide soft tip but it writes with a rich black line that makes labelling tags, file folders and other cases where a wider tip might come in handy. The Flair differ from the Sharpie marker in that they are not alcohol-based so the Flair do not bleed as much making them good for day-to-day office/school use.

The soft, felt tip will wear down over time especially on rougher surfaces. However, the Flair pens are reasonably priced. I bought a box of a dozen for about $10. So the shorter life span of these pens are too devastating.

I expect I’ll keep one tucked into each case and bag for writing notes and the occasionally doodle. They are just so classic and offer a writing quality that’s not available in many other pens.

The PaperMate Flair is also available in an array of colors (16, to be exact) and in an ultra fine tip which I’d be curious to find and try.

PaperMate Flair Pen

When left to dry for 10 minutes or so, the ink is fairly water resistant. But I do think it needs a little time to cure.

From the Archives is a series where I dig up old favorites, old classics and long forgotten tools and give them another look. Are they as good as I remember?

Review: Sharpie Gel Highlighters

Sharpie Gel Highlighters

In my recent wanderings in the local big box office supply store, I came across the Sharpie Gel Highlighters. I’d been meaning to try these out for some time so I grabbed a three-pack with one each of yellow, orange and pink highlighter.

Sharpie Gel Highlighters

The Sharpie Gel highlighters have an unusual oval shaped barrel that is actually quite comfortable in the hand and keeps them from rolling off the table. There’s a clip on the stubby little cap that is part of the molded plastic cap. The clip would probably accommodate a notebook cover or pocket but not much else as its not very substantial and might end up snapping off if forced too hard.

Once uncapped, I discovered that the GEL wasn’t the same as gel ink (like you’d find in a Pilot G2 pen or a Hi-Tec C) but rather a a solid stick of a gel-like material. I can’t even think of a good comparison — maybe something between a crayon and a solid antiperspirant? Anyway I try to describe it, its quite unique. Since its a semi-solid material, the more its used, it will wear down so the bottom end of the pens has a twist mechanism to advance the Gel to the end like a twist mechanical pencil.

Sharpie Gel Highlighters

Did I mention that the highlighters smell like gummi bears?!?!? I haven’t wanted to sniff a marker since those grade school “smells like blueberries” markers as I do with these Sharpie Highlighters. That said, theses highlighters really do what they claim which is that they do not smear when applied over ink. Not fountain pen (your results might vary here as I did not test every fountain pen ink available), not felt top or gel pens. Not even pencil. And once the Gel Highlighters are applied to paper, they didn’t smear either.

I really like that Sharpie has attempted to rethink the highlighter, especially in light of how often gel pens are used these days and how easily some inks are to smear with traditional highlighters. These are definitely worth seeking out next time you’re near an office supply store.

Did I mention they smell like gummi bears?

Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color Felt Tip Marker Set (& Giveaway)

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Review

I was recently let loose in Target during back-to-school shopping without any adult supervision. In my melee of shopping enthusiasm, I couldn’t resist buying the largest set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliner felt tip markers they had.

The set included an array of standard colors and six neon colors as well. The set came in a sturdy plastic case with a flip top lid that would create an easel stand. It reminded me so much of those wonderful 64-color boxes of Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener that I was helpless to resist. To an adult, fresh markers are just like a brand new box of crayons.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Writing Sample

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Writing Sample 2

The Staedtler Triplus series is notable for being quite long pens with a rounded triangular shape that makes them comfortable to hold.

I was surprised with how sophisticated the color palette was for this set including colors like a yellow ochre and rich reds and blues. These were certainly not watery kids’ markers in regards to the colors. The neons are lots of fun but the neon yellow is not dark enough for writing — maybe underlining or filling in shapes. Also, the grey marker was too light for writing but might be nice for drawing or coloring.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Review

The whole time I was using the Triplus markers I found myself comparing them to the Stabilo Point 88 markers I purchased not too long ago. There are a lot of similarities in regards to price as well. The Staedtler set cost me about $24 at Target while the mini sized Stabilo 18-color set was $15 from Jet Pens. Stabilo does make full-sized versions of the Point 88 markers which is entirely comparable in size, price and selection to the Staedtler Triplus markers.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner vs. Stabilo Point 88 0,4

The tips on the Stabilos and the Staedtlers are basically identical despite the numeric coding suggesting that the Stabilos are wider. I could not actually discern any difference in the writing samples I did. Colorwise, the two sets differed with the Stabilos having a wider range of traditional colors and the Staedtler having the wild neons instead. If you compare the Staedtler 20-color set listed on Jet Pens to the Stabilo 25-color set, the colors are very similar. The two sets are competitively priced ($25 and $22) but the Stabilo set offers five extra colors where the Staedtler set offers a more durable carrying case.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner vs. Stabilo Point 88 0,4

Sorry this photo is a little blurry. (too much caffeine!) But you get the gist.

While I really enjoy the neon colors in the set I purchased, I wish I had seen the 20-color set available on JetPens that does include a wider array of grey shades plus yellow, orange, and aqua which I miss in the reduced set I purchased.

Would you like to win a set of 20-color Staedtler Triplus Fineliner markers or a 25-color set of Stabilo Point 88 markers from JetPens? I’m giving one set of markers away to a lucky reader. Leave a message in the comments and tell me which set you’d prefer and what you hope to use them for to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, Spetember 17, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class. US residents only please.

Finally, for an awesome chart comparing several type and brands of colored marker sets, check out JetPens’ Guide to Choosing a Felt Tip Marker.

News: Creative Types on Their Favorite Tools

Illustration by Kulapat Yantrasast

Illustration by Kulapat Yantrasast

There’s a great article on the NYTimes about Creative Types From Manolo Blahnik to Milton Glaser on Their Favorite Writing and Drawing Instruments. Thanks to Milton Glaser, I really want my own Koh-I-Noor multi-colored Magic Pencil.

While we’re on the topic of the NYTimes and its love of articles about pens and pencils, here’s a couple others to check out:

Video: How It’s Made: Space Pens, Colored Pencils, Fountain Pens & More

I found a great collection of pen-and-pencil-centric How Its Made videos. Some you may seen but I thought this would make for great lunchtime viewing. Enjoy!

This next video is how Aurora Fountain Pens are made:

This is the manufacturing process of Caran d’Ache colored pencils:

This next video is in Japanese subtitles with no spoken dialogue but its how Pilot makes its fountain pens so I thought it would be fun to watch even without narration. The first eight minutes is all about how the nibs are constructed which is a little slow to watch but fascinating!

Review: J. Herbin CreaPen Pinceau Brush Pen

J. Herbin Creapen Brush Pen

J. Herbin has gotten into the refillable brush pen arena with the CreaPen Pinceau Refillable Brush Pen ($20). It features a long narrow barrel design like traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes. The entire barrel is plastic and has minimal branding printed in gold. The cap is a simple faceted shape with no clip.The overall design of the pen is plain and simple. It does not offend visually but its pretty average looking overall.

What was intriguing to me was the synthetic bristle brush. The Akashiya Sai watercolor brushes are one of my favorite brush pens and they also use the synthetic bristles so I was hoping the CreaPen bristles would be similar.

J. Herbin Creapen Brush Pen

The tip holds a nice crisp point and is very springy making it fun for brush lettering and drawing. The ink flow is dark and black and dries pretty quickly. There were no smudges on my writing sample which is pretty impressive considering how much ink I laid down on a hot, humid day on a large Rhodia Uni-Blank #18 pad.

J. Herbin Creapen Brush Pen

For me, the biggest surprise is that the ink is completely waterproof when dry. This makes the CreaPen and accompanying ink prefect for outlining work mixed with watercolors or other wet media.

The pen ships with three black ink cartridges that appear to be slightly non-standard in shape and feature a metal ball bearing in the cartridge. Packs of four cartridge refills ($8 per pack) are available in black as well as four other colors Since the black ink is waterproof, I suspect that the cartridge could be refilled with Platinum Carbon Ink rather than using the J. Herbin cartridges but I’m curious if the non-black colors are also waterproof. I’d also like to see if a standard cartridge or converter would work with the CreaPen as a way to use non-waterproof inks. If anyone has tried this, please leave a comment to let me know if it works.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

The Downside of Teaching Your Spouse to Love Pens

@goldspotpens @retro1951 we have ignition! #liftoff

A video posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

I don’t know where on the spectrum your significant other, spouse or children are on the “pen love” chart but I officially converted my husband to the joys of good pens about a year ago. As a result, certain items come into my house that I never, ever, ever see again. While I’m flattered that my pen-and-paper snobbery has rubbed off on him, I get jealous of the items he absconds with.

For example, the above video was the one and only time I saw the new Retro 51 Lift-Off pen. He showed me the rocket flare red cap and then it went in his pocket. To be fair, I totally bought the Lift-Off for Bob. I was able to garner from my quick peeks that the pen graphics are designed to read corerctly with the pen on its flat end, just like a rocket. Its apparent from the photos but until it was in Bob’s hand, I didn’t make the connection. And the bright red end cap does look like ignition burn red.

Bob also ran away with the Retro 51 Pinball edition. Which I was flattered he liked so much that he wanted it for himself.

He even checks out auction sites for NASA-specific Fisher Space Pens. I’ve yet to capture a good photo of it but he scored a mission-specific Shuttle launch commemorative pen with a space shuttle charm soldered to the pen cap. He loves this pen! See? He does not share his treasures! I’ve taught him too well.

(All I got for you is the Field Notes “stock photo”. You know as much as I do.)

Also, the new Field Notes Colors Edition Workshop Edition got as far as my kitchen table before Bob slid them to his side covetously. I wasn’t even allowed to open the cellophane. So, I need to order another set for myself. I cannot describe any aspect of the Workshop Edition other than it came in a cardboard box with a lovely postal label on it. I think I spied a magnet in a plastic bag as well. Otherwise, I’ve got no details. I can’t tell you how luscious the upscale paper is or which of the six editions I’m most likely to use first.

So, my advice, train your family and friends cautiously. They might run off with the new stuff before you even get a peek!

Pre-Order: Retro 51 Popper Lift-Off

Okay, now that I have already pre-ordered my Retro 51 Limited Edition Popper Lift-Off, its safe to tell you’all about it.

While other people get excited about the sports-themed Retro 51s, the nerds at Chez Desk get grabby hands for anything NASA or space-themed. Having just finished reading The Martian, I’m particularly excited about this limited-to-500 edition of the Retro 51, in all its Saturn V-inspired rocket glory.

Pre-order yours at Goldspot Pens for $35 and remember to tell them you heard about it fro The Well-Appointed Desk!

Review: New TUL Serious Ink Pens from Office Depot/Max

TUL Chest

The folks over at Office Max/Office Depot kindly sent me a new sample pack of the new and improved TUL Serious Ink products to try out. When they contacted me, I was expecting some blister packs of pens in a padded envelope. Instead I received this industrial-tough lunchbox with lock and key. Clearly, they are serious about this launch.

Pens in the TUL chest

Inside the aluminum box, in foam cutaways, were four sample tools (TULs?), one for each of the product types: a rollerball, a gel pen, a ballpoint and a mechanical pencil. They also sent along some rub-on tattoos that I forgot to photograph. It was quite the package!

The rollerball is the only capped pen that was included in the kit. The gel and ballpoint pens are both retractable and the mechanical pencil can retract not only the lead but the lead tube as well making it easier to transport and protect the lead tube from damage.

All the pens feature simple, clean design. The overall color schemes are black, silver and clear plastics. The barrels of the pens are plastic, painted with metallic silver and black paint. The cones that hold the pen tips and the mechanical pencil are metal expect in the rollerball.

The logos and graphics are minimal and minimal branding is really quite an appealing feature to me in pens. I find a lot of modern “big box store” pens have way too much text, graphics and branding on them. The TUL series is a nice antidote to this.

All the TULs feature silicone grips, or in the case of the mechanical pencil, the whole body is a soft matte rubber.  The rubber make all the TULs comfortable to hold but prone to collecting dust particles and pocket lint.

TUL Serious Ink writing samples

In writing tests, I was pleasantly surprised with all the TULs. Usually rollerballs choke on me and stop writing a few words into writing but I had no trouble using the TUL rollerball in medium (0.7). The black ink was dark and dried pretty quickly. The gel pen in medium (0.7) was also dark black and quick drying but a little bolder line than the rollerball. Both of these are also available in fine point (0.5) which I would probably love as both the gel and rollerball in medium were a little bold for my daily writing style. But otherwise, they are good “big box” pen options.

The medium (1.0) ballpoint was notably slippery on the Rhodia paper. On standard office stock, this feature would probably be a bonus but on super smooth paper, it felt like the pen moved faster than my brain. It didn’t skip as much as a standard office ballpoints which is a plus. I suspect the ink is closer to a hybrid ink than the traditional oily ballpoint ink. If you favor ballpoints, this would be a good option. A fine (0.7) tip version is also available.

The mechanical pencil writes comfortably with its fully rubberized body and features a retractable eraser on the end. I was curious as to exactly how long the eraser was and untwisted the whole thing. There’s a good inch or more of eraser that is twisted inside the pencil barrel. Very clever design! Spare erasers can be purchased online too. To be honest, the mechanical pencil was my favorite TUL. I even liked the thicker 0.7mm leads though I am inclined to try the thinner 0.5mm lead version as well, just to see. Pencils rock. Pencils with long retractable erasers rock even harder.

I forgot to photograph the water tests! The ballpoint is waterproof. The pencil showed no ill effects from the water but a softer lead might show a little blurring. The rollerball pen is considerably less water resistant than the gel pen. It surprised me a bit that the gel pen is more water resistant since gel ink is not often very water resistant but a wipe with a wet paint brush left a light grey halo but the lines I drew are still visible. The rollerball lines survived my wet paintburush but a lot more of the ink reactivated creating a much darker grey halo.  So if wet conditions are an issue for you, stick to the gel, ballpoint or pencil.

TUL Serious Ink Pens

I’m quite pleased with the overall quality of the TUL line. The writing quality and build quality was much better than I anticipated. Each of the TULs seems to be a house brand competitor to a brand name and I feel like I should probably do a  side-by-side comparison of the TUL version against the name brand versions, particularly the gel pen.  I suspect its supposed to directly compete with the Pilot G2 and the Pentel Energel. I think the TUL version is comparable but without doing a true side-by-side I can’t say for certain if the performance is exactly the same.  As for the rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil, the TUL brand versions are on par with other products in the same category. I think the mechanical pencils is particularly appealing with its retractable, extra-long eraser and rubberized barrel.

I will say that, aesthetically, I prefer the TUL pens and the prices are comparable to similar products. If I were stocking my company supply cabinet, I might purchase the TULs over name brands just for the minimal branding and visual simplicity.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Office Max/Office Depot for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pigment Pens

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Set

Technically, the full name for these pens is Kuretake Zig Memory System Millennium for Drawing & Scrapbooking but that is a mouthful. So, are we okay just calling them Zig Millennium Pens for the duration?

This set of five pens was recommended to me following my recent round-up of archival, pigment felt tip pens. Turns out the Zig Millenniums are budget-priced pens that offer all the same features of the more expensive brands and can often be easier to find in local craft and hobby stores.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Writing Samples

I purchased this set of five on Amazon for the rock bottom price of $6.56 with free Prime shipping. The set included one of each in 005, 01, 03, 05 and 08 sizes which is a perfect size variety for me.

The pens are a wide barrel silver plastic — just a smidgen wider than a Sakura Pigma Micron. The Zig Millennium pens are 5.375″ long capped, just shy of 4.75″ uncapped and the cap will post making the pen 6.375″ long. The clip is metal and reminds me of the clip on the Pilot Precise V5. The Zig Millenniums are only available in black ink but, with these permanent felt tips, I find I only ever reach for the black pens anyway.

I’ve been using these pens regularly for over a week and the points have held up to various papers including over acrylic paint, watercolor brush markers, and colored pencil without being any worse for the wear. I’ll be curious how well the points hold up long term and if the ink lasts as long in the pen as other brands.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Comparison

Colorwise, the ink is not as rich black as a Sakura Pigma Micron which is the gold standard at almost twice the price. Compared to other brands like the Copic Multiliners, Staedtler Pigment Liners and the Sharpie Pen, the Zig Millenniums are totally comparable in regards to how rich the black ink is. Actually, if I had to rank these felt tips by how rich the black ink is, I’d put the Zig Millenniums second only to the Microns, especially at the wider nib sizes.

With their wide availability and comparable pricing to Sharpie Pens, the Zig Millenniums are a great addition to your archival felt-tip pen collection, especially if you are looking for finer or broader nibs than are available in the Sharpie Pen.

Pigment Pen Comparison (AKA Archival, Waterproof, Felt Tip Pens)

Pigment Pens

Felt tip (aka, fiber tip, pigment pens, archival pens, etc) are some of my favorite writing and drawing tools. A couple years ago I did a Showdown of some of the pens I had in my collection but I thought it was time to take another look at these inexpensive and endlessly usable pens.

This time, I am comparing the Sakura Pigma Microns, Staedtler Pigment Liners (they discontinued their Mars Professional line), Copic Mutliners SP (same insides as the previously reviewed Copic Multiliners but in refillable bodies) and the Sharpie Pen.

What all these pens have in common is that they are all archival (acid-free) inks that are waterproof. I’ve been using all of these to draw as well as write and the waterproof qualities mean I can add watercolor, markers or paint to my drawings without losing the pen marks. These can also all be used for addressing envelopes with no worries that rain will obscure the destination.

Pigment Pen Comparison

Sakura Pigma Microns ($2.50 each):

The gold standard in archival, waterproof felt tip pens. Available in seven tip sizes and six colors besides black.

  • Plus: Best black ink of all the pens I’ve tested. Tried and true.
  • Minus: The ugliest beige pen barrel I’ve eve seen. The numbering system that Sakura uses on the Microns is wonky. All the other brands list the exact tip size, 0.3 = 0.3mm, but Microns have their own wonky math. The 03 Micron is actually 0.35mm. When selecting Microns, be sure to check you are getting the actual size in millimeters that you want. I prefer 0.3mm tips for most purposes so I have to buy the 02 Micron. Confusing, right?

Staedtler Pigment Liners ($3.30 each):

Available in five tip sizes, black ink only.

  • Plus: The set I purchased came in a plastic carrying sleeve.
  • Minus: The black ink just isn’t as black as the Micron ink. And the pens are slightly more expensive than either the Sharpie Pen or the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Copic Multiliner SP ($9.20 each):

Available in 8 different tip sizes in black as well as a brush tip. A dozen colors available but only in the 0.3mm size

  • Plus: These pens feature a refillable aluminum barrel. Tips can also be replaced. Widest range of tip sizes from 0.03mm to 0.7 plus the brush tip.
  • Minus: The pens cost over $9 each and replacement tips and ink refills are more than $2 each. So if you do the math, the cost of being more environmentally friendly by not throwing away a whole pen is exponentially higher. In the end, its probably a better value to purchase the standard Copic Multiliners rather than these.

The Sharpie Pen (approx $1.79 per pen):

  • Plus: Available in almost any office supply store, big box or drugstore in the US. Less than $2 per pen.
  • Minus: Only available in “fine” which is comparable to an 0.3mm roughly. If you prefer finer or broader, you’ll want to consider a different brand.

There’s one other brand that is frequently mentioned for archival pens and that’s the Faber-Castell PITT line. I was so unhappy with the PITT brush pens in the past that I’ve only ever tried these once. A four-pack of the felt tip models are $12.50 on Jet Pens so the pricing is competitive to the other brands. The Faber-Castell line guarantees lightfastness for 100+ years as well as acid-free, archival, waterproof ink so they are definitely a comparable option. I have seen these for sale in sets at big box hobby craft stores so these may be a good option for some folks who don’t have access to an art supply store or have a must-get-some-now need.

If you’re just starting out with pigment/felt-tip pens, I’d recommend starting with the Sharpie Pen. Just walk into your nearest office supply store, drugstore or big box and grab a couple black ones. If you want a super fine tip or a range of tip sizes, start with the Sakura Pigma Microns. To be honest, they will be the only ones you ever really need.

Pigment Pen Comparison

I tested a few of the colored ink variations but, to be honest, I almost never reach for them on a day-to-day basis. The best thing about these pens is the fine lines, dark blacks and waterproofiness. If you are planning to invest in a pigment pen, skip the colors and stick to black.The colors are very ho-hum. If I want color, I’d prefer to use Marvy Le Pens or my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners. Though neither are water resistant, the colors are more vibrant and interesting.

Even with the Sharpie Pen which I find myself using everyday for everything from sketches to grocery lists, I only ever want to use the black one. And this is the exact opposite to my reaction about all other pens and inks.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen 20-Color Set

Sai Watercolor Markers

My good friend introduced me to the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens when she brought an assortment home from Japan. I ordered several individual colors to try them out myself and loved them so much I went ahead and got a full set of 20 colors ($34.50). The pens originally came in reusable plastic package but I like keeping them in a jar where they are easier to access quickly. These brush pens feature a filament brush tip that behaves more like a real paintbrush than other felt tip brush pens. This creates a finer point and greater line variation.

Sai Watercolor Markers

The colors are both vivid and unusual like a bright, pastel sky blue and a more traditional artist-based yellow ochre. There’s a super pale apricot color that is fun to use for blending and a indigo-like midnight blue that I love. The 20-color set provides a wide variety of color options and I didn’t feel like any color was missing from the spectrum.

Sai Watercolor Markers

Colors can be altered, lightened or blended with water or each other to create more colors. I tested these pens on my standard Rhodia pad but on a watercolor stock, the inks could probably be manipulated and modified to greater effect.

Individual Sai Watercolor pens can be purchased for $3.50 each. There is also an assortment of pigment, waterproof “liner” brushes that can be used in combination with the watercolor brushes. The liner brushes sell for $5.25 each or a 5-color set for $24.75.

If you’re looking for a brush pen that can be used for calligraphy or art-making, these are totally worth the price.

Artwork to cheer myself up. #sai #watercolor #markers @jetpens

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.


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