I tried a bunch of pens that promised an opaque fine white line on dark paper, and the only one that had an acceptable result was the Uniball Signo Broad. It was in a class of its own, superior even to markers (too chalky) and gloopy paint pens (hardly even work.)
I tried equivalent models from Sharpie (the water-based marker is too thick, and the metal-tube pen just doesn't flow well), Pentel (not remotely opaque), and Sakura (fine in a pinch.)
It wasn't perfect, though, and you'll have to write with more care than normal gel pens. In particular, the pigment dries fast on the ballpoint -- even as you write -- which can result in smudgy or lost corners or thin parallel tracks instead of the expected bold line.
I tried using it as white-out, too. It did OK over Pigma ink (not pictured), but was pretty rough over Higgins ink (below). Reinking over it with Pigma and Tombow pens was fine, but Higgins required a extremely light touch with a Hunt #102 nib.
UPDATE: My results comport with those of others! Here's Jetpens with a more exhaustive and illustrative roundup that nonetheless confirms that the Uniball Signo Broad is the best.
And here's a another roundup from Rachelle at Tinker Lab, which serves as an important reminder that craft store own-brand stuff is particularly terrible and that the best white pen is, you guessed it, sound the guns, stop the presses... the Uniball Signo Broad.
So, just get the Uniball Signo Broad [Amazon link]
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I've always hated Bic's cheap Cristal ballpoint pens as much as I've wanted to love them. An iconic example of 20th-century design genius, they are unreliable, ubiquitous, and produce a nasty debossed line even when they work. But look, everyone: they fixed it. Read the rest
Somehow having a 10-year-old around makes pens evaporate! These erasable gel ink pens are favorites.
We seem to lose a lot of pens. These fine point Pilot gel pens have become the ones to order for replacement. The ink really does erase, even after a trip through the washing machine. Very cool for anyone who folks who make mistakes.
Trust me, mistakes are made.
Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack (31472) via Amazon Read the rest
Meg Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. Its companion, The Book of Etta, is now available. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes like she’s running out of time.
As an author of apocalyptic fiction, I get letters from all over the globe from people who are more prepared for the end of the world than the average individual. Many of them focus on the more popular aspects of prepping: growing and/or storing food, conserving water and even building their own cisterns, and weapons training and storage to be ready for the worst. When I first started writing in this subgenre, I thought about my own odds of survival in the worst sort of worlds. Nobody really survives nuclear war, so I didn’t build a bomb shelter. I’m not the fastest of my friends, so I hope to provide means of escape for them by being tasty zombie food. But those slow apocalypses allow for me to examine what my own role might be in another kind of world. The question is: would writers still write? Could I, if I had the time?
In my second book, it’s been a century since Bic and Parker and Pilot shut down. There are no new pens and ink isn’t as simple as one might think. In most cases, it’s a complicated combination of pigments, fixatives, and preservatives. Read the rest
The Flexi-Pen is the writing utensil of choice in prisons because it can't be used to shiv someone. I bet it's fun to fidget with too. Amazon sells a five pack for $13.
The Flexi-Pen is made with a soft rubbery material that bends under the slightest pressure, making it nearly impossible to do lethal damage with it. It's as close to a stab-resistant, non-lethal weapon you can get, while still providing the subject with a workable ballpoint pen to write with.
It's ideal for use in interview rooms, holding cells, and in any prison or jail environment. You go to great lengths to confiscate any potential weapon when taking a prisoner into custody, so why would you want to hand him one afterward?
5pk Prison Pen Flexible Ball Point Writing Pen Tool - Non Lethal (Amazon) Read the rest
Doane Paper makes wonderful pocket-sized notebooks with paper that is fantastically compatible with fountain pens.
I absolutely love my Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks, but they are big and rigid. These 5"x7" Doane Paper pads have similarly awesome paper, and fit in casual clothes pockets, if you need small they also make 3"x5".
The paper is slightly off-white and is quadruled with a light blue. My Levenger, Pilot and Parker's all glide over the paper very smoothly, tho the Pilot Vanishing point definetly shows its "travel-ness" when compared to the Duo-fold. Ink gets absorbed quickly and only slightly bleeds through unless I write with a heavy hand. I tried various Noodlers and Parker Quink black. Noodler's Blue Nose Bear is almost the same color as the grid lines.
Doane Paper Large Utility Edition, 3-Pack Grid + Lines Memo Notebooks via Amazon Read the rest
Swiss "writing instrument" manufacturer Caran d'Ache and watchmaker MB&F collaborated to create the Astrograph fountain pen, an otherworldly pen with the astronomical price of $20,000. There will only be 99 of them produced and each includes a small, magnetic astronaut. Do not chew the cap.
This writing instrument is fitted with an ink pump, but may also be used with cartridges.
The pen nib is made from rhodium-plated 18-carat gold, available in size M...
The rocket-shaped pen body is rhodium-plated and either highly polished or sandblasted matt, or plated in ruthenium anthracite. The chequered pattern is made from anthracite lacquer...
The base of the "engine" is plated with ruthenium. The stabiliser legs, the joints and miniature ladder are polished, sandblasted, satin-finished and rhodium-plated.
The Astrograph (via Uncrate)
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This Pilot Parallel Pen ($8) comes with two ink cartridges (red and blue), but you can a box of 12 cartridges with different colors of ink for $7.
Here are some videos of talented people using this pen:
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When a regular Sharpie line is too thin, get a Sharpie King Size. When the King Size won't do, get a Sharpie Magnum. I bought a red and a black Magnum for a card trick deck (they also come in blue). It has a chisel point, and its easy to get three line widths with it. If you're an Amazon prime member, you can get one for $3.99.
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Martin Bolton made these gorgeous copper dip pens with lengths of copper pipe, standard nibs and thermoplastic adhesive. He doesn't seem to have any for sale, but I bet they're pretty easy to make with one of those wee copper pipe-cutting gadgets.
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Although there are many types of pens like this available, I decided to design and manufacture my own around an existing nib. The design incorporates a standard available component (the nib) and the re-implementation of waste material (copper tubing) in its assembly. The nib was manufactured in England and purchased locally in South Africa from a stationary supplier. The bodies of the pens are cut from copper tubing from the refrigeration industry (presumably). The copper is then polished to luster, which also removes any edge burrs. The design is straight forward - the nib fits into the copper tube, and gets bonded in place with a suitable thermoplastic adhesive. A test prototype has been in use for several months and proves successful. The copper will tarnish, which can be brought back to luster if desired, with a suitable brass/copper polishing compound.
For taking notes, sketches and generally just having paper with me that works well with my fountain pens, I've been using Fabriano's EcoQua notebooks.
The dot-ruled, staple bound sheets of 85gsm off-white paper work fantastically with my my favorite pens and inks. There is nearly zero bleed through or feathering, and ink dries fast. My favorite Noodler's bulletproof black and red-black are both bold and bright, though the red-black becomes distinctively more red.
I really the dot-ruled paper. It is a more subtle version of quad-ruled graphing paper, but helps me sketch and draw out ideas.
There is a lot of marketing hullabaloo over the environmentally friendly nature of these notebooks. I find this ironic, as we start with killing a tree, but appreciate it regardless.
Ecoqua Dot Notebook 5.8X8.25 Navy via Amazon Read the rest
Click, point goes out. Click, point goes in. Click. Click. Click. (Engineerguy)
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I've become a fan of Noodler's Heart of Darkness. This ink is blacker than black. Read the rest
I had to try this $5 knockoff of my favorite pen, the Parker 51.
The burgundy colored Parker 51 has been one of my go to pens for decades. Produced continually from 1941 to 1972, the Parker 51 launched with marketing declaring it "the World's best pen." Currently pens in good working order can command prices in excess of $100, so I had to try this $5 imitation, the Hero Extra Light.
Finish-wise the Hero is looks very similar to the Parker. The top of the cap is a bit more pointed and the Parker's translucent "jewel" is replaced with metal on the Hero. The band where the two halves of the pen fit together is also plastic on the Hero, rather than the metal ring on the Parker. The filling mechanism is nearly identical, as viewed. I have not disassembled the Hero, but likely will, at the very least it appears to be useful as replacement parts for the Parker.
In a writing test the Hero is most definitely not the Parker, however I've been writing with this nib for a long time. The Hero writes well enough, ink flows smoothly and I can certainly use the pen. I am not sure it'll ever acquire the same feeling in my hand as my authentic 51, even with years of use, but for $5 it is certainly close. The Hero strikes me more as a new pen rather than "just not a Parker 51."
If you want something super close to a Parker 51 but don't want to pay collectors prices, the Hero Extra Light is a good call. Read the rest
My sister is in town and she brought with her a 7-pack of Pilot Varsity fountain pens. Each one is a different color. I tried them out and love them. The ink flows smoothly and looks great in my notebook and even on cheap printer paper. Amazon sells the seven pack for $14, and you can buy 3-packs and single pens there, too.
Pilot Varsity fountain pens, 7-Pack Read the rest
Spanish artist Nuria Riaza creates magical ballpoint portraits. (via Hi-Fructose)
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