Tag Archives: Pen Review

Staedtler Lumocolor 318 Permanent Marker – Review

Markers have come a long way since New Yorker Sidney Rosenthal’s invention in the 50′s. With a wide range now available for use on just about anything in the home, office or studio, from something as simple as labelling a few CD’s to art & graphic work there’s a marker for everyone.

The Staedtler Lumocolor 318 Permanent Marker is available in a choice of 8 colours including bright yellow, orange & violet along with a black & brown which are lightfast so no need to worry about your favourite sketch fading if left by the window. Should you need a marker for outdoor use the black ink is also weatherproof.


The Lumocolor has been around for over 60 years & some of its benefits include

  • Suited for use with overhead projectors
  • Smudge-proof
  • Waterproof
  • Quick drying – well suited to left handers
  • Low odour ink which is xylene free
  • Airplane safe
  • Dry safe ink (marker can be left uncapped for days without drying out)

These markers can easily be refilled by inserting the tip of the marker in the top of a Lumocolor refill station bottle, they will attract ink to a maximum level making it impossible to overfill. Once refilled Staedler say the marker will last for 3 to 4 hours but I’ve not been able to test this.

This Lumocolor 318 has a fine tip that writes around a 0.6mm line, I found it comfortable to hold & whilst my use was confined to writing I can confirm it lived up to the smudge-proof & waterproof claims. Other reviewers that have undertaken more artistic pursuits say the marker works well for handmade animation on celluloid & they are transparent enough to project the colour brightly as opposed to opaque alternatives that block light & appear black.


Uni-Ball Signo UM-120 Gel Ink Pen 0.7mm – Review

Since uni-ball engineers designed the first metal tipped rollerball in 1979 they have continued to produce high quality writing instruments to meet all requirements.

I usually opt for a retractable pen, as much for the clickability factor as convenience, but the Uni-ball Signo UM120 Gel Ink Pen is awaiting a review so I’ll see how it fares.


This stick pen contains uni’s renowned Super Ink, well known for its resistance to water, fading & chemicals making it tamper proof so not a popular choice with fraudsters. I found this smooth ink to be quick drying with not a smudge in sight unlike some gels, neither did it bleed through the page.

The Signo UM120 is available in 8 different colours including a vivid orange, pink & this light blue one I’m putting through its paces. The caps & end stoppers are colour coded with the ink & although the transparent barrel on mine seems to reveal a darker blue the end cap proves an accurate guide.

Having noted the 0.7 displayed on the cap I expected a medium tip to write a wider line, but wasn’t at all disappointed by the writing experience. This Signo was very light & fairly comfortable to hold even though it doesn’t have my preferred rubber grip. The slight step between the silver nose & raised area on the top section of the barrel did prevent my fingers slipping, having said that I’m not sure how long it would be before I tired being conscious that I needed to exert more pressure than I would with a more defined grip.

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Berol Finewriter Pen – Review

The Berol Finewriter is as the name suggests a good all round writing pen. It could also be used for sketching or drawing & the long tip would make it ideally suited to use with stencils & templates. This felt pen has a green plastic barrel with silver text displaying the logo, the end cap is colour coded with the ink & fits snugly on the barrel when posted.


The Berol Finewriter Pen in my hand has blue water based ink, it is also available in black, red & green. It’s comfortable to hold & whilst the grip section has very subtle, almost invisible, ridges by way of a grip section, it does stop my fingers slipping past the barrel.

The 0.4mm tip glides across the page & writes a very smooth line. I would be more than happy for this pen to be close by for everyday use & could as easily write a long letter as jot down a short note or shopping list. The lack of a pocket clip would probably dissuade me from using it away from the desk as I hate having to rummage through a bag of belongings in search of something to write with, preferring my pens to be clipped to a notepad for easy access.

Berol have a wide range of products including colouring & writing instruments, they offer great value for money making them a favourite with children & adults alike.

Staedtler Tradition Pencil Rubber-Tip – Review

In today’s world, it seems some people think that nothing is worth doing manually, armed with their smart phones & the like that perform with speed, electronic gadgets are their preference. Where creativity & brainstorming are required however there will always be those that turn to a pen or pencil.


There is also the case for looking after the environment, when it comes to the many gizmos we hold dear that are upgraded at a rate of notts, what about all that plastic that has to be disposed of? This leads some to conclude “a wooden pencil has to be much more eco-friendly” doesn’t it?

An time honoured pencil can always be found on my desk, with its distinctive black & red striped body & hexagonal shape, the Staedtler Tradition Pencil Rubber Tip is ideal for writing, sketching & drawing.

With roots back as far as 1835 Staedtler are one of Germany’s oldest industrial companies, they remain popular through their ability to innovate & develop their products, in their words living up to the description “efficient for ecology.“ The production of the Wopex is a prime example, using their unique extrusion technology the company have created a pencil from a natural fibre containing 70% wood sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Not withstanding our pursuit of innovation the Tradition Pencil is still sought after, it wears evenly is easy to use & sharpen with the added benefit of a handy eraser on the end. It’s made from
a special lead which is super bonded making it less likely to break.

I found the Staedtler Tradition to be very comfortable to write with, it was light in the hand, I can vouch for the strength of the lead as it didn’t break once (surprisingly as I’m know for being heavy handed with everything) & was probably thanks to it’s super bonded formula. The eraser also proved to be super efficient when required.

For me the Tradition is more appealing to the eye than it’s stable-mate the Norris & although its a few pence more expensive I recall rows of them in the stationary cupboard at school & in countless offices in the late 70′s & 80′s, not sure that would still be the case today, if anyone knows any different please let us know.

The humble pencil has been in existence in the lives of our ancestors for more than 300 years & with recent stats suggesting over 81% of Germans using them on regular basis & pencil sales increasing in the US looks like they’re here to stay.

Edding 400 Permanent Marker Bullet Tip – Review

Edding are well known for offering a wide range of top quality markers. Renowned for their expertise on the marker front for over 50 years, the company strives to solve problems through innovation providing products for a wide variety of uses.


Grouped into a number of categories that include Creating & Decorating, Colour & Play & Organising & Marking. The Edding 400 Permanent Marker comes under the Professional heading & is a permanent marker with a fine bullet tip.

This marker will write on pretty much anything you want it to including

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Ceramics

The ink has low odour & is free from xylene, a toxic solvent that can irritate the eyes & cause headaches amongst other things, as well as benefiting from being quick drying. Having a fine bullet tip meant I was able to create a few iffy looking stencils by way of a written example, art has never been one of my strong points as you will see! This marker is smudge proof (which I can vouch for) it’s also waterproof & lightfast. The tip is durable but can be replaced with 400N nibs, they can also be refilled with ink.  I did wonder if anybody does this as the marker is a reasonable price so I’d probably just get a new one.

Available in a wide range of 10 colours as well as the standard black, brown there are several bright shades like pink, violet & yellow to choose from which I think makes them as suited to art & creative pursuits as it does to marking work tools as demonstrated on edding’s web site.

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Pilot G2 XS Pixie Mini Gel Ink Pen – Review

Plenty has been written about Pilot’s popular G2, famous the world over for its smooth writing gel ink.

As I picked up a mini version in the Pilot G2 XS Pixie I was impressed to see that this little pen had the same comfy ergonomic grip section with the same barrel diameter as the standard version although the barrel is only 11.3cm in length & it weighs in at 118g.
This retractable compact rollerball has a 0.7mm tip writes a 0.39mm line & has positive push button with no annoying rattles, the sturdy pocket clip is the same as the full size pen.


Available in a choice of 8 colours Pilot claim “you will be delighted by the fluidity of its ink and the intensity of its colours” sadly this wasn’t my initial experience. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the performance of the little violet Pixie.

When putting pen to paper the ink didn’t flow, neither did the tungsten carbide ball glide across the page. Unfortunately rather than help me put the thoughts in my head down, I was distracted by the appearance of the text on the page finding it scratchy, skippy & messy.

Thinking about it & to provide a fair critique I suppose I do tend to scribble notes when preparing to review a pen & after completing my written review the page didn’t look too bad.

This is the type of pen I’d use if I had a small purse, bag or pocket space only, it would be fine for jotting a few notes whilst on the go but writing a manuscript would be out of the question.

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Uni-Ball Eye UB-185S Needlepoint Rollerball Pen – Review

The Uni Eye UB-185S is a liquid ink rollerball from one of the key players in the market. available with black, red, blue or green ink, I am using a green one & although the needle tip is finer than I would normally use I have been pleased with its performance whilst catching up with some overdue correspondence.


I still like to send handwritten letters, yes it can be more time consuming than firing off an email but I like the fact that I can pen a line or two anytime anywhere without being confined to sitting at a desk. I also find myself giving more thought to the content than I do when multi tasking at a keyboard, finding it hard to resist jumping from one screen to another.

The fine 0.5mm tip of the Uni-ball Eye UB-185S Needlepoint Rollerball writes a line width of 0.4mm, the pigment ink has all the benefits of Uni’s Super Ink

  • Water & Fade Resistant
  • Tamper Proof – once on the page ink can’t be removed
  • Quick drying as ink is low viscosity
  • Smooth fast fatigue free writing – due to unique ink delivery system

The pens barrel matches the ink colour, it is split into 4 sections, one is peppered with small dots another is transparent which enables you to keep a check on the ink level. The cap is solid green with a matt sprung chrome pocket clip with the length & flexibility to attach to a large notepad without breaking.

I found this to be an ideal everyday pen that was a pleasure to use.



Uni POSCA PC-5M Marker Medium Bullet Tip Review

Uni-ball have been creating a wide range of products for over a century. The POSCA range offer something for everyone when it comes to Arts & Crafts, from the full blown artist to the occasional hobbyist. The POSCA PC-5M Marker has a medium bullet tip that will produce a 2.5mm line.

Uni Posca PC-5M Light-Blue

These markers have long been a popular choice with Uni customers & have had continued success since 1983, so much so that they have a web site dedicated to POSCA. If you pay a visit you can expect to find news, competitions & a host of creative workshops. There are instructions for homemade magnets, kites, paper mice & much more, all designed to help everyone get the most out of the range.

The POSCA PC-5M are a multi purpose water based paint marker with pigment ink. There are diagrams on the side of the pen to get you started. Once I removed the plastic it took a while for the paint to emerge, I guess I got a little impatient as I made the mistake of shaking the pen vigorously without replacing the lid! The inevitable happened & paint went everywhere, this did however give me the chance to test the non-permanent claim.

I can report that the series of bright blue dots was easily removed from my hands & desk, it also came out of my clothing after a spin in the washing machine.


  • Write on most surfaces including fabric, glass & metal
  • The ink doesn’t seep through paper
  • Non-permanent therefore easily removed
  • Resistant to fading & water
  • Odour free
  • Useful for scrap booking, interior design, graffiti artists & architects. These versatile markers can be used for almost anything.

The POSCA PC-5M is available in a wide range of vivid colours, 33 to be precise.

Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Rollerball – Review

As the oldest manufacturer of writing instruments in Japan with branches throughout the world, its no surprise that Pilot have several collections on offer, one of which is the Frixion range. Known as the Frixion family they even have their own web site where you can read all about them including the secrets of the ink that allows you to correct mistakes by erasing & immediately re-writing without leaving a residue on the page.


One member of the family is the Pilot Frixion Ball BL-FR7, an erasable rollerball with a 0.7mm tip that can be refilled with BLS FR7 refills. These pens are available in eight vibrant colours, I am putting a blue one through its paces.

The eye catching design consists of a large silver pattern on the barrel reminiscent of a tribal tattoo. The cap hosts the branding along with a pocket clip, which is not very flexible & feels as though it could be susceptible to breaking with frequent use.

I like the fact that the Frixion Ball has a nice rubbery grip, it’s also well balanced & comfortable to use. My writing experience was positive, this rollerball is a smooth & easy to use. I have noticed that some people have criticised both black & blue ink colours as being too light, I can obviously only speak for myself & comment on the blue ink but didn’t have a problem.

Now on to the eraser, as I like to post the cap on my pens the fact that eraser was on the pen itself was a little annoying. That said, with cap removed & the eraser in action I found it did a sterling job, leaving no trace of text or debris behind. This proved to be the case not just on freshly written text but also on writing at the top of my page.

All in all a pretty positive review, I can see that erasable pens have a place. Ideal for the odd correction as it beats reaching for the tippex, although I wouldn’t want to rub out a whole sentence.

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Pentel Handwriter Pen – Review

Mention learning to write & I immediately think of children, but the fact is adult literacy classes are frequently advertised. I recently read that as many as 1 in 5 in the UK & almost half of Australians struggle with the 3 R’s, many argue that it’s down to teaching methods as much as anything else, but that’s another story.

Pentel Handwriting Pen - S575

With this is mind I find it interesting that many “handwriting pens” give the impression they are targeting children, their appearance suggests they’d be more suited to the classroom than the office. One exception is the Pentel Handwriter Pen – S575, it has a sturdy plastic 0.5mm tip which is as useful for those honing their scripting skills as it is for heavy handed writers like myself.

These pens are available with black, blue, red & green water based ink, they have a vibrant purple barrel with colour coded end caps & a small subtly placed tab at the top of the clip.

I have used a notebook for as long as I can remember, I don’t recall those early days of learning to write or making a switch from printing to cursive letters, so to my mind it can’t have been that difficult. When I want to record my thoughts the quickest way is usually to grab a pen & pour my thoughts out through good old joined up writing, so I’m saddened to see that in some areas of the education system at home & abroad cursive writing looks close to extinction as printing & computers are favoured. Although I love my iPad, it will never replace pen & paper, I think there is room for both & what will happen to graphology? Handwriting analysis can say so much about a person, oh well I suppose that’s what some call progress!

Pentel Handwriting Pen Written Review

Pentel Handwriting Pen Written Review

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Artline 541T Whiteboard Pen Dual Bullet Tip – Review

Whiteboards are ideal for note taking, making lists or training sessions at home or in the workplace, I suppose they have replaced the chalkboard in many situations.

Artline 541T Whiteboard Dual Bullet Tip

You’ll need something to write with  & marker pens come with various tip sizes, which brings us on to the Artline 541T whiteboard pen this slim high performance marker has dual bullet nibs, it can also be used on glass & porcelain surfaces, just remember these pens need to be stored horizontally when not in use. At one end is a 0.4mm polyacetal resin tip, the other is a thicker 1.0mm acrylic fibre. These pens have xylene free ink which is low on odour & won’t expose you to any of the harmful effects sometimes associated with markers, so no fear of irritation to the eyes or skin or even worse in extreme cases where breathing or the internal organs are affected.

Artline say they have have been helping things flow better for around 50 years, maybe it was down to me but I couldn’t get the fine tip to flow too well at all! I didn’t have a whiteboard but tested on a tile, the 1.0mm tip was perfect & could be erased easily with a dry cloth, maybe I’d not replaced the lid properly on the 0.4 end, who knows.

Whilst browsing the net I came across stickers that turn your laptop into a whiteboard & a portable dry erase board, that’s a perfect fit for a laptop bag, the Artline 541T could be a good match as the tips are relatively small compared to some of the chisel tips or wider bullet tipped pens & they are available in 8 different snazzy colours. I’m not sure how many people use these portable boards over a good old fashioned pen & notebook but I guess they save on paper!

Pentel Fountain (JM20MB) – Review

Pentel claim to have inspired much of the worlds writing instrument technology through their innovation. With its triangular delta shaped nib this disposable fountain pen has water based acid free ink, lets see how it fared.

Pentel Fountain JM20MB


The Fountain Pentel JM20MB has a sturdy masculine looking barrel which is predominately black subtly mixed with an abstract looking pattern. They are available with black red & blue ink, the former has gold hues, red & blue follow the theme identifying the ink colour in the barrel & also with accents on the pocket clip & nib.

Writing experience

This pen is described by Pentel as having a variable line width with a flexible response one side & firm feel on the other. I didn’t know what I would make of this, with no clue of what a delta nib was & limited experience of fountain pens. The way I write is not something I generally pay too much attention to but I’ve decided that my style of writing could be described as any which way as I twist & turn the pen whilst willing the brain to catch up & unscramble my thoughts.

Initially I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this triangular shaped nib. A few words in however & the text changed leaving an even scruffier looking sentence than the norm. The smooth writing experience I had been expecting didn’t happen. The more I concentrated on the process of writing the more exhausted I felt & I prefer to put my grey matter to better use.

Pentel don’t define the line width produced by this plastic nib, in practice it varies depending on the angle at which you hold it & the pressure applied. FP fans will be used to the different effects the choice of nib size, ink & paper have, the Fountain Pentel can produce two different looking styles of writing without having to change the nib.

The double sided delta shaped nib on the Pentel Fountain pen does produce a noticeable difference depending how the pen is held, although subtle you may be able to see in the written example.

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Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen 0.7mm – Review

Pentel make it their mission to develop pens that offer a satisfying writing experience & I found that the Slicci Gel Pen definitely delivered on this.


Given a choice I will usually go for a medium tip, considering the Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen has a 0.7mm tip I expected it to produce a wider line than it did. This is not a criticism however, this pen was lovely to write with, the ink flowed smoothly from the metal tip & was quick drying laying down a neat 0.35mm line without a smudge in sight.

Something I’m not so sure about is the barrel, it is shorter & slimmer than the average pen & the grip section is made up of a series of small raised plastic ridges which just don’t cut it for me when writing for any length of time, give me a squishy rubbery panel any time & I’m happy. The transparent body allows you to view the ink level which could prove useful if you’re working on a project with anything other than a bog standard colour as you may not have a substitute to hand to finish the job.

Pentel Slicci Gel Pens are available in 8 colours including sky blue, pink & orange, I am using red ink which is bright & vivid. The ink is acid free making the pens handy for scrap booking as its less likely to fade over time. They can be bought individually or in packs of 12 & eco warriors will be pleased to note that they are made up of 87% recycled materials.

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edding 751 Paint Marker Fine Bullet Tip – Review

Paint markers can be used on many different surfaces, they come in a range of different tip sizes & could be likened to a stick of paint.

edding 751 Paint Marker

The edding 751 can be used on almost anything, including glass, plastic, metal & wood, these markers are:

  • Extremely hard wearing
  • Resistant to high temperatures
  • Waterproof
  • Quick drying

Paint markers generally leave a heavier more opaque mark than inks & they stand out on dark surfaces. The edding 751 needed a good shake & several pumps on a hard surface to get it going the first time it was used. These paint markers have a specially regulated valve to ensure a steady flow & the pigment ink oozes through the bullet tip. The harmful health effects associated with some chemicals are limited as the edding 751 doesn’t have any added toluene & xylene that can lead to headaches, nausea & irritate the eyes & nose.

The 1-2mm bullet tip makes the 751 paint marker suitable for writing on storage boxes, decorating mirrors, glasses, cups, they are also used in the automotive industry. I’m sure that artists & crafters could think of far more projects than I can, but you get the idea. These edding paint markers are available in 14 colours, as well as the usual suspects black, blue & red there is a vibrant pink, violet, silver & gold. Available individually & in packs of 10, when the tips are past there best they can be replaced so you won’t be wasting any ink.

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Uni Shalaku M5-228 0.5mm – Review

Although Uniball don’t have a wide range of mechanical pencils they do have something a little different in the Shalaku which has a clickable button on the side to advance the lead.

Uni Shalaku M5-228 Mechanical Pencil

The Uni Shalaku M5-228 Mechanical Pencil is available in 3 colours, it has a 0.5mm Nano Dia lead & an eraser. The lead contains carbon based nano particles that Uni call “nano-diamonds” this gives it strength & enables smooth writing.


The Shalaku can be purchased with black, blue or pink barrels. I have what they call blue, but the overall colour is more mauve to my eye. The pocket clip is a definite blue as is the housing that holds the eraser, but that’s all IMO. The barrel of the pencil appears to be split in 4 panels, 2 being a transparent violet, the others are matt plastic in a lighter more lilac shade. This is not unattractive just not “blue”.


As far as writing goes, the lead lives up to expectations in that it is durable & left a smooth line of text. Whilst the clickable side lead button was convenient & a simple way of advancing the lead, I found it got in the way when in use as I found my thumb kept resting there. However, if you are taking shorthand or writing enough notes to need to keep advancing the lead I can see it would be a benefit. The eraser proved effective when used in a circular movement.


The Uni Shalaku does what it says on the tin, has a strong lead & is convenient to use at an affordable price.


Stabilo “S move” Be Wild Rollerball Pen Review

Stabilo are a leading manufacturer of writing instruments, working with agency partners around the world. They started to focus on making themselves the brand of choice for the young in 2004 & the “S move” Be Wild is part of a collection of limited edition rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils & highlighters with bright animal print designs aimed at “trend & fashion conscious girls”.

Stabilo "S move" Be Wild Rollerball Yellow Olive

The Stabilo “S move” Be Wild Rollerball has a chunky barrel that tapers towards the tip providing a resting place for the fingers. These pens are available in 3 different patterns. The yellow & olive print has a removable yellow cap & tassel, the barrel is a mix of plain olive & animal print in both colours. Maybe I’ve been reading too many good old elf & safety rules but whilst the cap may not be a problem for 8 or 9 year olds that might not follow for younger siblings wanting to get in on the act & join in the fun of writing.

If the reviews are anything to go by children seem to like these ergonomically shaped rollerballs, they generally give the thumbs up to the removable accessories, although one youngster found the tassel annoying as it touches your hand when writing.

I didn’t find the S move particularly comfortable to write with, I agree with one reviewer that the tassel was a bit annoying & also missed a defined grip section, having said that my fingers didn’t slip, the tapered section saw to that. The performance was fine, the 0.5mm tip produced a smooth line of text & the blue ink, which is non erasable by the way, was a nice sharp colour.

The Stabilo Be Wild range is available until the end of the year, my only thought is that the ”S move” may have been more practical with a retractable tip.

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Uni-ball Signo UM120-SP Sparkling Silver Gel Ink Pen Review

People have collected labels, newspaper clippings & greetings card for generations, the tradition of scrap booking is said by some to go right back to the seventeenth century.

Uni-Ball-UM-120SP Gel Ink Pen

Today you can find a huge number of tools, pens & markers for arts & crafts. As you would expect from a leading manufacturer for well over a century, Uni-ball offer a number of markers & pens including the Signo UM-120 SP, a gel rollerball that is available in a range of 8 different sparkling colours.

These pens contain a pigment ink that is waterproof & fadeproof writing a smooth line. The medium tip is tungsten carbide making for a durable & solid writing experience, although I found myself having to re-do some of the text exuded from the silver ink pen as it was sometimes difficult to see, even on dark paper. The Uni-ball Signo UM-120 is also available in sparkling gold, orange, blue, green, pink, red & violet. I didn’t have any of these to hand but its very likely that this issue won’t affect them in the same way.

Members of the Arts & Crafts movement established in 1888, had to content themselves with brightly coloured wallpapers & the like to fill their albums, in 2014 we are spoilt for choice when it comes to creative pursuits.

If you are anything like Mark Twain, apparently an avid fan of scrap booking, such was his addiction to the pastime he dedicated Sundays to the hobby, you may well be adding this sparking gel pen to your collection.

Artline Garden Marker Review

As the Chelsea Flower Show gets underway its hard to imagine a summer without it. This year our eyes can feast on the labours of a large number of newbie designers exhibiting for the first time.

Artline Garden Marker

I’m no expert in the garden & as I sit in the welcome sunshine searching for inspiration in my tiny plot on the landscape, what better time to write about an Artline Garden Marker.

Designed especially for use outdoors these markers have black ink that is

  • Quick Drying
  • Fade Resistant
  • Low Odour
  • Xylene Free
  • Alcohol based

Artline are renowned for their markers, they make high quality products at competitive prices The Garden Marker has a fine bullet tip that will write a 0.8mm line on plastic, wood, glass & metal. It can be used for labelling your fruit & veg pots & containers or anything else you come across in the garden for that matter.

I pondered over how many seeds I’d need to plant to be able to recreate the scents that fill the Great Pavilion at this popular function hosted by the RHS, well I can dream can’t I?

Held over 5 days in the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital in South West London, this gardeners delight of an event is about to play host to 550 exhibits, over twice the number that entered the first show way back in 1913.

These pens are free from Xylene so any dizziness or fatigue that you may feel after using this Artline Marker is more likely to be from over exertion with a fork & spade than the fumes from the pen! They also comply with RoHS guidelines so you won’t get any nasty surprises from hazardous substances.

Blog post finished & armed with my marker I think I’ll go off & plant a few seeds.

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Pentel Energel XM Retractable Pen Review

I think it’s safe to say that not all predictions come true. The most obvious are the various prophecies of the end of the world. Then there’s the paperless office, whilst George Pake was proved right when he had an inkling that we’d be able to “call up documents from files on the screen” & be getting mail from a “TV display terminal with a keyboard” we still seem attached to the good old pen & paper. If my recent experience with a Pentel gel is anything to go by I for one won’t be giving up on handwriting anytime soon.

Pentel Energel XM Retractable Pen

The Pentel EnerGel XM is a retractable gel pen with a 0.7mm metal tip writing a 0.35mm line. This is what I’d call a chunky pen but it remains light in the hand. The grip section is rubberised & is split into 4 vertical panels with rows of grooves that do a pretty good job preventing the fingers slipping. The barrel has a metal look, its silver with a colour coded panel displaying a logo & is home to the metal pocket clip. These Liquid Gel pens are a available with a choice of black, blue, red or violet ink.

Pentel’s high performance ink technology provides a fusion of liquid & gel inks in these pens, it is also acid free & quick drying, making them popular with lefties. The writing experience was positive, the nib glided across the page producing text with not one blob or smudge to be seen. I’ve written before of my habit to frequently click the buttons on retractable pens, this one moves firmly with no annoying rattles.

Like so many companies today Pentel are committed to producing environmentally friendly products & the Energel XM is made from 54% recycled material (excluding the ink & refill).

A paperless office is not something I’m likely to achieve but given that the Pentel Energel is refillable & recycled for now my conscience is clear.

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Yoropen Ergonomic Pencil – Review

Bao Shen Liu, had already won 30 awards & had experience as an inventor spanning 20 years as an inventor before he’d even thought about Yoropen.

Yoropen Pencil

Inspired by his young daughters & observation of writing problems due to poor grip, visibility & posture as well as particular difficulties that lefties faced led to further research. The result was Yoropen, a series of ergonomic writing utensils to reduce strain & aid handwriting.

The Yoropen Ergonomic Pencil has a lightweight plastic barrel with a soft rubber grip that can be rotated to change the angle of the head to suit the individual, making them suitable to both left & right handed users. These pencils contain spare leads, neatly concealed in the barrel. The blister pack that the pencil comes in shows a “how to” diagram with instructions for changing the lead.

Like this

  1. Just pull the white used lead body from the blue tip.
  2. Place the used lead piece into the white end cap, this will advance a new one so its a good idea to keep the nib end of the barrel covered as lead will fly out. N.b. this looks & is straight forward once you realise that some force is needed in order to advance the new lead.
  3. Replace the lead by pushing it into the blue section.

The way that the Z tip is designed leaves the writing tip vertical to the paper yet still allows you to hold the Yoropen pencil at a sloped angle as you would an ordinary pencil. It’s also said to be easier to see what you’ve written, provide better support for your finger which lessens the chances of getting writers cramp.

These pencils are available in 2 lead sizes, giving a choice of 1.8mm HB or 2.8mm 2B. Spare graphite leads are available in tubes of 10, alternatively there are coloured packs of 3.

The Yoropen has picked up an array of international awards & given the benefits to children, left handed people as well as those with writing difficulties due to conditions like arthritis & dyslexia

I’m in no position to criticise. As I’m fortunate not to have to consider any of the above conditions & am a few decades over the 6 + age guideline these pens & pencils are said to help, I can only comment on my findings, they are that I found the pencil distracting to use & as for the eraser, it is very flimsy & after trying to remove one word it disintegrated & was rendered useless.

There are a bunch of people that obviously don’t agree making comments like:

  • “It’s great For the first time my granddaughter was able to see what she was writing. Much neater presentation on the page”
  • “Fab!  Brilliant, that there is now a pencil that makes drawing diagrams so much easier, can’t believe the difference it has made to my son’s school work!!!! ”

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