Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shades of Tan

Left to right: Faber-Castell PITT Charcoal Pencil; Grumbacher Sketching Pencil; Pentel Hybrid Gel Roller in Gold; Pentel 120 A3 DX 0.9mm mechanical pencil (I used this pencil for years in high school and university, but it's fairly worn out now, as you can see around the grip section); bird clip and wooden button; Knock Knock Seriously? sticky notes; more buttons. 
Clockwise, from top: postcard of a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep; wooden buttons; a variety of wooden spools.

I'm not sure that "tan" is the best description of these colours, but whatever you want to call them, these colours are among my favourites, as unexciting as they seem.  Some people may go for the the bright colours and others for the sophisticated blacks and greys, but muted earthy tones like these are what I love.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monami Handy Highlighter

I never used to use highlighters.  But lately I've realized how useful they can be for organizing information.  I use several highlighters of different colours to break down my handwritten notes into sub-topics, which helps me to write blog posts and other pieces.  The latest addition to my highlighter collection is this Monami Handy Highlighter.  While it's not the most amazing highlighter, I was excited to try it because Monami is a new brand for me.
 


The Monami Handy Highlighter is what I would call a "marker-style" highlighter (no idea whether anyone else uses this terminology or not, but it makes sense to me) - a highlighter with a thick, chunky body that reminds me of a child's marker.  Maybe not what you want if you're trying to convey a sophisticated, mature appearance, but highlighters like these do stand out well in a crowded pen case or cup.

As always, highlighter inks never photograph well.  Imagine a pink that is brighter, and a bit darker.

The chisel tip is nice and firm.  It's wide enough to cover most lines of text, yet the point creates a line fine enough for underlining or even writing a quick note.  The colour is bright, yet not the fluorescent shade of some highlighters, making it easier on the eyes.  To me, the colour seems a bit darker than that of some highlighters (despite my photos trying to make it look the opposite way), but it is certainly not dark enough to make it hard to read through.


The colour shows up very well on a textbook page, with essentially no show-through to the other side of the page.  It also works well over different pen inks (after letting them dry for approximately 10 minutes).  The 0.7mm gel pen did smear slightly (it almost always does), but I like how the colour of the fountain pen ink still looks good, even through the pink highlighter ink.

Overall, this Monami Handy Highlighter is a fairly decent highlighter, although there's nothing about it (other than the different brand) that makes it stand out to me from any of the other similar highlighters.  I am, however, interested in trying one of Monami's other highlighters, the Essenti Soft, which looks great and which I've read some good reviews of.

Do you use highlighters?  What are your favourite ones?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Do You Clip Your Pens?


A recent comment on an old post brought to mind a topic I haven't considered before: pen clips.  Do you use pen clips?  If so, what do you clip your pens to?  As the commenter pointed out, the main purpose of pen clips is probably to attach your pen to your shirt pocket.  I suspect that this may be something that men do more than women; I've certainly never done it at any rate.

While I usually don't use the clips on my pens, in the past I have often clipped pens onto my notebook or clipboard.  This came in handy when I was taking notes and recording data in the field during university.  I needed to have my pen/pencil and clipboard (with the data sheet attached to it) accessible so I could easily and quickly write down observations and measurements, but I also needed to have at least one hand free some of the time to handle the measuring equipment.  So I simply clipped my pen onto my clipboard, held my clipboard under my arm, and I was ready.  I would use a similar method when taking notes in my Rite in the Rain notebook in the field.  I used a binder clip to hold my notebook open to the right page, and clipped my pen onto the book so that it was easily accessible when I wanted to jot down a few notes.

I've also found pen clips useful to hold pens in position in a pencil case, and in pen loops attached to ring binders and planners (such as this planner I was using back in 2010).

Although I don't often use pen clips today, I still like to see sturdy-looking clips (preferably metal) on the pens that I review, just in case I need to clip them to something.

So how do you clip your pens?

Friday, April 4, 2014

PaperMate X-Tend 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

Although the online pen community seems to be focused on fountain pens these days, I still feel thrilled when I come across a cheap, everyday pen or pencil that I haven't tried yet or seen before.  Even if it's just a PaperMate mechanical pencil, like this one, the PaperMate X-Tend.


While PaperMate is definitely not one of my favourite brands, the X-Tend appears to be serviceable.  The main thing it's got going for it is its grip.  The grip is fat and squishy and - best of all - tapered down to the tip, which is ideal for me since I tend to grip my pens and pencils close to the tip.  However, I'm not too fond of the slightly sticky texture of the grip, which also makes this pencil into a magnet for dust and lint.  (Seriously, you could probably use it as a substitute for a lint brush.)  But the grip is comfy, and I probably would have appreciated this pencil during some of my math and physics exams in university.

Look, it retracts!  I felt so clever when I figured this out.  Also, the disgusting linty grip.

I like that the eraser on the end is a decent size and not hidden under a cap (which can easily be lost).  I also like that the pencil is available in 0.5mm, not just 0.7mm.  And I like that you can retract the tip of the pencil into the barrel, a feature I only discovered while writing this review (could this possibly be the origin of the name "X-Tend"?).  But the paint on the barrel is of poor quality, with several scratches in it.  Over time, it will probably wear off completely.  Until then, it can match the linty grip and, since I find this pencil rather ugly-looking already, it doesn't really harm the appearance.


Overall, the PaperMate X-Tend mechanical pencil gets points for its grip (and bonus points for being able to retract the tip), but not for much else.  I'm still happy to have discovered it, though, since discoveries of new (to me) pens and pencils always make me happy.  I'm not sure if PaperMate still makes these pencils (I didn't see them listed on their website), but they seem to be still available in various places online - though they're probably not worth seeking out unless you really fall in love with the grip.

Related review: Alexa's Mechanical Pencils.

Monday, March 31, 2014

March Miscellany: The Pen and Pencil Edition

The theme of this month's miscellany is, you guessed it, pens and pencils.  Obviously I'm not too good at thinking up clever and witty blog post titles.  Oh well, here are the posts anyway:


That's all for now.  As always, I'll have more to say about pens and pencils and related topics next month!
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