Thursday, October 27, 2011

A New Focus?

I have found lately that my focus here at A Penchant for Paper has been changing.  I am becoming less interested in writing endless reviews of pens, notebooks, and other stationery items, and more interested in exploring the process of writing.  Although I still enjoy trying out new stationery items and sharing my thoughts on them with you, I find myself reaching more often now for my old favourites - the Pentel Slicci, the Pentel EnerGel, and my Rhodia and Quo Vadis notebooks - rather than constantly using new items.  I have accepted that I am not The Pen Addict and I no longer feel compelled to try out every single new pen that I come across.  Furthermore, I will be completing my degree in December; as school is the place where I use the majority of my pens, I doubt that I will be using as many pens in 2012 as I have been in recent years.  The act of writing remains very important to me, and I think that in the coming months my focus here may shift from the tools that we use for writing to the act of creating, whether it be of writing or of visual art (mandalas, drawings, art journals, etc.).

Don't expect any immediate changes, however!  I still have a number of pens that are waiting to be reviewed, so you can expect those reviews showing up sometime in the next month (I hope).  I also want your input: What do you like best about A Penchant for Paper?  What kinds of posts would you like to see more of, either here or in the wider blogosphere?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sharpie Gel Highlighter

I know some people who will fill an entire page of notes with highlighting in different colours.  Flipping through the pages of their notebooks is like flipping through a rainbow, as colours flash before your eyes.

I'm a bit more staid myself.  I like using different colours of pens, but highlighters?  Not so much.  In fact, I've never even reviewed a highlighter on this blog before.  That, however, is about to change.

Enter the Sharpie Gel Highlighter.

The Sharpie Gel Highlighter in all its glory.
One reason why I don't usually use highlighters is because I print out the majority of my notes for school on my inkjet printer.  And basically all traditional highlighters that I have used smear the ink of inkjet printers, even long after it has dried.  About a year ago, I heard about gel highlighters, which do not use ink, but rather a dry, "gel stick" that has a consistency similar to that of a wax crayon.  Supposedly, these types of highlighters did not smear any kind of ink at all.  Excited, I was eager to try one out.  Sadly, however, I couldn't find any gel highlighters in any of my local stores.

Not to worry, though, for this story has a happy ending.  I went back to Staples this year and discovered, to my delight, the Sharpie Gel Highlighter.

Please do not actually try to use the highlighter with the gel stick out this far.  It would probably end badly.
For the uninitiated, the "gel" of the Sharpie Gel is indeed similar to a wax crayon.  The material is probably completely different than that of a wax crayon, but it feels very similar when you drag it across the page.  As it wears down, the gel stick can be advanced by turning the dial at the bottom of the pen.  The pen body is chunky but serviceable, and oblong in profile rather than circular.  Most importantly, this dry gel stick does not smear any inks (unless, of course, you use it on ink that hasn't dried yet, but that would be rather foolhardy, wouldn't it?).

If you look very closely, you may see a tiny bit of smearing of the Papermate Gel, but that was because I was being impatient and the ink wasn't quite dry yet.  I warned you.
It does not even smear the ink of my inkjet printer.

No smearing, right?
However, just like anything else in this world, the Sharpie Gel Highlighter is not perfect.  In fact, it has a number of small quirks that could turn your love for it into something else entirely.  First of all, the Sharpie Gel is not for those of you who like your highlighter lines to be neat and precise (see above photo).  Because of the way the gel stick wears down as you use it, the lines of this highlighter tend to be erratic and unpredictable, ranging from wide to relatively narrow.  But I'm happy with that.  I like the surprise of never knowing exactly what's going to happen every time I put the Sharpie Gel to paper.  It makes me feel like I'm living on the edge (and yes, my life really is that uneventful).

I have also read many complaints about the crumbs that the gel stick leaves behind on your paper.  I have experienced this as well, as little bits of the gel stick cluster at the edges and ends of the lines on the page and stick to other papers, leaving me with unexpected spots of fluorescent orange appearing even on pages I haven't highlighted.  This is an issue, I admit it, but it doesn't occur frequently enough to make me turn away from my Sharpie Gel Highlighter for good.

If I had a macro lens for my camera, I could give you a really good look at these crumbs.  Unfortunately, I do not have a macro lens.
So in the end, the moral of this story is that, sadly, even Sharpie Gel Highlighters can't be perfect.

But they can be fun to use, and this one certainly is.  It is pleasantly different from every other highlighter I have ever owned, and takes me back to the hours I spent when younger colouring with crayons.  It doesn't smear any inks and will be sure to add some liveliness and colour to your writing.

If you're looking for a non-smearing highlighter, think you can live with the imperfections, and are willing to try out something a little bit different, then I would definitely recommend the Sharpie Gel Highlighter.  Just let your ink dry completely before using it, and life will be good.

Related reviews: OfficeSupplyGeek, Office Supplies Junkie, Serendipity Mommy, The Klauer Review, Rhonda Eudaly, Pens 'n' Paper.
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