Friday, June 1, 2012

Sharpie Pens

My beloved Sharpie pens
I've been using Sharpie Pens almost exclusively for the last 10 months. My coworker Sarah bought a pack for work and I quickly appropriated 5 of the 6 colors pretty much right away as she became interested in other pens. (She held on to the orange, her favorite color, for a long time but eventually decided the pack should stay together, displayed in a tidy row on my desk when not in use.)

After I used the purple pen at work for a week, I no longer wanted to write with anything else, and bought a set for home. I have had different experiences with each set. First, the pen pack I bought for home only had 5 pens (no orange), but I was so in love I didn't care. Second, the home set seems to have grown little feet, because I currently only know the whereabouts of the black pen, which I am therefore keeping on a short tether. I thought the pen roll would help, but apparently there are ease-of-use issues associated with rolling it back up that need to be improved on. Fortunately the work pens are less adventurous and are all still reporting for duty.

The biggest difference between the pens at work and the pens at home, though, is the painted label on each pen. The work set, after several weeks of use, began to peel and flake, getting little paint chips all over my hands, which I frequently unknowingly transferred to my face. Time and again someone would say to me, "You have glitter on your face," and I would relate and lament the condition of my favorite pens, while rubbing my sleeves all over my face to loose the shiny paint chips. Some people, including myself, suggested I tape around the pen to keep the paint in place, but I have a weird thing about tape and chose to put up with the glittery paint chips instead. I considered sanding off all the paint entirely, but I never did because then I wouldn't know the pen color until I uncapped them. Eventually, I realized that the molting generally only occurred at the seam where the label doubled over itself. I used my thumb nail to scrape off what I could in this strip on all of the pens, and that reduced the "glitter on your face" comments tremendously. I only wish I had taken action on that sooner, as the bad paint job has been the most glaring downside to these pens. That just felt wrong because that isn't even a criticism of the pens' primary use, which is to write! But the home set never had this problem, so maybe it was just a bad batch?

The glitter maker
One other word of warning: I don't recommend dropping these pens on your desk, particularly point down while uncapped. On two occasions, this has led to splitting the tip, creating resistance to the previous smooth flow, as the sharp-edged shards drag across the paper. This recently happened with the orange pen, but that pretty much secures it as mine as Sarah would never put up with that. The green pen, however, met this fate early on, and with more disastrous results. Ink bled copiously from the tip, and my now-green hands quickly betrayed my clumsy mistake. Now would be a great time to point out that these pens, despite being Sharpie brand, do not use the same permanent ink as the quintessential product. But regardless, things got a little messy. Sarah and Becky, always practical, encouraged me to throw the green pen away, but I didn't, and hid it from them by wrapping it inconspicuously in a paper towel. It still had ink left to give and just needed a good bleeding out for a few months. Now he's back in the mix, with no more green leakage onto the fingers during use. For a time, I kept his paper towel bib handy in case of drool, but the green pen kept working for me, so I kept working for it.

But the ultimate reason I would nurse an exploded pen back to health and tolerate "you have glitter on your face" comments is because these pens write really well! They don't bleed through paper—another big departure from the traditional Sharpie you've known and loved anyway. And because it's a marker and not a ballpoint pen, it won't randomly stop inking in the middle of writing out a birthday card or recording an important thought. At worst, the color would just fade out. That's probably my biggest complaint with ballpoint ink pens: I have no patience for scribbling in the corner of the page trying to get the ink flowing again. I already have problems writing over letters that didn't turn out as intended—I don't need more reasons to demonstrate this neurosis.

The question now is how I should fill out my now mostly empty pen roll. Do I trust that the flaking paint was a fluke and stick with what I know? Or do I try out other similar pens, like the Pigma Micron? Because I could, I added a poll to the sidebar of the blog. Care to weigh in?


Jessica said...

I think you should buy the other kind of pen so that you can compare them for science!

MaTT said...

I think you should get this one: