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Tiger Pens Blog

  • 7 Steps to Better Handwriting

    Handwriting is not a skill we practice much past school, especially now that most of our writing is done by keyboard. But, in certain circumstances, we still get judged by the quality of our handwriting.

    Handwriting

    Unless you’re a doctor, it’s important that your handwriting be at least legible enough that other people can read it. If yours needs a little care, try these tips to keep your lettering from looking as if it was done by a drunken monkey.

    GET THE RIGHT GRIP

    How you hold your pen affects how you shape the words on your paper. The tighter you grip the pen, the shakier your handwriting will become. The letters will take on a tight, cramped appearance. Hold the pen loosely and naturally between your forefinger and thumb, with the pen resting on your middle finger – not pressed into it hard enough to leave a mark. Hold the pen at a low enough angle that you don’t have to hunch to see what you’re right.

    IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE

    You should do your writing sitting straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance apart. Relax your shoulders and arms so that your writing arm can move smoothly and freely as your pen flows across the paper. Remember that writing involves your entire lower arm, not just your fingers.

    USE THE RIGHT PEN

    This should be a pen that has the right barrel size to allow you to maintain the proper hold and should have a comfortable grip where you can rest your finger and thumb. The ink should flow easily so that you don’t have to force the pen over the writing surface. Check out our article on selecting the right pen here.

    SLOW DOWN

    There’s no rush when you are writing by hand. That’s sort of the point of writing that way. You don’t get a reward for being the first person to the end of the sentence. Take the time to carefully form each letter before moving on to the next one. Focus on setting a slow, smooth pace that allows each letter to flow into the next without hesitation. Remember to close all letters.

    WATCH YOUR SLANTS AND SPACING

    One of the keys to neatness is uniformity. If you’ve ever served in the military, you might remember some instructor saying it doesn’t matter if everyone in the unit is wearing their boots on the wrong feet, as long as everyone is wearing them the same. Odd, yes, but the point is that consistency just looks better. Make sure all of your letters slant in the same direction, at the same angle and that there is a consistent amount of space between each letter.

    WORK ON YOUR MANUAL DEXTERITY

    Researchers in the UK found that children improved their handwriting by playing games that increased their hand-eye coordination. Practice tying knots, shuffling cards, pen spinning or anything else that strengthens fine motor control. Even video games can help – according to a US study, surgeons who play video games are less prone to make errors. If it can help them with something that delicate, it certainly can improve your handwriting.

    PRACTISE YOUR LETTERS

    Yes, it will make you feel as if you are back in school, but the only way to improve at anything is by doing it. You don’t have to sit down with a textbook and some lined paper like a schoolboy, though. Just make it a habit to handwrite grocery lists, notes to co-workers and family members, bills, whatever will give you the practice you need. You might even start writing in a journal. As you practise, remember to follow all the tips above.

    For more about good handwriting, we always recommend the handwriting guide at Paperpenalia.com.

  • Is STABILO the Best Pen for Children?

    A good pen for children needs to be comfortable for their small hands, be designed to encourage proper finger placement and hold and be fun to look at and use. There’s no doubt that the ‘move easy’ range from STABILO is all of those things.

    The ’s move easy rollerball pen is curved to fit neatly over a child’s hands. The pen also is made with finger grooves that automatically place the fingers in a natural, comfortable hold that helps prevent cramping while still allowing maximum control overn the writing tip.

    Stabilo Move Easy

    The range is available in several bright colours that children like (we’re partial to the orange and black model). And, with options like blue erasable ink, black ink and red ink for the pens, they’re suited for just about any type of schoolwork.

    The ‘move easy’ writes smoothly and evenly, so it takes little pressure to move it over the writing surface, making it, as the name says, easy for a child to use. In fact, we recommend the left-handed version for both children and adults alike.

    With all that, it’s easy to believe that the pen, as STABLIO boasts on its website, is “praised by teachers, approved by parents, loved by children.”

    So is it the best pen you can buy for your child?

    We certainly think it is an excellent choice, and since we carry the STABILO range, we would, of course, like for you to buy the ‘move easy.’ It wouldn’t make sense for us to sell pens that we didn’t believe were of the highest quality and performance.

    But there are a few other brands that also make excellent pens for children.

    German pen company Lamy produces the ABC, a cartridge fountain pen for children with a rounded, comfortable body made of maple wood and a non-slip rubberized grip. The pens are recommended for their smooth nibs and sturdy construction, capable of withstanding plenty of abuse from schoolkids.

    Another German product, Faber-Castell’s Schulfüller und Tintenroller – translates as School Filler and Ink Scooter, according to Babel Fish – is also aimed at children. This is a fountain pen with a contoured “grip zone” that encourages proper finger placement. It uses ink cartridges filled with erasable ink and has “windows” in the barrel to monitor the ink level.

    Schulfuller und Tintenroller

    Pelikan, yet another German company ( how did the Germans come to so dominate the children’s pen market?), offers what is probably the most serious competition for STABILO.

    Pelikan Griffix Fountain Pen

    The pen maker markets its writing instruments for children as the griffix learning system. It starts with a wax marker in pre-school, steps up to a mechanical pencil, then to an ink pen and finally to a “state of the art” fountain pen.

    According to Pelikan, each of them has:

    …a constant distance of the grip area to the tip of the pen, a unified size in diameter and the same length ratio of all writing instruments within the system. Therefore, learning a new holding position when switching to the next step of the system is unnecessary.

    The pens are designed, like the STABILO, with indentations in the grip area so that the fingers automatically go to proper positions. They also have a smiley face that points toward the child when the pen is held properly.

    Accessories include “fun buttons” that can be affixed to the shaft to customize the pens.

    With so much choice, what it comes down to is that it is extremely difficult to name one pen the “best” for children. As you try to decide what kind of pen is best suited to help your child learn to write, it’s important to remember that no single pen works for every child.

    The right pen is the one that provides your individual child with the most comfortable writing experience.

  • Pilot BeGreeN – The First Full Range of Recycled Pens

    Looking for simple ways to reduce your environmental footprint? They don’t get much easier than this: buying recycled ink pens from the Pilot BeGreeN line.

    Pilot Super Gel Ink Pen

    The BeGreeN range (no, we don’t know why the “n” is capitalized) is made from recycled plastics, but look and function just like standard Pilot pens and mechanical pencils. According to the company, the percentage of recycled materials in the pens is calculated by the weight, excluding replaceable parts such as ink cartridges or pencil lead.

    There are 20 products in the BeGreeN range, and the amount of recycled material in each varies by product. For example:

    • The Super Gel disposable stick rollerball contains 93.3 percent recyclables.
    • The Rexgrip retractable ballpoints contains 77.7 percent.
    • The Rexgrip mechanical pencil contains 71.9 percent.

    OfficeSupplyGeek applied his usual scientific method to a review of the Precise V5 BeGreeN. He dug up an old standard V5 so that he could see if the green model would perform as well as the non-recycled pen. Aside from noting a slightly broader tip on the BeGreeN, they functioned the same.

    He wrote:

    To my surprise there was absolutely no difference in the way that these pens write, they are both incredibly smooth, especially for a pen with such a fine point.

    While the pens get good reviews, some mention has been made of the fact that Pilot could do a better job of making it easier to get refills for its pens.

    OfficeSupplyGeek suggested packaging new pens and refills together, and a commenter on the Green Gear blog pointed out that the per-unit price of Pilot pen packs make it cheaper to buy new pens than to buy refills for them.

    But offering pens made from recycled materials is a great start. And, since they cost the same as standard Pilot pens, there’s no reason not to buy them instead.

  • Hands Hurting? Give These Ergonomic Pens a Try

    Sure, this is the computer age, but we all still use pens for just about every day for everything from taking customer orders to jotting down the grocery list. That can be painful sometimes for people with arthritis or repetitive stress injuries and those in professions that require a lot of writing by hand. Using ergonomic pens can help ease the discomfort.

    There’s no firm definition of exactly what an ergonomic pen is supposed to be or how it should look. The general idea seems to be that a good ergonomic design for a pen is one that allows the user to hold it in the gentlest possible grip and apply the least amount of pressure possible in order to write.

    That typically means a large body with a padded grip of some kind, using a rollerball or gel ink. Some are simply standard pens made larger, while others, as you’ll see, go in quite another direction.

    We haven’t tried every one of these pens, but these are some ergonomic designs that have consistently earned good reviews from pen users.

    • Pilot Dr. Grip: This retractable gel ink pen shows up near the top of just about every ergonomic pen list, probably because it is endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation for Ease-of-Use. And that’s for good reason. The soft rubber grip is a joy to hold, and the gel ink flows freely so that it takes minimum effort to move the pen across paper. This is a pen you can use comfortably for long writing sessions. Not a bad-looking pen, either. However, grime tends to stick to the cushion.
    • Dr Grip

    • EzGrip: This is another one that makes most of the lists. Designed by Dexter Technologies, the pen features a unique grip with a wide shelf of sorts – what the company calls a “comfort ledge” – where the tip of the index finger rests on top of the pen. Writing is accomplished by pushing gently on the pen to guide it. According to Dexter, a study by the Cleveland Clinic found that compared to other pens, the EzGrip takes far less pressure to use and is significantly more controllable. Arthritis experts Carol and Richard Eustice at About.com give the pen top marks. Uses Parker refills.

    (Note: While the company claims, in hyperbolic fashion, that the pen is the end of writer’s cramp, medical researchers have actually discovered that writer’s cramp is linked to brain abnormalities.)

    Update: We received a response from the makers of the EzGrip.

    Wanted to mention the author is referring to Dystonia, also known as Focal Dystonia, in which de Quervain's Disease is included as well. Our well founded claim - The End of Writer's Cramp - Guaranteed - still stands. We refer to the everyday cramping writer's get from holding on too tight -- an overuse or repetitive stress injury. A human frailty - not a brain abnormality. (just in case you may have it)

    • Paper Mate Phd: The plus for this retractable ballpoint is that it has a wide body, which always makes for a comfortable pen. However, the triangular rubber grip is slightly awkward, even though the edges are rounded so they don’t press too hard against your fingers. Paper Mate’s Lubriglide Ink makes for a smooth writing experience, ensuring that it doesn’t take much pressure to move the pen.
    • Paper Mate PHD

    • Bic XXL: This is one of the widest-bodied retractable ballpoints on the market. The fat, round barrel and foam grip make the pen incredibly comfortable to use. These are typical ballpoints, so they aren’t exceptionally smooth writers, although their performance is perfectly acceptable. Takes a standard Bic refill. Downside is that the foam cushion tends to dry out and get scratchy. Unfortunately, these pens are difficult to find in US and almost impossible to get outside the US.
    • Ergosof PenAgain: One of the oddest-looking ergonomic pens you’ll find, but that almost seems to be a requirement for ergonomically designed products. Instead of holding the pen in a triangle between thumb, forefinger and middle finger, you slip your index finger into the U-shaped opening and rest it on top of the pen. Depending on the model, the body is made of soft rubber or molded plastic. Most reviews seem to focus on how comfortable it is without going into much detail about how it writes, although there have been complaints about ink not flowing smoothly enough. The pen is refillable.
    • Ergosof PenAgain

    • Yoropen: Another ergonomic pen with a unique shape. The Yoropen has an adjustable tripod grip that is designed to keep your index finger from sliding down the pen into the classic – and wrong – pinch hold. Because the grip rotates, you can position wherever it’s most comfortable for you. (We also recommend this pen as a possible option for lefties.) Available in both standard ballpoint and gel ink. One word of caution: Be careful not to grip the pen too tightly, as that might cause hyperextension of your index finger.

    As you can see, we didn’t explore ergonomic fountain pens in this article, but you might want to check out “Voodoo Ergonomics” over at the Fountain Pen Network, where Jon does a pretty fair round-up of the most comfortable pens.

  • Uni-Ball - Kuru Toga

    The World’s First Self-Sharpening Pencil

    Kuru Toga

    The trouble with using a mechanical pencil is that the tip of the lead changes shape as you write, thickening from a fine point to a chisel edge. Words lose their crisp shape and lines get thicker, which is particularly problematic for engineers and others that need uniform lines. The Kuru Toga by Uni-ball is the first mechanical pencil to offer a solution.

    The Kuru Toga is designed to rotate the pencil’s lead by about 9 degrees each time it is pressed to paper. This wears the edges off the “chisel” as they try to form and instead rounds the lead into a cone shape, always presenting a sharpened writing point.

    The way it works is that the .5mm lead is held by  a toothed two-piece clutch. When the lead is pressed against the paper, the top portion of the clutch disengages from the lower piece and is pushed up. When the lead is lifted from the paper, the clutch twists and re-engages the lower piece. As the clutch twists, the lead rotates.

    You can see a brief cartoon of how the pencil works at the Uni/Mitsubishi Pencil website. It’s in Japanese, but you’ll still get the idea.

    Reviewers have been uniformly positive about the Kuru Toga since it’s release last year. OfficeSupplyGeek wrote that the pencil produced “the finest line I’ve ever experienced when writing with a pencil.”

    The always-brilliant Dave’s Mechanical Pencils blog shows some examples of writing done with the Kuru Toga that illustrate just how well it keeps its fine point, in most cases.

    One problem with the pencil seems to be the need to press down firmly and frequently lift the pencil off the paper when writing. For some users with a light touch who tend to write in uninterrupted lines, the lead may not rotate frequently enough, still resulting in chisel tips.

    Still, the Kuru Toga is an improvement over traditional mechanical pencils, and it would be worth your while to give it a try. You may find that it’s the best £5 you ever spent on a pencil.

  • The Pentel Breast Cancer Campaign

    A Good Cause: The Pentel/Breast Cancer Campaign Partnership

    Breast Cancer Campaign

    Pentel is up to something good involving breast cancer research, and we want to take a minute to tell you about it.

    Did you know that female breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the UK? As many as 44,000 women learn they have breast cancer each year, and more than 12,000 die from the disease, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics.

    While the mortality rate has fallen over the last 15 years, the rate at which women are being diagnosed continues to rise. That’s why researchers in the UK are trying to learn why certain treatments work, why others fail, and what they can do to increase the survivability.

    What’s this got to do with you? Well, dear pen wielder, you can satisfy your craving for stylish, useful writing instruments and contribute to the cause at the same time.

    Pentel offers a range of specially designed pink pens that benefit the Breast Cancer Campaign, an organization that funds breast cancer research across the UK. Every time you buy one of these pens, a little of that money goes to help scientists gain a better understanding of the cellular and genetic underpinnings of breast cancer and the possible cures.

    Pentel’s initial goal for Breast Cancer Campaign was £250,000 but so far the company has raised £312,000 – and Pentel isn’t done! The company is now aiming to hit £350,000 by the end of 2009.

    So, check out these pens and see if maybe there’s one you like.

    Pink Line Style ballpoint: Low viscosity ink for smooth writing with a .8mm tip. You can choose pink or the limited-edition violet model. Available with pink or black ink. For every one sold, 20p is donated to Breast Cancer Campaign.

    Line Stlye Pen

    StarGrip ballpoint: Comfortable rubber grip, .7mm tip, and a translucent pink barrel, so you can keep an eye on your pen ink level. Comes with black ink. Costs less than a pound, and 10p from each one goes to breast cancer research.

    Line Stlye Pen

    Mini RSVP ballpoint: Compact enough to slip easily into your purse, a pocket or a fold of your planner, and also has an eyelet so that you can clip it anywhere you want. Rubber grip makes it comfortable to use. For each one of these, 10p is donated.

    Line Stlye Pen

    Rollerball and Mini ballpoint set: The Rollerball lets you make a statement about your support for breast cancer research by writing it in pink ink. The Mini comes with black ink and is perfect for attaching to your keychain so you always have a pen handy. Buy the set and Breast Cancer Campaign gets 25p.

    Line Stlye Pen

    Mini Micro Correct: Everyone makes little errors. The Micro Correct helps you erase them neatly with its fine metal tip for precision correction. Of course, the limited-edition Breast Cancer Campaign models have pink barrels. Each one earns 25p for the campaign.

    Micro Correct

  • Do Fountain Pens Improve Childrens’ Handwriting?

    In the right hands, fountain pens produce some beautiful lettering, so it stands to reason that giving your child a fountain pen might be the right way to neaten the little one’s Ps and Qs.

    And it very well might. Then again, you might end up spending money on an expensive pen for naught.

    Continue reading

  • Pentel Clic Eraser

    Pentel Clic Eraser – The Eraser that Looks Like a Pen

    Pentel Clic Eraser

    The Clic Eraser from Pentel is a cool gadget that belongs in the desk of every person who does any sort of writing at all.

    Continue reading

  • How to Get Ink Stains out of Clothes

    It’s inevitable that, if you use pens, ink is going to end up on your clothing somewhere. If you get ink stains on your clothes, it’s not the end of the world. That favourite shirt or top probably can still be salvaged.

    The key is to treat the stain immediately before you wash it. Do not throw a stained item of any sort straight into the laundry. Once it’s been through the wash and the dryer, the stain is set into the fabric and is much more difficult to remove.

    Continue reading

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