Ahhh the age old question. What is a gel pen?
To be completely honest with you, before I starting the process of making these pens I genuinely had no idea what the difference between normal pens and gel pens were. My encounter with gel pens was limited to the clear bodied, glittery coloured ink gel pens I used to draw with and borderline huff when I was a kid (please take that for the joke it is - THEY WERE SCENTED OKAY!).
As a lot of you would know I spent many an Instagram story consulting my loyal story watchers on what features they loved and hated when it came to pens. I combed through every little detail, asked for all the opinions and feedback and took it all on board when designing m pens. Naturally people were SUPER split on the types on pen they used, you can't blame them.
There are ballpoint pens, gel pens, fountain pens, and god knows what others are out there... it's genuinely confusing since they all kinda do the same thing right? After a lots of deliberation between myself and the IG jury, it was between the gel rollerball pen and a ballpoint pen. The gel pen obviously presented a stronger case and won, but I discovered that people either passionately LOVE gel pens or passionately HATE them haha. I think the hate/love comes down to many conflicting factors, so this is why I am here to convince naysayers, educate newcomers and to offer insight on the whole gel pen thing.
So here is the honest tea, no bullsh*t, straight up facts on gel pens.
The most important topic...
The general reason people aren't besties with gel pens because the ink is typically prone to smudge.
This is partially true yes, but there are a lot of factors that contribute to smudge and I'm going to address them because knowledge is whaaaat? POWER!
This might sound weird but hear me out. Anything and everything takes longer to dry in cold environments; that is straight facts and of course also applies to gel ink (duh💅🏽). So if you're in a super cold room or the surrounding environment is a tad freezing, it's highly likely your ink will smudge because... science lol. Combat this by using the pen in mostly warm environments! Also you'll probably be less likely to experience smudge in summer unless you're occupying a freezer in which case, why are you journaling in a freezer you weirdo, get outta there.
If you drag your palm across the paper when you write, I hate to break it to you but you have poor hand posture my friend. But I do this myself, so I fully accept that I also have a lazy wrist. We should start a club.
But it makes sense right? If you don't drag your hand across the paper, there is no smudge?! It's like magic.
So in other words, practice your hand posture skillz and the smudge beast shall be tamed.
Another unlikely explanation; PAPER! If you thought pens were confusing, you should meet their bestie 'Paper'. There are so many different types of paper it truly makes me question the motives of trees (they just secretly want to take over the world; to which I happily bow to my tree overlords). I don't know if this even makes sense, but it's funny so I'm keeping it in this post.
Anyways, paper makes a huge difference when it comes to gel pens! Different types of paper have different levels of absorbency. I guess the best example I can give is art paper and the way it holds watercolour paint; it just absorbs it and doesn't sit on top. The same kinda works for gel pens; it needs paper that's mildly absorbent.
You're probably thinking, WHY WOULD I EVEN BOTHER? THIS SOUNDS TOO HARD! But obviously when businesses design things they don't always give a lot of thought to the type of paper they use for their products. And I get it, it's kind of an overthought because paper is just paper right? Well, wrong. I've learned differently over the years and thankfully my journals keep absorbency in mind so this is a perfect place to use gel pens!
Some examples of paper that might not work with gel inks are shiny/coated papers. The sleeker the surface, the less the ink is likely to sink into the surface and stay put.
This is a hard one because you don't know until you try, but hey, I'm just the messenger giving you the facts. Just like the weather, I can't control the paper you use.
Fun fact: Gel ink is a water based ink. It's really not that fun of a fact but I wanted to make it sound fun. I hope it worked. I also really wanted to make a joke on what sort of water sign/Zodiac a gel pen might be, but I fell short on the joke and will let you fill in the gaps there. Astrology nerds, do your thang.
So what does this mean? Basically the water combined with the other ink materials make a thickened, luscious blend that makes gel pens so smooth to write with. There's more science behind this but I'm not a scientist and there are other blogs on google that explain this way better than me lol. Leave it to the professionals imo.
One of the most annoying things a pen can do when you are writing is skip. And then you need to keep writing over, over and over again just to get it working. UGH, the worst!
But the good thing is that I have some tips that should cure your pen of this illness.
Tip 1: Make sure you store your pen so the tip is facing down. This ensures that the ink is always flowing to the nib. Soak the nib of the gel pen in hot water 20-30 seconds.. YES THIS SOUNDS ODD but it helps dislodge any hardened ink that has formed and blocked the nib.
Tip 2: Give it a little tap tap. Sometimes air pockets can form inside of the cartridge (same lol) and you need to give it a little burping. You can do this by taking the cartridge out of the casing and gently tap the cartridge on a nearby surface. Make sure to hold the tail end of the cartridge and that the tip is facing downward when you are tapping. Stop tapping when the gap disappears.
Just a reminder though; GENTLE TAPS ONLY. Pen abuse is not tolerated around here. Your pen license will be revoked if any inappropriate behaviour is reported. You also don't want your cartridge to explode.
To help keep your pen flowing smoothly, be sure to always store your pen so the tip is facing down. This ensures that the ink is always flowing to the nib.
Also, try not to drop your pens too frequently. Apparently it can disrupt the ink or something. I don't know much more than that or why it does this, but it's just a tip and I'm here to give you all the advice to make your pen experience a pleasant one.
You're welcome :)
So let's get into our summary because honestly, I doubt you want to read much more of an article about pens. There's way more fun things to do, but you're in this deep so you might as well finish reading.
- The bold and the beautiful. Gel pens are notorious for being bolder than their rivals (you could refer to said rivals as 'penemies'). It's just a fact. You can expect your writing to come out as vibrant and striking as a good winged eyeliner.
- All the colours of the rainbow. Gel Ink makeup allows for the largest variety of colours! They're the overachievers of the pen species when it comes to the colour department. They can't be matched.
- Smooth as a smoothie. Not that smoothies are smooth (hmm depends on the smoothie), but god damn gel pens are extremely talented when it comes gliding across paper. Kinda like when you glide scissors through wrapping paper. Sooooo satisfying.
- Amazing for note taking. Gel pens are super popular with people who write lots because the pens are so smooth to write with and are easy on the wrists. You go Gel Coco.
- Shorter writing distance. So gel ink cartridges don't typically last as long as other pen types, but this problem is solved by having refillable cartridges.
- Smudging and drying times. Although, I've taught you all about this today and hopefully the facts can sway your final verdict. Knowledge is power my friends.
Gel pens rule. Ciao xo
Okay so sass aside and speaking for realsies, I created some really real beautiful pens and if you haven't checked them out already you can find them here. They were true collaboration between myself and my lovely IG story viewers and I am so proud of how they turned out.
Originally I was only meant to make two because of budgeting and storage reasons (spoiler: I had to order an astronomical amount of pens 🥲) but I was convinced to create all of the colours. No regrets tho. They're stunning.
So if you enjoyed this article, be sure to go suss them out. And if you loved the article? Just buy one of them god dammit.