STABILO's Pen 68. It's a pretty good colouring pen, isn't it? Well there's actually more to it than meets the eye, and it wasn't until Paula and Vanya from STABILO came along for a visit that we found out that it was a bit more versatile than just being an excellent way of colouring things in.
For a start, the standard Pen 68 colouring pen has recently been joined by two slightly different versions. Let's tackle the Metallic range first. This is just like the standard pen in that it has a robust bullet tip saturated in ink, but it comes in luscious, glitzy, metallic colours like gold and bronze, perfect for the forthcoming festive season! These colours show up particularly vividly on dark paper, and lay down a really solid slap of sparkle. They're just as good for bold bits of writing as they are for colouring in: perfect not only for designing your own Christmas cards or wedding stationery, but for writing a personal message in them as well.
And then there's the Brush range. Brush pens - with a flexible tip that's more like a paintbrush than a pen - are becoming increasingly popular writing weapons of choice by all sorts of people: those who like to add some flair to their everyday handwriting; those who want to give basic calligraphy a go; and those who really like to go for it when needing to replace a white space with a block of colour. They're incredibly versatile art pens and STABILO's Pen 68 Brush is a worthy addition to the gang.
So that's all well and good. But what makes them stand out? Well - they're blendable. Many so-called felt-tipped pens are not (admittedly you can try mixing colours together but what you usually end up with is a sludgy brownish-green type of unappetising hue, which is no good to anybody really). STABILO's Pen 68 blends beautifully: you can use the carmine and the yellow pens, for example, to create different shades of orange, which are different in turn to the actual orange pen. So your original set of shades is just the basis for a potentially limitless colour palette.
There are different ways of blending, depending on the effect you want to achieve. The easiest way is probably not the most imaginative, or effective, but it does work: simply write, draw or colour in with one pen and use another contrasting shade over the top. You'll create a third colour, at least (and it won't be a disheartening swampy sort of colour either). A second, very easy and very pleasing way to blend is this: take a pen in each hand (preferably a light colour and a darker colour). Apply the darker colour to the tip of the lighter colour pen (colour it in, if you like) and then swipe it over the paper. You'll get a wonderful ombre effect. A third way is quite ingenious. You'll need a sheet of acetate or plastic. Apply a darkish colour to the acetate - just scribble a bit of a blob. Then use a lighter shade pen to pick up some of the colour and - as with the previous technique - swipe it over the paper. It gives a very similar ombre effect, but to top up the colour, all you need do is pick it up from the pool on the acetate. You could even try blending a couple of colours on the acetate first, before picking up both colours with your pen. And if you're worried about permanently defacing the tip of the lighter coloured pen - you won't. Simply keep writing or colouring and the darker colour will eventually disappear. The last way is perhaps the most traditional, but no less satisfying. You'll need a fine paintbrush and some water for this. All you do is create your art, and then use a wet paintbrush to draw out the colours, blending and softening to create a watercolour effect. And wait until you see the effects you can get when throwing a Metallic Pen 68 into the mix!
It's an unassuming little pen, the Pen 68, but it packs a lot of punch. And you thought it was just a pretty good colouring pen, didn't you?