Tag Archives: pens

Review: Bic Cristal

The Bic Cristal seems to be a heavily favored ball point for sketching, drawing, and doodling. One might wonder why when there are so many “better” options out there for pens. Please keep in mind that this review/discussion is abou the Cristal and NOT the shite Bic Stic.biccristal

First and foremost, I’ll point out that my strongest belief is that the best tool is the tool you use. If you have a Bic in hand and you feel like drawing, then  you should.biccristal

Bic Cristals are available everywhere. I found them in CVS, Walgreens, target, Staples, Walmart, and every other place I looked.  They are also very inexpensive. A 24 pack of mixed colored Xtra Bold were $4 at my local Staples while the 15 pack of Ultra Fine “Precisions” were $3.49 at my local Target. (Calling these two chains local sort of begs the question of what local is- in this case I’m using it to describe a location to which I could, if pressed, ride my bike to in a reasonable amount of time, that is roughly 5 miles from my home.*) For less than $10 I was able to purchase 39 pens in 8 colors and 2 tip sizes for under $10. That is very cheap.biccristal

Because they are quite inexpensive and easily available everyone knows what they feel like to use. Because of this they do not feel precious. You can use them to your hearts content and not be worried that you are going to use them up, because for another $4 you can get another 24-pack.biccristal

For the most part, they simply work. I’ve found that a few of the colors seem to flow more slowly than others, and that the Ultra Fines seem to skip a bit here and there, but that is also useful when sketching or drawing- using a pen with a “rougher” flow can give a bit of character to a sketch that otherwise might be flat and boring.biccristal

The various colors are all pretty standard. Their core colors are black, dark blue, red, and dark green. The new 4 seem to be part of  their “fashion” line up- dark purple, light blue, pink, and light green. The purple, light blue, and pink are okay but the light green is a sick shade of yellow green that borders on the color of bile. Nasty.biccristal biccristal

What makes the Cristal stand out from the Stic is that the Cristal body is hard, while the Stick flexes quite a lot in use. When I was a kid my Bic Stics ALWAYS ended up curved. In some part because I would use them as a worry and bend them as I read, but also because I’d put a lot of pressure on them. The Cristal doesn’t allow for flex. Too much pressure and it will shatter. Unlike the Clic, the Cristal’s point doesn’t flop all over the place as it is used. This makes the Cristal great for sketching, doodles, and drawing.biccristal

Currently, I’m testing the lightfast abilities of all the Cristals in my possession but I strongly doubt that the majority of the colors are lightfast, if any at all. I suspect that the light green, pink, red, and purple will be gone in a week or 2, and in a month the majority of the other colors, including black, will have shifted in shade substantially. I’ll keep you updated.

For the art journaler who uses acrylic in their journal, the Xtra Bold pens have the added bonus of being able to write over acrylic paints.

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Desire to Acquire

A few months ago I started to really deeply consider the things that I’ve acquired. While I hadn’t gone past what I could reasonably use in a lifetime (SABLE*) I had picked up a lot of stuff I wasn’t using. After I’d written and posted my “cult of stuff” essays a few years back, I’d become good about not buying so much stuff. My art supplies are right within the range of reasonable use. I have a few more sketchbooks and plenty of watercolors, but I’m good about buying what I’ll use and not a whole lot more.

Somehow my desire to acquire more fountain pens and fancy pencils, though I’m a confirmed user and not collector of said tools has continued me down a path of purchases. And more purchases, and more. Things came to a head when I had to purchase a set of storage drawers to store my pencils. As I put the drawers to use, I realized I had many dozens of pencils. Some were brands and styles I’d never use. I made a few decisions, four to be specific, and for the most part, I’ve stuck to them. I like to call these “concepts” and they are as follows:

  1. Reduce– aka stop the acquisitions. Stop bringing in more stuff. Get rid of stuff I won’t or don’t use.
  2. Use– Use the stuff I have. Diligently work my way through my stash of pens, pencils, ink and paper.
  3. Examine– Deeply examine how I use my stuff. Look at each item I own and how I use it. Did I purchase it as a novelty (725) or is it something I use on a regular basis (Tombow 8900) and is part of my everyday carry (Fodderstack XL)? Examine my uses. Document them carefully. Refer to decisions reduce and use. Follow through.
  4. Forgive– I’m going to give into marketing and hype and peer pressure, and when I do, use the stuff and then move on. Beating myself up for not adhering to concepts 1-3 doesn’t help. But I can refer back to them to examine the whys and hows of my purchases. Anything new that comes into the fold must be used and reviewed.

I’ve done remarkably well with this system so far. I was able to resist getting the latest Field Notes edition, which I thought was pretty cool, but I know I prefer grids to their lines. So it was easy to resist. However, I bought the TWSBI Eco(nomical) and it was an easy one to buy as I’d wanted  one from the moment I saw their first mock up on their facebook page. I used it for a week, reviewed it, and I’m still using it. I’ll post up a few follow ups over the next few months, and report if I continue to use it or not.

So I’ve done pretty well in my new concepts. I need to refine my examination of why I want something, so that the “reduce” concept is more fleshed out, and includes a built in form of resistance. But that is for another post.

For another post on this subject check out The Clicky Post.

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