This is a page from my sketchbook when I was practicing the tangle “Mooka” Notice the difference in line quality when I changed from an very old to new pen.

“I like pens. My writing is so amazing there’s never a need to erase.” Todd Barry

One of the things I hold sacred when practicing Zentangle is the use of the very best tools possible.  High quality paper or Zentangle tiles and particularly my Sakura Micron pen.  You are worth it and so is your art.

To be fair, I have been a fan of Sakura pens for many years. I learned about these pens when I took a class from watercolorist, Judi Betts.  As many of my followers are aware, I like to add a little watercolor to my tiles from time to time. This may be done before or after I have done all my tangling.  Since the ink in my Sakuras is waterproof, I have the freedom and flexibility to follow my watercolor whim whenever it strikes.  As with most high quality pens, these are not the least expensive on the market but I can attest that they last for a very, very long time.

You can get better performance and longer life from these pens by ALWAYS storing the pen flat.  The pen has a sort of sponge inside and the ink is gravity fed to the tip.  Storing the pen vertically can pull the ink down quickly and you may find a capful (or handful) of ink when you open your pen.  There is nothing wrong with the pen; the problem is in the storage.  This can sometimes happen when tangling on a plane.  The pen will “drop” ink.  I think it must be the change in pressure.  To be sure, this doesn’t happen very often.  I tangle a lot when flying and have only had this happen once in about three years.  (See if you can find where this happened to me while working on one of the tiles for this 9-tile ensemble set.  Remember, no mistakes, we work from where we are.)

The other is to take care of the tip.  The finer the tip of the pen, the easier it is to damage if you have a heavy hand.  A close look into the end of the tip reveals it is a very fine tube.  This makes perfect sense when you remember the gravity fed ink.  Try to remember to hold your pen more upright and use a very light, deliberate touch when making your strokes – almost tickling the paper.  This helps enhance the “Zen” of Zentangle as well as extending the life of your pen.

Even if you follow all this advice, there will come a time when your pen really does run out of ink.  You will notice scratchy lines and some skipping – sometimes I like the look, but not always.  There is a way to get a little more mileage out of your Sakura pen.  Rick shared this tip with us in my first CZT training and I recently found myself in desperate need of just a little more purple ink for my Sakura Identi-Pen to finish a pair of Tangled Toms.  It works with both the microns and the Identi-Pen.  Below are step-by-step instructions.  I hope these tips and tricks prove useful and long live YOUR Sakura pens too!