A few months ago I won a Retro 51 Hex-o-Matic retractable pen. The pen is perfect for sketching while I’m on the T. With all the lurching and sudden stops of the T, I’m afraid I’ll jam a fountain pen and break the nib, so rollerball pens work best. I managed to burn through the refill in a short amount of time. After looking around online I realized I needed to look at the refills to figure out what would fit the pen. Basically, I learned it takes standard Parker type refills which are available just about anywhere. I headed into Bob Slate Stationers in Cambridge, Mass to look at their rack of refills and figure out what I liked.
I ended up buying a package of Parker Quink gel refills and a package of Quink Flow roller ball refills. I’ve not yet tested the Quink Flow refills but the initial testing of the Gel Ink has been quite favorable.
First the ink is very black. The tip lays down a very even line of ink. There is very little skipping. The only skipping I found was when I was writing at an extreme angle and over areas where there were fingerprints on certain paper. It wrote flawlessly in my Field Notes, Staples composition notebooks, and on scrap paper. The only paper it skipped on was my BanditApple Carnet and that only occurred in areas where I’d held the paper in place while drawing, so over my fingerprints. There was some light skipping over pencil line, and only the softer pencil. It wrote well over H and even HB pencil but not well over 2B or 4B.
Once on paper, the ink is relatively waterproof. I was able to lift a small amount with a waterbrush to get some light shading. Which is really cool but it also means that watercolor washes will lift and be “dirtied” by the ink. I have to say that the ink is neutral black and won’t dirty watercolor that much. I really like the idea of adding a thin waterbrush to my on-the-go kit.
If you are looking for an ink refill that is a sheer joy to write with, this is a go to refill. I’ve been using it for note taking in my graduate classes. It’s smoothness glides over the paper without skipping or slowing me down. If the Zebra Sarasa is my go to gel ink pen, this is one step behind it. (I’ve recently found Zebra Sarasa refills on Amazon, so I’m now stuffing those into every pen body I own. Sadly, they don’t fit into my hex-o-matic.) I’ve found myself reaching for my hex-o-matic over my fountain pens for the last few weeks, that should tell you how great this ink is for writing.
Anyway, these refills are quite nice, very affordable, and available just about anywhere.
Now you just need to pick a decent pen to put them in, they will fit into a great number of pens. The classic Parker Jotter, the Retro 51 Hex-o-Matic, and a great number of other pens. I could go on and on about how wonderful it is to have a refillable pen and how much better it is for the environment.