If you've ever gone down the deodorant aisle searching for the same one you bought last time, you've experienced it: manufacturers' incessant focus on new and better. It seems like a product's packaging hardly ever looks the same from one purchase to the next.
Pen manufacturers are no different, so the pens that were "proven" oven-safe a few years ago — like my previous favorite Papermate Flexgrip Ultra — may no longer be available. And while new and better options may be out there, who has the time and money to test every new brand of pen to see if it's oven-safe?
I decided to expand on her post a bit, to give a little more info about four of those pens that are readily available here in the U.S.:
- PaperMate Comfortmate ball point pen
- Bic Round Stic ball pen
- PaperMate FlexGrip Elite
- Bic SoftFeel Retractable ball pen
I made a polymer clay pen with each of these brands to get a feel for how easy they are to take apart and put back together. (Read the basics on covering pens here.) I'm including "finished" shots so you can get a feel for the aesthetic of each completed pen. My samples use cane slices since I'm practicing getting comfortable with canes (as you can tell, I have a long way to go!). But of course, you're not limited to canes. In fact, the options are pretty much endless. (For some extreme examples, take a look at Linda Peterson's PolyPens book about making pen sets.) For each pen, I've also included photos of the packaging (so you know what to look for on the shelves... well, at least until they change that packaging!), the un-covered pen, and the pen after it's been taken apart. (Click any photo for a larger version.)
- Cost: 12 pens for $7.93 on Amazon ($0.66 per pen)
- How It Works: Remove the end cap and take the pen refill out from the back. Be sure not to cover with clay the hole where the end cap goes, or the hole where the pen tip will poke through the opposite end. To reassemble after baking, push the pen refill through the opening at the end cap end, then reattach the end cap.
- Notes: The Comfortmate has a thin barrel (similar to the Bic Round Stic), so it's not too bulky after polymer clay is added. Its straight lines make it easy to cover.
- Cost: 12 pens for $2.20 on Amazon ($0.18 per pen)
- How It Works: Use pliers to remove the pen refill by pulling on the black plastic portion near the tip (not the pen tip itself). Re-insert after baking.
- Notes: The Round Stic and the Comfortmate have similar benefits and look very similar after baking... but the Round Stic is available at a much better price!
- Cost: 12 pens for $8.01 on Amazon ($0.67 per pen)
- How It Works: Simply unscrew the silver cap and remove the refill before baking. Screw back on after baking.
- Notes: I like the fact that these are easily refillable by anyone — a big plus if you're planning to sell your polymer clay pens. I also like that the silver cap dresses it up a bit. I'm not crazy about the tapered shape on the end: it makes these pens slightly harder to cover than the pens with straight lines, and I personally don't like the look as well.
- Cost: 12 pens for $6.86 on Amazon ($0.57 per pen)
- How It Works: The front part is easy enough to remove. Just twist and pull on the black padded section, then pull the pen refill out too. The retractable portion was much harder for me. I tried and tried with pliers, even breaking off one of the clips in the process. What finally worked for me was using my hands: holding the pen barrel in one hand and grasping the top edge, just to the side of the clip, with the other hand. Twist the clip (and its attached pen cap) up and to the side, until it separates from the barrel.
- Notes: This was my first retractable pen, and it ended up being my surprise favorite of the group. I think it looks kind of nice to have the black front section that contrasts with the polymer-clay covered section. However, I did test that each of these pen segments is oven-safe. The black padded part of the barrel is removable, so you should be able to cover the whole thing in a matching pattern. You might even be able to find a metallic washer at the hardware store to put between the sections and dress it up a bit.
Got a favorite oven-safe pen that's not listed here? I'd love to hear about it. Ditto for pen-covering suggestions!