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Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Jessica Ripley

When I first started crafting and scrapbooking, one of the very first things I bought was a set of Sakura Glaze Pens. They were so pretty in their packaging, and I loved the idea of being able to journal on a layout in several colors. Over the course of using them they quickly became a favorite tool in my crafty arsenal. I found they had many more uses than just journaling alone, and I was absolutely thrilled to be able to participate in a review of Sakura products so I could try out even more of what they had to offer.

And oh my goodness, when I received my package I had never realized just how much they had to offer! There seems to be a type of pen for just about everything, from the 3D Opaque Souffle Pens, to the Glaze, the Metallic to the Moonlight set which glows under a black light (how cool is that?). Sakura has truly developed a product line that has something for everyone. Knowing my main use for their products would normally be for paper projects, I set to work testing every one on both black, textured cardstock and white, smooth cardstock. I knew this would give me a good idea of both ink flow from each type (Gelly Roll vs. Souffle for example) and how I could expect them to look on dark vs. light projects.

Here’s my test piece:

All inks showed up well on the white side, with the exception of a few of the lighter colors such as the 3D Opaque Souffle in yellow. All were also extremely easy to write with on the smooth cardstock, though I was happier with the flow of the ink from the Gelly Roll pens vs. the Souffle. The Gelly Roll just seemed to write more like a traditional pen to me, and the result was much neater and allowed for a little more flair in my handwriting (which can use all the help it can get!). I starred the black 3D Glaze to remind myself that I loved how it wrote and looked, I frequently journal in black when I hand-write, and this may be my new pen to do so with!

Not all inks came through well on the black side however. A few did really well, such as the Souffle 3D Opaque, Gelly Roll Moonlight, and the white Pen-Touch (shown at the very bottom). Those that did not were the Gelly Roll Stardust, Metallic, and also the 3D Glaze. The Glaze actually does not show up at all, even in the lighter colors. Still, I was pleased with how those three looked on the white side and now know they will only be used on lighter colored projects. All inks also performed great on the textured cardstock, and I didn’t find it made a noticeable difference in how easily the ink flowed.

Now that I had my “cheat sheet,” I set off to create a few projects, including different surfaces to see how I could stretch my craft room staple into new uses. I’ve listed them below in order of my least to most favorite in performance and overall result. Please don’t get me wrong though, the quality of all of these is excellent and it was very hard to choose!

Starting with my least favorite, the Quickie Glue Pen:

I really, really wanted to love this one. It seems like such a wonderful thing to be able to use a pen to add glue to an embellishment that has fine detail, but I found that this was not exactly what this product is best used for. The glue just really isn’t sticky enough to use it for gluing down things, and it doesn’t dry quickly. That said, this pen is excellent for adding glitter to a project in fine detail. It literally writes glue, and goes on in a light blue color so you can see where you are placing it. The slow drying time also allows you ample time to complete your design before applying glitter. It dries in a slightly puffy way as well to add some dimension. I think part of the reason this was my least favorite to try was that I had very high hopes for its uses, but I can’t think of many more than this. Still, if you use glitter quite a bit, this pen is for you.

Here’s a card I made using the Quickie Glue. The flowers were hand-drawn with it and then glitter was applied.


Pros:

  • The light blue color of the glue makes it easy to see where you are applying it.
  • The pen tip is a great idea for detail work with glitter.
  • The glue flows very well.
Cons:
  • The glue doesn’t stick well when it comes to adding embellishments or paper.
  • I’m not sure what other uses it would then have other than adding glitter.
  • Slow drying time.

Next is a product that I would have loved to have in college. Loved I tell you! The Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens not only look brilliant and bright on paper in normal light, but actually glow under a black light.


Black light… college… when we were cool and had awesomely decorated dorm rooms right? These pens wrote wonderfully and are vibrant and fun. Personally, they are low on my list because I couldn’t think of what to do with them. With Halloween around the corner however I decided to try them out on a mask and see how the black light effect worked. Here it is in daylight:


And under a black light:

My husband was a semi-willing model.

Writing on the mask itself the pens worked well… better on smaller details rather than on coloring in the large areas. Going over the same areas again to try and thicken the color just proved to scratch off a bit what was already there. I was impressed with how well they did actually considering the fabric of the mask was not only textured but slippery. What other uses can you think of for these? I’d love to hear in the comments and even see some projects if you’ve given them a try.

Pros:

  • Vibrant and bright color!
  • Ink flows very well, easy to write with.
  • Looks pretty darn cool under black light.
Cons:
  • I’m not sure what I would really use this set for.
  • Didn’t allow for a second coat very well, just scratched off what was already applied (but that could have been my surface of choice).
  • Ink flows better on smaller details, and that may play against its black light coolness factor.

Coming in next were the Clear Stardust Gelly Rolls in Clear.

As you’ll see in a bit down the list the Stardust pens in colors were one of my favorites to use, but something about the flow of the clear versions wasn’t as great. It may have to do with the fact that the tip on the Clear Stardust pen is .5mm (the colors have twice that at 1.0mm), and though that allows for great detail work and writing, the fact that they are clear meant that I needed more of that flow a larger tip would allow to add a good amount of ink to whatever project I was accenting. I don’t think this had an effect on the overall result however, which I found really fun. Here’s a card I created where I used the pen to fill in the star as an accent:


It is a little hard to see in the photo, but the pen has a silvery glitter effect.

I think it would be great if these came in the pack with the other colors as an accent, but it definitely has some potential.


Pros:
  • Great idea to add sparkly detail to projects.
  • Ink flows well.
  • Easy to add detail with.
Cons:
  • The fine tip is just a little too fine, and restricts the surface area it covers quickly.
  • Doesn’t come with any other colors.
  • The sparkle isn’t as brilliant as the pack that has color to it.

Sakura was also kind enough to send a product I’ve seen in stores but never picked up, their adorable Sticklers.

The Sticklers come complete with foil stickers and a set of pens to color them in and create customizable accents. These are really fun, and the designs very cute. On the package they show them being used on an Ipod and cell phone, so I got curious and decided to try them out on my old Nano.

This was incredibly fun to do, and I love the result. The 3D Souffle Pens that came with the package worked extremely well writing on the smooth surface, and the stickers had just enough of a ridge to keep the free flowing ink contained until it dried. I let it dry overnight just to be safe, and testing by rubbing my thumb over the designs hasn’t done any damage at all. This is a really cute idea for customizing things. It’s a little lower on my list simply because I am honestly not a sticker girl and the designs aren’t quite to my taste, but I don’t think I’ll be able to resist playing with these again in the near future. The packs also only come with three colors, so to really make the most of them it would be good to have a full set of the Souffle pens on hand.

Pros:
  • Very easy to work with.
  • The stickers stick well, and have just enough ridge to hold in the ink from the pens.
  • The Souffle pens that come with work great on Ipods, just like the package suggests.
Cons:
  • The designs of the stickers are a little to “cutesy” for my taste personally.
  • The packs only come with 3 colors to play with.
  • Permanent Drying time may be long (I didn’t chance it under 8 hours).

Rounding out the bottom 5 is the Pen-Touch White Pen.

I am always on the look out for a good white pen, and this one works pretty well. This is the only “pump to work” pen that I had to try, and once I followed the instructions to get the ink flowing, it worked great. In fact I’ve gone back to use it since and haven’t had the need to pump it again. I decided I’d try it on what I most often use white pens for: journaling on black cardstock. I was disappointed at first… only at first however… as the writing didn’t show up well. In fact I had pushed my layout aside a bit frustrated trying to think of how I could save it, until I noticed that I just had to be patient and wait for the ink to dry.


After a few minutes the ink from the Pen-Touch does dry and become completely opaque and bright. It’s not an immediate result, but I was happy in the end.

My wish is that it had a finer tip for journaling, and also the ink is just a bit runny, but any white pen that gives me a bold and bright line against a dark background is one that I’ll definitely reach for again.

Pros:
  • White ink shows up great on black cardstock once it dries.
  • Pumping was necessary only at the beginning.
  • Ink flows wonderfully
Cons:
  • Ink flows a little too wonderfully and can be runny.
  • The tip isn’t fine enough to allow for extremely neat handwriting.

Now onto my favorites, the first of which is Gelly Roll Metallics.

The package says these are “ice cream smooth,” and they aren’t kidding. They write beautifully! On my test papers above even though they didn’t show well on black (which was kind of a surprise) I love the way they look on the white. The sheen is beautiful. I decided to try them out on a photo, to see if they’d smear at all. On the photo they worked wonderfully.

I also decided to try them on an acrylic coaster, but this led to a tiny craftastrophe. Even though I let the ink dry for about half an hour before touching it, when I did is smeared way too easily. Me and my impatient crafting I suppose, but even going back another hour later, it still smeared in the same way. (And I tried again after it had set overnight as well… still smeared).
But that’s ok, just a test. And what they can do in other ways made up for this little mistake. I have big plans for these come holiday card making season.

Pros:
  • Beautiful color, the sheen is perfect.
  • Ink flows amazingly well.
  • The tips are just right, allowing for fine handwriting.

Cons:

  • The inks definitely didn’t dry on an acrylic surface.
  • Can’t think of any more!

Now come the three pen packs which were very hard to pick and choose from as to one’s performance over another. Though it was very hard to choose, my least favorite of the three are the 3D Glaze Pens.

When comparing them to the other two, I had to take into account that on dark surfaces these didn’t work at all (per my test page above), though I still love to use them for adding accents or journaling to a scrapbook layout or card. The ink flow is great, and the color on the right background is wonderful.

Here I used them to add detail and a little pop to the patterned paper in this heritage layout:


They are still and will always be on hand when I’m crafting and need to add just that extra something.

Pros:
  • Ink flows extremely well and they are easy to use.
  • They can add just the right unique touch to many project possibilities.
  • Great color variety to a pack.
Cons:
  • The ink doesn’t show up well at all on very dark surfaces.
  • Ink is just a little runny and a lighter hand is best.

As you can see in the test above these come through brilliantly on both dark and light surfaces. In fact I very much prefer their look on the black over the Gelly Roll Moonlight set.

They are wonderful for adding embossed type detail, as I did with the stamp on the card below:

The flow is fabulous, and my only wish is that I could be light-handed enough with them to write a little clearer. The ink flows so well, my letters tend to run together a bit. But still, love these and the effects I get.

Pros:
  • Ink shows up on both light and dark surfaces very well.
  • The opaque look once it dries is very pretty and adds a great touch.
  • I can see myself reaching for these again and again for several types of projects.

Cons:

  • Ink flows very quickly, and that can lead to very detailed designs slightly running together.
  • Takes a minute or so to dry to its full opaqueness, so there is a bit of a guessing game as to what the final design will look like until it does so.

The biggest surprise out of the products I reviewed were the Permapaque Paint Markers.

I did not expect to love these as much as I did, but they are really brilliant. Dual tipped with a chisel point on one side and a fine point on the other, the package states that there is no pumping, shaking, odor, or mess. They deliver! I decided to go all out and take a stab at a metal project since they stated it was suitable for it, and it was so easy I couldn’t believe it.

I was able to get great coverage using the chisel tip of the black marker in two coats, being able to apply the second coat within 10 minutes of the first due to the quick drying time. I did coat the final result with a bit of Sparkle Mod Podge just to be sure it didn’t scratch off when being packed away for the Halloween Season. There literally is no odor, which I believe is huge when it comes to paint markers, and I never once had to shake it to continue the ink flow. These markers are amazing! I will be completing a color collection of these very soon!

Pros:
  • Excellent paint coverage with absolutely no odor (trust me, I got some on my nose checking).
  • The dual tip makes it possible to use them for a variety of projects.
  • Amazing ink/paint flow that never required pumping or shaking – even writing consistently at an angle.

Cons:
  • It took 2 coats to cover my project (but that’s it!).
  • The ink did scratch off a little bit if it wasn’t completely dry before adding the second coat.

Finally, a set that I didn’t know I needed until I had it: the Gelly Roll Stardust Galaxy set.


Once again the package states “ice cream smooth” and it really is. These write so wonderfully I wish it was acceptable to use them at work. Not only are the colors great, the ink contains just the right amount of glitter to shine through without being too glittery. Does that make sense? It’s a classy, subtle sheen that adds pop without over-doing it. I was having way too much fun with these and went all out with using them on this little wooden witch:


They wrote just as well on the wooden surface as they did paper, and dried quickly too. Within 20 minutes I could touch the surface without getting any ink on my fingers. Loved, loved, loved these!

Pros:
  • Gorgeous result, just the right amount of sparkle.
  • Ink flows just like a normal pen, wish I could use it at work! (maybe I’ll try and see if anyone notices…).
  • Great colors to a pack.
  • Worked great even on wood.

Cons:
  • I honestly can’t think of any… other than I don’t have every color!

Sakura has a wealth of products for every use imaginable, and I had a wonderful time trying out all the above. It’s such a wonderful thing to have tools in your crafting stash that not only deliver on performance, but that can be used for multiple projects again and again.

My overall impression:

Pros:
  • Adding detail work in whatever way you see fit to a multitude of mediums to enhance any project.
  • The number of products available makes it easy to find just the right one for your use, but the more you own the more uses you will run across!
  • These products are all high quality, and deliver what they promise.

Cons:

  • Not all products are able to be used on all surfaces.
  • Some packs don’t include many colors, it’s always nice to have a full set.
  • Some products may only have one or two uses for you when it comes to your personal taste.

Overall Sakura has been, and still is, a manufacturer that I know will deliver on quality when I’m looking for a good pen or marker to add to my collection. I have had a wonderful time seeing how I can stretch this standard favorite, and look forward to experimenting even more.

How about you? What’s your favorite Sakura product, and what have you made?

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13 Responses to Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

  1. Avatar
    RAP October 8, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    I started scapbooking with Sakura Micron pens when that was all Creative Memories sold. We are talking around 1990. Then CM came out with their own branded pens that were suspiciously the same size and shape (hmm, maybe the same pen but you don’t realize you can buy it at the store cheaper?. They are still good solid pens. I have found their gold and silver gel pens to be the best I’ve tried. They don’t clog up like others and write oh so smooth. The quick pen does have a purpose. I too have found it good for adding glitter details. Also when cutting out small parts with the cricut, I have found it very good for adding glue to small or thin items that other glues are too big for.

  2. Avatar
    sew_crafty_girl October 8, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    I reach for my Quickie Glue pen ALL the time. I’ve never used it for glitter. I use it for small die cuts.

    I wish M’s carried the Souffle pens. I have the Glaze, Glitter and Gelly Roll pens and have been wanting to get my hands on the Souffle ones.

  3. Avatar
    Jess October 8, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    I love to hear that others have success with the glue pen, perhaps my tests didn’t work because I didn’t add enough glue or was impatient? I’ll try it out again, and that’s an excellent idea RAP regarding the thin items from a Cricut. Thank you!

  4. Avatar
    Jan Castle October 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    I happen to use my Jelly Roll “Stardust” more than any other pen…for a hint of sparkle, as well as showing the color underneath.
    Jan

  5. Avatar
    Scrapycandy October 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    Great review…and I’m sure it will help in my selection.

  6. Avatar
    rush8888 October 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    glow in the dark??!!! how cool is THAT!

  7. Avatar
    Lorraine October 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    Love the Souffle puffy pens – my favorite! They work great on acrylic albums!

  8. Avatar
    Cathy at Paper Garden Projects October 8, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Great review – very organized and complete.

    I do love my quickie glue pen. I use it for glitter, but I also love it for paper piecing stamped images. It can get into very small area so your paper piecing really stays put.

  9. Avatar
    Rachel October 8, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    My favourite Sakura product is their Metallic pens. I like to stamp and emboss an image with Gold EP and then colour it in with the Metallic pens. Instant faux cloisonne!

  10. Avatar
    Carrie October 8, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    Love the metal project – so clever.

  11. Avatar
    Kerry H October 8, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    The Quickie Glue pen is terrific. I use it for tiny punch art and thin cut letters, like Cherish, for scrapping.

  12. Avatar
    Heather October 13, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    I think I need to go get myself a white pen touch marker! Love the way it looks on your great projects! If it works as good as my silver one did it will definetly be my go to pen for journaling in white.

  13. Avatar
    *reyanna klein* October 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Great review! I LOVE, LOVE those stickers with the pens! Ohmigosh, how COOL! Perhaps I’ll have to get some for my nieces! They are just SO neat! 😀