Presenting the ultimate non-disposable writing instrument: the beta pen. With a tip made from a special alloy (that includes lead), it makes marks on paper with metal, the way people used to before graphite and pencils. In the past, artists used wire clamped in a stylus or even bare. You can try that technique today – I know I will, when I find the time.
The beta pen looks like a fancy pencil. Itâ€™s heavy. I chose the black finish. @dowdyism featured the pocket version on his blog and on Flickr.
It comes with an explanatory leaflet. I share it with you because I am lazy and do not wish to paraphrase.
Itâ€™s not just a novelty item to whip out at dull meetings.
Writing with metal isnâ€™t like writing with graphite. What it feels like is dry-writing with an extra-fine nib. Itâ€™s toothy but not irritatingly so. The strokes donâ€™t get too dark, even when layered. When I was taking a shot of my first experiment with the beta pen and watercolor, I noticed that the metal marks caught the light and almost seemed to sparkle.
So I decided to take a shot of metalpoint side-by-side with graphite. Held away from the light, the two are difficult to tell apart.
I see the sparkles when I hold the paper at another angle.
On a yellow Post-It the sheen was even more obvious.
I donâ€™t think it will replace a regular pencil (for one, itâ€™s not erasable). There are also those who prefer darker marks, like the ones made by 2B lead, and this is closer to an HB or even an H. I like the weight of history the beta pen carries, for all its modern styling. Iâ€™ll keep it.