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Brenda demonstrating IMG_3113The Parallel Universes Workshop taught by Brenda Broadbent on February 21, 2016, was wonderful. It began with creating a group list from the attendees of what they wanted to learn about using a parallel pen. The list included these issues:

  1. too much ink
  2. using other fluids
  3. manipulation
  4. holding the pen - turning in my hand
  5. basic use
  6. smooth start of the pen w/o the ridge marks (from the tip of the pen) on paper
  7. notch advice (ever notice there's a notch on one side of the tip of the pen on the colored plastic?)
  8. expressive possibilities
  9. advise for left handed people
  10. blending colors
  11. use of cartridges, refilling pen
  12. cleaning and why

All these topics were covered and more! We thoroughly learned how to take apart the pen, clean and reassemble it. We reviewed inks (e.g., sumi, gouache, watercolor, acrylics) that fade vs. those that don't, what to use on plasticized materials (acrylics), using multiple colors of inks, writing on black paper using white ink, writing on different types of papers, using Finetec golds, etc.

We had plenty of time to practice and experiment with guidance from Brenda (handouts and her wonderful book Parallel Pen Wizardry). We ended with a demonstration of the slanted pointed pen.

By Dorothy Wilson


I left the one-day class Parallel Universes with Brenda Broadbent feeling quite excited about learning a new medium. The class of twenty students ranged in skills and years of practice, yet Brenda gracefully balanced her instruction to challenge everyone.

Helpful tips, a review of essential supplies, and time to practice new fonts filled the day. Additionally, Brenda highlighted key points in her book, Parallel Pen Wizardry. The interaction among the attendees was invaluable as well since each one brought different tools and tricks of the trade to the class. What a great way to spend a day!

By Wendy Smith-Rogers


Having used the Pilot Parallel pens for a semester, I thought I knew ‘enough’.

When I saw the Brenda Broadbent workshop, I signed up mainly because I thought she would make all my letter Beautiful…Well, she’s not a magician. What she is, is a Parallel Pen Expert/Nerd/Guru.

We learned more about these pens than I thought possible. We totally took them apart including removing the nib, had an extensive discussion about what inks, beside the pilot cartridges, that you can use.

We did some gouache, which besides being really hard to pronounce, kind of intimidated me. I own one tube. That in itself tell you I was intimidated. My path to mastery is often via shopping for one in every color so I now can buy more gouache.

We mixed, we drew.

We had Fun.

Another extensive discussion on papers, the vast variety, the different types.

Brenda even brought all of the original art, stories about other calligraphers because we all love gossip, and it was just a great day!!!

By Christine Valle