To learn the complete results of my testing of pens, get the current issue of Needlepoint Now at your local LNS.
I tested three types of pens by marking them on canvas, wetting them, rubbing the wet canvas, blotting it and then repeating the whole process 24 hours later, after the pens had dried. The first round of testing is the method recommended for needlepointers for years.
I added the second round because in my research about pens and their inks I discovered that many pens are made to be blendable, drying more slowly, so that you can mix colors. This got me thinking about what would make these dyes fast and I tried heat setting, waiting 24 hours, and both. Waiting did the trick. Heat setting didn’t make a difference if done either immediately or after waiting, so I discarded it as unnecessary.
The pens I tried fell into three categories:
- markers labelled for fabric – ZIG textile marker, FabricMate, DecoFabric Marker, Marvy Fabric Marker
- permanent markers not labelled for fabric – PIGMA microns, Extra Fine Sharpies, COPIC markers
- plain old pens from my desk, in this case a gel pen from Pilot
The gel pen, as I expected, failed every test. Many of the pens, including several fabric markers, failed the initial blotting test, leaving residue on the paper towel.
However when I waited 24 hours, the results were significantly different. All the permanent markers worked as did the fabric markers.
There are markers I didn’t test for this. I have had excellent result using SCA-UF from Pilot, a fined marker used for outlines. I have also used metallic markers successfully, but being more like spray paints, these need to dry several days, so I don’t recommend them.
In the past I have also tried BIC permanent markers and regular Sharpies, but I found they ran. But I didn’t let them dry first, so I need to test them again.
Also very new are pens you fill yourself with dyes to make a dye marker (COPICS use dye instead of ink). I haven’t used them, although I have used dyes on canvas.
If you have tried or want to know about different pens for marking, let me know in the comments, I want to try them out.