Reported by Suzy Haghighi
Since 1964 Sharpie Markers by Sanford Corp have been a staple in homes and offices around the world. Moms use them to label children’s clothing and backpacks, students scribble with them on countless CDs, even celebs use them to sign autographs. President Bush used Sharpies personalized with his signature exclusively in the White House.
Sharpies now come in 39 colors and seven varieties, ranging in tip size from Ultra Fine to Magnum. Rather than messing with the success of what goes into their flagship product, the Permanent Marker, Sharpie has designed a sleek, modern and ultra cool casing for their utilitarian fine tip marker. The Stainless Steel Sharpie has it’s name and logo engraved onto the body, has a great comfortable grip despite the larger size, and is so pretty you won’t want to hide it in the tool drawer. It retails for about $7 US as opposed to the $1.79 for the regular Sharpie. I took this pretty pen on a craft spin to see how I would like it.
Cards made with Magnolia Stamps using Sharpie Permanent and Water Based Markers
I discovered that my favorite ways to use the Permanent markers are for outlining or coloring on acetate. Sharpie Permanent Markers adhere to most surfaces and contains pigments and dyes that are almost impossible to remove (depending upon the surface written on). Glossy surfaces are notorious for not allowing ink to stick to it – it either beads or wipes away. Not with these babies.
The permanent nature of the pen and the wonderful way it bonds to surfaces makes it hard to shade and blend in coloring. Sharpie knows and capitalizes on this in their advertising: The strong, bold ink serves as muse for the company’s slogan Write Out Loud.
While I use Copic Alcohol Markers to color, I love using Sharpies on my cards when I want a really strong, bold ink for accenting. I used the Ultra Fine Tip to create faux stitching on one card, and the Stainless Steel Sharpie with its traditional fine tip to create polka dots on an acetate card, red pencils, and a painted wooden ladybug. The marker was also used over my Copics to color in the polka dots. The ink looks great on all of my projects; the ultra fine did not bleed into my paper or slip on the paint or pencils. It dried quickly on the acetate and the pencil coating; it did however pool a bit on the acetate (see pic below).
Please note a fine tip is rather wide for card making purposes. It could not be used for journaling or writing small letters, however, the Ultra Fine could. The solvent in Sharpie Permanent Markers does contain Propanol so they are not considered acid-free. While I would not use these for archival craft work such as scrapbooking, I have no problem using them on cards.
The Sharpie Water Based Extra Fine Paint Pens in White is also great for accenting over my Copic Marker work and is archival quality and acid-free. I used it here to highlight hair and the ladybug’s face. White is an almost impossible color to formulate without using pigment (as opposed to dye-based inks). These skip less than my white gel pens while remaining about 50% opaque (see picture above). The white is bright which makes them great for accent work or dotting snow on cards, but you do have to be careful of the valve-action tip. While the point is extra fine, the ink is rather watery and seeps out of the valve-action tip when pressed. To avoid problems I press and release the valve over copy paper then do my accenting.
I am not sure if Sharpie Oil Based Paint Pens are acid-free, but they do state that they are xylene-free. They are more opaque than the Water Based Paint Pens, write better, and can be used on any surface. The ink was not watery at all and the color seemed bolder to me.
Besides being useful, Sharpies are also economical and long lasting: someone did a rather scientific measurement to see how long a Sharpie lasts and estimated the total writing distance to be 1800 feet, which is quite impressive. That person is much more organized than I am — I can honestly say I have never run out of ink on my own before I lose them. They need to make a Sharpie with GPS.
- Long lasting
- Strong, bold ink color
- Writes on many surfaces
- Multipurpose types for all craft needs
- Great for use with acetate or other smooth surfaces
- Limited color variety
- Bold, strong ink is not good for blending, line marks
- The lids do not really match the inks so it is best to make a color chart
- Tips tend to dry quickly
- Permanent marker bleeds through thin and fibrous papers, fabrics and cloth
- Paint Marker ink clogs a bit or leaks from valve, can also “spit” ink onto your work
Where to Buy:
Wal-Mart (Sharpie Permanent Marker in assorted colors for $14.88 US)
Office Supply Stores such as Office Depot (12 pack of Permanent Fine Point Black for $7.79)
Amazon.com (Stainless Steel Sharpie Permanent Marker for $5.99)
Wallack’s (Sharpie Paint Extra Fine Oil Based Marker in White for $3.47)
In conclusion I give the Sharpie Permanent Markers a 9/10 and Sharpie Paint Markers a 7/10 overall. As a card maker, Sharpies will not replace my beloved (and much more expensive) Copics, but they are fantastic for certain uses on my cards that make them an indispensable tool that belongs in everyone’s craft room. They are fantastic on acetate or plastic products – the color stays bright and bold, and does not budge once put on a surface. On paper they are bad for blending, but great for pops of permanent color. How do YOU use Sharpies in the craft room?
Follow up: There was a comment in one of our articles about the Sharpie Water Based pens no longer being available. I am happy to announce from our contact with Sharpie that they are continuing to be made, there was only a packaging change. So go get some today!!