Welcome to March Marker Madness!
Throughout this month, I’ll be taking a look at all kinds of markers and sharing what I find with you.
What is a marker? Well, there is some variation in definition. Google will tell you that it is “a felt-tipped pen with a broad tip.” Wikipedia goes a bit further and says it is “a felt-tipped pen used for drawing and/or coloring.” Dictionary.com has the longest, most thorough definition, “Also called marker pen, marking pen. A pen designed for making bold, colorful, or indelible marks, as in making signs or identifying objects.
Wikipedia goes on to define the construction of a marker as “a pen which has its own ink-source, and a tip made of porous, pressed fibers such as felt.” It also says it “consists of a container (glass, aluminum or plastic) and a core of an absorbent material. The upper part of the marker contains the nib … and a cap to prevent the marker from drying out.”
The ink in a marker can be either permanent or non-permanent. It could be water-based or solvent-based. The older common solvents were toluene and xylene. Both of these were harmful to the environment and to the user. Now days, the inks in solvent markers are usually alcohol based, propanol (related to rubbing alcohol), butanol (derived from fossil fuels), diacetone alcohol (think of nail polish remover) and cresols (derived from coal tar).
In general, water-based markers are non-permanent and alcohol markers are permanent. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example, there are various brands of paint markers, some of which are filled with acrylic paint. This paint is water soluble until it dries, after which it is permanent.
Another difference between markers is that coloring in them can come from pigments or dyes. Generally, pigment inks have stronger, more permanent colors because they are made from a finely ground substance of some kind. Dyes are made from soaking something in liquid, similar to making tea. Dyes are often more transient.
It is also possible to find markers that contain a type of ink that is water soluble until it dries. These are usually filled with a type of india ink. India ink is made from a finely ground pigment mixed with water and a binder. It is soluble until the water evaporates. After that, it is permanent.
I will be reviewing a variety of markers, all of which are in my collection of art supplies, and all of which I use for various purposes. I’m breaking them down by the types of ink they have: water-based, alcohol, and india ink.
There will still be Zentangles, but as I finish the testing for a specific brand of marker, I will post it’s review.
So, stay tuned for lots of color and fun!