• The White Pencil: A Behind-the-Scenes Star

    If you’re interested in writing white or light-colored calligraphy on dark paper, you might consider investing in a white pencil! Today, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of using a white pencil to draw guidelines. You’ll learn where to buy the pencil and, equally as importantly, where to find refills for it!

    "Joy" Elegant Gold Christmas Card Tutorial Draft
    A white mechanical pencil is a must-have if you plan to write on dark cardstock.

    Quilters the world over use white pencils to make marks on fabric. It’s a little-known fact, however, that the white pencil is just as useful for paper as it is for textiles! I’d be lost without my white pencil, so I today I’m writing a little review post to help you discover this fantastic tool!

    What is a White Pencil?

    I don’t know about you, but the ability to write using white ink was a big factor in my initial desire to learn calligraphy. We’re used to seeing dark-colored text, so white lettering can’t help but stand out! That said, if you’re writing on dark paper, it can be difficult to see graphite pencil guidelines. Enter the white pencil, which is made out of chalk! You can use a white pencil to make erasable guidelines that are highly visible on dark-colored papers.

    Calligraphy Guidelines | The Postman's Knock
    The white pencil shows up well on dark papers, which allows you to write orderly white (or light-colored) calligraphy.

    You can use a white pencil just as you would a graphite pencil. There are a couple of key differences, though. First of all, white pencils are a more specialized product and are therefore more expensive than their graphite cousins. Second, the white pencil makes lines that rub off much easier than graphite lines do. That makes sense because the white pencil lead is made out of chalk! Still, it can be annoying when you realize after writing a top address line that you’ve accidentally rubbed off the guidelines below with your hand!

    Caveats of Using a White Pencil

    When you finish writing white calligraphy, you’ll probably want to erase your white guidelines to make everything look clean. The caveat, however, is that you need to wait a while to erase those guidelines. Of course, that has everything to do with your white ink — not your white pencil guidelines. Still, smudged white ink is very obvious, and it can be avoided if you let the ink dry for a while. I usually try to let my ink dry overnight before erasing white pencil guidelines, regardless of which white ink I am using.

    Seven Tips for Writing White Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This Kaitlin Style envelope, created with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White Ink, smeared pretty badly (look at “Boulder”). That smudging could have been prevented with some patience!

    You’ll also want to make sure that you use the right eraser to get rid of your white pencil lines. If you use a white eraser on dark paper, you may end up with a light, waxy sheen where the eraser interacted with the paper. To prevent that, you can use a black eraser.

    Calligraphed DIY Menu Cards Tutorial (Diagonal Concept) | The Postman's Knock
    Black erasers are perfect for getting rid of lines on dark-colored papers because they won’t leave behind any sort of sheen.

    If you’re uncertain of whether your paper can be considered “dark” or not, go ahead and use a white eraser (I like Staedtler Mars erasers). Usually, white erasers leave only a minimal mark — if they leave a mark at all — on colors like orange, pink, green, etc.!

    The White Pencil: A Behind-the-Scenes Star | The Postman's Knock
    You can use a standard white eraser on paper colors such as orange.

    Where to Buy a White Pencil

    If you live in a populated area with a local fabric shop, great! You can probably find a white pencil there in the quilting section. The brand I use is Sewline. If you don’t have a fabric shop nearby or — like me — you have small children at home and prefer to have things shipped to you, you can buy online. The TPK Supplies Shop stocks white mechanical pencils and lead refills!

    If you’re interested in opaque calligraphy on dark papers, I hope that you enjoyed this article! I think that the most impressive envelopes I’ve made are those that I used white calligraphy ink on, so I’m grateful for the white calligraphy pencil’s existence! You can find more information on writing white calligraphy in the Seven Tips for Writing White Calligraphy blog post. It’s a little bit trickier than writing with standard dark ink because you need to get the dilution ratio right, but the result is so worth it!

    Hand-lettered birthday card draft
    White pencil guidelines make this birthday card much easier to create!

    If you have any questions or observations, I invite you to leave a comment! It’s always fantastic to hear from you. Thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock