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.
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.
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.
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.!
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 Fons & Porter, but Bohin is also a good brand. If you don’t have a fabric shop nearby or — like me — you have an infant at home and prefer to have things shipped to you, you can buy online. Amazon and Paper & Ink Arts both stock the Fons & Porter white pencil!
A Word on White Pencil Lead Refills
For years, I’ve used the Fons & Porter white mechanical pencil. The lead that came with it lasted me a long time, but last month I realized that I’d run out. “No problem,” I thought, and I conducted a Google search for “Fons and Porter white mechanical pencil refill”. Shockingly, I couldn’t find any Fons & Porter refills that could be purchased without re-purchasing the pencil itself (which comes with a refill pack)!
After doing some research, I discovered that Bohin mechanical chalk pencil refills are compatible with the Fons & Porter white pencil. I bought them and was easily able to use them in my trusty Fons & Porter pencil! So — if you find yourself in the same boat, just go with the Bohin refills. You won’t be disappointed!
If you’re interested in creating white calligraphy, 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!
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!