How to Use Chalk Markers

How to Use Chalk Markers?

Chalk Markers (also called chalk pens, window markers and liquid chalk) are wonderful for many different projects. They’re an improvement on traditional chalk because they are dust-free. This makes them safer for teachers and children alike. Many brands are also non-toxic and odorless.

These cool pens are easier to draw and write with than chalk because they’re held like a pen and have a good point. Although they’re liquid, it dries fast, doesn’t smudge and isn’t messy. You won’t end up with ink all over your fingers or dust all over your clothes.

Most chalk markers come with different sized tips, such as 6mm and 15mm, adding to the versatility. The thinner tipped ones can be used for writing or for finer drawing, while the thicker ones are best for coloring in. A 15mm flat tipped one is ideal for calligraphy. One big plus is that they wash easily off skin, which is great to know in case your kids decide to make their own “tattoos”.

Getting Started

New chalk markers should be prepped before use. This is easy to do, and it’s just to start the ink flowing into the tips. Simply shake the pen well with the lid on. Then remove the lid and press the tip up and down on a firm surface for a minute or so until you see ink on the tip. This only has to be done once. Don’t press too hard on the tip or it may lose shape. Markers should be stored horizontally so that the ink doesn’t leak out when they’re not being used and so the tip doesn’t dry out.

Checking the Surface

Before using your chalk markers, take into account that different markers are made by different manufacturers, so quality and performance can vary. Before using your new chalk markers, you need to check if your work surface is porous or non-porous. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated chalkboard, remember they can be made from many different materials, from MDF to slate to painted wood.

If you are working with a nonporous material you can just wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Porous material will always be left with residues or “ghosts” of the chalk ink, whatever brand of markers you use. Some surfaces are easier to wipe clean than others, but all porous surfaces will be stained by your marker. When in doubt, test on an inconspicuous corner of your board first.

But what if you’re stuck with a porous chalkboard? No worries. You can seal the porous surface with a clear acrylic spray. Use something like Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray for a bit of a sheen, or for a matt finish, try Aleene’s Spray Acrylic Sealer Matt Finish.

Making sure you follow the instructions on the spray can, apply about three coats of sealer, letting each coat dry before applying the next coat. Allow to dry and cure for a couple of days before drawing on the board. Now you can go ahead and use your chalk markers. Your artwork will erase easily when wiped with a wet cloth, without leaving any trace of chalk ink.

Another reason to use sealants is if you want to keep your art or perhaps a message written with chalk markers. Spray over the top of the picture, using three coats as before, and the chalk will become permanent and unerasable, even when wet. This is useful when you want to write on ceramics or glass for special occasions, and you need to be sure the chalk won’t smear or smudge.

Of course, if your creativity inspires you to use chalk markers on porous surfaces in order to keep their work permanent, then markers are a great alternative to working with messy crayons or paintbrushes. And when your opus is perfect, simply put the cap back on the markers and store them in the drawer. No cleaning up necessary! Plus, the amazing color range available ensures that you’ll always have the exact right color for the exact right project.

Tips for Best Use

As you probably know by now, markers must only be used on non-porous surfaces like glass and metal. The ink dries quickly and won’t smudge if you brush your hand over it. If you layer the colors, the top color will stay on top. For example, if you draw a black face with a red eye, the red will stay over the black and the black won’t show through, even though it’s a darker color.

Markers can be held at any angle while drawing, but a forty-five-degree angle keeps the ink flowing nicely. Avoid pools of ink when starting to draw by shaking the marker while still capped and by keeping the lid facing up. Depress the point while still facing upwards to release any pressure that may have built up.

If you want to use the marker for writing, lift and separate between each stroke, just as you did in kindergarten. This keeps the lines crisp. Don’t try to write as with a normal pen. Slow down because the lines are thicker and heavier. Finally, remember to have fun and experiment. The great thing about chalkboard markers is that they’re erasable, so there’s no need to worry about making mistakes!

How to Unblock Your Marker

You might find that fine tip chalk markers become blocked and can, from time to time, dry up. This usually happens because the marker has been over-primed and the tip is flooded, which is quite easy to do. But there’s no need to throw a blocked marker away. Try our pro-tips for getting your marker unblocked and working again:

  • Don’t over prime the marker. This causes the marker valve to flood, leak and make a mess of your art projects, not to mention your hands.
  • Prepare a surface to work on, like an old newspaper or paper towels. Work on this as you unblock your marker.
  • Remove the cap and take the entire tip out of the barrel. Clean the tip and inside of the barrel with paper towels. You can use some vinegar or window cleaner as well.
  • Alternatively, you can hold the plastic barrel under a stream of running water to flush the extra ink out.
  • Use your fingernail to soften the tip of the marker. Bend the tip backward and forward to loosen and soften it. This will unclog any blockages and allow the ink to flow again.

Once you have tried these steps, briefly prime the marker again, and try to write on a surface. If it still doesn’t work, keep wiping, bending, priming, and writing until the marker works as it should.