Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Great Frixion Pen Experiment

So, the Frixion Pens have invaded my quilting world, and with their introduction, the splintering of factions, both pro and anti appeared
Yes, they mark on fabric, have a variety of colors and nib sizes and do not dry out too fast. But will they really disappear?
The Frixion pens I have purchaced have a rubber tipped end, to use as an eraser, the idea being the ink disappears with the friction of rubbing (hence:Frixion, get it?). Since friction causes heat, heat should also cause the ink to disappear, thus  yet another use for the iron. BUT: will the ink come back if the quilt gets cold?
I know, I've been snarky with this question before (who stores quilts in the freezer?), but upon reflection, this needs to be answered. If you enter quilt shows, sell and/or ship quilts, they are exposed to temperature extremes during shipping. The unpressurized hold of an airplane gets mighty chilly.
So, to see for myself, I performed an experiment.
Using 4" squsres of Kona cotton, I labeled my trials (using a standard, permanent Sharpie), both Starched & Unstarched. See, I had heard (somewhere, but I can't. remember where) that starching first will prevent the ink from reappearing. Then, I marked each with my Frixion pens: black, blue and orange.

Then I ironed. With steam.

And stored in my freezer for a couple of hours.

Finally, I washed my samples, in the washer with Tide detergent.

Results?: yes, the iron removes, but yes, the cold causes reappearance. Washing helps the ink fade, but I still see a faint trace in all three colors. 

Will I use my Frixion pens to mark my quilts? Just my practice stuff. Any thought or experiences to share?


Paige said...

Eeep! I had no idea. I know a local quilt teacher who encourages the use of Frixion pens. I wonder if she knows about this!

Kim Johnson said...

Great blog and experiment! Thanks for sharing!

Jenny Lyon said...

The chemistry of the Frixion is such that the ink merely becomes translucent-it will always be there. Wish it were not true!

Vicki W said...

Thank you for testing that! I've been wondering how it would work.

Ania said...

Thanks Kelly. Great job.

Laura Davies said...

I marked a small wall hanging (white fabric) with a black Frixion pen once and had to scrap it because I used a Sharpie to mark the words and I didn't like the look. Thought I could iron the fabric and reuse it for some other project. The black was gone, but you could still see a 'snail trail' of sorts where the marks had been. Probably would have been ok if there was a quilted line over it, but it really stood out on blank fabric

Mary said...

Very good post. I have friends who have used the pens on batiks and have also had residual marks after ironing. They said they were very faint, but there nonetheless.

Brenda said...

I have one of those pens, but I don't ever use it. I live in a cold climate and quilts do travel in car trunks at subzero temps. I don't want more chemicals on my fabrics either. thanks for sharing your results.

April's Creations NC said...

Thanks for sharing your experiment, I had no idea! I have had the experience of using (don't remember the color) on a black shirt to mark for embroidery and after ironing, it had a faint line leftover that you could see if you look at it carefully YIKES!

I still use them, but tend to use on the back of my fabric for marking half triangles etc, less likely to have problems with them.