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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Reader Question: Best pens for tangling with white on black for gourds

Let's discuss it!Zentangle-inspired arts and crafts are spreading like wildfire.

Cheryl K. recently wrote me that gourd artists have discovered Zentangle®. She reports that tangles made a big appearance at the “Gourd Festival in Casa Grande, AZ. They were also featured in the latest national gourd society magazine.” I know of at least one gourd artist who is also a CZT®.

Cheryl asks, “I have painted the gourd black, and now want to do tangles on the gourd. I’m interested in using white on the black gourd. What kinds of pens can I use? … I’ve checked Pitt Pens, Sakura, and Micron. I cannot find white. I’d also like to get various sized tips if possible.”

I referred Cheryl to the TanglePatterns page (TIPS & TOOLS > PENS & MORE > WHITE INK) about using white ink for traditional Zentangles on a black tile (or enhancing black tangles on white tiles), and thought I’d throw this out there to see if any of you have recommendations for Cheryl and others interested in this Zentangle-inspired application.

What pens (and inks) have you had success with – and which ones would you stay away from? What other tips can you share with us?

White Ink and Pens for Zentangle® tiles


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27 comments to Reader Question: Best pens for tangling with white on black for gourds

  • Belinda T

    Paint pens and sharpie markers for painted services. Too many brands to list. Both come in various sizes and colours.

  • Terry Beaty

    Check out John Neal Bookseller. I would think an acrylic ink in white would work. You can apply with a very small brush, a refillable fountain pen, or I would try using the ink with a Kemper Fluid Writer. Kemper Fluid Writer is a unique fine line pen. The pen has been designed to give you a dripless, flawless, consistent width line that works with variuous mediums on any surface. It comes in a fine, medium, or large line. You can use with a Windsor & Newton Gouache (pronounced – ga-wash), comes in Permanet White or Zinc White; F&W Acrylic Artish Ink in White; or Spectrality Liquid Acrylic Color in White. Any of these can be used with a brush, fountain pen or Kemper Fluid Writer. See John Neal Catelog,Spring 2012. page 40 -46. Internet address is: Telephone: 1-800-369-9598. I have used them for years and they are wonderful and very knowledge. They may even be able to make another suggestion. Good Luck.

  • I purchased the Gelly Roll pen and the Pentel Sunburst Gel. Both worked well on flat surface, but didn’t work on the black paint and the gourd. I Did use a Recollections Signature Special, but it produced a wider line and didn’t cover completely so that you could see through the white.

  • MBB

    I have used the Pentel white fine point pen on black and it works great on black paper. In an attempt to get away from having to put glass on my designs, I tried a design done on a canvas, painted with pastel acrylic in black and the main trouble I had was the acrylic paint clogging up the tip of the micron pens. I wonder if anyone else has had any luck with this.

  • Wendy

    Interesting to see this. What I did was woodburn my tangle on to a gourd then used the tool to shade in a border and to shade the tangle. I had started tangling, then got a new fancy woodburner and different tips. I wanted to practice with the new tips, so combined the two. It looks awesome!

  • Gilly

    POSCA pens should work. They come in black or white, with a fine nib. They have a ball in the barrel, to stir the ink up, and I use them in my art classes for drawing on black cardboard.

  • mrscmjones

    For a really white white try a white out pen. Different brands work differently but they are a very nice solid white.

  • Elaine Fitchpatrick

    I really like the white Signo pens for most of my crafting work including black tiles. Never have done gourds though. It goes on smoothly.

  • Kimberly J

    I too like the Pentel Sunburst. I also use Sakura Pen-Touch. It’s a quick dry opaque permanent ink. I like it much better than the Sharpie poster paint pen.

  • Gab

    White signo pens or a new product – Tim Holtz Distress Marker in Picket Fence by Ranger

  • Nadia

    I second the POSCA pens. They have a variety of widths.

  • I use acrylic ink in white and apply it with a refillable fountain pen 😉

  • Ann


    I have a couple questions about the Dr. Ph. Martin’s white ink that I have been unable to find answers for –

    What do you use it with? Would a standard callig pen with a nib work?

    Can it be used in fountain pens?

    Once dry is it fairly stable?

    Would a spray-coating of a fixative or “setter” re-activate it and cause it to smudge?

    Is there a pen that is refillable that can be filled with a white permanent ink? Any time I’m trying to use nib pens, I end up with drips and smudges, and it frustrates me. I’ve always had better luck with fountain-type pens that I can fill and re-fill.

    If this information is somewhere above, please forgive me!

    • Linda Farmer

      Hi Ann, I’ve only used a calligraphy/dip pen and don’t have any knowledge of whether it would damage a fountain pen. Dip pens do take a little practice as overfilling will cause drips. A sheet of paper placed under your hand will help prevent oils from making the paper difficult to write or draw on. No matter what you use, you do have to be careful of smudging. It’s really all a case of practice.

      Hopefully some of our other tanglers can answer your questions about fixatives and fountain pens.

      • Cheryl K.

        I discoveres Sharpie paint pens. They do come with a variety of sized tips and seem to work well. I would still like something finer, but was able to get a really nice design on a black gourd with white. The paint pens are available at Michaels and also come in colors.

  • Marilyn Pounder

    You could try Prismacolor colored pencils. Coverage is good. You may have to go over your lines more than once. Pastel colors on your black paint might look really nice too!

  • betty

    I used regular zentangle pens on a wine glass. Baked it in a cold oven at 325 for 20 minutes and let it sit in the oven there it was cool. when i wash it all the design can off. Do you need to use a special marker for glass?

  • Kim English

    Hi Betty. What a great idea! You definitely need markers made to draw on glass. I purchased mine at Michaels some time ago. They are called Vitrea 160 and are made by Pebeo. I googled them to see if they are still available, and they are – Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Blick, and some others.

  • Maxine Erickson

    I have had great success with signo uniball broad gel impact white ball point pen, works lovely on the black zentangle paper.
    Its the one I recommend in my class’s at Ben Franklin Crafts.

  • Bonnie Schuschereba

    I did pumpkins this fall and used Sharpie Oil Based Markers. They do have white, and they have a couple different tips, but nothing with a really fine tip. Regular Sharpies fade over time, but the oil based ones stay bright.

  • laurie patterson

    I am interested in drawing Zentangle designs on canvas. However, the texture of canvas causes lines to wave. any suggestions? I have tried gesso and sanding with no luck, Thanks,

  • connie zook

    Can I use pitt pens on gourds? How about the white accents? I am not dying the gourds or painting them-I want them natural. Will that work? Can I shellac the gourd without disrupting the tangles?

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