A lot of materials produced and marketed for crafting use also have applications for more “fine art” oriented artists. One example being stamp markers. These are felt tip markers marketed for used with rubber stamps. Their key quality is that these markers are slow drying. This allows them to be used to paint the surface of a stamp, and stay wet long enough for different colors to be applied before the stamp is pressed to a surface.
I was attracted to stamp markers as a tidy and compact alternative to paints. They offer a lot of the versatility of paint, but are much more portable and easier to organise if you have very limited space available in your home. For example, they can be brought out and backed away again in a simple pencil case. There are a lot of different stamping markers, the set I bought are from the Dee Gruenig Signature range produced by Marvy.
If you use stamp markers on normal paper the result is similar to any felt tip marker (see above right). However they become a lot more flexible when used on a high gloss or cardboard. Here the long drying period allows for a lot of painterly effects including blending, rubbing, scraping, smudging and erasing. In fact, unlike paint, stamp markers can be completely erased from a surface even once fully dried.
The limitations of the markers relate to the same qualities that make them interesting to work with. If applied too lightly the marker will bead up and withdraw from the surface as it dries, turning a pastel wash into a scattering of dark dots. I am currently finding it hard to avoid white fringing my marks, as shown in the picture to the left. And even when dried, the markers smudge easily and it is very difficult to avoid marring the surface with fingerprints. At this point I am not sure what finishing product would protect the surface and not interact with the highly soluble ink.
You can see some of my other stamp marker sketches on my blog–if you have used them yourself, please drop us a comment or a link!