Pen Geek 3 : Sharpie Rub-a-Dub Laundry Marker 17th Mar 2011
Ink : Black only, permanently marks fabrics. Water, laundry and even dry cleaning proof!
Nib : Fiber tip
Size : Not specified by the manufacturer, but I'd say it was a medium tip
Cap : Removable.
Manufacturer : Sharpie
RRP : £2.13 (but you can get them much cheaper, check out Cult Pen who have them at £1.27)
I discovered Sharpie Rub-a-Dubs whilst searching for a pen to customize my first pair of Converse All Stars with. I needed a pen which could be used on the rough canvas surface of the shoes, gave a pretty fine line for detailing but which didn't bleed or smudge when wet (there's a lot of puddles in Aberdeen).
As with all Sharpies, the pens have a great handle - the fat barrels are easy to hold when drawing and the cap snaps on tight - a good thing when there's no chance of removing ink leaks!
My main worry was that the tip wouldn't be fine enough to capture my usual level of detail. Unlike a fineliner, the felt tip doesn't lend itself ideally to super intricate work, but neither does the rough surface of the canvas shoe. After about 20 minutes of drawing, I found the tip would fray a little and loose it's point. There's still plenty ink in the barrel, but the lines just aren't as crisp. To get around this, I use up to 4 pens for each shoe I customize. I store used ones as there's still plenty ink there for projects requiring a little less detail. In an ideal world, there would be a variety of nib sizes to choose from.
The ink is perfectly opaque and the fiber nib means there's no unexpected blobbing or pooling of ink - think of it as a grown-up felt tip. I occasionally needed to give the pen a wee rest and bit of a shake, but nothing out the ordinary for a fiber tip. Unlike some forms of fabric pen which contain gel inks that sit proud of the surface of the cloth, the ink in Rub-a-Dubs is absorbed by the cloth and sinks into the fibers. Because of this, you need to keep them pen moving, too long a pause can cause little bleeding pools at the point of contact.
Currently they only come in black, which is fine for me and if you are labeling kid's uniforms or camping equipment, not great if you are looking for a bit of colour.
The reason I chose Rub-a-Dubs for the Converse work was the water resistant fabric ink. Does it live up to the claims? Yes, definitely. The ink is water resistant and doesn't smudge or bleed when wet. I've not tested out the dry cleaning claims, but the shoes and odd t-shirt I've drawn on have stood up to rock pools, Scottish downpours, an over zealous washing machine and even an unexpected dunk into a chlorinated swimming pool. If you want to draw on fabric and not loose your handiwork, these are the pens for you.
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