Friday, September 9, 2011

Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Pen

My friend Joyce Mullis told me about FriXion Erasable Gel Pens by Pilot some time ago, but I only recently got some and tried them out. WOW! These pens use a new type of ink technology that is really interesting.

They are called FriXion (pronounced “friction”) because the ink can be erased using friction. On paper, you simply use the end of the pen, which has a gray plastic nub, rather than an eraser, to rub out the ink. The eraser completely and easily removes the ink. Unlike regular erasers, they don’t sand away the surface of the paper when they are removing the ink, so the paper is not damaged at all. And the gel ink is very smooth and leaves a nice clean, dark line.

As if this isn’t wonderful enough, the pens also have the added advantage of having ink that disappears when it is exposed to heat in excess of 140 degrees F. Because they are gel pens, they write very smoothly on fabric, leaving a very dark line. Here’s how the royal blue one looks on white fabric when I signed my name, using normal pressure:

Iron the fabric, and the ink disappears, very quickly, and very completely, like magic!

Now here’s where it gets interesting. When I first heard about these pens, I thought, “Cool! There are all sorts of applications for quilting and fiber art here. I can trace applique shapes with these pens, and after I’ve stitched, I’ll just iron them and the ink will disappear. Or I could mark lines for embroidery!” Well… no. If you put the fabric in the freezer, below 14 degrees F, in a few seconds, the ink is back! So the heat doesn’t actually remove the ink, it just makes it transparent.

So now the wheels in my head are turning again on how I could use these nifty pens on fabric. My first idea is to do my quilt labels with them. You know how you have to cover up your labels when you turn in your quilts for a show, so the judge can’t see your name? Before the show, you could just iron the labels to make them invisible, and when they come home, you could chill them (maybe by sitting that part of the quilt on an ice pack) and the type would be back! 

The only problem would be if you lived in Minnesota and the quilt show was in the winter, and your quilts were transported from the drop-off location to the judging location in a car in frigid weather. Hmmmm.... wheels are still turning. Ideas, anyone?

Right now, FriXion Erasable Gel Pens only come in the colors shown above: purple, blue, orange, pink, red and black. There are also FriXion highlighters in orange, red and yellow.


  1. Susan, you are absolutely right that the heat only takes the color away, the get still remains and will return if it gets very cold. However, if you wash the quilt the gel is completely removed and will not come back. Sometimes on batiks particularly, when you iron the ink the color is removed but it leaves a while line where the gel is. Once again if you wash the fabric the white line will disappear. Hope you find this info helpful. I love the pens.

  2. I love these pens! I tried it from my local quilt shop who was selling them for $5.99 each--now I buy them from Staples at 3 for $5.00!

    They truly do work!

  3. Use "hot hands" chemical hand warmers to keep the "invisible" label from getting so cold the heat returns

  4. If you wash the quilt, the gel goes away and it won't come back at all. Try it!

  5. These pens sound like something I'm going to have to try!

  6. This is a wonderful pen. You do not need to use iron, hair dryer mark disappears!

  7. I have read that the ink does not wash out after it was ironed .. maybe before? My biggest concern is the archival quality .. if the chemical does remain what will it do to the fabric over the years?

  8. Thank you for the information! I did not know that cold would make the marks come back - will have to rethink using them now. I bought one last week at my LQS and have been very happy using it for marking embroidery lines. I'm a bit worried now about the lines coming back!

    1. I did a sample before using to mark my quilt, mark, remove mark with heat, put in freezer-came back. Washed it with soap and water, dried, put it in the freezer and it did not come back.

  9. I'm now thinking they will work great on my dish towels that I love to embroidery like grandma did. I can draw any design, and then wash them and dry them. When they go thru the dryer, the heat will atleast make the mark go away.. Not sure how the ink will react in the washing machine though.. so I will have to find some of these and give it a try. What store did you find yours at?? I HAVE to go search for some now.

  10. Susan, your idea for using it on labels is a great one for shows and contests. I doubt that where I live it would ever be a problem, but I think if you were to create a sleeve to put the quilt in for transport to colder climates, and used batteries or other technology that they have for hunting socks, you might be able to prevent that from happening.

    The other thing is that my guess would be that they are not going to unpack the quilts for shows in an area that is without heating, so that the people who are unpacking and hanging will be comfortable in their work.

  11. Mommarock: I bought mine on, but I think you can find them at regular office supply stores.

  12. I did extensive testing of these pens and found that they do NOT completely wash out. If you use starch, it's even harder to get the residue out.

    I blogged about it:

  13. This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I've found something that helped me. Kudos!
    Here is my website - Twitter


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