Introduction: Zen and the Art of Making a Marker.

Picture of Zen and the Art of Making a Marker.

This instructable is not merely here to teach you how to make a home made marker, but to school you on the rebellious free thinking behind it.

Back in the day in New York, when making your own marker first became an inspiration and guerrilla, graffiti tactics and skills where handed down from writer to writer...

We learned to use carbon paper from post office labels, bank deposit slips or whatever we could find that had a sheet of carbon paper in between so we could make our own ink. You see... back then, as opposed to now where we use predominantly (if not entirely) 'carbon-less' paper... Carbon paper was a very useful way of making copies of your signature on checks, information on forms you filled out and even tickets cops would issue you. We would also use what we had or could find for the marker container and acquire the chalk board eraser for the tip from school.

You use whats already in your environment. It doesnt have to be carbon paper, a plastic bottle or specifically a chalkboard eraser... but it deepens the point of it all that you didnt have to work in order to get money just to pay for a marker, just so you could create and express yourself.

The act of making your own marker in and of itself is the activism.

This instuctable is open to collaboration Share your thoughts, post your improvements and ideas. Keep in mind, the idea is to create a tool for expression out of materials that are easy to find and re-purpose.

Sustainable freedom of expression.


Step 1: What You'll Need...

Picture of What You'll Need...

Rubbing Alcohol
Blue carbon paper
A rubber band
Chalk board eraser
Plastic bottle or other container for your marker.

Step 2: Making the Ink...

Picture of Making the Ink...

Step 3: Oops...

Picture of Oops...

Step 4: Making the Marker Tip...(1)

Picture of Making the Marker Tip...(1)

Step 5: Making the Marker Tip...(2)

Picture of Making the Marker Tip...(2)

Step 6: The Marker...

Picture of The Marker...

Step 7: You Didnt Hear It From Me...

Picture of You Didnt Hear It From Me...


foobear (author)2013-08-27

like this very much and also interesting insight into a whole nother world.

ilpug (author)2011-03-01

why not just use normal ink and dilute it?

pixelhustler (author)ilpug2011-09-20

You can use just about any ink, you dont have to dilute it... but this is how we made our own markers/ink back in the 1980s in New York.

ilpug (author)pixelhustler2012-04-08

Huh, a bit of history, that. Good idea, although as you said it is probably out of date.

bones1 (author)2007-10-02

how long do you shake the bottel

pixelhustler (author)bones12011-09-21

You dont have to shake it. Just let it sit for a day or 2.

bones1 (author)pixelhustler2011-09-21

Thanks for the reply and for the instructable, it's been a very informative reference over the years. I was wondering if you could help me, i have been using a different recipe (its still carbon based) I use finely, finely crushed charcoal as the base and red wine as the bulk (imagine you already know this is there anything i can do to improve it?). You cant get rubbing alcohol over here tramps kept drinking it. my question is, what can be used as a liquid agent in carbon based inks? thanks for any help and

TaGgEr420 (author)2007-09-04

yo thats bomb, im goin to try makin some huge fats. thanx bro

pixelhustler (author)TaGgEr4202011-09-21

Your very welcome.

skip2mylou (author)2007-09-07

right after i saw the last image, i was like "that's phenomenal". truly amazing, i really appreciate the historical background. ive been writing... err words... for about 3 years so im still a toy, but i strongly believe that in order to fully appreciate it, uve gotta know the history and respect those that came before them. so thanks for the history lesson and thanks for making the instructable so easy to follow. question: why only blue?

pixelhustler (author)skip2mylou2011-09-21

That particular carbon paper is the only carbon paper that will work. The color you get is the color it gives you. The more carbon paper...the darker the color.

nkk07 (author)2008-01-10

could yu use water based paint??

pixelhustler (author)nkk072011-09-21


Remote Man (author)2008-02-02

pretty much THE sexiest instructable ive seen in a loooong time. 9/10!!

pixelhustler (author)Remote Man2011-09-21

Much appreciated. Thanks!

sharlston (author)2009-05-20

does the ink leak out?

pixelhustler (author)sharlston2011-09-20

It partly depends on the ink and how well you bind up the erasers....but generally speaking... no. You can tip it and turn it upside down and it wont leak. Gotta store it up right when your not using it though.

RefStone (author)2010-06-25

Enlightening but I'd have to make the alcohol myself or dumpster it to get into this. Sauce and spice is the way to go. Smear on some mustard and throw dirt on the wall; or the like. Good read.

potato413 (author)2008-07-08

not very. alchol based ink isnt too great. i hear pilot has a superpermanant ink but I like ink more. krink works well in theese too and is easy to make.

biofueljunke (author)potato4132010-04-17

pilot ink is amazing the black dosent fade to bad and stains anything even some plastics

biofueljunke (author)2010-04-06

you could just get some griffin or kiwi and save the shoepolish for ur home made and throw bucket paint into the applicator... ok dont throw paint pour it in with a funnel

benitbaby1 (author)2008-12-02

i made the ink differently.
i made it with alcohol and cut up peices of sharpies and pens and i put some dot 3 in there.
but this is a good idea also.
and your tag would look better is you made drips.

fancypenguin845 (author)2008-04-25

wow is cool... you could find some permanent ink and it would be like a mega sharpie

Charles IV (author)2008-03-26

Where do you get that blue carbon paper?

robodud3 (author)2007-12-20

hey great instructable nice tag 2 but also in my marker my ink is alot like this add some old crappy cut up bic ink like rip em out of the pen cut em into tiny bits and throw them in adds som texture 2 the ink and makes a little darker

Pyrowuzzup (author)robodud32007-12-29

i just tried this it works pretty well. comes out as a dark purple. i didnt have any carbon paper. i used an old hollowed out hand grenade for my container. looks kind nice.

robodud3 (author)Pyrowuzzup2007-12-30

kool glad to see it worked out for some one ells 2 i think the carbon paper might make it a litlle less dark purple (i used yellow paper i swiped from skool)

royal armstrong (author)2007-12-01

diy or die

hendrix13494 (author)2007-11-25

nothin to fancy i like it alot

hendrix13494 (author)2007-11-20

fresh tag

i agree.

sk8er6 (author)2007-11-22

what brand carbon paper did you use? i know that violet/black no longer work. i've always used ball pen ink mixes. stains hard.

Ock (author)2007-11-20

how permanent is the ink?

Hardee (author)2007-11-11

Instead of whatever ink/paint you used, use a mixture of 2/3 paint and 1/3 thinner or mineral spirits

lemonie (author)2007-08-06

That's pretty cool. I woud never have though of anyone doing this, but that's fat.
And I suppose you have your choice of 'fumes' and you can turn the marker into fire...


Weissensteinburg (author)lemonie2007-08-06

Or, light your words on fire.

Hey... that would be cool... even more incentive to try this!

MattyMumbles (author)2007-09-26

I never even thought of carbon paper ink. I always used india ink (just black ink) cuz it was always handy. Kiwi shoe polish containers are rad too, they've already got a mop on 'em so no need for the eraser. Rusto(leum) Aluminum paint with paint thinner, and some brake fluid also makes an excellent alternative to the incredibly expensive 'KRink' mops. But theres nothin like writin' with a marker you made from start to finish.

good concept but it needs to be elaborated on greatly

drake (author)2007-08-07

I wonder if you could buy this mega marker

pixelhustler (author)drake2007-08-16

Of course you could, but theres no fun in that.

LasVegas (author)2007-08-06

Just don't use it on my wall or any place you haven't acquired permission. Thanks.

cry_wolf (author)2007-08-06

Nice, plenty of old school recipes, most originated in New York. I'd prefer making this than going out and buying a tub of GROG inks. Saved me some cash! But it seems a bit diluted, not so strong like a Montana ink would be, thats really thick.

dantheflipman (author)2007-08-06

I really like this instructable, it gets me thinking about other ways i could make this :D I may post pictures on my marker later

JakeTobak (author)2007-08-06

That's really cool, I may try to make one some day with Fluorescein

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