Saturday, January 28, 2012

Conte Pencil vs Quilters Pencil on Silk

Conte Pencil
Ok so I have done 4 drawings on silk with the Conte pencil instead of the grey quilters pencil I normally use and I am really loving it. The quilters pencil was causing too many problems, so when my silk painter friend Don Baker recommended vine charcoal or Conte pencil to trace drawings on to silk I jumped at the chance to try something new.

In the past I have tried the disappearing pen and I hated it. The blue water soluble pens, also hated that, so I settled on the quilters pencil as the lesser of 3 evils. The problem I was having with the quilters pencil was that you had to push really hard and that hurt my arthritic hands......a lot! Plus by pushing hard the pencil tip was constantly breaking, I mean like every few strokes it would break again. Then there was the problem of the lines not washing out all the way, that was really annoying because it it supposed to be a water soluble pencil. The Conte pencil flows so easily onto the silk that you need to apply very little pressure. It takes such a light hand to draw that I was able to put 4 drawings onto silk in one day. I never could have done that with the quilters pencil or my hands would be aching! Also the tip never breaks, not once during all those drawings did the tip break!!! Wooo hooo!!!!!

Pentel Click Eraser

My biggest concern with the Conte pencil was that it also would not wash out and I am still in the testing phase here but today I discovered something cool about it. In the past when I incorrectly drew a line with the quilters pencil I used a Pentel Click Eraser to erase it but it would not come out totally. Even water would not take it out all the way. Yesterday when I made a mistake with a line on the silk I tried the Pentel click Eraser but it was not taking it out all the way so I got a paper towel and dampened it and it came out so easily with such little residue that I feel confident the dyes will cover it. So I am loving my Conte pencil on silk!!!! Thanks so much Don Baker. In return for this great tip I am posting your web link here: Don Baker Silks Website

Wiping the Conte pencil off with a damp paper towel worked great. You want to draw lightly with the Conte pencil but to me that is part of the beauty of it, you don't need to press hard and wear out your hands!

My stash of Conte Pencils


  1. That's helpful! Thanks! You can also try using your damp paper towel underneath the silk and a dry one on the top - that should help the graphite to flow back off the silk again.

    Jane Cameron.

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for the comment. I don't recommend using graphite on silk because in my experience it does not come out well. The Conte is a much better choice. I use a paper towel folded in two behind the silk against the wall and then the damp one I am wiping the silk with. Very much in the same way you would erase dye with alcohol by putting a paper towel behind the silk and using a Q-tip on top dampened with alcohol. The silk is wet in the photo and I have not wiped away all the markings yet. Probably should have taken an "after" photo as well. ;~)

  2. I'm so glad you are having great success Linda!
    Don Baker