Where can I find the kind of marker for use glass as a chalkboard?
February 7, 2005 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I've seen this in a few movies (A Beautiful Mind perhaps?) and more recently in that horrible TV show "Numb3rs": A pane of glass being used as a chalkboard with some sort of marker. Where can I obtain such a marker, and what is it called?
posted by phrontist to Grab Bag (33 answers total)
You will be pleased to learn that the marker is called a 'dry erase marker', that they are readily available in large quantities for an attractively low price, and that your place of business, if applicable, may have hundreds or thousands of them, that nobody would miss, lying around all willy-nilly.
posted by felix at 1:07 PM on February 7, 2005

You can use any regular dry-erase marker on glass. I use it on my bathroom mirror at home to remind myself of things.
posted by scazza at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2005

are they really dry erase markers? they look more gooey and luminous in colour than what we've got hanging around the whiteboards. I thought it was some sort of fancy china marker.
posted by heather at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2005

Hmmm... Did they have dry erase marker's in the 50's? Was that just an innacuracy in A Beautiful Mind?
posted by phrontist at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2005

While a dry erase marker may work, isn't there something else?

On Preview: what heather said.
posted by phrontist at 1:11 PM on February 7, 2005

I think the shot may have originated in Good Will Hunting. It's quite the cinematography cliche now.
posted by Arch Stanton at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2005

Re: something else?

A wax pencil can be used to draw on glass. I've used to transfer templates to stained glass. Apparently they're also used to mark beakers and containers used in experiments and such, but i have no first hand knowledge.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2005

I've just been informed that this is done on Navy Subs often, and that the glass in illuminated. But where do I get one of those markers?!
posted by phrontist at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2005

It would be no great surprise if the movies used conventional markers (or something else inappropriate for anyone wanting to re-use the glass) because it looked better.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 1:20 PM on February 7, 2005

I've seen the same sort of thing in movies with aircraft carriers and submarines, where some guy writes down positions and paths of aircraft, ships, etc on a piece of glass. They do this backwards, so people on the other side of the glass can read it correctly. They don't use standard dry-erase markers.
posted by driveler at 1:22 PM on February 7, 2005

It looks gooey because it's not a marker, it's a grease pencil. A long-time friend of the non-standard writing surface (but more of a pain to wipe off than your standard dry-erase marker).

A classic variation of the linked example is a pencil that uses some sort of fabric as the stem material that is unwrapped as the 'lead' becomes short.
posted by o2b at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2005

Didn't see them in the movies, saw them in my 4 y/o's hands:
Crayola Window FX Washable Markers.
posted by m@ at 1:29 PM on February 7, 2005

Are you thinking of flourescent markers, like Glo-Write or Bright Sticks? They come in both dry- and wet-erase varieties and they look a little cooler on glass than standard dry-erase markers. They're mainly used on those black illuminated "specials" boards you see at restaurants and bars.
posted by zsazsa at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2005

I think I know what phrontist is talking about - think of the big white-colored marker used in Amelie when Amelie is writing the soup du jour on the glass panel. I don't know what it its but it's not a grease pencil and it's not a dry erase marker.

I usually just use a dry-erase marker, though.

On preview, zsazsa might have it.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on February 7, 2005

Grease pencil. Friend of pilots and scuba divers the world over.
posted by TeamBilly at 1:36 PM on February 7, 2005

They sell markers specifically for glass, usually found in stores with the auto supplies (think "for sale" and "just married"). I don't know if that's what you're looking for, as they're quite huge.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:41 PM on February 7, 2005

I've always referred to them as 'chinagraph pencils' and a search on google finds plenty of references to them under this name. As far I can remember, I've just bought them at normal office supplies places (in Australia). As best as I can tell, it is a form of wax, so those who said 'wax pencil' are probably thinking of the same thing as I am.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2005

Grease pencils also come in colors - grey, white, pink. I expect that's what's being depicted in period movies, rather than any type of marker. Felt-tipped markers weren't common at all until the late 50s/early 60s, whereas grease pencils were standard in labs, classrooms, and home kitchens.
posted by Miko at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2005

I was just coming in to say the same as AnnaRat - John Nash almost certainly used some form of Chinagraph on his windows (if, in reality, he did such a thing)...
posted by benzo8 at 3:29 PM on February 7, 2005

There's something called "Glass Chalk" being flogged for cheap down at Princess Auto (at least I think it was P.A...)
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on February 7, 2005

They are used in last night's Law & Order SVU and also ER.
posted by coolsara at 4:36 PM on February 7, 2005

Graffiti.org's glossary calls them "china markers" (or grease pencils); I see drawings using them on trains around town all the time:

A type of grease pencil used by artists to mark up contact sheets of photos or the photos themselves for cropping. They come in red and blue, and were adopted by writers for tagging because of the grease base. China markers are not very big, only as big as a crayon, but will write on almost anything.

re media sightings: The backwards-writing in the cafe scenes in Amelie.
posted by mediareport at 4:48 PM on February 7, 2005

I just use Crayola washable markers. Lots of pretty colors and they wipe off with a tissue. We write messages on the bathroom mirror, too. Scazza, you're the only other person I know of who does that. The Crayola glass markers look like fun.
posted by theora55 at 5:48 PM on February 7, 2005

I've done quite-nice drawings on windows using whiteboard markers. Dead easy to trace the outlines of things. Looks very artsy when viewed: sort of a visual echo.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on February 7, 2005

Are you thinking of a glass marker?
posted by id girl at 9:12 PM on February 7, 2005

When I was working in California I was issued dry-erase markers as part of my standard "office kit" when I started at one company but no board; fortunately, the office had windows out onto the hall, so I used that. Worked great, the window had chicken-wire inside (to keep it from shattering?), so it was like writing on graph paper.

One day, inspiration struck: I drew a chess set on the window using the wire as a board, putting the white set on the inside and the black on the outside of the window. Sure enough, random people wandering the halls would make moves, erasing a piece and re-drawing it somewhere else.
posted by hob at 9:23 PM on February 7, 2005

I think the shot may have originated in Good Will Hunting. It's quite the cinematography cliche now.

I think it was used in Sneakers, which I believe has 4-6 years on Good Will Hunting.
posted by weston at 9:43 PM on February 7, 2005

I suspect a normal 'magic makrer' of the non-eraesable sort, will work on glass, and be removeable with the aid of window cleaner and/or alcohol. White boards (the good, porcelain-on-steel sort) often point out you can do this to make, for example, graph lines that won't dry-erase, then mark the graph with dry erase markers.
posted by Goofyy at 10:56 PM on February 7, 2005

BBC's Waking the Dead has been using the glass "blackboard" to great effect for a few years. I don't know how they'd solve a case without it.
posted by yerfatma at 4:19 AM on February 8, 2005

Grease pencils were standard for marking up maps during my officer training days. Colours we used included red, black, green and blue. The big advantage of these pencils were that they wouldn't run in the rain.

That said, the best product for our purposes where Staedtler-Mars Permanent Markers along with a bottle of nail polish remover.

So remember this: over 75% of Junior Officers in the Canadian Armed Forces run around with nail polish remover in their webbing. (At least when I was around, roughly 10 years ago)
posted by smcniven at 6:40 AM on February 8, 2005

This wasn't used in Sneakers -- are you thinking of the lecture scene, where the guy is writing and it's being projected on the wall? That's different.
posted by o2b at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2005

Good Will Hunting used a marker on a mirror, John Nash used a grease pencil (by whatever name) on a window. I haven't seen Numb3rs.
posted by o2b at 9:09 AM on February 8, 2005

Expo Vis-A-Vis Markers, meant for use on overhead projector films, work a treat on glass. The ink is vibrant and cleans up with plain water, and the markers come in a variety of sizes, from typical felt-tip to typical magic marker.
posted by Dreama at 1:20 PM on February 8, 2005

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