Dot-based "Fax Highlighter"? Am I insane?
April 17, 2007 9:17 AM   Subscribe

When I was a kid, I found a bizarre pen at my grandmother's house. It was a marker with a roller on the tip and it created a dot pattern similar to zip-a-tone when you wrote with it. The ink was a dull purple, like Spider-Man's webbing in a comic book. She called it a "fax highlighter," but I've never been able to find such a thing in office supply stores or on the internet. It sure would be cool to have one for shading and creating a unique look in quick sketches. Help?
posted by clango to Technology (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a pen for making fabric patterns, maybe try a sewing store instead of office supplies?
posted by JigSawMan at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2007

A little googling and I am wondering if maybe what you saw was a surgical marking pen? The majority of those pens seem to mark with a purple/indigo color.
posted by JigSawMan at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2007

I am pretty sure that the fabric guess is right. I've never heard of this "fax highlighter" thing, but I am pretty sure my mom had one (it was like a little poky wheel, right) for marking out patterns, and you could get them in white (for dark fabrics) and purple (for light). I think JigSawMan is right - check fabric stores.

Also, those inks are very likely delible, since their purpose was to be washed out or automatically fade.
posted by mckenney at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2007

Best answer: I have some fax highlighters like you described. I got them about six or seven years ago at Staples. I haven't seen them on the shelf at any store in a while, though. It came in a package with other "rolling writers" - that is, instead of a ballpoint tip, there was a tiny "wheel" and it had a repeating design on it. One was the dotted fax highlighter, one said "PAID", one was a star pattern, etc. I'll do some looking and see if I can find them to see who made them.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2007

Response by poster: Oriole, that sounds almost EXACTLY right. The major difference is mine had tiny dots without star or word shapes.
posted by clango at 10:42 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a fax highlighter too. I'm betting they don't make them anymore, as fax machines are not the modern technology they once were.
posted by clh at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2007

Response by poster: I just found the pen, but there aren't any identifying brand marks on it. Here's a ... picture!

Wish I'd realized I still had it stashed in a box for the O.P.

Seeing it in action, you will understand why it is imperative to get more! This one is pretty near-death.
posted by clango at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007

Response by poster: Oops, HERE'S the picture:
posted by clango at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007

A scrapbooking supply store might carry such a pen.
posted by cairnish at 11:01 AM on April 17, 2007

I love the dots! Those things are sometimes called stamp rollers or rolling stamps, if that helps. These rollagraphs are pretty cool too - the checked and grid ones could make good quickie backgrounds.
posted by iconomy at 12:12 PM on April 17, 2007

You can order the Rollagraphs directly from the manufacturer, Clearsnap. That might be as close as you can get these days.
posted by litlnemo at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2007

I saw those once at a college bookstore (some carry crazy highlighters like that), or you could try an art supply store or a specialty stationery store.
posted by deinemutti at 5:47 PM on April 17, 2007

Best answer: clango, I've googled about and found this product. Anything like the object you remember? No, I can't explain why Bible verses sell merchandise.
posted by namret at 6:20 PM on April 17, 2007

Response by poster: NAMRET EQUALS BATMAN!!!! Thank you!
posted by clango at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Looks like namret's found the real thing, but just in case folks are still thinking of sewing stores as possible alternate suppliers...that's probably a waste of time. Sewing notions counters will typically have air-erasable and water-soluble markers for fabrics; tracing wheels for use with chalk paper; chalk markers that dispense powdered chalk via a tiny wheel; and rolling pattern tracers that produce a fine line. But I've never seen anything producing a broad dotted pattern like the fax highlighter here in a sewing context -- not on store shelves, not in catalogs specializing in obscure notions, not even in my grandmother's oldest sewing books. A wide pattern like that just wouldn't have much utility in a sewing context: the detail isn't fine enough to mark individual stitching lines, while the pattern isn't broad or precise enough to mark a seam line and cutting line simultaneously.

(clango, you may want to stock up on those now that you have a source -- this page suggests they may be a discontinued product.)
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 9:36 PM on April 17, 2007

Good gosh, carbon-unit! You're still drawing on PAPER??? Don't tell me the MacBook died?!?

posted by zoogleplex at 10:18 AM on April 18, 2007

Response by poster: Paper drawing is a fun, archaic novelty!
posted by clango at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2007

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