Dear Margaret Q & A

Margaret Riley Dear Margaret products


J. W. Etc. White Lightning® cannot be found (I have checked Amazon and Google). Do you know if it is still available? Years ago I thought someone wrote a recipe/formula to make it yourself. I appreciate all feedback. Thank you!—Claudia

Thanks for your question, Claudia. And you are correct! White Lightning is no longer produced (but I did find some on a site in Australia which would be a horrible cost in shipping it to you). For those of our subscribers that do not know what the product White Lightning is, I shall describe it. It is a combination of a sealer with a white stain into a water-based product. In its time, it was ideal for all woods, even green wood. When the technique “pickling” was popular, many artists used this product plus it gave a pleasing white wash finish. It was a sealer, a primer, and a whitewash with an easy water clean-up.

After some research, I did find a formula to substitute the White Lightning onto your project surface. Mix white flat paint with satin varnish and water in a 1:1:1/4 ratio. For example, if you use 1 quart of paint, add 1 quart of varnish and 1/4 cup water.

I hope this helps and good luck with your projects!


After using Micro® pens in some of my projects, they smear when I spray a finish on the piece.  I have waited up to a week before spraying and it still smears.  Any suggestions? Thanks for any help.—Mary

Great question, Mary! I’ve had this happen, too! And so disappointing! I did some research and the Micro pens were originally invented to not bleed on paper and paper-type surfaces. We, as decorative artists, found they give great line work to our projects but many times they bleed when a finish spray was applied over them. Part of the problem is alcohol in the spray. If you are going to spray a sealer on your finished product, it is best to do on a similar surface before proceeding.

I did find out that many artists will spray their sealer/varnish onto their finished product BEFORE they use the Micron. Then after the sealer is dry, do your line work. I have read where the Sharpie fine line marker works as well but will have a tendency to fade after a couple years. I use the Identi-Pen by Sakura and have success but I usually brush on my varnish.

I hope I have answered your question. If you have more questions regarding the Micron, I would suggest calling the manufacturer of the Micron pen directly. This is the phone number I found on the internet: 510-475-880. Their website is:

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  • Margaret on

    Mary Ann Turner….How long a pen lasts is answered by how much you use it. And they are available at most mass merchant craft stores. If not, you can order them on Amazon or on the internet. Just go to your favorite search bar and type in Identipen. It’ll be there in a flash!

  • Debbie on

    I too have had problems (Christmas Eve the pen ran when sprayed-Yes it was a Christmas present). Now I always spray with a Matte Varnish first, let dry, then spray or brush with a finish coat of your choice.

  • Mary Ann Turner on

    so where do we find the Identipen, and how long do they last??

  • Monica on

    If using micron pens. Spray with matte finish first..let dry and then spray with gloss

  • Karen Lewis on

    I have found that when I use the Identipen I wait a couple of days and then give it a VERY Light spray of Matt Varnish once dry I can spray it with Gloss or whatever final spray varnish I want and it does not bleed.

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