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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  • 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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