Saturday, January 19, 2008

Watercolor Humidor

Do you have a drawer full of dried-up watercolor tubes? I do.

Here’s an idea to protect your newer tubes from suffering the same fate. Store them in tightly sealed canning jars, or if you’d rather, Tupperware. You can use one jar for warm colors and another for cools. This way they stay fresh forever.

Maybe someone out there has an suggestion for what to do with those dried up tubes. Someone once told me you could rehydrate them with a large hypodermic needle. I tried that but it didn't work. Maybe you could cut them open to regrind them. Hmmm. Any ideas?

Don’t miss a big Color Sunday post tomorrow….

Tomorrow: Is Moonlight Blue?


ZD said...

If you cut open the tubes you can take the solid paint out and try to draw with it like a pastel. I've done that before but I'm not sure if it's really that useful.

I've never put my paint in an airtight container, good idea.

Charles said...

James ... Thanks for addressing the storage of water based media. I live in a climate where the humidity is often in the mid to low teens, and sometimes in the single digits, and have used Tupperware for years to keep my watercolors and acrylics workable. I still have to occasionally mist the underside of the lid to maintain the humidity, but I do like having the flat open Tupperware boxes to see the tubes and not have to dump them out to find what I need. The misting does seem to cause mould on the watercolors, but the acrylics are free of that problem. I have read somewhere that vinegar helps cut back on the mould, but I have no idea if it adversly affects the paint. About once a month I dribble a few drops of vinegar on the lid with the misting.

As for the regeneration of dead watercolor tissue, I think we might need a mad scientest for that. I too have a number of dried tubes waiting for the discovery of the magic needed to bring them back to life.

Just recently discovered your blog. Many thanks for the sharing of your knowledge, ideas and ideals.

Anonymous said...

Here is a sometimes successful 'cure' that essentially uses the same principle you use for preserving the moisture in tubes that are still workable.

If possible loosen the caps of your dried tubes slightly. Place them in an airtight plastic container like the Tupperware mentioned in the post, together with a thoroughly wet, folded washcloth underneath. Close the Tupperware and place in a closet. Leave it there for a month or more and your tubes may yield workable color again. The longer you can leave it sealed, the more likely it is to absorb the moisture.

The drawback of this method is that it doesn't work with every color. And some chemicals used in the preparation and mixing of watercolors may produce molds when confined to high humidity for a long period. If you are asthmatic or allergic you might not want to try this.

cleondann said...

This is really looking good. Thanks for the information. I really like my large cupboard humidor. For more information visit: Large humidor

Linda Navroth said...

You just saved me a TON of money! Thanks for this great tip!
[wonderful blog, by the way--really interesting stuff here and am learnign alot from it]