You’ve been waiting all day for that precious block of time that’s just for you. It’s finally here, and with a sigh of relief you get out your new grown‐up coloring book and your fancy markers and start your “me‐time”. Happily coloring along, you uncap your pretty robin’s egg marker and get a patch of barely‐there blue. What? No, the blue can’t be dry. Aargh, dried markers aren’t relaxing at all!
There’s nothing worse than discovering broken craft supplies mid‐project. Here are some tips to fix the supplies and save the (crafty) day.
Can your craft supplies be saved?
Watercolors. Yes! Watercolor cakes are one of the easiest craft supplies to fix. Simply add a few drops of water to the broken cake (adding more drops as needed) and mix with an old paintbrush, craft stick, or other handy mixing tool. As the water evaporates, the cake will be good as new.
Craft Punches. Have a craft punch that sticks a bit or no longer cuts cleanly? Punch through a sheet of waxed paper several times to make it smooth again, and through aluminum foil to sharpen.
Brushes. When it comes to paint brushes that are no longer holding their shapes, there are a couple options to try. Success will depend on how much abuse the poor brush suffered already.
- If the bristles are separated into wonky bunches, the problem is likely dried paint in the ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles to the handle) keeping the bristles apart. Try Castile Soap or a good brush cleaner. Rub the soap into the bristles near the ferrule and let sit overnight. Then rinse with warm water, removing as much paint as possible. You may have to repeat, depending on the type and crustiness of the stuck paint.
- If the tip of the brush has a bad case of paintbrush bedhead from being smooshed in the wrong place for a while, try reshaping the brush using warm water, your fingers, and a bit of hair conditioner or hair gel. Let the brush dry in the reformed shape, and rinse out the conditioner or gel.
- If all else fails, this wacky brush can still be part of your collection. While not good for detail work, damaged brushes are still great for texturizing or larger areas. Prevent new brushes from damage by cleaning thoroughly after use, and lying flat until completely dry.
Acrylic Paint. Well, that depends. (I know. Super‐helpful, right?) Nothing will make acrylic paints new again, but you may be able to get a few more uses out of the container.
- If you’re using artist acrylics, Acrylic Flow Improver will help thin the paint without diluting the color.
- With craft acrylic paint, you may be able to get more life from your bottle, or at least be able to finish your project without running to the craft store. If your paint is just a little thick, you can thin it out a bit with water in a small container or palette well and it will be ready for your project. If the bottle is rock hard, though, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.
Markers. Dried out markers are annoying. In fact, when I pick up an expensive marker and find out it’s dried out already, I want to pitch it across the room. But before giving up on a marker, try these ideas:
- Make sure the tip isn’t clogged. For alcohol‐based markers, soak the marker tip in a shallow container of rubbing alcohol until ink starts to seep from tip. (Use water instead of alcohol for water‐based markers)
- If unclogging the tip doesn’t work, and you’re sure your $6 marker has ink left in it somewhere (darn it!), try making your own alcohol inks. Remove the inky guts of the marker from the plastic shell, and fill a small container with an ounce or so of 91% isopropyl alcohol. Soak the marker in the alcohol (it doesn’t need to be fully submerged) overnight. Squeeze the excess ink out of the marker to get the best color. Store in covered jar, or use a small funnel to pour ink into glass dropper bottles for easier use in projects.
Ink Pads. Dried out ink pads, on the other hand are easier to fix. Manufacturers often sell small re‐inker bottles that you can use to add more ink to the pad. It’s more cost effective than buying a new pad and well worth it, especially for your favorite colors. Well‐loved pads that are peeling away from their bases can be easily be reattached with fabric glue or superglue.
While being careful with craft supplies is ideal, we all know life happens. Sometimes trays get dropped, caps are accidentally left open or not clicked in place, and some supplies get used less often than others. Before you throw away those broken supplies (or throw them across the room), see if they have life left in them!
Until next time…