ART ADVICE__watercolors in tubes. Ive got some dried out

Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 05:49 am
I have several tubes of watercolors that have dried a bit in the tubes (Tubes arent 100% impermeable). One is a seldom used but sometimes needed color (Vermillion), Its by Sennelier and you know it was exspensive.

Is there any way to get these tubes rehydrated?
I dont wanna microwave em so I dont burn out the magnatron. How about puttin the tubes in boiling water?

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Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 06:25 am
You shouldn't use boiling water as it will probably melt the plastic cap. I suggest the following.

A - You could cut the tube open and remove the hardened paint and put it into a plastic container or something to be used later by adding water.

B - You could use a nail, straw etc. to push into the cap opening to withdraw some of the c0ntents.

A or B would depend on how hard the contents are.
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Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 07:35 am
How Do I Soften Hard Watercolor Tube Paint?
By Marion Boddy-Evans, About.com Guide

Question: How Do I Soften Hard Watercolor Tube Paint?
"How do I soften hard watercolor tube paint? I've got some tubes where it's too hard to squeeze out anymore." -- J.B.


The bad news is you can't soften watercolor paint in a tube once it's dried hard, to get it squeezing out like it used to. The good news is that this doesn't mean you can't use the paint.

What you need to do is cut open the tube to get at the paint, then use it like you would a pan or block of watercolor. That is, gently rub a wet brush onto the dried paint and it'll "dissolve" into the water.

If the paint has thickened but can still be coaxed out of the tube, squeeze or scrape it onto a palette. It will dry slowly on the palette, but remain usable like a watercolor pan. Watercolor paint remains watersoluble when dry, so you can always "reactivate" it with a wet brush. (Unlike acrylics!)
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 07:39 am
Kind of what I already suggested. Wink
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 08:24 am
I guess Im stuck with that. Those whove used pan paints know that its a PITA to get the color uniform and you cannot make big batches of color without spending an afternoon with a Cuisinart and yougurt cups
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 09:53 am
What about an old spice grinder? If the paint is hard enough you might be able to put chunks of it into the spice grinder to pulverize it into a powder for mixing in larger batches.

Here's a suggestion from this website:


Hardened paint. Certain types of pigments (especially cobalts) tend to harden in the tube.

Paint hardens because (a) the cap was not screwed on tightly, (b) the paint was stored near excessive heat — over a radiator or in direct sunlight, (c) the pigment was insufficiently "aged" in the vehicle when the paint was manufactured, or (d) the paint is several years old, including both the amount of time you owned it and the time it hung by its neck in a retailer display rack.

If the tube of paint is new or nearly so, request a refund or exchange from the retailer. If you want to salvage a hardened tube, you can do so in two ways.

The first remedy is to force a clear plastic cocktail straw (the narrow kind) into the paint through the mouth of the tube. Push the straw straight into the tube as far down as it will go. Pull the straw out. It should pull with it a plug of hardened paint. If the paint is too hard for a straw to penetrate, you can use a large nail instead.

Fill the hole you've just made with water, and screw on the cap. Knead the tube to mix the water inside with paint, but do not use too much pressure. Set the tube aside for a few days, and repeat if necessary until the paint is sufficiently softened.

The second remedy is to cut the tube open and extract the paint. With a packing knife or sturdy scissors, amputate the empty tube at the crimp, and open the end. Do this carefully, as some parts of the paint may still be liquid. You now can scoop out the paint with a small palette knife (cut down each side of the tube to make this easier).

The hardened paint can be used in several ways. If the paint is still semimoist, the most convenient recourse is to pack the doughy paint into empty plastic dry pans, available from most direct order art retailers (Daniel Smith, Jerry's Artarama, or Cheap Joe's). Let the pans set for a day to dry, then use them in the normal way.

If the paint is so hard it crumbles or breaks when you try to cut it, you can save the dried paint in a small jar, or wrapped in aluminum foil, until you need it for a painting. Dissolve the quantity of paint you need in water. (Usually the paint has to soak for at least day to soften thoroughly, and you may have to add gum arabic or glycerin to adjust the texture.) My preference is just to throw it away.

If the problem recurs, try buying the paint in smaller tube sizes — and use it as soon as possible. Better yet, switch paint brands or art retailer. Well formulated and manufactured paint, displayed and sold by a well managed retailer, stored properly and used within a few years by the artist, will simply not harden in the tube. Period.
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Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 10:12 am
Just for kicks, I'd consider contacting the Sennelier site -

I know Robert Gamblin - http://www.gamblincolors.com/ His company is really good at answering questions, and providing helpful hint pages with his products in the first place. So, if other paint companies are like that, their customer service or tech department might have advice. Of course, they might just roll their eyes, as in 'why don't you throw it out and buy another one'.

Since the tube is permeable, I wonder if just putting it in a jar of water would work, however slowly.
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Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 10:22 am
I just use it hard. It's a pain, but there you go.
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 12:19 pm
Im gonna try Buttrfly's article. Ill try pushing a hypo into the paint and send in a mix of water and gum arabic. The GA can soften up the paint (I often use it on pan paints). GOOD IDEA. I will do this with a small tube of PAynes.
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 12:37 pm
Sounds good. I missed the hypo idea.
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Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 01:46 pm
Advice you want? My advice would be to ask realjohnboy. And if he wanted advice on rocks, I would send him to farmerman.
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 05:31 pm
Why RJB? does he have good tips on this??
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 05:33 pm
he sells art supplies, lava lamps, and hemp products, I believe...

(i could be mistaken as well)
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2010 04:26 am
Cut em open, Ive found, then mix in some gum arabic solution. Ive set several of my reds into a pan that I now keep covered with plastic wrap.
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Reply Sat 16 Oct, 2010 02:54 am
This is easy. I am doing it now. I'm diabetic, and I injected water in one tube with an insulin syringe and resealed it a while. But you don't have to have needles to put water in a tube.

I had a huge old tube of DaVinci yellow ochre, and the water I put in the top leaked at the bottom. So I cut the bottom open and dropped the whole tube in a small jar of water a while to soften.

I scraped paint out t of the bottom of the tube and put it in small plastic pill bottle with a dab of honey and water and am letting the water evaporate.

I resealed the top half of the tube into a plastic baggie to keep softening it. Eventually, I will scrape it out and put in the small pill bottle with the rest. Or, I may let the top half harden in the sun and then the hard chunks will fall off easily.

It will all be sealed in the plastic bottle a while with dabs of honey and glycerin and more water, shook up repeatedly, left sealed, and then I will take off the lid a while to let the water evaporate.

Pan watercolor in a small recycled pill bottle! After it gets congealed at the bottom, it will be easy to put water on the top and just moisten the top layer and pour some out for a wash.
Reply Sat 16 Oct, 2010 07:21 am
Im glad that youve had success. Im gonna stay away from anything with sugars and stick to the water and gum arabic. (Its a carb I kinow but at least it may not ferment and dull the color.
Ive done the "make some into pan colors" which works ok on the staining colors but not so good on the granulation colors (like Ultramarine)
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