Today, we’re going to show you how to make liquid watercolour paint with your dried up markers. It’s easy to do – you just need a little patience.
Liquid watercolours are amazing. We use them a lot here in my home daycare. They’re vibrant, they’re versatile, they’re beautiful, and they’re fun to use.
But I have good news!
I’ve discovered a way to make your own homemade liquid watercolours! These are different than our homemade watercolour disks (which are also awesome, so check those out too!)
Want some even better news?
You can make them without spending a dime!
“How’s that?”, you ask.
Well, you’re going to make them out of something you were going to throw in the trash: your dried up markers!
You know… the markers that the kids have left the tops off of, or that they’ve used so often there’s no ink left in them, or the ones that have just dried up over time?
You hate throwing them away, don’t you?
Well don’t worry. You don’t have have to throw those markers away!
There’s actually a lot of ink left in them.
Yep! Even the most worn-out, dried up, marker has a ton of ink left in it.And you can easily extract that ink and turn it into colourful paint for your kids or students.
The process is easy. It does take a bit of time though, so patience is required, but hey, those markers were just going in the trash anyway, right? Waiting a few days while your markers turn into watercolour paints is no biggie, right?
Let me show you how to do it!
In these above pictures, the outlining was done in crayon. All other colour is the liquid watercolors.
Being a little spoiled by the intensity of the store-bought Liquid Watercolor Paint (affiliate link) that we’ve used in the past, I wanted our homemade watercolours to be really rich in colour, so I put some extra effort into this process.
You don’t have to put quite as much effort into making your paints, but I feel that it really paid off. It’s the reason our paints are so vibrant.
For this project, you’ll need:
- dried out markers
- glass jars with lids (large baby food jars or small mason jars are great)
and if you’re putting in the extra effort:
- small bowl
- scissors or pliers
Turn dried up markers into liquid watercolours
After testing our markers and setting the good ones aside, the hooligans sorted the dry markers into groups of similar colours. We ended up with 6 piles:
I set out six glass jars, and the four year old poured a bit of water into each jar.
Next, the hooligans dropped the markers into the water.
Immediately, colour started to leach out into the water. We shook and stirred our jars a bit to observe the changes in the water, and then I set the jars on a window sill, and we left them for a full week.
What if some of the water evaporates?
It’s gonna happen. Don’t sweat it! Some water will evaporate, but your pigment won’t.
Your colours will simply become more concentrated, and that’s a good thing.
Our water became so dark as the days passed. Turns out there was quite a bit of ink left in those markers after all!
At this point, if you want, you can call it a day, and use your paint as is.
I wasn’t about to stop here though; I wanted to get every last bit of ink out of those markers!
To make our watercolours even more intense:
This next bit can get a little messy, so place everything in the sink, and work from there, or, if you’re working on a countertop or table, place everything on an old towel.
With a pair of pliers, I pulled the ends off the markers and removed the coloured inserts. Some of the inserts slipped out easily when I tipped the marker upside down, but others weren’t so co-operative, so I used the pliers to crack the plastic casing, and tug the insert out.
Then I snipped up the sponge inserts, and put them in a bowl with a bit of water.
With my fork, I squished and squeezed those insert pieces until I felt I’d extracted all the colour I could, and I poured it into the matching jar.
This was the result of my efforts:
The liquid paint colours are so intense that I have to hold some of them up to the light to tell them apart.
How to use your liquid watercolor paints:
You can use your paints full strength, or you can pour a small amount into an ice cube tray, and add a few drops of water to dilute them. That’s what I do for the hooligans.
The ones you see below have been diluted:
Preserving your leftover paint:
If, at the end of their painting session, you kids have paint left in the tray DON’T throw it out! Leave the tray out in the open, and let the liquid evaporate. The pigment will dry in the bottom of the tray. When you’re ready to paint again, simply add a few drops of water, and stir to re-constitute your paint!
How to store your homemade liquid watercolour paints:
And there you have it. Gorgeous, homemade liquid watercolours for all of your creative art and science activities!
And you didn’t have to spend a dime on them!
Stay tuned in the days to come because I’ll be sharing the watercolour projects that kids make with their homemade paints!
For more easy, homemade paint recipes, check out our:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.