Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recycling the Old and Dry into Liquid Gold

I started looking at other art teachers' blogs about a year ago to help me get more project ideas and other nifty suggestions. One thing that I have run across most recently is a way to 'make paint' using old markers. Initially I thought it was a crock. However, its the end of the year and I'm sorting through materials to toss so I decided to put this theory to the test. Can one really make liquid watercolor paint out of old crusty dried out markers?

I did the following to find out: 
1. Rubber-banded 5 or 6 dried out water-based markers of a similar color together (I used Crayola and liqui-mark brands). I removed their marker tops and I'm saving those little goodies for another occasion.


2. Then I poured water into glass baby food jars below the screw top area.

3. Put the color tips of the markers into the water and just let it be.  If you look closely at the green jar you can just see the color gliding out of the markers and sinking to the bottom. It was fun to watch and I showed several of my students whose classes attended that day.
The longer it sits the better. I had a few jars that sat all school day (8 hours) and another set that sat all night long. Both turned out well. 2 to 4 hours isn't near enough time.

4. I removed the markers and sent them to live on a farm with other retired markers (aka: gave them a good heave-ho into the trash). I tested these on paper and found that they work quite well considering how it was made. In fact, I've already stained my hands a multitude of colors just testing out all my paints.

I'm quite excited to find a really green and cheap way to make liquid watercolors. They usually run atleast $40 for a set of 8 bottles. I already have 10 jars complete in my cabinet with intentions for more. I wish I had known about this sooner... all the markers I've wasted over the years. All the potential paint.

In summation, I answer the question above with a victorious Yes! you can make watercolor paint with old markers. And I'm all the happier for it!

35 comments:

  1. What a cool idea girl! I am not even a teacher but this one caught my attention. Looks like you have the makings for a great blog. I tweeted and facebooked about your cool post. Found you on pinterest. It won't be long and you will have lots of followers if you keep them coming.
    Debbie

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  2. This is great! I am going to ask all my school teacher friends if I can have their dried out marker. I'll trade for pull-tabs, boxtops and soup labels! Thanks...I'm pinning this picture to my board on Pinterest. Thanks for posting this great tip.

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  3. I wonder if this could have been done with just 1 marker. crack it open and soak that spongy thing that is inside in the baby food jar. i don't have several of the same color laying around the house.

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  4. I tried this with fewer markers and the color was very light when painted. What it really comes down to is your concentration of marker to h2o. If you use only one marker, use a very small amount of water. Or you could combine some markers together and create a 'new' color. Like combining a secondary color with a primary.. Greens with yellow or bliues.. Etc.

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  5. Love this idea and wish I had had it 30 years ago. All those markers I could have made paint with and recycled. We need more teachers with innovative ideas for reusing and recycling.

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  6. I do something differet. I take the end without point off and drop water inside and then close again. After they lay a while the water soaks evenly inside and the markers are good for quite a while!

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    1. This is what we did to "refresh" our markers as kids, but we just filled the lids with water and jammed them back on the marker to leave them for a while.

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    2. You can cut the market wicks up and put them in the jar with alcohol-makes alcohol based inks for staining, etc.

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  7. Thanks for the idea Laura. I will have to try that! :)

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  8. for $5 for fresh markers at dollar store (or cheaper if on sale) can make 8 (or 10 depending on size) instead that $40 for 8! could make 64 (or 80) with that amount!

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  9. When my daughter was young, I used to let her dip the old markers in water and "paint" on paper. She began calling them the "not-working markers." In my PreK classroom, I have new markers on my art center and "not-working markers." The "not-working markers" get used the most! Kids love them!

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  10. I want to know what you are going to do with all those caps!

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  11. I've done something similar. First I sent out an email to all my building teachers and child care asking for all dried-up markers. Once in the classroom I gave the separating of colors as a lunch time job to those who like to volunteer in my room. I showed another student how to use pliers to pop off the tip and end cap, to then pull out the fiber center. We put the tip and fiber centers(we cut them in half) in a baby food jar with hot water. About 4 or 5 markers to a jar. I mix colors to make awesome variations and pass them out to the other teachers to use. We use them in our art room and the teachers love having them at their disposal. There is a never ending supply of dried-up markers making their way to a new life!

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  12. I still use the empty marker. The kids dip them in tempra and use like a brush for more detailed painting.

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  13. Thanks for the tip... Pun intended~ :)

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  14. What a great tip! Thanks for sharing

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  15. I don't know if you live in a place that gets snow (I'm sure it'd work on the fake snow you can mix up) but I always let children take the dried up markers outside and let them color the snow. It works best with the darker colors but just another way to save those dried up markers from making the trash.

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  16. We love liquid watercolors around our house! I'll have to try this when we start using markers. However, I have found sets of 6 colors of liquid watercolors for under $10. I can't imagine them being as expensive as you mention. Of course, this is a local craft store that I found them at, so maybe that's the difference... (Pat Catan's, if you live in the NE OH/PA area).

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  17. Does anyone know if this would work with dried out dry erase markers? I have a ton of those and would love to have a way to reuse them.

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  18. I am doing this right now! My 8-year-old son is experimenting with different types of markers to see which type works the best. He's got Crayola Washables, Sharpies, and dry erase. I even encouraged him to hypothesize his results so that we can review the scientific method at the same time. Fun!

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    1. That's a great idea! I might just have to use that as a science lesson some day!

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  19. It is amazing idea Amanda...good job

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  20. No wonder why my 1st graders like to put their markers In some water to make them work again!

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  21. Love the usefulness of this. My girls are always forgetting to put the tops on their markers and I have to toss them. Now I can at least get a little bit more use out of them! Thanks for the post!

    http://thisfineday.com

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  22. I love this. I have a toddler this will save me some money for sure, Thank you for experimenting. I found you on pintrest.

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  23. thanks for the great idea will have to do this soon

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  24. Great idea. And you can recycle the markers when you are done! Terra cycle.net, if you can't send directly, you can ask on fb for someone to send you a label to mail for free!

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  25. really good and useful thank u so much(Y)<3

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  26. Crayola also has a recycling option for the leftover plastic parts (after they have been used to make water colors/alcohol inks and then used as paint brushes for detailing...) They send a pre-paid envelope/box and everything!

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