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Don't Throw Away Dried Out Tubes of Watercolour! (Here's What To Do Instead!)


Have you ever forgotten to put the cap back on a tube of watercolour, only to have it completely dry out? Do you want to be able to squeeze every last drop of colour out of your tubes? Art supplies are expensive, and if you are like me, you want to get as much value out of each tube of watercolour that you possibly can! 

When I can no longer squeeze pigment out of a tube, I take a pair of scissors and open them up. I first cut along the side, then peel or 'butterfly' the tubes completely open. You would be amazed at how much perfectly good pigment is left behind! Paint likes to gather in the corners and the top of the tube and with a wet brush you can fish out a ton of colour.

Unlike oils and acrylics, watercolour can be reactivated with water. So even if a tube is completely dried out, you can still use the paint inside. If the paint is still wet, you can use a palette knife to transfer the paint to your palette to use or dry for later. If the paint is a solidly dried "puck" you can remove the tube as best you can and use it like you would dried pan paints. 

I have a watercolour tube "graveyard" of old dried out tubes with bits of colour left in them. So far, I havve never found any watercolour to be "spoiled" or unusable,  and a few of these tubes look to be a few decades old (they were given to me by another artist, clearing out their own stash). 

Check out the video above to see how I open up the tubes with scissors. It can be a bit messy, but worth it. 

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