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Storing Ceramic Paint: Article or Project

Extend the life of your painting supplies.

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If you are a serious ceramist or shop owner, you probably have a huge stock of paints. Some colors you use often and others only occasionally. Then there is all the back stock – unused, unopened bottles. One day, down the line you go to select a bottle of stain or glaze and “OH NO!” it has dried out. Dang, what a waste of money... or worse, the manufacturer has discontinued the color. There are ways to rejuvenate or find other uses for many of these products, but let me share with you a couple ways to extend the life of your acrylics and glazes as well as many other liquid products.

Lets look first at acrylic stains. Some projects take so many colors and you probably have a large variety. Whether you have a few or a lot, one of the best ways to increase their life is to store them upside down. Yes, that's right – upside down. Once I learned this trick, I started displaying all my paints in my shop upside down as well as all the paints in my workshop. I printed labels for the store shelves so my customers did not have to crank their necks, and used a sharpie to mark the bottoms of my classroom and studio paints. One other benefit about having them upside down, is that you can usually see the color easily.

Why, you may ask. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why do paints dry out? Because air gets into the bottle and the liquid evaporates leaving behind a solid mass. When you turn the bottle upside down, the paint prevents air from entering. You may think a new bottle is sealed, but it isn't. It is as vulnerable as opened bottles.

I do want to make note that some acrylic paints have so much acrylic in them that sometimes, over time, the acrylic content will become rubbery and will not mix back in with the colorants and other agents.

Glazes,underglazes and specialty products react the same way. Keep them upside down and they will last longer.

Do this to all your paints, even those you use daily and you will see a big difference over time.

Now, if you are like me, I buy a lot of the same color, especially if it is a favorite. I probably have enough of some favorite colors to last the rest of my life. They are new, but as likely to dry out as any I use regularly. So, here is a tip for those long term extras. Dip the lid and top part of the bottles in melted wax. When you are ready to use them, just cut or peel off the wax. Well worth the time when you consider the long term savings of replacing product.

Will they last forever? No, most likely not; but any additional effort that can extend their use, is well worth the time invested.

How to rejuvenate or uses of some of the older thickened and dried out paint will be addressed in another article.... stay tuned to CME

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