Recycled watercolors

The torch has been passed. I am incredibly blessed to be Saucon Valley Elementary's new art teacher, after the beloved Jackie Roumeliotis's retirement. 

WOW--the classroom is packed with supplies.  I have spent all of July reorganizing the room, which is packed from floor to ceiling with supplies *more on this to come*. I have found things from the 50's on--dating back to a schoolroom that no longer exists to an art teacher preceding Jackie.

There are at least three full cases (I'm taking 200 +) of those old watercolor sets---you know the kind---we've all grown up with them.

 As a professional artist, those cakes make me cringe. I never knew the capability of watercolor's saturated beauty until I began painting with the artist quality tubes later in life. 
Don't get me wrong---for Elementary art, the watercolor sets work very well. Each student is responsible for his or her own set--all in a neat little line. Great to pass out, easy to clean. 

But...How can I recycle my old watercolor sets?

Easy answer. Watercolors are, obviously, water soluble. I make my own liquid watercolors. All it takes is a little time, patience, and some large containers with water. Liquid watercolors are fantastic for younger students, they waste very little if you provide small amounts at a time, and the color is vivid as stained glass.   
I bought plastic bins from the Dollar Store to soak the dried cakes. It took a few hours--and I have a case or so to go still. I plan to store them in jars I've collected over many a pasta dinner (photos of these in the art room to come). I have 8 squeeze bottles, which you can find at either a restaurant supply store or Dick Blick Art Materials to distribute the liquid watercolor once complete. 
I had two other containers of water---one to brush off the mucky old dried paint that did not belong (like green paint in the yellow) to keep the colors as clean as possible. 
I soaked the plastic containers in another bucket to clean. I plan to use these in a future lesson plan. They're great little storage boxes--what a waste to throw them away.
It was a lovely, cool summer evening. Some good music, a comfy pillow and optimism for the coming year has brought me to a successful night. I am looking forward to testing these, displaying them on a sunny shelf, and posting more about it later. 

*** UPDATE ***   After having the liquid watercolors in my room for a quarter of the year--- I've got to say...they STINK!  Literally. Smells like sulfur.  Probably because these watercolor cakes were pretty darn old.  The only color that did not reek was black--which I kept because it will work wonderfully for sumi ink painting. 


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