How to Restore Dried Up Calligraphy Ink

How to Restore Dried Up Calligraphy Ink

How many of you have faced the problem of dried ink? Karen Ter Haar, Melbourne, Australia wrote:

“Guess what? Just add water to the jar and the ink will become liquid again. If you are in a hurry, crush the ink into small pieces, add water and stir. Voila you have ink. If you have a few hours, add water and stir occasionally. The ink works as good as it did originally when I have tried it. An artist gave me the tip when I went to a computer meeting and was talking about the inks.”

Karen Ter Haar was one of our ink testers in 1998-1999. She tested the inks using all kinds of nibs, both pointed and broad. She also made some beautiful marbled papers and paste papers with the Ziller acrylic inks. In the next blog, I will show her beautiful marbled papers.

We all have those frustrating times when you go to use a bottle of ink and it has dried up – me included. This can happen when we don’t put the lid on tight enough, or when there is crusted ink that prevents a good tight seal, or you have just not used the ink in a long time.

I try to check the ink colors that I use rarely at least once every six months. I will add water to those jars that are thickening up. But like all of us – a bottle will dry up. That is what happened to one of my special reds that I had mixed for a customer who doesn’t place frequent orders. Thankfully I had 2 weeks before the order was due!

Add Water

First, I added water. Then as it softened, I smashed it and stirred it with my ¼” glass stirring rod. If you don’t have a stirring rod, you can use a swizzle stick used for stirring drinks, the end of your pen holder or even a small screwdriver. All of the Ziller acrylic inks will reconstitute with water, including the pastels. I had the same problem with the French Lavender. It also came back to life and lettered nicely.

Use Glass Stirring Rod

Once it was ready to use, I used my glass stirring rod to put the ink on the pen nib. I usually just dip directly into the bottle, but when the ink level is low, it is easier to use the glass rod. Looking for a good glass rod? Rich bought several long ¼” glass rods from Amazon and cut them down to about 3”. He scored the rod with a glass cutting tool and used a pair of glass breaking plyers to make a clean cut. They work great because ink doesn’t stick to the glass rods, so they are easy to clean up. Plus, you can use them to fill your nib with ink.

Start Lettering!


Until next time, I wish you all happy lettering.