Keeping Uncapped Art Markers
August 17, 2022 12:23 PM   Subscribe

We have many art markers where the caps are lost. Any suggestions on temporary or replacement caps? All sizes from pencil thin to kindergarten pencil size. Some are double tipped. I’ve seen some DYI solutions for keeping caps attached but we have a bunch that are already topless.

Our household artist is elderly and finds it difficult to uncap and recap art markers. Sometimes the cap is lost, sometimes it is just too tight for them to remove/replace the cap.

Thanks for suggestions as our couch is slowly getting tie-died!
posted by calgirl to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I do art projects with kids in the library a lot. I have a similar problem and some workarounds.

First, you can Glad Press-and-Seal over a marker tip, which will sort of work until you can get a cap. If it's alcohol-based, you can often spray it with a little isopropyl to revive the marker.

Can they put pressure down on a marker? If it's the clip type (like a Sharpie, where you have to click it in pretty hard to fully close) my suggestion is to get either air-dry clay or plaster of paris and pour it in a tub of some kind, then partially bury the caps of their favorite set in there.

Once it dries, it should hold onto the caps such that you can pull the pens out and then push them in with one hand. (You can also superglue in the caps if they don't stay in the impression.) The caps don't get lost, you can see all your markers, and you don't have to use as much force to get them in/out. You can swap out the dead ones because the caps are interchangeable. Anyone making a quick sweep of the art studio can quick press down on them to double check. The main downside is storage, and that this doesn't really work with double-ended markers.

I have considered making a marker cap "leash" out of Sugru but haven't tried it yet. I am guessing you could also epoxy a string on there as a leash for the cap, but it wouldn't help you get the cap off. To get the cap off, one of those jar opener rubber sheets (you can make an infinite supply of them out of the "squishy mesh" style of shelf liner) might provide enough traction for your artist to grab them. You can also loop a rubber band around the cap as traction that stays on the cap.

My last suggestion is saving the caps from those that die/dry out and just replacing them as needed on the live ones. It takes a couple cycles of replacements to build up a backstock of caps. If it's something common like Crayola, you can probably partner with local teachers or librarians for their dead markers. Crayola used to recycle them but they don't any more, so a lot of people are probably hanging on to a box of dead markers.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:45 PM on August 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: wonder how they'd fare inside a gallon zip lock bag? if that would be closed to the air enough to keep them useful.
posted by coevals at 1:04 PM on August 17, 2022

Long term, if you're open to simply replacing the markers with missing caps, you could take the marker collection and affix the caps to pieces of cardboard/fiberboard (something like this). You could have several pieces of fiberboard cut into smallish pieces, then use hot glue or sugru to attach the caps. This would prevent losing the caps, create a designated place to store the markers, and give your resident artist a little more leverage when uncapping stubborn markers. They wouldn't even need to put the markers back on the correct cap, as long as each board had the same type of marker.

There's also this product that might fit certain markers if you'd rather not do a whole project.
posted by theotherdurassister at 1:18 PM on August 17, 2022

I've seen a work-around at museums where they drill cap-shaped holes into 2X4 lumber and glue the caps in. At least that way the caps don't get lost, but it does make it slightly more inconvenient to move them from room to room. You can also mount them to a wall or marker board if you wanted to.

According to the internet, you drill the holes into the 2X4 with a 9/16s spade bit.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:48 PM on August 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Having thought about it a little more, I wonder if gripping and twisting is also hard for this person? Depending on what they are able to do, it might make sense to add more leverage to the caps so they are easier to grab.

You can build up grips with thermoplastic pellets like Friendly Plastic-- you boil them in water then put them on the cap and mold them in the right shape, and it stays like that when it cools. It is commonly used by people who have grip challenges for things they need like spoons or pens (also a fun art material, shop around for the best price.)

If you make like a donut or inkwell shape on the cap, it might be easier to grab, pull, and push if it's bigger. As a bonus, it would be larger and probably easier to see and harder to lose. But on a double-ended marker, I would worry that it would get heavy and awkward because you're only ever taking off one end. In that case, I would probably go with a rubber band wound around both caps for lightweight traction and a tray where the caps just always go when you're using them (same concept as "the keys go on the hook OR ELSE" method of not losing your keys.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:53 AM on August 18, 2022

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