Spring Cleaning: Simple care extends the life of your Copic Markers

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

It's that time of year again

Forget about the crocus buds or the robins singing! The surest sign of spring is when all the house cleaning tips start blooming on the internet.

Yep. Everybody loves a good spring cleaning.

This year, don't forget about your Copics!


Spring cleaning for Copics?

I know what you're thinking...

I've seen lots of tutorials about how to clean Copic Markers, but that's for people who color all the time, right? A lot of tutorials talk about cleaning your marker after you refill it and I've NEVER had to refill!

I guess when I finally refill my markers, I'll worry about cleaning then.

You're absolutely right. People like me, who use Copics on a daily basis— instructors, bloggers, and super serious colorers- we do refill markers more frequently than average colorers.

But cleaning? That’s a different matter entirely.

Everyone, from high volume colorers to the once-in-a-whilers:

We ALL need to clean our markers on a regular basis.


Do you make Copic Jelly?

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |


Copic jelly? Really?

Yep. I have jelly problems. You have jelly problems too.

Every time you uncap and recap a Copic, your marker nib rubs along the inside of the cap. It leaves a streak of marker ink.

That streak of ink quietly lurks inside your cap, slowly evaporating. After the solvent is gone, the streak becomes a smear of Copic Jelly- a super sticky residue.

I know, it’s a bit of a weird concept. When most of us think of "evaporation", we think of water, right? Water just disappears into the air and leaves no trace behind.

But Copic ink is not water; Copic ink is dye mixed with an alcohol solvent. Sure, the alcohol part evaporates cleanly without a trace, but the dye sticks around as residue.

Old dye residue lingers inside your marker caps, waiting to make trouble.


What kind of trouble?

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Once you get an ooey gooey build-up of dye residue inside the cap, that jelly makes it hard for Copic caps to seal properly.

The cap clicks as normal, so you assume they're sealed... but no, the jelly breaks the seal.

Yep. Jelly is nasty stuff.

Without a tight seal, your marker nib will slowly dry out as the solvent in the nib begins to evaporate.

Basically jelly in the cap encourages the growth of more jelly on the nib. 

Eventually, jelly can works its way into the spongy core inside your marker!

Once the jelly makes it to the core, your marker is shot. Jelly doesn't just kill marker nibs, it kills whole markers!

It's like The Blob in that 1950's horror movie, jelly keeps creeping along, destroying everything in its wake.

It's not just unsightly, jelly costs you money!


Every once in a while...

I'll pull out a marker that hasn't been used in some time. When I begin to color with it, the nib leaves a weird dark streak. Not all the time and not everywhere, just little smudges of darkened ink that don’t want to smooth out.

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Have you had that happen too? Its a bit of jelly that has transferred from the nib to your project.

Dark streaks are not pretty.

Let’s look on the bright side though, that streak is a warning call.

Your marker is crying for help.

When you see dark streaks, you can clean the marker and the nib before the jelly spreads further.

So yes, because I use my markers every day; all that uncapping and recapping means I create jelly quicker than you do.

But I'm also more likely to spot the jelly problem early. I can quickly resolve the problem before it ruins the whole nib.

If some of your markers sit for months without use...  then you're completely missing the early warning system!

Keeping caps clean is MORE important for the weekend hobbyist than for everyday colorers!

Dirty caps + long periods sitting unused gives your jelly lots of time to kill the nib!


Cleaning is easy!

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

And it's easier to do them all at once (in spring cleaning style) than cleaning them one at a time.

Pop in a good movie and sit down with your markers and a few basic supplies.

I have a small 4 ounce jelly jar (warning: Amazon affiliate link there) that I fill with 90% rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy aisle of my grocery store. The 70% alcohol works too but the 90% works faster.

Into that jar, I cut small 1 inch squares of clean paper towel.

This jar of teeny tiny wipes and a pair of tweezers are all you need to clean your entire marker collection!

Now keep in mind, rubbing alcohol is a different kind of alcohol than the alcohol in your Copics. These alcohols are not interchangeable or compatible! 

Rubbing alcohol also has some water in the mix. That’s what the % on the label indicates. 90% Rubbing Alcohol is also 10% water. 70% Rubbing Alcohol is 30% water.

Because of that water content, I'm super careful when wiping off the plastic right below the marker nib.

Rubbing alcohol is not good for your nibs!

But aside from that one caveat, rubbing alcohol makes an excellent cleaner. It dissolves Copic jelly on contact, and it's soooo much cheaper than cleaning with Copic Colorless Blender!

First, wipe the marker off with a little tiny square of alcohol-soaked paper towel.

Then plunge the same square into the marker cap and ream it around with the tweezers to clean the inner cap area.

Tap the excess alcohol out of the cap, recap the marker, and move on to cleaning the next marker with a clean square.

It's an easy-peasy process and you can clean even the biggest marker collection before the movie is over!


spring clean your Copics!

Clean caps aren't just for neat freaks or heavy duty marker users.

Clean caps extend the life of your marker nibs and prevent accidental ink evaporation.

Try a little spring cleaning today and give your Copic babies a bath. Your markers will thank you!

Spring Cleaning: Basic care extends the life of your Copic Markers |

Improve Your Coloring Immediately: Fill Your Marker


I'm not a big believer in abracadabra style tips and tricks.

Changes and improvements usually require a bit of blood, sweat, and that stuff that leaks out of your eyes when the ASPCA commercials play.

But sometimes there really are easy things which we completely overlook- because they're so simple.


Here's another installment of the tiny thing series

Otherwise known as "Amy points out the little things some of you are not doing..."

Once a month, I point out one small thing, one mind-numbingly easy step that you can add to your coloring routine that will allow you to color better forever.

Last month, we talked about why it's important to identify every element in your stamp image BEFORE you begin coloring. Today we tackle a brand new Tiny Thing:


Refill your Markers

I know it's dumb for me to even mention this, but stick with me here. I'm not going where you think I'm going...

I'll bet for 99% of us, the top reason to purchase Copic markers instead of another brand is because Copic Sketch, Ciao, Original, and Copic Wide markers are refillable.

If you're like me, you actually used refill-ability as the primary justification for splurging on a luxury marker rather than going with a standard marker.

"Jinkies! they're totally refillable!!! So in the long run, I'm saving tons and tons of money!"

That's what you said, way back then. But let's be honest now...

How many Copics have you actually refilled? How many Various Inks do you own? How many of your markers are more than 2 years old and have never been refilled?

Have you ever refilled your Copics? |

I'm not just talking about your favorite go-to markers, the ones you use in almost every project. I'm including the pumpkin orange markers that you mainly use in the fall and the pine-dark greens that only see action in December.

Of all the Copic Markers you own, what percentage of them have been refilled?

If you're a normal crafter, I'm guessing it's a fairly low number.

"But, but, but... my teachers and my favorite blogs... they all say that you don't have to refill a marker until it squeaks!"

You won't hear that kind of nonsense from me. Here's the low-down and dirty truth:

  1. Some markers always squeak- call 'em the squeaky wheels, they never shut up!

  2. Some markers never squeak- these are the martyr markers that will die before they complain

  3. By the time a marker squeaks, you've been coloring at less than full power for quite a while


Skills & technique can only get you so far

Let's say that tomorrow, you decide not to tie your shoes. You head off to work or run errands and your sneaker laces are flapping in the breeze. Just because.

What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, you're going to move at grandma pace, especially after you stumble for the fifth time. You'll be lucky not to break your face when you run down a flight or two of stairs. You might even miss a big staff meeting if your meandering lace gets stuck in the elevator door.

But I'm willing to bet that the last thing you'll do is to berate yourself, "Geeze, I'm sooooo bad at walking!"

I'm also guessing that you won't surf the internet for tutorials on how to walk better and you won't price out unicycles as an alternative mode of transportation.

It's the shoelaces, not you.

The condition of your tools matters too.

You can be the love child of Rembrandt and Picasso but if you're using dry markers, you aren't going to be cranking out any masterpieces.

Every time you use a weak marker, you are deliberately deciding not to tie your shoes.


Copics need adequate juice to blend properly

If you've got enough ink in the mix, even improbable sounding blends are possible.

BG57 to Y38.

Here, I've feather blended BG18 into Y35. I'm not sure when you'd ever use this blending combination, but with enough moisture, you can blend any two markers.

Moisture. In markers, that means solvent. Your coloring needs to be ooshy, gooshy and wet to give the pigments a chance to get cozy and mingle.

Solvent is like Barry White music. To make a blend, ANY BLEND, the pigments need to get romantic and really looooove one another.

Mmm hmmmmm, baby.

Low-ink markers have no sex appeal.

But here's the problem, Copic Markers do not come with a see through window. There's no level markings, no handy-dandy fill gauge, and there's no ADT alarm system that makes your desk lamp blink Def-Con 3 red until you refill your marker.

Instead, you have to pay attention, you have to know your markers. Copics are 358 little children and you are their mother.


Unless you are magical, your marker projects all use ink

3 Reasons why my markers need refilling this week |

I colored the same large image three different times last week.

These images are each 8.5" wide.

That's three big reasons why my BG53 and BG57 markers are now low on juice.

Barry doesn't like it when my markers are dry.

No, baby. Noooooo.

Neither marker is squeaking yet. As I said above, by the time a marker cries out in pain. it's already past it's prime.

As a good marker-momma, I know my two babies are hungry. If I'm to continue coloring at top level, I must refill them before I can expect good results from either maker. To continue using them half-full is the equivalent of not tying my shoes for the next few projects.

I have a mug where I stash markers that need refreshing.

Did you catch that?  I don't even call it refilling. I refresh my markers... because having to refill them means I am not being good to my precious little Copic babies.

This weekend, or when I have a few spare moments, I'll refresh all my sad mug markers that need attention. It's much easier to refresh a bunch at a time than to stop everything I'm doing to freshen and clean just one marker.


Keep your markers topped off, fresh, and juicy

Mmm hmmmm, baby. Make Barry happy.

It's One Tiny Thing you can do today which will improve your coloring immediately!