How to Waterproof Ink

Written by mason howard
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How to Waterproof Ink
Protect soluble ink on drawings and documents with fixative. (india ink bottle image by Stephen Jacoby from

Whether it's a drawing or a formal, handwritten document, it takes just a tiny drop of water to cause the ink to bleed and damage the entire work. Glazing protects framed items; however, unframed items are vulnerable to accidents such as drips and splashes. Waterproof the ink on unframed items by coating it with a clear fixative. Fixative comes in an aerosol can and needs to be applied using a technique that will prevent drips or hazing.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cardboard box
  • Bulldog clips
  • Soft paintbrush
  • Spray fixative
  • Soft cloth

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  1. 1

    Build a cardboard spray booth in which to spray your document by cutting off the top and one side of a cardboard box, using a box cutter. The spray booth will contain and prevent the spray from getting on items other than the drawing or document.

  2. 2

    Affix the drawing or document to the back of the spray booth, using bulldog clips. Wedge a folded piece of paper between the binder clip and the paper to prevent the clip from embossing the paper. You want the drawing or document to be vertical so that when you spray the document, the can is held upright. Holding the can horizontally can cause it to drip fixative.

  3. 3

    Brush the drawing or document with a soft paintbrush to remove any dust or other particles.

  4. 4

    Hold the can at least 12 inches from the paper. Start from a top corner and spray the drawing or document in sweeping, slightly overlapping rows. Spray just a thin coat and do not hold the sprayer any closer than 12 inches, as this can cause a whitish haze to occur on the surface of the paper. If a drip does occur, quickly and gently blot it up, using a soft cloth. Allow the fixative to dry and apply two additional coats in the same manner.

Tips and warnings

  • The fumes of fixative spray are noxious. Work in a well-ventilated area or wear a respirator to avoid inhalation.

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