Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homemade watercolor paints

I was reading the new body + soul magazine the other night when I spotted a little how-to article about making homemade watercolor paints. It looked like an interesting project, so I decided to give it a try. I fully expected it to be a bust, but it actually worked out pretty well.

First, I gathered the ingredients: baking soda, corn starch, white vinegar, light corn syrup and food coloring.

The recipe suggested putting the paints in a plastic egg carton. I didn't have one, so I raided the recycling bin, and decided to use the plate from a Healthy Choice frozen meal and some milk/juice caps. Oh, and a medicine cup.

If you wanted to use these in a birthday goodie bag or as a gift, you could buy some of those cute little plastic paint palettes they sell at art-supply stores. It would be a nice presentation, but I preferred to reuse the recycling instead.

Anyway, the instructions from the magazine are:

"In a bowl, mix 3 Tbsp. each of baking soda, cornstarch and white vinegar and 1 1/2 tsp. corn syrup. The vinegar and baking soda will fizz. Once it's settled and fully mixed, pour into the egg carton so the cups are about one-third full. Stir in drops of food coloring until you've reached your desired shade. Leave at room temperature on a flat surface until hardened (a few hours), then use with a wet brush."

Since I was using milk caps, I used the medicine cup to mix each color and then poured it into the milk cap, then the last color stayed in the medicine cup.

I set them aside to harden. A few hours later, they were hardening underneath but still had a layer of colored liquid on top. Perhaps I didn't mix well enough or something. I just poured it off and kind of blotted with a tissue to "dry" the hardening paint.

Here's what it looked like a little while after making it, when it still had the liquid on top:

I left it overnight and this is what it looked like this morning:

Here's Logan trying the paints out this morning:

And here's a rainbow I painted just to test what the colors looked like:

I would definitely rate this project a success. It was pretty quick and easy, too. (Well, quick except for the drying time. I'd make them a day ahead of whenever you want them done).

I know they're non-toxic, which is cool, but I'm not sure about stain factor. I can tell you that a certain light-pink Care Bear took a flying leap into the drying paints and ended up with some rainbow-colored fur, but I stuck her under the faucet and it rinsed right off. I'm not sure what would have happened if I had let the paint dry on her before rinsing her off. It does come off the brushes and table really easily, though!

(Logan came to me yesterday, out of the blue, and said he wished he had a Care Bear. I still actually had my original Cheer Bear in a storage tub in the basement so I went and got her out and gave her to him. He was thrilled! The poor bear has had more mistreatment in the last 18 hours than she had in the past 30 years! I was SO careful with her. But boys? Not so careful!)

So, anyway, there ya go. A tried-and-true recipe for homemade watercolor paints. Fun!


Mellissa said...

The paints are a great idea!