I share my home, and my life, with an MFA-toting husband (whose concentration was in painting and color theory), and an active, inquisitive, art-loving 2 year-old. Between the two of them and my own ongoing craft projects and homemade gift-making endeavors, suffice to say, there is a good deal of paint in our lives.
Over the winter, I committed myself to organizing our craft/guest/office room. Going through a box of art supplies, I found a very old set of watercolors-as in, freshman-year-of-college-in-’94 old. I figured it was time to get a new set. Wanting to keep our art supplies as non-toxic possible, it occurred to me that I could make my own watercolors instead of buying them.
For today’s Small Measures, in celebration of the Color theme on Design Sponge this month, I’m offering you an incredibly easy and affordable recipe for creating watercolors at home. In very little time, you and the creatives you share your own home and life with will be dipping paint brushes and creating colorful works to treasure. Have fun coloring your world, naturally! -Ashley English
I really love this watercolor recipe, for so many reasons, but primarily for two. Firstly, it’s highly likely that all of the equipment and supplies needed to make the watercolors are already in your pantry and kitchen. This then indicates that the paints, if ingested (and if you live in a house with a wee one you know this is entirely a possibility), are completely safe.
Secondly, since you’re the one mixing the colors, you’re the one creating the palette. If you’re more of a bright, bold color sort of person, you get to whip that up. If you tend a bit more towards the earthy, muted side, as I do, you get to craft that palette. You’re the captain of this colorful ship, and you get to steer it wherever you’d like it to go. What’s not to love about that?
-1/2 cup baking soda
-1/4 cup cornstarch
-1/4 cup white vinegar
-1 teaspoon corn syrup
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a pourable container (I used a Pyrex measuring cup).
2) It will immediately begin to foam and froth and bubble. Using a fork, quickly whisk it until everything is fully combined. If you don’t do this quickly enough, the mixture will thicken and harden before you’re able to beat all of the ingredients together. Owing to this fact, be sure to have everything ready to go when you begin.
3) Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray, individual containers (such as small yogurt cups), or a plastic painter’s palette (available at art and craft supply stores), portioning it out evenly amongst however many containers you opt to use.
4) Add drops of food coloring to each individual portion of mixture. The number of drops used and the colors you select is entirely at your discretion here. Just continue adding drops and stirring (use a wooden stirrer, such as craft sticks, toothpicks, or chopsticks) until you achieve your desired colors. When you’ve finished creating all of your colors, go back one more time and give each individual color a last stir, to fully incorporate the color into the base.
5) The watercolors need around two-three days to fully dry and set. You can certainly use them as soon as you’ve made them, but be aware that they’ll slosh around if you attempt to transport them.
6) When ready, dip a wet paintbrush into your watercolors and paint away!
What about you? Have you ever made your own watercolors, or any other type of homemade paint? I’d love to hear about them. When you can turn to your pantry or cupboard for paint-making (or even your refrigerator, if what you’re after is DIY milk paint!), the possibilities for handcrafted, custom paints seem endless.
-Images and styling by Jen Altman.