Thursday, April 25, 2013

Homemade Watercolors?! Bring it!!!

The other day I saw a suggested post on Facebook that mentioned making your own watercolors for your children.

"That rocks!" I thought.

I raced to click on the link.


Ok, see, I have this thing about suggested posts on Facebook - I hate them.  I see them as a bunch of spam that's especially well catered to an individual and placed onto their wall at the expense of posts by friends or pages that they actually want to see.  This means that even if I like the topic of a suggested post, I won't click the link.

Perhaps that's elitist.  
Maybe it's passive aggression. 
I look at it as a passive protest.

Anyway, the concept of homemade watercolors was really exciting.  It was a project that I could seriously get behind.

And so I searched for it online, and found the Happy Hooligans.

Happy Hooligans is a site dedicated to DIY projects specifically designed for people with kids.  Need to make paint?  A child sized apron?  A sensory table?  Well, the author, Jackie, has a post for you somewhere on that site.

Seriously.  She's loaded with them.

My search for homemade water colors took me to a post dedicated to their creation, conveniently entitled Homemade Watercolour Paints.  I read through the post and realized that just about anybody can make these watercolors. Everything about it was catered to people like me that have two left... hands. 

The ingredients she listed were pretty simple:
  • 4 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • food coloring
Easy-peasy, right?

Ok, I had one problem.  Being such an anti-GMO person, as well as someone with a great desire to stay away from pesticides that, coincidentally, also despises high fructose corn syrup... I didn't have any corn syrup.

So I winged it, and used what I normally use in its place: agave nectar.

Otherwise, I stuck to the proper ingredients.

In a nutshell, you mix all of the ingredients together - except for the food coloring - and pour a bit into each section of an ice cube tray, a small muffin tray, or whatever else catches your interest.

A bit of a warning - mixing baking soda and vinegar is really awesome.  It produces tons of bubbles.  So be sure to use a container that's about two times as large as you think you'll need.  

And as Jackie pointed out, using a container with a spout to pour the final goopy mixture out from is a really good idea.  I'm glad I took her advice on that one! I found combining everything together to be rather difficult, since the mixture is rather thick, but that's a good thing.  

Watercolors are supposed to dry out and become pretty sturdy, right?

Once everything is mixed well, pour some - just a bit - into each compartment of your chosen container.  Drop food coloring into each section, and grab some toothpicks to mix it in with.  The result is a bunch of pretty, still wet colors.

Frozen baby food tray holding yellow, orange, green, pink, purple, blue, and red water colors.

And now... you wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Because... you know.  These things have to dry.  Completely.

It'll be a while.  According to Jackie, it can take up to two days, though hers were ready by he next afternoon.  In my case, it took a little over two days for everything to fully dry.

The outcome?  

Well, the watercolors seemed to need quite a bit of water (say, 4 or 5 drops, rather than the standard 2-3), but overall,

Happy face drawn with pink watercolor paint with yellow hair.
Yours probably wouldn't look so... wet.
In my excitement, I used the wrong paper.

I was pretty happy with the results.

Go make some homemade watercolors!  Aside from giving you the satisfaction of a job well done, they're awfully happy-making!

If you run into any problems or are unsure of whether textures, etc. are coming out right, check out Jackie's explanation or leave a comment asking about me about it.  

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