Thursday, 16 January 2014

Homemade paints

Last summer I made homemade paint for my messy play classes, with varying degrees of success! People asked me how I'd done it, so I thought I would share the experiences I had along the way. The messy play classes were aimed at babies from 10 months to 2 years, so I had to be careful that the materials I used were either non-toxic or, even better, edible! There are so many recipes for edible art materials online, particularly paint, but the final results will of course vary from person to person. As it was the first homemade art material I had *ever* made (I have since made play dough and moon sand and I'm finding it easier each time!), I had a trial run first - using my little pud and the little boy living next door as guinea pigs! I love the Imagination Tree blog and had first seen edible fingerpaints used here, which called for corn flour, cold water and boiling water (please click on the link to see the recipe). However, while theirs worked well, mine maintained a liquid consistency, and adding more corn starch just didn't seem to be working! In the end, I put it in the microwave for a minute and this finally allowed the mixture to thicken up. I then added my food colouring and it looked a little bit like this:
I stuck cardstock to Stanley's high chair tray and away we went. He was a little bit diddy (about 8 months) and I had to give him quite a lot of help and encouragement. Even using his fingers he didn't quite 'get' it, but he seemed to enjoy the feel (and a taste!) of the paint. The little boy next door was around 20 months and loved it, using a paintbrush to apply it to his paper, and mixing the colours together in their jars.
And while it was good fun, after I cleared their masterpieces away and allowed them to dry, I noticed that the paint started flaking away from the picture! Too much corn flour? Argh! So, it was time for another trial and another recipe. This one was similar to the first, but with the addition of salt and sugar - you can find the link to it here - and I found it worked much better for me. Also this time, instead of in a bowl, I warmed it on the hob and found it amazing as it changed from a milky liquid to an opaque wallpaper paste consistency. It was just as satisfying to work with and didn't flake once dried, giving a lovely 3D effect - although the colours were quite pale. Next time I would probably add more food colouring, but it might also have had something to do with the paints not being mixed very well on the morning of my first messy play session! We created masks for our pictures using masking tape and the babies finger-painted on top. Once the masking tape was peeled off, the effect, while subtle, looked great! Can't wait to try it again now Stanley is a little older. Watch this space!

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