Homemade Art Supplies

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by Kim Tilley

Unfortunately, homemade school supplies generally won't cut it at school., but they are fine for home use and home schooling. Here are some basic recipes to get you started.

Thin Paste

(From Recipes for Arts and Crafts Materials by Helen Sattler)

  • 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup non-self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered alum
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon oil of cinnamon

1. In a medium-sized pan, mix together sugar, flour, and alum.

2. Gradually add 1 cup water, stirring vigorously to break up lumps.

3. Boil until clear and smooth, stirring constantly.

4. Add remaining water and oil of cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Use a brush or a craft stick to spread (popsicle sticks are fine too). Lasts for several months without refrigeration.

Finger Paint

(From Recipes for Arts and Crafts Materials by Helen Sattler)

  • 1/2 cup non-self-rising flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon glycerine
  • 1 teaspoon borax for preservative
  • small screw-top jars
  • food coloring or poster paints

1. In a saucepan, mix flour with a 1/2 cup of water to form a paste.

2. Add the rest of the water and cook over low heat until thick and clear, stirring constantly.

3. Let cool. Add glycerine and borax. If mixture is too thick and does not spread easily, add a little more water. Divide and pour into small, screw-top jars (baby jars are great for this). Add food coloring or poster paints to tint.

This paint keeps for a long time if stored in airtight containers.

Please note: Borax is toxic if eaten. If you have a child that may eat finger paint, you can use lemon extract as a preservative instead, or omit the preservative and make just enough for one use.

Kim's note: I have made lots of paste recipes that came out disgusting. This one seems to work nicely. If you really like to make your own art supplies, check out Recipes for Arts and Crafts Materials by Helen Sattler. This is an older book that is still in print.

Water Colors

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 tablespoon glycerine
  • plastic bottle caps or paint pans, or Styrofoam egg carton
  • red, yellow and blue food coloring

1. Mix vinegar and baking soda together in a small bowl.

2. When mixture stops foaming, add cornstarch and glycerine, mixing well.

3. Pour mixture into bottle caps or paint pans

4. Add several drops of a different food coloring to each pan or cap or carton cup. Stir until the color is well-mixed. Be sure to add plenty of coloring, since the tint will lighten upon drying. Mix primary colors to make secondary colors. For intense colors, try kool-aid or food coloring paste (Wilton makes great food coloring pastes).

5. Let set overnight to harden.

This makes a good substitute for purchased watercolor sets, but tends to be more powdery.

Sticker Gum

We made this for a class Christmas party and designed stickers with artwork we found on the web. I then painted the back of the printed artwork with sticker gum and hung them on a small laundry rack to dry. The kids in class loved their stickers, and the parents thought it was pretty neat. We used a drop or two of peppermint extract instead of lemon, but the solution did not keep. Try lemon extract for long-term use.

  • 1 packet (1/4 oz) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon white corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin into cold water. Put aside until softened.

2. Pour softened gelatin into boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.

3. Add corn syrup and lemon extract. Mix well. Make 4 ounces.

To use: Brush gum onto the back of paper. When dry, cut out "stickers" and moisten glue with tongue. Fix to whatever you like.

To store : If stored in a pill bottle or other tightly sealed container, it should last several months

Note: This gum will gel. Top return it to a liquid state, warm it in a pan of hot water, just like you would warm a baby bottle. Heck, warm it with the baby bottle!

Sidewalk Chalk

(from the Tightwad Gazette)

  • 1 cup of Plaster of Paris (do not pack)
  • Almost 1/2 cup water
  • Liquid or powdered tempera paint
  • Margarine tubs or other disposable mixing containers
  • Disposable molds
  • Squirt of dishwashing liquid (makes for easier clean-up)

1. Pour Plaster of Paris into a container. Using disposable stick, stir in most of the water.

2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of liquid tempera, mixing well, especially at the bottom.

3. Add a little more water so that the mixture thickens, stir well, and pour into molds Ideas for molds: Styrofoam egg cartons, plastic trays from manicotti noodles, paper cups, toilet paper tubes with foil bottoms.

4. Remove the molds after chalk is completely dry.

Kool-Aid Play Dough

We make this every year for Vacation Bible School. The kids really love it!

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 6 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 cups cool water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • packages of kool-aid mix (without sugar) in desired colors

1. Mix dry ingredients except kool-aid together in a big cooking pot. Blend all liquids together in a bowl.

2. Combine with dry ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (about 5 minutes).

4. Turn onto board or counter and knead until smooth and play-dough consistency.

5. Divide into portions and knead in desired playdough colors. Store in airtight containers.

Note: If making only one color, the easiest way to add in the kool-aid is to mix it into the liquid ingredients before cooking.

Cookie Crayons

  • Old crayons
  • Double boiler
  • jelly roll pan with edges all around (to hold in any crayon wax that may roll out) OR small cake/baking pan
  • waxed paper
  • Cookie cutters

1. Have the kids help gather up and peel the paper from old, broken crayons. They can choose the color combinations that they like. These look best if opposite colors are not used, since that makes a muddy brown. Don't combine red and green, orange and blue, or purple and yellow unless you want to make brown.

2. Put water in lower part of of double boiler, put first batch of broken crayons in the top of the boiler. Melt over medium heat, then pour into pan lined with waxed paper.

3. Let cool but not harden. While still soft, press cookie cutters into melted crayon mixture to make the shapes. Let cool and carefully lift the sheet of crayon wax, gently poking out the cookie cutter-shaped crayons.

Note: Thicker crayons will not break as fast, so try using smaller pans so that the mixture is very deep.


About Author

Kim Tilley is the mother of three boys, ages 9,6 and 2. She is the online editor for a local tv station and the editor of Frugal Moms. She is also a tightwad at heart. Her interests include cooking, crafts, gardening, computers, and saving money! When not typing away at the computer, she entertains herself by chasing kids and finding ways to create something out of nothing! Visit Kim's website at http://frugal-moms.com

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