Monday, April 2, 2012

Oobleck Watercolor

I was just trying to decide which pin I wanted to test today to post up when this email came in from Carolyn. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Thanks Carolyn! She says, "Who doesn't fondly remember getting to watercolor as a kid? I hated the fact that the watercolors that you buy at the store had so little in them; they never lasted very long. When I saw this pin for homemade watercolors I became pretty excited. I now had a way to make as much watercolors as I wanted, in what ever color I wanted!"

The Original Pin

"While my darling son napped I quickly gathered up the supplies, and started mixing enough for one color. But my mixture was too thick, so I added some more vinegar as suggested on the original pin. But that made it waaaay too runny. So I thought if I doubled it I could make two colors, and I would add a little less vinegar than supposed to. Still it was too runny.  I threw that out, grabbed another plastic cup to try again. This time I read the directions on mixing it all up a little more carefully. 'You basically want it to be like an oobleck or gak consistency (can be formed but then melts away if you let it go).' Gak! I loved messing with that as a kid. It was so cool that it was a liquid but kind of a solid at the same time! So I started mixing away, using the exact measurements that were given. Still too thick. I reached for the vinegar, but them remembered that Gak get really thick when handled really fast (such as quick stirring, stabbing your finger at it, etc.). I got a spoonful and pulled it out of the cup to look at it. Sure enough it quickly turned runny. I managed to get past my first road block, and had the consistency right."

"Then I started to mix the color in. It took more color than I thought to get it to the shade of green that I liked. But that's ok, because it wasn't too difficult to get the right shade. I then set it on the counter to dry. Through out the day I could see a little layer of liquid rising to the top, taking a lot of the color with it, so the main paint wasn't as vibrant. Annoyingly it took twice as long as the original pin said it would to dry. And the color faded to a really light pastel green."

"When it was dry I grabbed a brush, and a scrap piece of paper to test it out and see if I wanted to make more colors."

The Pinstrosity

The color isn't as vibrant as Carolyn had hoped, but she did end up with usable watercolor paint.

So you don't have to play the mad chemist as Carolyn did to get the consistency right, she suggests stirring slowly so you don't mistake the mixture as being too thick. She also suggests adding way more color than you think you need so you get a more vibrant color in the end (if a vibrant color is what you're going for) as the color fades as the concoction dries.



  1. That Pin showed her using gel food coloring but Martha Stewart clearly mentions using drops of food coloring...maybe the different kind of food coloring would affect the paint?

  2. The recipe seems to be just throwing things together for the fun of making a concoction. I don't see how the baking soda and vinegar would enhance the paint. After they mix and fizz, you're just left with a salty water (sodium acetate, I think it is?). There's one little tidbit of high school chemistry class that stuck with me, hah!

  3. This seems like a whole lot of trouble for very little pay-off. Just go to an arts and crafts store and buy real artists' watercolors. They come in little tubes, in a set or singly, and last a REALLY long time.

  4. I made something similar for my son with cornstarch. You just have to play with the consistency and add more food coloring.

  5. Have you tried exploding paint bags? They create a water color effect, though it's more modern art. The pins all day user sandwich bags, but I use medium jewelry bags and one alkaseltzer tablet, it works every time, and they have a nice pop and small explosion.


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