Make your own paints

Paint comes out of tubes and pots today… but what if you couldn’t just nip down to the shops and buy some? How is paint made? Can you make your own? This is a lovely sensory activity…the most fragrant paint you will ever create!


What you need…

  • Old Spices (we all have them hiding at the back of our cupboards don’t we !?! In the past we have made paints with vegetable water too but that’s for another post)
  • Pestle and mortar
  • Warm water, pots and paint brushes (warm water releases the colour and smell)
  • A muslin cloth (to pass your mixture if you want a smooth paint, we didn’t and it added an interesting texture to the paintings)
  • Cornflour if you want to thicken them (although we didn’t)

How to do it?

We raided the cupboards and found some dusty old spices – Cardamon, Turmeric, Star Anise, Five Spice, Cinnamon and Smoked Paprika. We decanted them into bowls and enjoyed sniffing them and chatting about how we would use them in cooking. Cinnamon smells of Christmas! I gave Noodle free reign and she bashed up all the spices separately so we could see the different colours. She smooshed, smashed and generally had the best time creating her paints in her own time.

I did try to talk about how amazingly valuable our haul of spices would have been hundreds of years ago but bashing up the spices was more important…


Here is our selection of rather lumpy paints! Passing them through a muslin cloth would have been useful to give a smoother consistency but Noodle wanted to get on and paint. If you do decide to ‘pass’ them and you would like a slightly thicker paint you can add cornflour. As we expected the Star Anise and Cardamon did not give any colour but the bashing was entertaining! We bashed everything…even the ground up ones…just for fun!


Then we just painted. The aromas in the kitchen were intoxicating! Be aware that you will end up with lots of earthy colours but it is still fun. Perhaps try boiling up some berries or red cabbage at the same time to get a greater range of colours.


I would say that Noodle enjoyed making the paints more than creating pictures with them but the process was really interesting and it was a fun hour!

Enid Blyton Rating: 7 out of 10 (An interesting take on making your own paint and it really makes you appreciate the wonderful array of colours we can buy off the shelf!)


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