Art Tips: Low-cost Stamps made from Cosmetic Wedges

Weekly Art Tips on Tinkerlab.comHave you ever made a stamp from a cosmetic wedge?

A few weeks ago I shared this art tip about how you can salvage paper scraps that are left behind on the art table, and I invited you to let me know here and on Facebook if this was a series worth exploring. Enough of you said “yes,” that I thought I’d launch this new series and give it a whirl.

Art tip:  Upcycle cosmetic wedges as inexpensive stamps

Today’s art tip

Upcycle make-up sponges into easy, homemade stamps.

If you don’t have any cosmetic sponges in your home, they’re easily found in most dollar stores or the make-up aisle of the pharmacy. The wedges have a spongy texture that’s dense enough to hold ink or paint. I spotted this bag of 100 cosmetic wedges on Amazon for about $7.00, which is another option.

Because the wedges have a triangle shape there are only so many things you can do with them, but we found that they’re great for snipping up a heart-shaped stamp. One point of the triangle becomes the bottom of the heart, and then a few simple snips of the scissors will give you a nicely shaped heart.

All of mine came out a little wobbly, but this gives them handmade character.

Art tips: Make-up Sponge Printing

For a more archival picture or card, you can roll out some water-based printing ink like we did, but the cosmetic sponge stamps will work well dipped in a thin pool of tempera or acrylic paint. Washable tempera is more finicky, but great for messy, little hands. Acrylic paint isn’t washable, but it’s a good alternative to printing ink for painting on fabric or something more archival.

So, do you have any cosmetic wedges that are itching to be turned into a stamp? Would you try this?

A question for you

Are there any areas of art-making that you wonder about or struggle with? What other art tips would you like to see covered here?


Easy Valentine Bookmarks

easy valentine bookmark 3

Today I’m joined by my real-life friend Susan, amazing mom to a 2-year old and a 4-year old, who I’ve known since our blanket baby days. She made this simple Valentine Bookmark with her 4-year old last week and I invited her to share it as a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift.

Welcome, Susan!

easy valentine bookmark 2

My daughter’s preschool loves to celebrate Valentine’s Day with homemade Valentines.

I wanted to do a project that was quick, where my daughter could handle most of the work, and that could be used beyond just Valentine’s Day.


  • 8 ½ x 11 Cardstock or any heavyweight paper
  • Scissors, regular or the fancy-edged kind
  • Glue – any kind (Elmer’s, glue stick, glue gun)
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon cut in pieces around 12 inches long
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Large sheets of paper for protecting your table (optional)

How we made this

  1. I taped large sheets of paper to our dining room table so I don’t get nervous when glue starts going everywhere.
  2. Pick two sheets of paper that will be glued back to back. Our local craft shop was having a sale on different cardstock with hearts and cupcakes so I picked up a couple of patterns that I thought would look cute together.  My daughter had her own idea of combinations, so we went with that.
  3. Hold the sheets together and cut it in half, lengthwise. You should now have four pieces that are 4.25″ x 11″.
  4. Then take one half (sheets together) and cut width-wise in to 5 equal sections (approximately 2.25″ x 4.25″). This gives you your basic bookmark. Repeat with the other half.
  5. Take each pair of cut bookmark halves and glue them together.
  6. After the glue dries a bit, take each bookmark, punch a hole at the top, slide a piece of ribbon through and tie it off.
  7. You can be done, or you can decorate! We used a glue gun to attach puffy felt hearts I bought at the craft store.

easy valentine bookmark tall text

Helpful hints about the project

  • Precise Edges: We used fancy-edged scissors, which turned out looking great but meant that gluing the two sheets together precisely is difficult. Ours are not at all “precise.”
  • Wet and warped bookmarks: My daughter really loved squeezing the glue on all of these so they were quite wet, resulting in warped shapes that give the bookmarks “character.” A glue stick may be the way to go if you don’t like that look.
  • Help your child cut the ribbon: I made two marks on our big sheet of paper that indicated the length of ribbon that we needed, so that it was easy for my daughter to measure and cut.

My husband was very enthusiastic when my daughter shared our finished project with him.  However, he later remarked to me in private that he thought the puffy hearts made the valentines not-so-good as bookmarks since they wouldn’t lie flat in their books. I still don’t know if that is the case since neither my daughter nor my son have used them.

Final note: At my daughter’s Waldorf preschool, her symbol is a mother hen, hence (ahem), the chicken stickers on our bookmarks.

Thanks for sharing this easy Valentine’s Day gift with us, Susan!

More Valentine’s Day Projects for Kids

Our Valentine’s Day board on Pinterest

Make an All-in-one Valentine Envelope

30 Valentine Activities for Kids


Paint with glue, and how to make your own colored glue

My 2-year old is going through the phase of wanting to squeeze all the life out of any tube of paint, toothpaste, or glue that crosses her path. Have you had, or do you have, a child in that phase as well?

Paint with glue |

I remember this phase well. When my older daughter hit it, I made up a big batch of flour + water paint so that she could squeeze all she wanted. It was an economical solution that allowed her to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze without multiple visits to the art store for more paint.

In a similar vein, we recently made colored glue when we added liquid watercolors to some simple white glue. The girls love it, especially the younger one, and it’s now a staple of our creative zone. The colors of the glue are rich, the consistency is easy to squeeze, and it doesn’t break the bank, especially since we stock up on glue with a gallon-size bottle of Elmers Washable School Glue.

Paint with colored glue |


  • White glue bottles or other empty squeezable bottles
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring
  • Cardstock or other heavyweight to squeeze glue onto
  • A tray to catch the drips
  • Sequins and other treasures (optional)


Add a few drops of food coloring to the glue, cap the bottle, and shake until well-mixed.

paint with glue2

Glue as you wish!

Learning outcomes

Yes, learning is embedded in this experience! This activity is great for developing hand muscles, problem solving, making aesthetic choices, and exploring the limitations and possibilities of glue. It also teaches children how to control the flow of glue, which is a fantastic skill that will transfer over to squeezing shampoo and ketchup bottles.

Note: Links in this article may lead to an affiliate site. I only share products that I love and/or think you’ll find useful. 



Creative Table Project: Keep your table clear and your mind open

The other day I shared the Creative Table Project that’s happening over on Instagram. And do you know what? I’m floored because after that post went up, over 100 new Creative Tables were added to the visual database of ideas and inspiration. It got me thinking that maybe I should make the Creative Table Project a more regular feature of this site. What do you think?

In that vein, a couple days ago my 2-year old set up a really simple creative table.

Let’s take a peak…

Keep your table clear and your mind open: The Creative Table Project from Tinkerlab

It was time to re-paper the kids’ table so I walked into my supply closet to grab a roll of paper (we use brown craft paper from the hardware store, similar to this, in case you’re wondering). When I opened the door, my 2-year old, who happens to be glued to my side, spotted a container of paint pens on a high shelf and put in a request for them. The pens happened to be next to a big jar of craft sticks and she asked for those too.

I had a few other ideas in mind, but I happily obliged because I know that if she’s motivated to make something, her self-direction will carry the project to somewhere important.

How often do you let your child take the lead when he or she creates things?

Keep your table clear and your mind open: The Creative Table Project

While I rolled out the paper and taped it down to the table, she got right to work by adding color to the sticks. She invested her energy into covering the entire side of one stick with purple paint and another with green polka dots.

Why is this all so important? In moments like these, children have choices, they exercise their independence, and they have seemingly endless time to tinker and experiment.

If you want to encourage creative thinking in a child, it’s important to make room for open-ended exploration and self-directed learning.

There are plenty of moments in our days when we formally teach our children, scaffold their learning with information, or introduce them to new ideas that can help them grow. I bet you can think of at least one example.

But it’s equally important to encourage learning by making room for a child’s own ideas, inquiry, and moments of innovation to flourish.

So there it is. Not the most complicated post. In fact, the beauty in it lies in its simplicity.

This seems to go hand-in-hand with our Art Tips series, so here’s a quick takeaway for you:

Creative Table Tip #1

Keep your table clear and your mind open.

Inspiring articles on Creativity

Creativity in Young Children, by Sara Gable. If you have little kids, you’ll love this article.

Is Creativity the Number 1 Skill for the 21st Century?

The Decline of Creativity in the United States

The Creativity Crisis, a must-read article by journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

More about the Creative Table Project

Creative Table Project on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram


Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

If you like to make your own Valentines but you’re pressed for time (or have a small and impatient child like me), all-in-one Envelope Valentines could be the way to go. Turning a heart-shape into both a Valentine and an envelope is a delightful way to surprise the card’s recipient.

This handmade Valentine card is made from a giant cut-out heart that’s then folded into an envelope. Simply draw your message on the heart, fold it up, seal it, and your Valentine is ready to go!

Since we started making Valentines in January, we’ve had plenty of time to iterate on the Valentine theme and recently whipped up these easy all-in-one cards that would be perfect to make for a group of classmates.

Because 2-year old N couldn’t wait to give all of these out for Valentines Day, they became Chinese New Year/Valentine Cards. My child lives quite happily in a post-modern world.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards Supplies

  • Paper
  • Stickers
  • Scissors

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 1

Cut out a heart, turn it upside down, and fold. If you’d like a tutorial on cutting hearts, this tutorial will make it easy.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 2

Fold the “top” (or bottom!) of the heart up so that the folded edges line up. Crease.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 3

Fold the “bottom” (top!) down, so that it looks like an envelope. I had to make a few of these before getting the location of the creases just right.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 4

Open it up and flip it over.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Write a message.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

And seal it up!

While my daughter is thrilled to cut paper and build sculptures, she hasn’t been the least bit interested in writing or drawing lately. So you can imagine my surprise when she actually had the stamina to make more than one of these!

When we sat down, I cut and folded a bunch of hearts and we got to work! Well, she folded, too…

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

We plowed through and made about ten of these before she had enough.

Handmade Valentine Cards: Making window decoration from our scraps

And when we were done, I recycled the cut-out Valentine scraps into window decor. Want more handmade Valentine cards ideas? Here you go…

More Valentine’s Day Inspiration

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

How to set up a self-serve card-making station

6 Valentine’s Day Activities for Preschoolers

Deconstructed Valentines


Happy Valentine’s Day!