How to Make Natural Dye for Painting and Eggs

Today I’m sharing my favorite recipes for making homemade DIY all-natural dye for painting and egg decorating. While these dyes take a bit more time than their store-bought cousins, they are easy to make and definitely worth a try.


Eggs colored with natural dye

While I have nothing against store-bought egg dye, we’ve been making our own egg dyes for a few years and there are a few benefits to making natural dye:

You’ll have the satisfaction of making your own art material

The dyes are 100% non-toxic and are, therefore, food-safe. You can eat those eggs with peace of mind.

Making your own dye teaches children to be resourceful. You don’t have to go to the art store for paint when you can make your own from things you have in the fridge.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

I’ll share five recipes below, and will refer to these as “egg dyes,” but understand that these can also be used as watercolor paint. We’ll add a bit of vinegar to each recipe. Vinegar will act as a mordant, which means that it will help the dye stick to the paper or egg, and keep it from fading quickly.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.

Red Egg Dye

3 Beets, roughly chopped

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Bright Yellow Egg Dye

2 tablespoons Turmeric (spice commonly used in Indian cooking)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the dye into a container. This dye will be a bit pasty, as it retains some of the thickness of the spice.

Light Yellow Egg Dye

3 tablespoons Annatto seeds (I find these at Penzey’s)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Note: Annatto seeds temporarily stained my pot. It did not change the flavor of food cooked in the pot and the stain cleaned away after four cleanings. 

Lavender Egg Dye

1 cup Blueberries

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the dye into a container through a sieve. Press the berries to pull as much juice out as possible.

Blue Egg Dye

1/2 Red Cabbage, roughly chopped

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

1/2+ teaspoon Baking Soda

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container. If your dye is not blue, as it is in this post, you can add baking soda to the dye and it will change color from purple to blue. Add more baking soda to intensify the color.

Science behind this color change: Red cabbage contains anthocyanin, a pigment that will appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH. When you add acid, such as lemon juice, to an anthocyanin, it will become pink. And when you add a base like baking soda it turns blue!

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

Hot or cool, your dyes are now ready for eggs! These dyes take a bit of time to brighten up an egg – give yourself between five and 20 minutes, depending on the intensity of color that you’d like to achieve.

Experiment with Egg Dyes!

Try mixing colors: How can you get orange dye? Will it work to dip the egg in yellow first, and then in red. Or vice versa?

Fill shallow bowls with a small amount of the dye. Dip on side in red, then another side in blue, and so on.

Draw on the egg with white crayon. This will act as a resist. Then dip the egg in dye.

Cover the egg with stickers. Dip in dye. Dry and remove stickers.

Kids Painting with Natural Dye

Paint with Natural Dye

And finally, you can paint with this dye just as you would watercolors. Yesterday I took our dyes to my daughter’s class. We drew on watercolor paper with Sharpie markers (affiliate) and then painted over it with the natural dye. I also took time to ask the children if they wanted to smell the dyes, and there were lots of scrunched up faces! To see more ideas like this, read the predecessor to this post: Vegetable-Dyed Easter Eggs.

Natural Dyes on Bay Area People

I was recently invited to talk about how to make natural dyes on Fox 2 KTVU’s Bay Area People with Lisa Yokota. It was such a fun experience. Welcome to viewers who caught the episode this weekend! If you want to see me try not to look too foolish on TV, simply click on this image…

lisa yokota and rachelle doorley

More Homemade Paint Recipes

This post, Our Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes, contains seven favorite recipes. You don’t want to miss these easy, healthy recipes.

More Egg Dying, Decorating, and Science Ideas

Three Easy Tricks for Blown Out Eggs

Vegetable-Dyed Easter Eggs.

Egg Geodes Science Experiment

How to Make a Floating Egg

How to Walk on Raw Eggs. Really.

60 Egg Activities for Kids

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.


Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique

The thought of rubber cement always takes me back to the 6th grade. The smell! I’m not sure that schools offer rubber cement to kids anymore (kudos to them if that’s the case), but us adults can still try this favorite watercolor resist technique in a well-ventilated area.

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique, perfect for art journaling and sketchbooks

If you art journal or if you’re keeping a sketchbook, the rubber cement watercolor resist art technique is a fun way to add some variety and texture to your pages. It’s also a magical way to play with negative space and positive space. As you’ll see in the video, rubber cement will pour off of the dispenser brush in a haphazard way, and it can be hard to control the flow of it. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of using this technique for detailed work. I’m sure there’s a way around it and encourage you to experiment!

Rubber Cement and Kids

I don’t recommend the use of rubber cement with young children and suggest using your best judgment for yourself and others in a well-ventilated space. If you’re like to try this with kids, an adult could do the rubber cement step and once dry, the child could paint over it.


This list includes affiliate links

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist

I’m dipping my toes into the world of video. Would you let me know what you think? There’s sound, so be sure to turn the volume down if you’re in a quiet place :)

Be sure to follow my YouTube channel to be the first to see more videos like this.

Steps: Rubber Cement Resist

  • Drip rubber cement onto watercolor paper.
  • Wait for rubber cement to dry.
  • Paint right over the rubber cement. It will resist the paint!
  • Once dry, rub the cement away from the paper.


Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique

More Art Technique Experiments

Clear Tape Image Transfer

String Painting

Cling Film Art Experiment

Cling Film Art Experiment

The Cling Film Art Experiment with Jewels |

I’m having the BEST time with this month’s TinkerSketch Challenge. How about you?

This Cling Film Art Experiment ties in with the Day 4 prompt to “Squirt Paint.” These TinkerSketch prompts can be interpreted in any number of ways. For example, you could draw a tube of paint, squirt paint on paper, squeeze paint on your hands and then finger paint. So many possibilities!

If you want to try your hand and combining paint blobs with cling film, keep reading!

Supplies for Cling Film Art

This post contains affiliate links

  1. Paint – I used acrylic. Liquitex Basics is a good beginner set that’s a great value.
  2. Paper (or other substrate)
  3. Cling Wrap – I used Glad Cling Wrap

Steps for Cling Film Art

  1. Squeeze paint on paper
  2. Cover in cling wrap
  3. Press it down and smear around
  4. Reveal your creation!
  5. Repeat as desired.

How to try the Cling Film Art Experiment with Cellophane and Acrylic Paint |

After my 4-year old saw all the fun I was having, she wanted in. Here’s her experiment…

How to try the Cling Film Art Experiment  |

When she was done, she added jewels and told me that she would be selling these for $5.99. But because I’m her mom, I would get one for free. Score!

The Cling Film Art Experiment with Jewels |

And a look at how we finished my sketchbook entry together. I’m a fan of collaborative art…

How to try the Cling Film Art Experiment  |

After adding about three layers of blobs and cellophane, I smeared the paint around with the pealed off cling wrap.

Once dry I’ll have a cool background to draw or paint on top of. Or maybe I’ll just leave it the way it is. By the way, it’s hard to tell in the photo, but I went ahead and glued the cling wrap right to the paper. Why not?

What do you think? Are you up for making some cling film art? 

Enjoy your art experiments, and if you come up with any riffs on this technique, I would LOVE to hear about it!

Doily and Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

This simple doily and watercolor art for preschoolers uses basic art materials and encourages children to explore the medium of watercolors through process-based creating.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art for Preschoolers | Tinkerlab

This project, like so many others that you’ll find on TinkerLab, is process-based. It’s set up as a Creative Invitation, meaning that the materials are laid out in an inviting way, and then the child is invited to interpret and use them however he or she likes. With creative invitations like this, I’ll sometimes give my kids a little prompt, but usually I sit back and see what they come up with…and I’m often surprised by their ingenuity.

Around here, these creative set-ups are part of the Creative Table series, and you can find more of these ideas here.

Supplies: Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

Note: I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

The Creative Table Set-up

Line a tray with paper: Set up a big tray, and line it with paper. We have big sheets of 18″ x 24″ paper that I cut to fit. You could also use butcher paper, a brown paper bag, or smaller papers that are taped together. This step isn’t mandatory, but it’s helpful to have a absorbent trough to catch all the extra liquid.

Squeeze liquid watercolors into an ice cube tray. We have a mini tray that’s reserved for just this purpose. I often add a little bit of water to the watercolors to extend the life of our paints just a bit.

Doilies and paintbrush. Set up some doilies and a paintbrush and/or pipette nearby.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

My three-year old enjoys the challenge of pulling doilies apart. Oh, and she’s also wearing an apron and has rolled-up sleeves. Both recommended for this potentially messy project.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

Here’s the pipette in action. Pipette’s are fun for little kids, and a good challenge as they figure out how to squeeze the paint up, and then squeeze it out again.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

We set up another tray nearby to absorb our drying, colorful doilies. Once she made a small handful of these, my daughter thought it would be fun to dip clean doilies in the pool of murky paint. What a fun experiment!! It’s moments like this that make this a Creative Table!

soaking doily

She loved seeing the paper soak the paint right up. Once we had a healthy collection of doilies, my kids remembered that we recently picked up laundry hanger at the dollar store. So we carried our trays full of doilies outside where we hung them to dry in a tree.

They’re still there, actually, decorating the neighborhood.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

And here’s a bit of the aftermath. I love before and after photos!

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

If you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out our new book, TinkerLab: A Handbook for Little Inventors (June 2014, Roost). You might also enjoy these creative invitations:

Creative Table Highlights via Instagram

Creative Table: Tape and Paper Bags

Creative Table: Paint and Looping Lines

Creative Table: Doilies and Scissors

Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

Creative Table: Stickers and Frames

Our Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes

Have you ever made your own paint?

6 Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes for Kids  |

If not, these homemade paint recipes are just the thing to get you started. You’ll be surprised at just how easy, fast, and affordable making your own paint can be.

Here are some of the reasons that we love to make our own homemade paint:

  1. It’s just plain fun to make things that you’d otherwise buy in the store.
  2. It can save you money.
  3. It can give you peace of mind to know that the ingredients in homemade paints are child-friendly.
  4. Making their own art materials teaches children to be resourceful and inventive.
  5. It could save you a trip to the art store.

6 Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes for Kids  |

Here are six of our favorite homemade paint recipes:

Puffy Sparkle Paint: Made from salt, flour, and water, this paint dries a little puffy and gets a bit of sparkle from the salt. Fill an empty glue bottle with this paint, and squeeze designs onto paper.

Finger Paint: A simple recipe of flour and water, heated over the stove, this goopy paint feels great on the hands.

Egg Tempera Paint: This very easy paint, made from egg yolks, dries with a beautiful sheen can also be a great lesson in how the Renaissance painters originally painted.

Microwave Puffy Paint: Squeeze this paint onto paper and then pop the artwork in the microwave for a truly puffy result. Very cool!

Sweetened Condensed Milk Paint: This may be the most delicious paint recipe yet!

Invisible Ink: Made from citrus juice, this is a fun one for little sleuths and spies.

Bubble Paint: A mixture of dish soap, water, and tempera paint makes this magical solution that can be used to form bubbles on the surface of paper.

6 Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes for Kids  |

More Homemade Art Materials

Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent created this fantastic resource of 35 Homemade Art Materials Kids Can Make.

If you’re looking for a homemade paint recipe that’s not on this list, please add it in the comments and we will work hard to bring you what you’re looking for!