Our Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes

Have you ever made your own paint?

6 Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes for Kids  |  TinekerLab.com

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  |  TinekerLab.com

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  |  TinekerLab.com

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!


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?


Make Your Own Egg Tempera Paint

Today I’m sharing how to make homemade tempera paint. This paint is beyond simple, made from eggs and food coloring, and it will last indefinitely once dry.

How to make homemade tempera paint with just eggs and food coloring.

I’ve been interested in whipping up a batch of homemade egg tempera paint for a while, and was eager to try this with my kids.

History of Egg Tempera Paint

Do you know the history of egg tempera paint? It’s quite interesting, actually.

Egg tempera was wildly popular amongst Early Renaissance artists (Botticelli, Giotto, Fra Angelico) and then fell out of use with the Late Renaissance artists (Leonard da Vinci, Michelangelo) when oil paint was introduced. To make egg tempera paint, powdered pigments culled from things such as stones, sticks, bones, and the earth were mixed with water and then tempered with a binding agent such as an egg. And when they were tempered with eggs, they were called egg tempered paints and eventually earned the nickname Egg Tempera.

Interesting, right? So this is where those big, bright bottles of kid-friendly tempera paint get their name from.

I borrowed this recipe from Kid’n’Kaboodle, and if you click over there you’ll find an enormous list of recipes that will keep your little artists busy for a long time.

This project doesn’t take very long to set up, kids will enjoy making their own paint from eggs (unless they’re allergic or hate eggs, of course), and once the paint dries it has a gorgeous, shimmery patina that makes it painting-worthy.

This post includes affiliate links

make egg tempera paint with kids


How to Make Tempera Paint

  1. Step one: Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.
  2. Step two: Mix food coloring or liquid watercolors into the egg
  3. Step three: Mix well
  4. Step four: Paint

make egg tempera paint with kids

Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.

make egg tempera paint with kids

My 3.5 year old chose three colors to add: Purple, Sparkly Red, and Sparkly Blue. We like the Sax Liquid Watercolors. The bottles are inexpensive, last forever, and come in a huge range of colors.

As soon as my one year old began mixing the purple into the egg yolk, my older daughter commented on how purple and orange mix together to make brown. Not her desire, exactly, but she didn’t seem to mind and it was a great little unintended lesson in color mixing.

Painting with Tempera Paint:

With our homemade tempera paint ready, we got busy painting. Quite a lot of painting, actually.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paint

drawing with sharpie

I joined in too and it occurred to me that this transparent paint would make a beautiful luminous sheen over some bold Sharpie marks. I offered my kids Sharpies, and they thought it was a great idea too.

Do your kids love Sharpies as much as mine do? My kids go bananas over Sharpies and I sometimes wonder if it’s because they really are all that wonderful or if it’s because I keep them on a super-high shelf, buried behind old taxes and holiday Silverware.

child paints with homemade egg tempera paint

This was a great move, and the effect was as pretty as I had imagined.

toddler paints with homemade egg tempera paint

My toddler isn’t so deft with the Sharpie and I had to keep a sharp eye on her. She also insisted on the famous paint-draw technique, which kept me busy. How I even snapped this photo I’m not sure.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paint

Before we wrapped it up, they wanted to collaborate with my on my drawing. Rainbow asked me to draw her a sheep, and then the two of them went to town painting in and around the scene.

More Homemade Paints

We have this awesome collection of homemade paint recipes that includes:

The Butter Experiment

Last week we made butter!

I have friends who made this fine food back in their grade school/scouting/summer camp days, but I haven’t had this pleasure until now. As such, this was much an experiment for me as it was for my child. And it was SO worth it. This project appealed to me because it hardly cost a thing, it was super easy to make, and I was rivited by the process of making my very own butter. And it appealed to my two-and-a-half year old because she could participate in the kitchen by doing many of her favorite things: pouring, mixing, and of course…eating!


  • Glass jar with tight-fitting lid. I used a clean spaghetti sauce jar
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • That’s it! Really, it’s that easy.


  • Pour cream into a jar. Fill it about 1/4 of the way to allow room for shaking.
  • Shake continuously until the cream divides into butter and “buttermilk”
  • Scoop out and pat butter into a bowl or molds.
  • Save the sweet butter milk for other recipes. Delish.

For this experiment, we made two batches: one in the glass jar and the other with a hand mixer. I hypothesized that the hand mixer concoction would whip up much quicker, so you can imagine my surprise when it never got past the thick cream phase. Given the nature of butter-making, maybe the blender would have worked better. If you’ve had success making butter with a mixer, please share your tips!

N helped with the hand mixer, gave the jar a few shakes for good measure, and then handed her duties off to me and her G-Ma.

There’s my adorable Mother-in-Law being a sport: baby-carrying in one hand and butter-shaking in the other. She’s clearly a pro. And a bonus…as you can see, my baby was enthralled by the process. It’s never too early to help a child develop critical thinking skills!

After about four minutes of shaking, the cream whipped up into a lovely spreadable consistency. Not quite butter, but still worth a taste. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that N is keeping herself busy cutting up coffee filters and snacking on raisins, while her grown-up friends labor away with butter shaking.


About 10 minutes of shaking later I said out loud, “I don’t get it, is it supposed to look like REAL butter? Are we doing this right?” And within seconds the shaking became much easier and the butter was READY! We added a little bit of salt to taste, and then steamed up some corn to put it to the test. And it was amazing.

How it works

When you shake heavy cream, the drops of fat that are usually suspended in the liquid smack against each other and stick to each other.

When was the last time you made butter, and have you tried any variations on this experiment?

Happily shared with Tot Tuesday, We Play, Play Academy, and ABC and 123, Kids Get Crafty

Homemade Stickers

After sending our 4 year old friends Josie and Callie some stickers a few months back, they reciprocated by sending us a few sheets of mailing labels to make our own stickers. Brilliant!  Stickers have long been popular around here, they’re fun, and they seem to make their way onto everything from lunch bags to birthday cards. Making stickers from mailing labels is an easy spin on everyday drawing, more imaginative and less expensive than pre-designed stickers, and the perfect activity for kids who like drawing AND stickers. Since receiving our label sticker gift, we’ve stocked up on more sheets of these, and added them to our self-serve paper basket. If you decide to open your own homegrown sticker factory, pretty much any sort of blank office stickers should do the trick.

It was a very cool moment when I realized she could see the perforations of each sticker, and made each rectangle its own element.

N is going through her circle period!

Peeling off and adding stickers to a sheet of paper.

The final product.

I’ve noticed that N has tendency to layer papers and stickers in her art, so I also used this as an opportunity to talk with her about layering. I would say things like, “I see you’re putting that sticker on top of the other ones. You’re making layers. Can you say ‘layers’? Can you say ‘I’m layering the stickers’?”  She gets into this kind of “repeating me” discussion, and it works for us a good way to teach and reinforce new vocabulary words and sayings.

Do your kids love stickers too?

What kind of sticker projects are happening in your home or school?

Salty Sprinkles

Since last week’s Glitter-Fest 101, mounds of paper have been magically turned into sparkly creations — and my husband and sister have even jumped in on the glittering action. I actually overheard my husband say, “glitter is fun!” In all fairness, I think he was commenting to our 2-year old on how much he was enjoying their time together, but still! The only one who’s been overwhelmed by the glittering extravaganza has been my vacuum cleaner, who was recently given a raise for all of his hard work.

To foster the glittering fad, which (for my child) stems from a love for shaking sprinkles of any kind, I came across an idea for making my own glitter from salt. It’s not exactly the same as the wonderful shiny metallic stuff, but it fulfills the joy of shaking interest, it’s always fun to play with a new material, and I’m endlessly fascinated by the process of making our own art supplies.

What’s the Hook?

  • Kids will enjoy the process of making their own art material.
  • Making homemade art supplies can be fun, economical, and teaches children that art can be made from just about anything. I hear my daughter say “let’s buy it!” way too often, and it’s nice to think about future conversations that are infused with “let’s make it” instead.
  • Playing with new materials opens children’s experiences and world views up to new possibilities.
  • It’s easier to clean up than traditional shiny glitter.
  • If you use the salt/food coloring recipe, it’s completely non-toxic.


  • Salt
  • Food Coloring or liquid watercolors. I used Colorations Liquid Watercolors because I had them on hand, but I hear that food coloring works well too…and many of us have some tucked away in our kitchens. If you’re considering the watercolors, I think they’re worth investing in for other projects too:  they’re reasonably priced, washable, and the colors are rich.
  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • Plates or cookie sheet for drying the “glitter”
  • Shakers. I found some salt/pepper shakers in a dollar store. Cocoa and parmesan cheese shakers would do the trick too.


Pour the desired amount of salt into the mixing bowl or cup.

Add a few drops of food coloring/watercolor to the salt and mix until the salt is evenly covered.

Pour the mixture onto a plate and allow it to dry. This should take a couple hours. If you want to expedite the process, pour the salt mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once dry, break up the clumps of salt with your fingers or the back of a spoon.

Pour glitter into your shakers. Another option is to pour into a bowl so that your little artists can scoop it onto their art with spoons.

Enjoy your new, homemade glitter!

Homemade Playdough

My daughter and I are addicted to homemade playdough: Playing with it, cutting it, rolling it, but especially making it. Today I’m excited to share a recipe for how to make playdough.

Playdough is an excellent material for exploring a pliable 3-D media, and it has the potential to help a child exercise fine motor skills and develop their creative mind through play acting such as making cookies and tacos!

Playing with Homemade Playdough | TinkerLab.com

When my daughter was 16 months we bought our first batch of play dough at Whole Foods.  It was awesome.  And expensive. And when the whole family came down with what felt like the swine flu just days after playing with the stuff, I knew I had to throw out the whole sad lot with the tissues and hand wipes.

It was painful to fork out more money for another round of dough, and then a friend asked why I wasn’t just making my own. Right. Excellent question. I was an art teacher, and why had I never made play dough?  Slightly embarrassed, I knew I had to set off and find a great recipe.

If you look around for play dough recipes you’ll find recipes that include everything from cornstarch to Kool Aid to peanut butter, but the one I’m sharing here is for the really good, traditional stuff.  The recipe comes from First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos (affiliate) and it’s the only one I’ve used.

Do let me know if you have one that trumps it, but I’ll stand by the quality of this dough.  The book, by the way, is fabulous, and I recommend it highly to anyone searching for excellent art activity ideas for little ones.

Homemade Playdough Recipe

This will make enough dough for an entire preschool class.  I usually make 1/2 the recipe and it’s still plenty!  For two colors, divide the recipe in half.

  • 5 cups Water
  • 2 1/2 cups Salt — an entire container of Morton’s-style
  • 3 Tbsp Cream of tartar — this can be bought in bulk at Whole Foods, or found in the spice section of big grocery stores
  • Food Coloring: 1 tsp for pastel, 3 tbsp for vivid
  • 10 Tbsp Oil — I use Canola, but any veggie oil should work
  • 5 cups Flour

How to Make Homemade Playdough | TinkerLab.com

How to Make Playdough

Combine the water, salt, cream of tartar and food coloring in a large saucepan on a low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon. As the mixture heats up, stir in the oil and then the flour.

Mix, until the dough comes away from the edges of the pan, starts looking dry, and it becomes difficult to move the spoon. Pinch a piece between two fingers…if it’s not sticky it’s done. Remove from heat. Cool until it can be handled.

Place on counter and knead 3-4 times. Store in an air tight container or large Ziplock bag and it should last for weeks.

Voila! Homemade Playdough.

Seriously, the best playdough you’ll ever make and well worth the effort.

More Playdough Ideas

Are you looking for ideas for playdough tools? This post and this post are helpful starting places.

Add a new scent to your playdough such as pumpkin pie.

If you want to make glow in the dark playdough, you’ll love this recipe.

Want to get creative? Click here and learn how to make masa playdough!