Tuesday, April 5, 2011

watercolors to go

Every winter my dear friend Catherine Newman gives my kids the most inspired gifts- both handmade and boughten.  Last year she gave Ava a fantastic book called An Illustrated Life, a book about illustrated journaling and sketchbooking and it was a huge source of inspiration for her.  When I get her permission, I will post some things she has been working on, but for now I will share with you a little gift that I am currently making for her as she fills her personal sketchbook with beautiful and funny and original work of her own.  There was an idea for this in the book that an artist shared that I have changed a bit but it will allow her to carry water colors with her and as long as she can find some water (usually not difficult) she can transform her black line drawings into something even more spectacular.  And, it's easy, to boot.

What you'll need:
  1.  a metal tin (I used a tin that a pair of scissors came in, which was a perfect fit for the "fantastix") polymer clay (sculpey or fimo- go for the soft type).
  2. tubes of watercolors (I went for the cheap type from Michael's for this first try but you could use fancy ones)
  3. Coloring tools such as "fantastix", which are inexpensive and you can find at any art or craft store. They are basically pens without the ink.  The body is filled with a sponge that holds water so you fill it with water and then can use it with the water colors without having a jar of water for your paintbrush.  You could even watercolor in the car!
  4. White metal paint OR a piece of white plastic cut from a tofu or yogurt container that is large enough to fill (or mostly fill) the top of the tin (this is for mixing colors- you want white for that).
  5. A tube of lip balm (you'll see why).
How to make it:

  1. Take one pack of white polymer clay and break in half.  Roll each half into a snake as long as your tin.

Smoosh them so they are flattened along both long sides and then take your lip balm and press 6 wells into each smooshed snake of clay (use the top of the lip balm that is flat).






2. Follow the manufacturer's directions and bake the clay inside of the tin.  After this cools, you can fill the wells with paint.
3. Fill the wells with paint.  Tap the whole thing to flatten the paint into the wells, or use something (like a paintbrush) to flatten it.  Allow this to dry and it will be ready to use.


4. Paint the top of the lid with white metal paint or glue in a piece of white plastic to provide a white area to mix colors.

5. Now it is ready to go.  If you need to, tie a piece of string or use a rubberband to keep the lid secure.  

If you can't find a long tin like this one, you could always just carry the color sticks in your pencil/pen bag.


34 comments:

  1. This is wonderful!! Something about your photography and the texture of it makes me so very much want to touch it!

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  2. What a terrific idea. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Love this! I will so be making lots of these.

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  4. This is a great idea! I really love this, so I shared your tutorial on Twitter. :-)

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  5. this is so awesome! thanks :-)

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  6. Amazing! I love how portable and complete it is.

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  7. Thanks for sharing! I've been trying to think of one more little thing to make for my husband for his birthday, and this is perfect.

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  8. How do you keep the paint from getting all over the color sticks, or dripping all over the place?

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  9. This is one of the best things the internet has ever given to me. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. From what i understand you let the paint dry in the tin before you use it, so the water in the pens picks up the water color paint.

    Such a fantastic idea, i may just have to work on something like this for my little guy, he loves to paint and i don't love the mess haha.

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  11. would white spray paint work for the lid? i have a bunch of painters touch white primer and paint.

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  12. Oh my gosh, this is awesome! I'd love to have you share this at my For the Kids Friday Link Party (still open).

    http://sunscholars.blogspot.com/2011/04/for-kids-friday-6.html

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  13. This is an AMAZING idea! Thanks for sharing :)

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  14. great idea nicole! perfect for painting spring-time blooms!

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  15. Thanks for all of the comments, folks. Spray paint would work for the lid, for sure. The color sticks do need to be washed off in between colors, but they come in 6 packs, so you might not need to fuss too much. They don't drip (awesome). You could also pack a little paint brush in the kit and have a container that has a tight seal, and then put them all in a small bag for transport.

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    Replies
    1. Love this idea! I use water brushes for my Zentangle art - they come in packs of 3 (3 diff. sizes) and you just fill the barrel with water (no sponge). To clean them off between colours, just squeeze a bit of water out onto the brush, and "scribble" with it onto some scrap paper. That way you don't need separate brushes for different colours. They work really well with my Inktense pencils, or with any watercolour palette.

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  16. This is such a CUTE idea. What fun gifts they would make. Thanks so much for sharing. So nice meeting you.

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  17. Inspired by your tutorial, I made a slightly smaller version out of an Altoids tin. I gave it to my husband for his birthday, and he was totally excited. Thanks for the idea!(In case you want to have a look: http://www.thezenofmaking.com/2011/04/altoids-tin-watercolor-set.html)

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  18. This is GREAT! I want to make these for my ART CAMP students. LOVE IT!

    Thanks for sharing.
    Char.x

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  19. This is such a fabulous and creative idea. I'm so glad I found your blog (via Ohdeedoh)!

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  20. This is fantastic! I am so excited to try it for all of my kids and their buddies. Thank you!

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  21. Very cool idea, thanks for sharing!

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  22. Thanks for this tutorial! I plan to make these for my family for our nature walks!

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  23. Great idea!!
    http://DesignersGoldenTouch.etsy.com/

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  24. I LOVE this idea!! I almost always have a little Winsor & Newton travel set with me (just got back with a sketchbook full of paintings from New Zealand!), but this idea is WAY more fun, and would let me be more selective about my colors. :)

    So simple, so brilliant. Thank you!

    http://www.iheartungulates.com

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  25. about how big is the metal container you used? thanks:)

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  26. I used a tin that my craft scissors came in. It is bigger than a mint tin, but a mint tin could be used (you just might have to cut the watercolor sticks with a knife so they fit).

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  27. You are very smart! And you such a caring mom.

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  29. I have been wanting to buy a mini watercolor set. The one I want it $30! Even with a 50% off coupon that is still pretty pricey. I am definitely going to try making ones of these instead! Thanks :)

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  31. Instead of clay wells, you can use soda bottlecaps. Less colors, but they fit together.

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