Searching for a great finger-paint recipe: Part 2; and dance party painting!

Well, I realized that it has been ten months (!) since I tried a finger-paint recipe, and since the last post indicated that I was searching for a really good recipe, I thought I’d better try a new one. This recipe is really simple. Just two ingredients. Well, three if you count pigment. Flour, water, and food coloring are all you are going to need to whip up a batch of paint.

We decided to use this paint at a dance party session (Little O is in love with dance parties). We kicked it up a notch by adding paint.

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I put the paint on wax paper which was taped to the floor at one end of the paper. You could also use a cookie sheet, aluminum foil, or any other large flat surface that you’ve got kicking around. You could even put it directly on the floor, but I was lazy and didn’t want to mop.

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I liked this paint better than the cornstarch paint. It was a little thick, but it felt more like paint and didn’t get lumpy. The pigment was okay, but I wanted more staying power…it didn’t transfer to the paper like you’d really want, so the paint had to be very thick on the paper to be vibrant. Overall it was a good recipe, and I think the boys had fun stomping around in it. With the music and squishy paint on feet, I think it is a great sensory activity for toddlers.

I found the recipe over on TinkerLab, so head on over there if you want to make it, she’s got a great tutorial on how to make it.

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Searching for a great finger-paint recipe: part 1

I’ve been seeing recipes for “edible finger paint” all over the internet recently, and I wanted to try some out.  I was interested in them mainly because Little O puts everything into his mouth and I knew the moment we started with paint he’d be eating it.  So I decided that edible finger paints were the way to go.

My criteria for a “great” recipe are as follows:

  1. The recipe must feel and act like paint (viscous and good color, especially after drying.)
  2. I wanted it to be edible, but since this is not the primary function, I didn’t want to encourage eating it.  So no sweetness.
  3. I wanted it to be easy to make.
  4. I didn’t want it to stain easily.

There are probably other criteria to consider, but these were my top four.  Yesterday Little O’s cousin came over and we made our first attempt.  We tried a simple corn starch and water recipe.

I decided to use vegetable dyes, because I thought these would be pretty easy to make and I was the most comfortable with these kind of dyes if Little O put any paint into his mouth. I just experimented with things that I already had in my kitchen.

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Clockwise from the top left:

  • green–food coloring
  • mauve–blueberries mixed with a few blackberries
  • red–beet juice
  • orange–beet juice mixed with turmeric
  • purple–purple sweet potato
  • yellow–turmeric

I was pleased with the colors–they were a little muted and not artificially bright, but dark enough to show up on the paper even after drying.  I did cheat on the green though.  I wanted to try using spinach but I didn’t have any, so I just used food coloring, and immediately regretted it.  Not only does the green look weird, but it was the only paint color that stained my fingers! I’ll definitely avoid food coloring in the future.

As you can probably see from the picture, the paints started to gel once they cooled.  I wished they stayed a bit more viscous.  The recipe was super easy, though, and the kids had fun.

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I’ll give the corn starch paint recipe 3 out of 4 stars since it did meet 3 of my four requirements, but I’ll keep looking.  If you’d like to try this recipe out, the paint and color recipes follow below.

Corn Starch Finger Paint

  • 1 cup corn starch, dissolved in water (enough to dissolve ALL the starch…no lumps)
  • 3 cups water

Place corn starch in a bowl.  Add enough lukewarm water to dissolve all of it and mix thoroughly.  Boil 3 cups of water in saucepan.  Remove from heat.  Add dissolved corn starch mixture and stir.  Replace mixture over heat, and continue to stir continuously until mixture thickens and turns translucent.  Divide into bowls and add dye until you like the color (more dye=more vibrant).  Mix thoroughly.

Vegetable Dyes

Basically you’ll want to take the source material (veggie or fruit) and simmer it with a little bit of water over low to medium heat until the plant material breaks down and the water becomes colored.  The longer you simmer, the more intense the color.  Just be careful not to simmer the water away.  Strain through a strainer and press all the juices out of the veggies/fruit.  I used a handful of berries or chopped veggies (1 tsp of the turmeric) to about 1/2 inch of water in a small saucepan.  If you are using canned beets (I did), just use the colored juice.