Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homemade finger paint

My husband was out for the evening last night and didn't get home until after our daughter's bedtime. These evenings don't happen often, but when they do, it's nice to have something a little "extra special" to help pass the time! What is it about those extra three hours alone with your child (or children) that can drive a mom batty?

So. I decided we would finger paint. We haven't done finger painting in a long, long time (like maybe a year), and we've NEVER done finger painting with real finger paint. I was always nervous she'd eat it accidentally, so we stuck to edible "paints." But I decided I was going to be brave and try the real stuff!

And then I realized that we don't actually own any finger paints. I had tempera paint, craft paint, and a bunch of old paint cans in the garage (ha! yeah right!)... but no finger paint. I truly had no desire to go out in the cold again today, so I did some quick searching to find a finger paint recipe. There was no shortage of recipes out there, but most were fairly similar. I also refined my search to include washable finger paints... because I don't have stock in Shout spray.

You will need:
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dishwashing soap
  • food coloring
  • glass jar with lid (for storage)
Boil the first three ingredients in a saucepan on the stove, whisking continuously. I actually doubled the recipe because it didn't seem like much, but in retrospect, probably didn't need to do that. A single recipe, or even half of it, would have been sufficient. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.

As I stood at the stove, whisking away, I wondered how long this process might take. About that time, I noticed that the mixture was starting to gel a bit at the bottom, and it was also around this time that I thought maybe I ought to grab the camera. In the time it took me to walk two rooms away and back, the mixture had fully gelled. It really does happen that quickly. When you start feeling some resistance at the bottom of the pan, watch it closely because it will gel almost instantaneously. (Which is, of course, what you're looking for.)

See how it looks kind of gloppy (as you'd expect finger paint to look) and coats the whisk? That's when you're ready to move on to the next step.

While I did double the other ingredients, I only used about 1/3 cup of the dish soap, and it was (in my opinion) too much. Because a few of the recipes I found specified Dawn, that's what I used. However, the only Dawn I had was blue, so it tinted my mixture a bit. But since I knew I was adding food coloring, I didn't worry too much about it. If you're looking to make white paint, you might want to stick with a clear dish soap, or omit it all together. Remember though that the dish soap is what supposedly makes it "washable" paint.

The soap also makes the mixture a bit sudsy, but the bubbles don't take over. Again, I think I'd cut back on the amount of soap and start with only a couple of tablespoons, then work my way up from there.

Have a jar or two ready. I put a funnel in mine to make for neater pouring.

Pour the mixture into the jars.

It's still warm, and because it's in two different containers, I can make two different colors of paint.

Add food coloring in the color of your choice. This was definitely enough!

Kind of looks like strawberry jam, doesn't it? But it definitely wouldn't taste that good!

Repeat with as many colors as you'd like. Make sure to seal the lids tightly. :)

The homemade version is a little runnier than store bought, but it's definitely WAY cheaper and super simple to make! And honestly, how pretty does the paint look in these jars? So much cuter than the yellow tubs! I even thought this would be a really fun and simple gift for a kid, or an inexpensive birthday party favor if you had smaller jars. I don't know though... is that the kind of thing that other parents would hate you for? We aren't to the "friend birthday parties" age yet, so there might be some etiquette guidelines there I'm missing.

Coincidentally... it IS washable. We tested that out, too, but not on purpose. I guess it goes to show that even when you have the foresight to remove every SPECK of clothing from your child's body, sometimes you just can't control what lands on your own clothes.

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