The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was white. This was a really hard one for me!
I spent the whole week thinking: “I pick the themes, so why on Earth did I pick white??” All my kids could think of was white paint or marshmallows, but unfortunately we had neither in the house today when it got down to the wire for doing the project or giving up.
I figured there was bound to be a way to make homemade white paint so I googled “homemade paint.” I came upon this neat web page: Recipes for Art Materials.
As I read through the paint recipes, I came across an intriguing one for Magic Crystal Paint that required only hot water and Epsom salt (isn’t salt white?), both of which I had. Further googling for “epsom salt paint” also led to this teacher discussion board post about salt paint.
This Salt Crystal Paint is simply a salt water solution that you brush on paper. After the water dries, the salt crystals remain and produce a glittery effect.
My kids and I were excited to try it and we decided to really experiment. We got out the Epsom salt, construction paper, crayons, scissors and hole punches.
We began by making construction paper “snowflakes” to use as stencils. The idea of glittery snowflakes was quite appealing on this almost wintry day.
We used the shaped hole punches on our stencils too.
We also colored some pictures on the dark construction paper using crayons.
To make the salt solution, mix about 1/2 cup Epsom salt with 1/2 cup hot water. I made mine by stirring the salt in on the stove.
We made one batch this usual way.
We also tried another way by adding LOTS of salt until we could add no more thus making a solution that was supersaturated (I snuck a bit of science in here!).
We stuck our stencils down with tape, trying to keep them flat, but without using so much tape that they would be difficult to remove later.
The first batch of “paint” looked like plain water and I didn’t hold out much hope for success. But we painted it on our stencils and our pictures anyway, then let them dry.
Here we are peeling off the stencils:
The effect was really cool! It is quite difficult to show in a photo, but when you look at the pictures under a light or in the sun, they really sparkle like snow!
We did one picture with the supersaturated solution and it came out thickly crusted with salt. There wasn’t much sparkle, just a flat white effect. In fact the white almost completely hid the crayon:
We preferred the milder 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup water version, but the supersaturated one would be great to use as a paint on its own. You could achieve some interesting looking white textures with a bit of experimentation. The brush strokes really showed up well, as you can see in the photo above.
A fun variation that we’ll have to try another day, is to add food coloring to the solution. This will create colored crystals!
[NOTE: In case you are unfamiliar with it, Epsom salt is the common name for magnesium sulfate. It can be found in most pharmacies since it is often sold as a soak for feet or for adding to a bath. I have also seen it in the garden section of Walmart since it can be used as a fertilizer. Roses love it and that is how I use mine! It is usually in a milk carton-type container, but I have also bought it in a resealable plastic bag.]
I imagine that this project works better with Epsom salt than table salt since the crystals are much larger. I wonder if Kosher salt or sea salt would work too? That would probably cost a lot more though.
Did you do a white Unplugged Project with us this week? If so, then please put a link to your white project in Mr. Linky below. Please remember, this week’s Mr. Linky is only for white projects.
The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be: