Salt Watercolors

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A few months ago, I wrote about a project that involved melting channels through blocks of ice with salt and then watching color flow through the pathways. This project is its room-temperature cousin.

You’ll need:

  • Stiff paper
  • Glue
  • Water colors
  • Salt

There are very clear instructions for this, and many more watercolor projects over at The Artful Parent. Let’s just say we were inspired by those instructions, but didn’t exactly follow them.

The Artful Parent suggests drawing with glue and then sprinkling the glue with salt. Once dry, paint over the whole thing with watercolors to watch the way the watercolors react to the salted areas.  I must have misread the instructions, because we didn’t do this at all. In fact, we did it backwards.  Today, writing this post, I found this link that describes much more closely what we actually did.

We started by drizzling glue, and then let the glue (mostly) dry. We painted with watercolors over the glue, which gave the surface a nice texture.  And then we sprinkled salt all over the place.



First of all, the salt slightly dissolved in the still-damp paint, and it stuck. There were little, glistening grains of salt stuck all over the painting.  Each one had a small, visibly widening halo of white around it. There’s a scientific explanation that involves the salt absorbing some of the water and changing the surrounding pigmentation, but we were mostly interested in watching it happen…so things got a little extra salty!


Once dry, these abstract, textured, one-of-a-kind masterpieces made beautiful valentines, note cards, and wrapping paper.  All this without following the directions!


A few suggestions:

  • To really see the salt react with the paint, the colors need to be pretty intense. Use a lot of paint, or better yet use liquid watercolors instead of the dry, cake type.
  • Try different kinds of salt. We used table salt, but the larger crystals of kosher salt or sea salt would be interesting.
  • You and your child will probably want to experiment with more paint, more water, and more salt…use stiff, absorbent paper because you’ll be giving it a workout!

Want more Mess? Visit Melanie’s blog, or drop by her Etsy store, Made by Mommy!