Abstraction by Olga Todorovska

How to Make Natural Dyes and Paints

Amodini Allu August 10 2022


We always find great achievement in creating something of our own. How amazing would it be to make paints naturally at home and use them to create new art pieces? Let’s get to know in-depth how these paints can be made with simple materials.

Art forms have coincided with human activities for a long time. Art began as a tool for documenting human lifestyles and histories. All these were done with eco-friendly materials, such as twigs, wooden sticks, and other sharp tools such as brushes; and using charcoal, colourful fruits, and flowers as paints.

The two major components of a paint are pigment, which gives paint its colour, and a binder, which holds the pigments together and helps the paint stick on the canvas.

Based on the cave paintings that were done in the early periods, it is believed that people originally used two main colours: black from charcoal and ochre from abalone shells. Later, people started exploring coloured pigments from dried flowers, roots, berry juices, and even coloured rocks. Based on the binding elements, the paint medium differed accordingly. Some of the most used binders were water, saliva, urine, and animal fats. To get thicker consistency, they also used egg yolk, linseed oils, and flour.

Let’s check how effortlessly we can make paints from materials that are easily available at home. The best thing about making our own paints is that we can customize the shade and consistency however we need them. The raw eco-friendly materials can be sourced from our own garden or from around the neighbourhood.

Making paints from dried flowers

The choice of colours depends on the flowers that are easily available to us. There are a number of ways to make paints from natural materials. Let’s explore a few tested methods that involve using raw materials in two different ways.

Process 1:

1. Collect flowers of your desired colours and separate the petals individually.

2. To strain the colour from the flowers, add a small amount of boiling water to the petals.

3. Let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes, until you can see the colour strained out dark.

4. Finally, strain the flowers completely from the liquid mixture.

5. And the paints from the flowers are ready to use!

Though this method is simple, the colour obtained from it can be very light and is suitable for use on papers. To make them last longer and be thicker in consistency, other materials can be added.

Process 2:

1. After collecting the flowers, grind them to a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle.

2. Add a small quantity of water (10-15ml) to the paste and mix it well.

3. Take a cloth strainer and drain out the flower paste completely from the water.

4. Finally, add a teaspoon of honey to thicken the liquid paint.

Process 3:

1. Collect the flowers and dry them until the dampness and moisture withers out.

2. Once they’re completely dried out, grind it to a fine powder.

3. To the powder paints, add a binder such as egg yolk or flour in the ratio 1:1.

4. Based on the consistency needed, add warm water to the mixture and mix it well.

5. Paints with thicker consistency are ready to use.

Making paints from fruits/vegetables

The process used for the flowers can also be applied to fruits and vegetables. Sourcing out the rich coloured raw materials is the most important part of the process. To achieve different shades, raw materials can be cooked or boiled to extract their juice. The accuracy of each colour is never cut-and-dry, as it is a natural process and requires trial and error.

1. Cut the vegetables/fruits into small pieces and boil them until they become soggy.

2. Mash them to a thick paste.

3. Extract the juice from the raw materials using a strainer.

4. Add a sufficient quantity of sugar to thicken the consistency of the juice.

5. Give the mixture a nice blend, and it is ready to use.

The whole process of making paints from eco-friendly materials can be a fun experiment. The only important thing is preserving the paintings made from these natural paints. Since they can easily attract ants and insects, they should be safely framed.

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