Creative DIY Home Art Supplies

There’s a lot around the house that students can experiment with and incorporate into art projects. Here are some of our favorites.

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Paint materials

Flower Petals
Most colored flower petals can be rubbed into paper to make lovely patches of color.

Turmeric
Mix turmeric with a bit of water and you’ll create am earthy yellow ochre.

Matcha Powder
Dissolve matcha powder in water to get a subtle pale green wash.

Hair Dye
Hair dye has bright, vibrant colors that are great for painting!

Dandelions
Rub dandelion flowers onto paper and you’ll get a brilliant yellow color!

Tulip Leaves
The leaves of a tulip make luscious colors when rubbed onto paper.

Japanese Maple Leaves
The deep maroon color of Japanese Maple leaves makes a rich patch of red when rubbed onto paper.

Kool-Aid 
Kool-Aid dissolves fast in water and gets bold colors similar to liquid watercolors.

Balsamic Vinegar
You’ll get beautiful brown wash with a touch of red with balsamic vinegar!

Sprinkles
Sprinkles produce lovely soft colors and dissolve easily in water.

Maple Leaves
Maple leaves rub easily onto paper to create a bright, saturated green tone.

Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice produces a deep red that has a lovely touch of purple.

Done with: soy sauce & toothpaste

“My aim was to use the soy sauce like watercolors, I reduced the soy sauce with water to do the lighter and mid tones and pure soy sauce for the darker tones. The toothpaste was for the white highlights, which if i was to do it again I would probably change for some other item. Using these household items has really sparked some new ideas, which is always great. You can jot the ideas down and come back to them at a later time, or just dive right into new exploration.”

Chloe O’Sullivan
Done with: turmeric & beets

“I took a reflection photo of a self portrait, then printed and highlighted my reflection with the beet and turmeric color. The turmeric was used literally as a crayon. I drew a face with pencil and added a butterfly colored with beet and turmeric diluted in alcohol drops.”

Milagros Santos
Done with: coffee & balsamic vinegar

“I really enjoyed working with the coffee and vinegar! I typically use watercolor and the coffee behaved very similarly. It was very, very light going on, so I attempted to darken it by adding more coffee grounds, but even then it was too light to give me good contrast. I revisited the list on the site and noticed the balsamic vinegar which turned out to be the perfect color for the darker areas – it worked really well with the lighter washes and gave me the depth I was looking for. Where the balsamic went on heavily it dried to a sticky looking sheen – I suspect it is not archival. 🙂 But it was a really fun experiment!”

Simple Triskell

Saffron
Let some saffron threads soak in water and you’ll get a soft yellow ink great for light washes.

Foundation
Foundation makeup is very smooth and spreads beautifully with a brush.

Violets
Rubbing the petals of violets produces a beautiful patch of blue!

Lilac Flowers
You can create a lovely subtle greyish lavender color when rubbing lilac flowers onto paper.

Eye Shadow
Eye shadow blends well and can be rubbed with your fingers to get soft, painterly patches of color.

Icing Colors
Icing colors can be used exactly like watercolor cakes, and have intense colors.

Tea
Tea makes a lovely soft ink wash that is delicate and subtle!

Grape Kool-Aid 
Apparently Grape Kool-aid looks like a grey India ink!

Jello
Jello can be like watercolor; just be sure to heat the water so the jello dissolves.

Kool-Aid Powder
Rub your wet fingers into Kool-Aid powder to create dry and patchy marks!

Mustard
You’ll get a soft yellow tone similar to Naples Yellow with mustard.

Toothpaste
Toothpaste spreads easily, is translucent, and sometimes sparkly!

Done with: paprika

“I put all my home art supplies on the kitchen counter and tested mustard and paprika with a basting brush. Surprised to capture an idea of home, I set the slip of paper in the window to give it a little light. Then I snapped a shot when the sun rose over my neighbor’s house.”

Sally Webster
Done with: coffee

“I would never have considered using coffee to paint with if I had not seen other artists get such a cool effect. For this sketchbook page, I tried using instant coffee granules and water with different dilutions. The coffee blooms and flows when applied wet-on-wet like watercolors, and a thicker mixture lets the brush texture show.”

Rowenn Beth Kalman
Done with: turmeric, beet, açaí, toothbrush

“After using a toothbrush to test several colors, I was drawn to turmeric, beet, and açaí. The turmeric was selected to be the background, and the two other samples were cut up into shapes to collage. I quickly glued down some shapes and cropped the image to highlight the toothbrush brush strokes.”

Sally Webster

Cocoa
Cocoa powder creates a warm brown ink wash!

Beets
Cut a beet slice, dip your brush in water, and massage your brush on the beet slice like a watercolor cake! Boil the beets to make liquid ink.

Paprika
Mix paprika with water and you’ll get a light wash similar to burnt sienna. 

Soy Sauce
You’ll get a soft subtle brown ink from soy sauce, similar to Walnut ink. 

Food Coloring
Intense and bold colors are what you’ll get from food coloring, add water to create a range of gradients.

Blush
Blush lets you make a soft blend of colors that is light and airy.

Nail Polish
With all the colors, shine, and sparkle, you’ve got all the painting tools you need with nail polish.

Coffee
Coffee produces a subtle raw umber color that can be used to create the effects of ink wash.

Flower Petals
Lots of flower petals will produce patches of color when rubbed onto a sheet of paper.

Grape Hyacinths
You’ll get a beautiful vibrant blue when you rub grape hyacinth flowers into a surface!

Done with: beets

“The beet root juice was so much fun to paint with and I loved the colour, but it got patchy at some point and I panicked, but it blended easily when I went over the edges. I would definitely try it again.”

Sara Boeisa

Drawing tools

Q-Tips
Q-tips are great for stippling and creating an impressionistic look.

Plastic Knife
The serrated edge of a plastic knife creates a beautiful texture reminiscent of cross-hatching. Works well with liquid inks and acrylic paint.

Bleach Pen
Get any dark colored fabric and draw with a bleach pen. Wash the fabric and you’ll have a lovely range of gradients in the fabric.

Mascara
Mascara has a thick intense black tone, and the applicator makes beautiful textured marks!

Beet Sticks
Cut up sticks of beets and draw! Dip the beet sticks in water to get the color to flow more.

Piper Cleaner
Pipe cleaners make terrific marks and textures!

Shoe Polish
Shoe polish feels painterly and slick. Gesso your surface to create a juicier, more luscious mark.

Feather
The soft edges of a feather create a smooth, fluid stroke with paint!

Plastic forks
Plastic forks create a beautiful set of marks that cover paper quickly, play with the speed of your marks! Works well with liquid inks and acrylic paint.

Toothbrush
An old toothbrush makes great textures for painting!

Twigs
The uneven tip of a twig produces a broad range of marks. Dip into any liquid ink to draw.

Comb
Dip a comb in paint and you’ll create lovely patterns that you can layer over each other!

Natural Charcoal
If you have a fireplace, you’ve got natural charcoal in it. Natural charcoal is more crumbly than manufactured charcoal, and is like vine charcoal.

3D materials

Banana Drawing
Use an ice pick, an etching needle and draw into a banana peel. Your lines will ripen and turn brown!  (we stole this from Song Kang)

Sewing Pins
Find any soft flat surface: styrofoam, foam board, etc. and push pins in varying directions.

Toilet Paper Tubes
Using a single toilet paper tube, cut, curl, and fold the tube into an abstract sculpture.

Brown Paper Bags
Versatile and sturdy, any brown paper bag has sculptural potential. Bags with handles spice it up!

Acorn Squash
Use a linoleum cutter to carve a design into an acorn squash. Small shavings means you can still eat the squash later. A paring knife works too.

Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is incredibly versatile, create delicate petals of form or twist and crunch the foil to create structured forms.

Corrugated Cardboard
Tear apart corrugated cardboard sheets and reveal the textured pattern inside. Cut, curl, fold, twist, anything is possible!

Dried Beans
Arrange dried beans into a mosaic, then eat them!

Sand & Rocks
Use rocks and sand to make a pattern. Layer colors and textures over each other. Look at Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration.

Q-Tips
Bend, fold and twist Q-tips and then assemble them together.

Eggplant Carving
Cut a thin piece of the skin of an eggplant, (eat the rest!) then use a linoleum cutter to carve a design. A paring knife works too.

Nails
Find any soft flat surface: styrofoam, foam board, etc. and push nails in varying directions.

Watermelon Carving
Cut a piece of watermelon rind, then use a linoleum cutter to carve a design. A paring knife works too.

Toilet Paper
There’s a lot you can do with a single sheet of toilet paper: twist it, fold it, tear it! Use glue or water to dramatically transform the toilet paper.

“I really wantd to try 3D art, but I can’t afford clay, and my hot glue gun was stuck at school. That’s why I decided to work on something that is available in my house. Toilet paper tube is very accessible and easy to work with, which makes it just the perfect material to start with. Cutting and forming the tube was very easy.
Following the natural curve of the tube creates graceful forms. When cutting against the curve, the forms created are much stiffer. Lastly, the supply allows me to work in a large quantity, which is just amazing.”

Neil Espinosa

Collage supplies

Old Postcards
Many postcards are artworks in themselves, you can’t go wrong with the incredible range of visuals in postcards.

Wrapping Paper
Use up those awkwardly sized scraps of wrapping paper that will probably go in the recycle bin anyway in a collage!

Old Photos
Some of you might remember when getting a photo meant driving to a store to have the film developed.  Sift through those boxes of photos!

Cereal or Cracker Boxes
With tons of bold colors, and text, cereal and cracker boxes can be cut out and used for any collage.

Sheet Music
Xerox or print out copies of any sheet music, a broad variety of shapes blended with text can be beautiful and rich visuals for collage.

Sandpaper
Sandpaper comes in so many colors and textures, perfect for spicing up a collage.

Old Artwork
A lot of us have old sketches, paintings that we probably won’t be needing again! Recycle your artwork and give it a new life.

Magazines
Magazines have an amazing range of colors, textures, and words, great to add variety to any collage.

Newspapers
For those of you who read newspapers the “old fashioned way,” put them to good use after you read them in your artwork!

Black & White Illustrations
Xerox or print out illustrations from any era, you’ll discover tons of graphic shapes and detailed textures depending on the era of illustrations you choose.

Old Books
We know cutting up a book feels practically sacrilegious to some people, but old books can have beautiful visuals if you’re willing to sacrifice them!

Junk Mail
That junk mail is probably going into the recycle bin anyway, so you might as well transform it into an artwork.