One of the things I’ve learned about myself recently is that art only happens for me if I get the psychology right. If I’m worried about wasting valuable resources, or creating clutter, or anything like that, nothing happens.
So while I like the idea of having a set of tube watercolors (it is really nice to get nice intense colors without having to wait for the water to dissolve enough pigment), I wasn’t using them. The psychology was wrong. I’m not sure why. I have theories.
Anyway, I wasn’t using the set I had and I wasn’t about to buy another watercolor set for no good reason. (The money involved is not a lot – this was one of Joann’s store brand sets for less than $10 – but it’s the principle of the thing. See above re: wasting resources.) But today I saw Silvia’s watercolors-in-a-tin on Dollar Store Crafts, and, well, here we are.
Silvia just used an Altoids tin to hold a couple of pans of watercolors, which is a perfectly good way to do it. Other people online have covered the bottom with polymer clay, which I don’t have and which seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
So here’s what I did:
Materials: one Altoids tin (which was mostly empty but I now have about a dozen of them piled next to my laptop. Actually more like half a dozen, since I’ve been eating them.), tube watercolors, a small brush, a hot glue gun, and nice heavy textured cardstock to cover the top. Not shown are Super 77 adhesive, white acrylic paint, clear nail polish, and various cutting implements.
I wanted to accomplish a few things: divide the bottom into multiple pans for the paint, cover the logo on the top (you could cover the sides as well, but I didn’t bother), and prepare the inside of the top to be used for mixing paints.
I decided to use Super 77 as a primer for the inside of the top, since it worked so well for the chalkboard tray, and to cover the logo with cardstock. So I opened the tin, used the cardstock to cover the bottom half, and sprayed away. (Sensible people would probably just mask off the tin and spray the cardstock separately. That seemed like an awful lot of effort.) Then I pressed the cardstock to the top and let everything dry for a bit while I drew lines on the bottom to mark where the hot glue would go.
Next up was the hot glue. I went over the lines twice to build up some height to contain the paint. It was pretty messy but fairly straightforward. I did go back and look for gaps after everything had cooled properly and I’d pulled the strings off.
One thing to watch out for is that metal conducts heat, so touching the metal on the outside of the tin while putting glue on the inside of the same spot could potentially burn you. I mostly held it by the lid while I was going around the edges.
(The cardstock got trimmed to fit the lid after it was glued on, first with a pair of cheap scissors that I don’t like much, and then with a straight razor. It looks quite pretty with the red edges.)
The next step was the inside of the lid. After a little experimentation, I painted it with white acrylic paint, and then added a quick coat of clear nail polish to keep it from getting stained. The Super 77 adds quite a bit of texture which should help the watercolor paint not run all over the place.
While that finished drying, I started adding paint to the bottom tray. I have twelve colors, so I’d split it into twelve compartments. It came out very blobby, so I used toothpicks to mush it down into place better. I could have added water to fill the compartments more smoothly, but I kinda like these odd shapes.
Now all I have to do is wait for the paint to dry! I put it in a safe place and I’ll see how it is tomorrow. Once it’s dry I can use it just like regular cake watercolors.
I also cut my brush down to fit inside the tin, so I can carry them together. I’ll probably add a piece of sponge or towel, and maybe a bottle cap for holding water.
Update: it works wonderfully! I’ve posted some of the paintings.linking: Not Just a Housewife Sweet Peas and Bumblebees Junk in Their Trunk 2805 Fireflies and Jellybeans Beyond the Picket Fence