Easy and Fun Salt Paintings Craft

April 29, 2020Allison Murray
Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

It’s kind of weird how I’m home all of the time and, yet, I’m not managing to get a whole lot of work done. I think a lot of it is the stress of not being able to get out. I’m going a weensy bit stir-crazy and so I flit from one project to another without really finishing anything or accomplishing much. Straight up, I have about 12 projects all in the works, all in different states of completion.

But when I sat down to recreate my original watercolor salt paintings post with new photos I found that I easily knocked out 4 different paintings quick-smart. In a word, salt paintings are just plain fun. Whether you’re four or forty this is an easy craft that uses stuff you have already around the house.

In fact, I went all OCD on this and tried a bazillion different things I had at home and tested the results. From salt, to paints to paper, you’ve got tons of options to craft salt paintings, very likely, without having to purchase a single item.

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

To Make Salt Paintings You Will Need:

  • Black Paper
  • Salt
  • Paints
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush

Black Paper

Readily available options include construction paper, cardstock or poster board. Construction paper is the cheapest but it’s not very rigid. If it bends all crazy some of the glued on salt might break and come off of the paper. This might be an issue if you have kids that would get super upset about this. If you scrapbook you might already have some cardstock on hand. I had TONS of black card stock that never got used from value packs. It’s a little bit rigid and works super well. You can even get a 50-pack of letter-sized black cardstock from Walmart for under $5 if it’s in stock in your area. They also sell all black  Black poster board works best of all because it doesn’t flex a ton but it’s also the most expensive option if you are purchasing materials.

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

Now, obviously you don’t HAVE to use black paper. It’s traditionally used with salt paintings because it makes the paint colors really pop, but feel free to experiment with other shades. (or what you already have on hand).

Salt

My preference for salt paintings is to use fine sea salt because the pieces are a good size. Coarse sea salt, however, is just a little TOO big. No matter the paper, it tends to fall off a lot after the glue dries. You can make coarse sea salt finer in a food processor, if you have one. (This is what I did). Regular table salt is my second choice and works well, too.

Paints

More often than not, in salt paintings you’ll use watercolor paint. But what if you don’t have it or can’t get it right now? Besides watercolors you can also use food coloring. To get good color, add a lot of food coloring to small amounts of water. You can also water down acrylic paints. To get somewhat transparent color (so the salt beneath twinkles) add only a drop or 2 to a small amount of water. Lastly, you can also use alcohol inks. I actually busted out my homemade alcohol inks using Sharpies and rubbing alcohol and the color is FANTASTIC.

Some paints you make won't blend as well as others, so keep that in mind.

FYI, acrylic paint in water and alcohol inks may not spread and blend as well as other paints. You know how yellow and blue would make green? With these blends the blue takes over the yellow because it’s darker instead. Also, the alcohol in the inks might sort of discolor the black paper where it spreads a bit, just FYI. I don’t think it’s too noticeable and the tradeoff for the bright colors is worth it for me. Plus I had a LOT of homemade alcohol inks to use :)

You can also pull the cartridge out of old markers and put them into a small amount of water. The ink inside will seep out to create a thin ink similar to watercolors. This method is exactly how we made the alcohol inks just using water. Be sure to hit up that tutorial for more help, if you need it.

Glue

Elmer’s School glue is awesome because you can squeeze the bottle and draw right on the paper. Even little hands are strong enough to easy squeeze the glue from the bottle. Tacky glue works even better with less loss of salt once dry, but that dry time is a lot longer for some reason. And that bottle is a lot more difficult to squeeze to get the glue out. Small hands might have a really hard time getting this thicker glue to easily come out of the bottle. Heck, sometimes I can’t squeeze Tacky Glue out of the bottle in a continuous straight line, let alone draw with it.

But Honestly, Use What You Have

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

As you can tell from my in depth analysis, since I’m redoing this post during the time of self-quarantine, I decided to test a LOT of materials to see what works. My photos in this tutorial are using black construction paper, Elmer’s School Glue, fine sea salt and my homemade alcohol inks. 

But this project is for fun, not for inclusion into MoMA. Use what you’ve got on hand and have fun with it! And play around with your materials. Use pink paper, try to mix up your own type of paint, use a mix of different kinds of salt. Whatever works to keep your kiddos busy is a win in my book!

How to Make Salt Paintings.

First step is to get the salt onto the paper. Setting up your workspace well will ensure this is a fun and easy craft for the kids.

First step is to get the salt onto the paper. Setting up your workspace well will ensure this is a fun and easy craft for the kids.

Place a larger piece of paper onto your work surface. I’m using a piece of poster board cut down out of scrap to be about 3 inches bigger than my construction paper on all sides.

Make sure your glue isn’t all gunked up and easily flows when squeezed. Place about a quarter cup of salt into a small plastic bowl or something not breakable or heavy.

 Draw With It

Using your glue like a pencil, draw onto your black paper creating whatever scene you'd like.

Using your glue like a pencil, draw onto your black paper creating whatever scene you’d like. You want the glue to be similar to in the photos above. Really thin, wispy application of glue will dry to quickly to salt the entire piece at one time. Really thick glue lines will take AGES to dry.

If you can work sort of quickly, you can draw the entire scene at once.

If you can work sort of quickly, you can draw the entire scene at once. But if it takes a little bit longer to get your idea onto paper, work in sections so your glue doesn’t dry.

With the glue still wet, pour the salt onto the paper.

With the glue still wet, pour the salt onto the paper. Shimmy and shake to cover the entire page with the salt. Pick up the paper and pour the salt back into its bowl. You might have to do this a few times to apply salt to all of the glue.

DO NOT LEAVE PILES OF SALT ON THE WET GLUE. I learned this one the hard way. The salt takes on moisture in the glue and more and more salt will begin to stick to the paper. Your nice, drawn lines will become huge, fuzzy shapes that might not look anything like what you drew.

When you're happy with the coverage of salt, set the paper on a flat surface to dry.

When you’re happy with the coverage of salt, set the paper on a flat surface to dry. Make sure the paper can stay as flat as possible while it dries so your paper doesn’t get a permanent curl in it.

Let’s Add Paint!

After the glue has dried mix up small amounts of watercolor paints and grab a small paint brush.

After the glue has dried mix up small amounts of watercolor paints and grab a small paint brush. Remember you have lots of options when it comes to paint. Use actual watercolors, food coloring in water, acrylic paints in water, the ink from inside of markers in water or alcohol inks.

All you need is that small paint brush to apply little drops of color onto the salt. You don’t need a ton of paint so if you have littles that might get overly excited be sure to give them a super fine paintbrush rather than something bigger. A little brush just can’t take on much more paint than a few drops at a time :)

Mix and match colors to watch them combine when wet.

Mix and match colors to watch them combine when wet. This is a great way for the kids to see that yellow and blue make green, for example. Remember how I said that acrylic paints and alcohol inks won’t blend quite as well? You can see how my dark green and light green are pretty distinct areas. But it’s still pretty :)

And completely defying all I said, here yellow and red do make orange :)

And completely defying all I said, here yellow and red do make orange :) Like all things artistic, sometimes you just can’t foresee exactly what’s going to happen.

Once you've applied color to the salt it's time to allow the piece to dry again.

Once you’ve applied color to the salt it’s time to allow the piece to dry again. Set someplace flat and wait it out!

Whether you make abstract shapes or draw out scenes of aliens or paper-sprawling florals, this project is fun for all artistic skill levels!

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Salt Paintings

This is a fun kid's craft that uses stuff you probably already have at home. It's a fun way to create art and it helps teach how colors blend.
Active Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Crafts
Cuisine: Kid's Crafts
Keyword: Kid Art, Salt Art
Cost: 5

Equipment

  • No special equipment is required.

Materials

  • Black Paper (we used construction paper)
  • Table Salt
  • Watercolors (or other paint or ink watered down)
  • School Glue

Instructions

  • Using your glue like a pencil, draw onto your black paper creating whatever scene you'd like.
    Using your glue like a pencil, draw onto your black paper creating whatever scene you'd like.
  • If you can work sort of quickly, you can draw the entire scene at once.
    If you can work sort of quickly, you can draw the entire scene at once.
  • With the glue still wet, pour the salt onto the paper.
    With the glue still wet, pour the salt onto the paper.
  • When you're happy with the coverage of salt, set the paper on a flat surface to dry.
    When you're happy with the coverage of salt, set the paper on a flat surface to dry.
  • After the glue has dried, mix up small amounts of watercolor paints and grab a small paint brush. Apply drops of color to the salt. Only a small amount is needed. It will spread through the salt and bleed with surrounding colors.
    Mix and match colors to watch them combine when wet.
  • Once fully painted, lay flat to dry. Once dry, handle infrequently to prevent salt from breaking away from the painting.

Notes

If you would like more ideas for your salt paintings or would like more detailed instruction, please visit the original post at: https://www.dreamalittlebigger.com/post/watercolor-salt-paintings.html

Keep your crafty kids busy with this super easy project that uses things you probably already have at home! Salt paintings are so fun and we can show you how to make them super vibrant!

Comments (9)

  • Shelli

    March 18, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    I love this idea, the will be a weekend project, since I hear more snow is on the way. Thanks again for sharing yiur creative side

  • Lou Conaway

    April 18, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    How did you get all the salt off? I notice little bits of salt here and there on the “after” picture. The only way I could think to completely de-salt the project is to hang it up outside and brush it off with a cheap chip brush. It looks great and I’ve used a little Kosher salt with watercolor and silk dye, but never as much as you need for this one. I suspect I’ve complicated the salt removal thing. Please tell me how simple it is!

    1. Allison Murray

      April 18, 2015 at 11:03 AM

      Those are just loose pieces that are coming off. If you shake it pretty clean and then seal it with, say, an acrylic spray sealer, you shouldn’t have that problem.

  • Shelly Anderson

    February 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    cool,it looks AWESOME!!!!

  • T

    March 12, 2018 at 9:03 AM

    What is the black pepper for? It’s listed in the ingredients.

    1. Allison Murray

      March 12, 2018 at 10:04 AM

      It says black paper, not pepper.

      1. Kimberly

        September 3, 2018 at 7:40 AM

        Is that poster board, construction paper or lack watercolor paper?

        1. Allison Murray

          September 3, 2018 at 9:21 AM

          This is construction paper.

      2. Lorrie Chase

        November 14, 2018 at 8:17 AM

        ok, that was funny.

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