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Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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7 Art Supplies Made Directly from Nature

wooden colored pencils image via Shutterstock

You don’t have to be satisfied with art supplies that are simply “non-toxic.” Art supplies that come directly from nature, with minimal processing, are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and can still be of excellent quality, often allowing you to create effects that it’s difficult to obtain with their artificial counterparts.

1. Textured paint: Although it’s not archival, this nature paint from Teach Preschool gives children a hands-on way to add a natural sensory component to their art. The children collected objects from nature, such as grass blades, flower petals, and scoops of dirt, and mixed it into tempera paint of the same color. Then their green-as-grass paint really had grass blades in it, and their brown-as-mud paint was really made of mud!

2. Paintbrushes from nature: Using a process that’s much sturdier and professional than just sweeping a pine branch across paper, Instructables user missannie shows you how to create excellent-quality paintbrushes from natural materials. Try pine needles, animal fur, or the clippings from your last haircut.

a painting made with watercolor pencils and rainwater

3. Rainwater: When it rains outside, my daughters and I like to create rainwater watercolor paintings.

4. Modeling materials: Homemade modeling materials made from natural ingredients, such as my homemade modeling beeswax, can be archival. In addition, homemade modeling materials can be made in greater variety, to achieve effects that can be harder to obtain from store-bought supplies. For instance, the sculptures that you create using modeling beeswax are shiny without being varnished, and waterproof without being sealed.

5. Mineral paint: Like Earth Paint, mineral paints are made from dried and powdered clay soils. You may not be able to get an entire spectrum of color from the soils where you live, but if you search, it’s likely that you’ll find at least a couple of colors. I’ve never found a place to harvest yellow or green clay, for instance, but I can get quite a few varieties of red just by hiking in the various little wooded areas around my town.

6. Flower pigment: Whether you’d like to try flower pounding or fabric dyeing, you can use the colors found in flowers to give natural pigment to your artwork.

7. Stick scupltures: With hot glue and the fallen sticks from your yard, you can create a variety of crafts, such as this twig trivet, or sculptural artworks. Add in a good handsaw, and you’ve got everything from building blocks to Christmas tree ornaments to a super surface for spin art.

wooden colored pencils image via Shutterstock


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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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