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.
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