Wk. 4: Creating Colours

Week #4: Creating Colours


  • Extract colours from natural sources
  • Test tools for effectiveness of writing or painting with
  • Compare and contrast colours as lighter or darker compared to another colour
  • Predict and describe outcomes of mixing primary colours
  • Test how well different materials absorb a water based dye
  • Explore the use of different materials to thicken or thin a mixture


  • Learners created three simple inks by adding water to a mixture of Gum Arabic (acacia) and –
    1. Instant coffee
    2. Turmeric
    3. Tea
  • Learners were encouraged to explore inks made from combining any of the previous ingredients and optionally adding salt as another way to thicken the mixture.
  • Learners tested different types of styluses: a metal nail, a wooden toothpick, a split straw, a feather, and a cotton-tip.
  • Learners predicted and tested combinations of dyed water to create secondary colours. They then dipped cotton balls into the dye cups to create a color wheel.
  • Learners were encouraged to further explore the absorbency of other materials (polyester felt, natural wool) and create colours of their own.
  • Learners attempted to thicken the dyed water with combinations of flour, Gum Arabic, salt or previously used ingredients to create paints.

Questions to Discuss

  • What ingredients made the best ink to write with?
  • What tool was the best to write or paint with?
  • What did you observe happen to the colour when you mixed flour with your coloured water?
  • What colors did you need to make green, orange, and purple?
  • What colours did you mix to make the darkest colour you could?

Things to Try at Home

  • Before factory made dyes, people used natural sources like plants and minerals to create pigments for paints and dying clothes. Make a list of natural materials that have left stains on your hands or clothes. Do you think any of these would make a good pigment for paint?
  • Paint a picture using only shades of one colour. Is it harder or easier to tell the difference between objects when they are the same colour? What does the colour make you think or feel (happy, sad, warm, cold, peaceful, excited?)
  • Create a song or a rhyme to help remember the order of colours in a rainbow or to remember what colors are needed to make the secondary colours of green, purple, and orange.
  • Look up some different materials that have been used for paint brushes. Create your own paint brush using craft materials. What materials appear to work the best for painting with?
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