I saw a cool craft idea in a book I was flipping through recently called Watercolor Lettering by Jess Park and I thought it would make a great post for our staff blog. In it, Jess Park briefly explained how to make abstract paintings using just soap and “liquid watercolor”. So I headed over to my Mom’s place after work bringing just a Scheewe Watercolor Paper Pad (my Mom hoards even more art supplies than I do) for a fun craft night! We started out by preparing little containers of watercolor paint mixed with water, but soon found out that the pigment was too heavy to stay on top of the bubbles and not saturated enough to show much on the paper. So instead, we used food coloring and it worked like a charm! Here is the full supply list you’ll need for guaranteed success:
A shallow bin/container that is larger than your paper… Our container was a little too small so we cut the sheets of watercolor paper in half.
Something to put under the container to protect your work surface (we used tinfoil and plastic wrap)
Liquid soap/hand soap (Little to no color, clear is best)
A pack of food coloring
Scheewe Watercolor Paper Pad #82067
Newspaper to put the dipped sheets of paper on to dry
Start by filling your container with at least half an inch of water. This is so it is deep enough to blow bubbles in with the straw. Then add your liquid soap to the water. I’m not sure how the soap effects the pigment and the outcome of the painting (I’m an artist, not a scientist) but we started out by mixing in a little bit at a time and swirled it in the water with the straw, and then we tested out the mixture by blowing bubbles into the water using the straw. The goal is to be able to blow enough bubbles for them to be on the verge of overflowing from your container. This is to give you time to put your paper down on top of the bubbles before they pop.
When we were happy with the amount of bubbles we were getting, we moved on to adding the food coloring. We quickly found that you can really just go for it at this point, and added a whole bottle of blue food coloring (we used those little bottles that come in a pack of multiple colors). Then one of us would blow bubbles while the other got the sheet of watercolor paper ready.
When the bubbles are high enough quickly flip your sheet of watercolor paper face down on top of the bubbles, but not into the water itself (unless you want a large wash of color instead of texture). Then lift it up and flip it to see the result. We put the paper on top of the bubbles multiple times for each painting to get more color and coverage on the paper.
Overall, we had a lot of fun experimenting with the process of this craft! It was interesting to have random effects happen and then see what parts you could control to achieve a specific result in mind. For example, on our second painting we added green food coloring and tried to keep this on one side of the container to make a cool contrast. This worked on a couple of dips, but then it mixed with the blue as we blew more bubbles. On another try I randomly squirted the tiny bit of coloring left in the blue bottle and it sprayed out in little dots with the air in the bottle, landing on top of the bubbles and sticking because they were small and light. Then we dipped the paper onto the bubbles and got a fun result of little speckles and darker areas of color. Towards the end of our craft night we got fancy and my Mom broke out some shimmery bronze watercolor paint. She put it in a little container and mixed it with water. Then using a similar technique to before, she dipped a paintbrush into the bronze watercolor mix and flicked it on top of the bubbles to get the color to stick to the top again. I quickly flipped the paper face down onto the bubbles a few times and put it aside to let it dry. We both really liked how that method turned out. The shimmery bronze looked so pretty against the green when it caught the light. While the last paper was drying I tried blowing onto the areas of the paper where there were small piles of little bubbles, and got the paint to spread out in cool spidery blotches of color.