Can You Make Watercolor Paints From Pigments?

While it may seem impossible as we are used to getting art supplies in the nearest art stores or online, making natural, non-toxic watercolor paints isn't as difficult as you might think! So to the question: can you make watercolor paints from mineral pigments? The answer is: YES! 

You can make your own watercolor paints using pigment powders like micas and a binding agent made of gum arabic, water, and honey for the paint to retain its moisture and reactivate it after drying. In addition, some drops of essential oil are an excellent natural preservative, adding a delicious smell and avoiding molding. 

Making all-natural watercolors from mineral pigments is an enjoyable and straightforward DIY project that most people adore. It allows you to create and customize colors depending on your need and preference. It is also an excellent way to grow your knowledge about color mixing. Over and above, 100% natural watercolors made with mica powder are a great alternative to pre-packaged watercolors paints that have toxic chemicals and harmful colorants in most cases. 

 

So now that you know making your own natural watercolor paints is all possible, you're probably wondering how to proceed or what's the actual recipe.

How to make your own Watercolors?

As we mentioned above, watercolors are composed of pigments, binders, humectants, and preservatives. 

Pigments give the watercolor paint its color. There are many choices, such as metallic pigments, mica powders, and even glitters; however, most artists love mica powders as they give off the most vibrant color and add a shimmer effect to the paint. 

Binders act as the glue and bind all ingredients together, whereas a humectant retains the moisture of your watercolor paint and re-wets it. Finally, a preservative keeps your watercolor paint from molds and other bacteria. 

Now let's talk through the ingredients needed for each watercolor component.

Natural and non-toxic watercolor Ingredients

Mica powder

As briefly tackled above, mica powders make the best pigment for watercolor paints. These 100% mineral pigments are inert and do not react with the binder, but they are easy to incorporate and bring out a glossy, shimmering finish. Being highly pigmented and safe to contact most skin types, makes them the real deal in paint-making. 

Gum Arabic

Gum Arabic, sometimes referred to as acacia gum, is a water-soluble gum extracted from the acacia tree. Like micas, it is also organic and non-toxic. This ingredient will act as the binder of the watercolor paint. 

Distilled Water

Water is needed to dissolve the Gum Arabic and make it suitable for mixing other ingredients. 

Honey

The honey will act as the humectant or moisturizer of the watercolor paint. It also aids when reactivating the dried paint with water.

Essential Oil

Essential oils have antibacterial properties making them great for preventing microbial build-ups in watercolor paints when you plan to use them for a longer time. In addition, the pleasant smell makes the process delightful.

How to make a watercolor binder?

The watercolor binder will glue or stick together all the ingredients, so it's essential to ensure that it is properly mixed. 

Here is a step-by-step guide that you can follow. 

Step 1: Prepare your ingredients

  • Gum Arabic powder 
  • Hot water
  • Honey 
  • Essential oil

If you use Lump Gum Arabic, you have to grind them into fine pieces with a mortar and pestle. Then, grind them until they turn into powder. 

Step 2: Mix Gum Arabic Powder with Hot Water 

The recommended ratio is 1:2—mix 1 part of gum arabic into 2 parts of hot water. Pour the gum arabic slowly and stir the mixture until the powder is completely dissolved.

Step 3: Add the Honey 

Add 1/5 part of honey to your mixture. Adding the honey will make the paint more liquid as it draws in more moisture and water. 

Step 4: Add the Essential Oil 

Add 3-4 drops of essential oil to help preserve your binder. You can also use vinegar as a preservative. 

Recipe example:

  • 1/2 Cup Gum Arabic
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1/5 Cup Honey
  • 3-4 Drops Essential Oil

You can use this binder immediately, but you can also keep it on the fridge for a week so you can mix pigment later.  

DIY Watercolor Paints - Step by Step

Making DIY watercolors with mica powders can be as enjoyable as painting, and no expertise is required. Follow this step-by-step guide, and you will indeed create stunning watercolor paints in no time. 

 

Step 1: Measure the binder and the mica powder 

You should mix the binder and the mica powder of your choice in a 1:1 ratio. That means that for every 1 tbsp of binder, you will need 1 tbsp of mica powder.

Step 2: Mix until thoroughly combined

Mix your binder and mica powder on a glass surface using a palette knife. You may also use a glass muller for more thorough mixing when pigments don't incorporate easily. Apply circular movements until the mixture is combined correctly. The muller is usually not necessary when working with MEYSPRING mica powders. 

Step 3: Store properly 

Most crafters pour their watercolor paints in full or half pans and store them in a metal box as in the picture below. You can also use airtight containers and refrigerate them to extend their shelf lives. 

DIY Natural Watercolor Paints

*Handmade Natural Watercolor Paints with Mica Powders

Final thoughts 

Natural watercolor paints with mica powders and other organic ingredients are an excellent alternative to pre-packed paints. Making them is a genuinely satisfying DIY project, and the best thing about it is that you don't need to be an expert or use expensive ingredients and utensils to do it! 

We hope this article inspires you to create your own palette of natural watercolor paints from mineral pigments. Don't hesitate to give it a try and let us know how you liked it in the comments below or on social media! Just use our hashtag #meyspringpigments for us to see the paints you create with our micas and this watercolor recipe.

If you are wondering about other ways to use micas in your creative projects, check this article and learn how to create beautiful special effects in simple Resin Coasters. Also, make sure to check our blogs for more DIY tutorials and ideas that are easy and super fun to make. 

1 comment

Diane

Thank you so much for the recipe for watercolor paints. Your pigments are the best! I would like to use this recipe with a few changes. My plan is to use glycerin instead of honey, and sodium benzoate as the preservative instead of using essential oils. Do you have a recommended recipe for that? My understanding is that I can switch out the honey for the glycerin with the same amount and use 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of the sodium benzoate instead of using essential oils. Thank you.

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