I’m always a bit hesitant with art and craft projects because I abhor the mess! Especially living in an apartment with limited space. This raised salt painting idea though is relatively mess free, or should I say as mess free as any art project can be. It also has the added advantage of the cool effect of the salt sucking up with water which gives it a bit of a WOW factor even if the result is less than perfect.

For this activity you will need:

  • Table salt
  • White Glue
  • Liquid watercolor paint – this took a while for me to find but did eventually find the Pentel brand in Boarders which works well.
  • Paint brushes (you could use pipettes which may be less messy)
  • Cardboard or other relatively thick paper, especially if your kids are likely to be heavy on the glue – this will prevent the paper from becoming too soggy. Get creative with the colours of paper you use!
  • Tray and or some form of table protector

Step 1:

Place the paper onto your tray. We used a combination of a roasting tray and baking tray, you could use Tupperware lids too, you just want to be able to contain the loose salt from spreading through the house. Use the glue to write or draw pictures and patterns. You’ll probably need to play around a bit with the glue to not get too much on as it will take longer to dry.

Requirements for Raised Salt Painting
It’s a good idea to keep the paints in individual pots with a separate paint brush for each. If not, it’s a good time to discuss mixing of primary colours and what secondary colours they make!

Step 2:

Cover the picture with the table salt. Add a load of it, be generous. If you use too little the paint does not spread as well. The boys loved this part, they can use their hands or you can make a “salt gun” as Joshua proclaimed when I squirted straight out of the bottle. Once you’ve covered the picture, lift up the paper and shake off the excess. You can collect the leftover salt and use it for the next round!

Make sure you get as much salt on the glue as necessary to cover it completely.

Step 3:

Let the “SCIENCE” begin as Liam exclaimed! Dip your brush in the liquid watercolour and allow a drop to drip onto the salt. You won’t actually “paint” it, you just need the liquid to get to the salt and start to spread out. The trick here is to make sure your paint is dilute enough – if you purchase a concentrated watercolour solution (like we did), you will need to add quite a bit of water to get it to the right consistency. Too think and it will not spread well, too think and the colour won’t be as bright. If you prefer, you can make the “paint” using food colouring too.

This was our test run (creative design right). See how the colours are still separated so nicely?

Step 4:

Lay the picture flat somewhere safe (preferably where teddies will not be tossed ruining your hard work as with ours) and allow to dry completely. Depending on how think the glue was applied it may take up to 24 hours to dry.

And then the boys do it and then you put your OCD aside and just enjoy watching them have fun!

The boys loved this activity. Ideally do this outside to curb the mess but with the trays under the papers the mess was minimal. Joshua bamboozled it and pretty much missed the “magic” part of it but had loads of fun nonetheless. Liam was more careful with applying the paint and in total awe with the way the colours spread in the salt.


Posted by:Paula Medronho

3 replies on “Mess-free art: Raised Salt Painting

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