Have a Budding Artist in Your House?

There are many products available to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of color, but buyer beware as some of the colors may contain toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, cobalt, cadmium, and barium. “It is recommended that parents/guardians purchase only those products labeled with the statement “Conforms to ASTM D-4236” (CPSC Document #5016) and that do not have any cautionary warnings on the label.” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If you want a gallery of great art around the house, but not the toxic load, it’s time to look at the products that stand up to the test, and maybe a bit more.

For painting there are products like Eco-Kids and Clementine Art. All you get are vegetable extracts or earth minerals to mix with water or oil. No solvents or synthetic chemicals to cause respiratory problems or cancer.

For crayons there are natural soy colors mixed with either mineral pigments, found in Clementine Art, or paraffin mixed with food-grade pigments found in Stockmar’s crayons.

Colored pencils are another favorite, and Trimax has a great assortment of colors with eco-friendly wood and a safe lacquer finish.

Are your kids into 3-D artwork. Try making your own play dough. It’s easy and fun, and you can add your own juice for color or oils for a natural scent. If they taste it, it’s natural and far too salty for them to want to eat more…the dog however may be another story, so keep it locked up from Fido when your kids aren’t using it.

hand-684701_640Play Dough Recipe

4 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup salt

3 tablespoons cream of tartar

4 cups of boiling water

3 tablespoons of canola oil

(Add concentrated juice, spices, or extracts (lemon/peppermint) for color and scent. You can also add Eco Kid paint packets for color.)

In a bowl add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. In a saucepan, boil the water and add the canola oil (and any color or scent you want to the mixture). Pour the water into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir. Set aside to cool. Once it is cool to the touch, knead the dough until it is smooth and consistent. Store the dough in a cool dry place, preferably in a air-tight container.

There is also the option of working with clay. Be sure to use food grade quality glazing, and always work in a well ventilated area. Polymer clay, used very often to make beads, is usually made from PVC and coated with phthalates, so try to stick to pottery clays. There are many art shops around that will do the firing for you, and most have classes and helpful guides to get you started.

Have your kids moved beyond the crayons, colored pencils, and play dough? Time to move onto the ‘big league’ with some oil paints? There are few products you can buy that are made from natural pigments, but Natural Earth Paint has a great line of pigments for you to mix with walnut oil or linseed oil. The instructional video by artist Leah Mebane will help you to blend the colors and start your painting project.

Want to really go eco-friendly? Try switching to a hemp canvas and ‘eco-gesso’ to prime the canvas.