8 Art Supplies You Can Make at Home

Crayon melts in a box next to a scribbled heart

joci03 / Getty Images

Kids can go through a large amount of art supplies. It's wonderful to see them expressing their creativity, but keeping up with the demand can mean spending lots of money and sending too much disposable packaging into the trash. Fortunately, many art supplies can be made at home using ingredients you already have. From paint to clay, beads to glue, you can whip up some new art materials in no time. The following list of homemade art supplies comes in handy when you need an easy solution to bored kids trapped inside by cold or rainy weather or just when you reach the bottom of the paint jar. Most of these materials can be made with your kids, so it's a great way to introduce a DIY ethic and encourage making things from scratch. These ideas are great for crafty adults too!

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Cups of paint in a cardboard box

foto by Chandler Chou / Getty Images

There are many different types of paint that you can make at home from thinner watercolor-like paints to thick-textured puffy paints. All that you need is in your cupboard and fridge. Ingredients like milk, flour, salt, water and some food coloring will have you painting.

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Play Dough

Rainbow colors of homemade playdough lined up on a wooden table

jamieanne / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

If you've ever made an art material at home, it was likely play dough. The favorite play clay is surprisingly simple to make and, in my experience, lasts even longer than the store bought kind. What's especially nice about making it yourself is that you can completely customize the colors. There are several recipes out there for making play dough and everyone has their favorite. Some require cooking, while others don't. Here's a basic foolproof recipe that I love. You can use essential oils to make lovely scented play dough or add some glitter to make it extra special.

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Sidewalk Chalk

Close up of sidewalk chalk

Steven Depolo / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If you do a lot of crafting at home, you probably have most of the ingredients for a batch of sidewalk chalk. During the spring and summer months, it's easy to go through many sticks of the stuff. Making them at home lets you produce a big batch that will last you for weeks of outside drawing time. For the chalk you'll need molds for setting the shape, but that can be anything like toilet paper and paper towel rolls, wrapping paper tubes or even those narrow tubes that aluminum foil or parchment paper is wrapped around.

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Stamps made from a wine cork and a dried flower

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Kids love stamps as much as they love stickers. Making them at home ensures you always have an assortment on hand and it's an easy way to make some seasonal designs if you're wanting to do holiday or weather-related stamping. You can make stamps out of a variety of things including potatoes and rubber erasers, but cork stamps are both easy and a good match for kids' small hands. Plus, you're making them from something that you'd be tossing out otherwise. Here's a great step-by-step guide to making cork stamps. This is one project you'll have to make on your own since it involves a sharp craft knife. Once you've made your stamps, you can use an ink pad or just dip them in paint.

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Recycled Crayons

Close up of melted crayon cupcakes

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This project is really about bringing an art material you already have back to life. Once you have kids, the crayons just accumulate, but they also go from beautiful sharpened tools into a pile of broken colored bits. An easy solution is to melt the broken crayons into a mold to make them usable again. You can use any size muffin tin or if you have any fun-shaped silicone cake molds, those are great too. In each section, place crayon pieces in the same color family together to create jumbo crayons or throw some contrasting colors together to make crazy rainbow ones.

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Air Dry Clay

Painted boxes made with air dry clay

redagainPatti / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Air dry clay is great for when your kids want to start making things that they can keep. Play dough is fun, but anything you build with it is temporary. Air dry clay is also great for many adult craft projects like ornaments, coasters and more. The recipe for this clay couldn't be easier. It only involves three ingredients: baking soda, corn starch and water. Follow this recipe for making it yourself. Once you've sculpted something with it, just let it dry for 24 hours until it completely hardens. Projects can then be painted, glazed or whatever you have in mind.

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Paper Beads

Pile of colorful paper beads of different shapes and sizes

Kimberlee Reimer / Getty Images

My daughter and I were introduced to paper bead making a year ago when someone gave her a kit. While the kit was handy, I quickly realized the same could be done with household objects. For the paper, you can use any narrow strips from magazines, newspapers, stationary or other printed paper that you have. For oblong beads like the ones shown in the picture, cut your strips in a long triangle shape so that as you roll them, the bead layers from wide to skinny. If you just want flat cylinders, cut the strips in long even rectangles. For the adhesive, you can use a regular glue stick. For rolling, use a bamboo skewer or the pointed end of a chopstick to wind the paper around.

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Close-up of different colors of glitter glue on paper

pixi acid / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Other than paper, the number one art supply we run out of the most is glue. Adhesive is needed on a daily basis for one project or another. Luckily, you can quickly mix some up at home and refill your school glue containers whenever it's needed. Check out this recipe for regular school-type glue and if your kids love glitter glue, just add glitter to the recipe. If you're going for something bigger, you can mix up your own papier-mâché paste by just mixing flour and water.