Saturday, 25 February 2017

Art Hack: Inks versus Food Colouring



As an art student way back in the 1990's I used lots of alternative versions of more expensive art materials due to limited funds. After a recent trip to Cass Art I treated myself to some Dr.Ph.Martins concentrated watercolours, luckily they were on sale at £39.99 instead of the RRP of £79.99.
It reminded me that I used food colouring as a student instead of expensive inks.

I decided to do an experiment with the two media so I bought some food colouring in red, yellow, blue and green from the supermarket at a reasonable £1.00 each.

 Food colouring v inks

I started experimenting with the food colouring using some watercolour paper postcards (see my previous blogpost about the postcards here).

The first thing I noticed was the rather 'natural' smell of the food colouring and gelatinous texture compared to 1990's food colouring that was more fluid. The next more obvious observation was the muted colours - which in terms of food colouring is probably soooooo much better for you to consume but for art hacks the colours didn't really pop like the 1990's food colouring version.

I then opened the Dr.Ph.Martins concentrated watercolour inks and for comparisons sake tried to re-create similar effects using the same colours. I guess the experiment was pretty doomed from here on in as the Dr.Ph. Martins were just so bright and intense I didn't really want to continue using the food colouring...


I experimented further by using some watered down household bleach to work into the wet inks / food colouring. This bleaches out the colours and creates interesting effects. It was certainly lots of fun.
Quick health and safety warning about using bleach. Use gloves if you have sensitive skin and in some cases use protective goggles because the fumes and liquid can irritate skin and could damage your sight if you get neat bleach in your eyes.


Here are the final experiments. I worked back into ALL the postcards as the food colouring ones were a little dull in colour so added more concentrated watercolours into the wet paper.


Experiment conclusion

Food Colouring: Present day food colouring is not a good substitute for inks unlike it's 1990's counterpart that was probably just neat E numbers and artificial dye colour!

Concentrated Watercolours: The Dr.Ph.Martin's watercolours are clear, bright and awesome. They are certainly worth it if you regularly paint and do craft projects.

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the experiment. I craft on a limited budget, and I've found some hits or misses in the kids crafting aisle. But it is always nice to splurge on a good quality product.

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  2. Your inks are a nice treat purchase, we all have to do that once in a while. I love the finished effect on the postcards. I was mad for wax resist techniques when I was a uni - ink, tissue collage and tones of multicoloured wax! Jo xx

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    1. Thanks Jo. Yes, sometimes these little treats just have to happen!!

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  3. I love seeing your work. Inspired by you, I'm on the verge of pulling all my art supplies out of storage boxes from when we moved to the States, it's a long time since my art college days! If only there were more hours in a day!!! :D #handmademonday

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    1. Thanks Chris. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your art creations now x

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  4. Wonderful experiment and amazing how the colours vary

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    1. Thanks Carolee. It was a fun experiment!

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  5. Great post. Looks like there are somethings where you get what you pay for.

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    1. Hear, hear. It's often like that in the sewing world too isn't it!?

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  6. How interesting, and actually quite reassuring that modern food colouring isn't quite as strong as it used to be! I like the soft colours the food colouring created, worth remembering it's an option anyway. And have fun playing wit your beautiful inks! #HandmadeMonday

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