Painting Coffee Filters

(Inspired by these posts at The Artful Parent.)

Materials: Coffee filters, liquid watercolors

We have lots of coffee filters left over from before we bought one of those reusable ones, and when I saw the painted snowflakes in the first linked post up there, I thought the watercolors looked so pretty on the filters. G wanted to paint with our liquid watercolors, and knowing her tendency to puddle paint in one spot…

…I thought something designed to withstand a potful of water rushing through it could probably hold up to her exuberant painting style. So I cut a bunch of filters, both bleached and unbleached, into heart shapes. G loved the idea.

If you have a surface you’re concerned about, cover it with something waterproof, such as a vinyl tablecloth or even a couple of kids’ place mats. I put that sheet of newsprint down more to delineate the work area. The watercolors soaked right through the filter, through the newsprint, and onto the table, my lovely melamine table that wipes up in two seconds flat.

We did this twice. The first time she painted many middles, leaving the edges white, and then we had lunch. After lunch, when I suggested we check if they were dry enough to hang and mentioned I’d need to flatten them a bit, she asked to paint some more. She filled most of the white spots (the water irons out the crinkles in the filters) and then had me cut more, and then a few more, hearts. When she began painting again I did encourage her to move beyond the puddle and add paint to the bare spots. We also worked on treating the paintbrush nicely. I pointed out when the bristles got all spiky from her grinding it a bit and said that’s what a paintbrush looks like when it’s not happy.

This really is a perfect material on which to paint. There is seemingly no mix of colors that will blend badly on a filter. I’d put out a container of water and suggested rinsing the paintbrush, but G didn’t quite get that. (I wasn’t really expecting much there, just wanted to start presenting the idea. A great thing about these liquid watercolors is that I can pour a bit out into a smaller container, and it’s no big deal if the remnants are mixed and can’t be poured back into the bottle.) Instead, she went down the row of colors, periodically dipping her brush into the water, which had become colored, and “painting” with that. And of course, adding water to a colored coffee filter makes for a beautiful effect as well.

When all the hearts were dry, we hung them in the window together (click to embiggen).

And as her brothers and then her father came home, she took them to the window to show them: “Painted hearts, ME!”

5 thoughts on “Painting Coffee Filters

  1. Michelle

    Ooh, thanks for the reminder! I saw that post with coffee filters and we made snowflakes, but I kept forgetting to paint them. Putting that on our to-do list for Friday! And those hearts are so cute we’re just going to have to make some of those, too. :)

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