My lovely wife, Alison West, had some watercolour tubes that she wanted to use in her classroom but she did not like how wasteful students could be with the paint.
They would typically squeeze out a large amount of watercolour from the tube each day, and then mess it up or leave it to dry as a flaky mess. Students would share palettes, but this led to palettes not being maintained.
Sometimes students would ruin the palettes by using them to mix acrylic.
- Each student is responsible for their own palette with their name on it. This means that they are more likely not to contaminate the paint and clean their palettes.
- Each palette has the school name and "no acrylic" engraved on it. This helps keep the palettes from walking and makes it less likely that they are going to ruin their own palette with acrylic.
- Each palette comes prefilled with watercolour pans instead of students squeezing paint into the palette from tubes. This helps with portion control and helps teach how to work without contaminating their paint.
The pans were created by remixing the paint with a humectant.
If you just put cheap tube paint into the palettes, they will tend to crack badly and flake out of the palettes. By adding a humectant like honey to the paint, you keep the paint pans constantly slightly moist. This also reduces the amount of time spent watering down paint or swirling a brush around in the pans trying to dissolve a cake.
We used this recipe: 1 part honey to 4 parts water. Then we squeezed the tubes of paint into a mixing cup and added an equal amount of water: 12ml of watery honey to 12 ml of watercolour.
We mixed this carefully and then poured the mixture into the pans, filling each pan about one third full. We then set the paint out to dry until the water had evaporated. One set of 12ml watercolour tubes makes about 10 palettes worth.
What does not work
- Do not use a greater amount of honey- it makes a sticky mess.
- Do not try to use crappy paint. Paint that has a lot of glycerine in it, like the Artist Loft watercolours or dollar store watercolours, cannot be made better this way. We used a Nobel brand set that was only a little more expensive and works just fine for students.