Make your own art tools

Use everyday things from around your house to experiment with art with illustrator Grace Holliday.


How to get involved

Scroll down to find Grace's activity sheets. Click to download them and follow along! You'll be able to decorate the designs using the tools and ink that you've made. Illustrator and mark maker Grace Holliday came up with this activity after finding out about scientists and engineers at the Crick who need to make their own tools to do their scientific research.

Make sure that there's an adult supervising this activity!

What you'll need

  • Used teabags (4 or 5) 
  • Colander 
  • Cutlery (fork and tea spoon) 
  • Small bowl 
  • Frozen or fresh berries (it's good to have a variety of colours if you can) 
  • White vinegar  
  • Salt  
  • Saucepan  
  • Empty plastic bottle  
  • Empty pots  
  • Cornstarch (optional) 
Image of homemade tool being used to do mark making

To make cold ink

You can make this by pressing the berries or the tea bags through a colander. Pressing firmly to squash the tealeaves or to push the berries into a pulp and release the natural juices.  

To make heated ink

For more intense colours and pigments, you can add the berries (at least half a cup) to a medium saucepan of gently simmering water, before adding a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of white vinegar to bind. Cook for an hour until you reach a rich dark colour. If it's too thin, you can keep adding small amounts of cornstarch until desired thickness is reached. Take off the hob and leave to cool, before pouring into a bottle or individual pots.