Lasercut Mini Mint Tin Watercolor Palette

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Introduction: Lasercut Mini Mint Tin Watercolor Palette

Make a tiny watercolor palette from a mint tin for on the go sketching!

Watercolors in mint tins were not my idea, though I can't remember where I saw them first! My addition is to lasercut the holes for the paints, because I could never make the holes-poked-in-polymer-clay version look nice.

If you're the sort who doesn't like instructions, the files for the lasercut bit are here. :)

Step 1: Empty and Clean a Mint Tin

Empty and clean out an Altoids mini mint tin (the lasercutter files for this tutorial are designed to fit that size, but you can also use them as a starting point for your own size tin!)

Step 2: Lasercut Pieces and Glue

Lasercut or CNC-mill a full palette or a palette with sponge/brush area (link to files on Thingiverse) out of 1/4" acrylic. Use E-6000 glue or equivalent to glue it into the tin. I actually used two pieces of 1/8" and glued them together before gluing them into the tin.

Step 3: Paint Inside of Lid With Enamel

Add white enamel paint to inside of lid to create a place to mix colors! The trick I discovered to avoid air bubbles (though I imagine there are many more tips to be found in the tiny-model-painting community) is to start with a very thin coat.

Step 4: Fill With Paint

Use watercolor tubes to fill with paint. If I'm making a lot of these, I put the paint in a little squeeze bottle, along with a little water. Makes it easier to fill them neatly!

Step 5: Add Sponge

Cut approximately 1/2" off a rectangular makeup sponge with a pair of sharp scissors, then tuck the sponge into the tin.

Step 6: Make Tiny Paintbrush

I prefer to carry one of these with a waterbrush for very functional on the go sketching, but tiny brushes are a pretty cute addition. Take a regular paintbrush, cut to fit, taper with pencil sharpener, smooth end with sandpaper.

Step 7: Add Water Bottle

Tiny soy sauce bottles from Daiso make perfect tiny water containers.

Step 8: Decorate

Trace the top of the lid onto decorative paper. Cut a 1/4" strip for around the edge. Attach and smooth down with Mod Podge (decoupage glue). If desired, protect with spray acrylic when dry.

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13 Comments

maybe you could sell these laser cut inserts on etsy. I'm sure a lot of people would be interested, and hey you could make a few bucks for art supplies

Thanks for the idea! I've definitely been considering this, I'll post an update if I get it set up.

This is so cute, can I do it with out the laser cut?

Thanks! :) There are some tutorials on here that show how to do it with polymer clay (eg. Fimo) but I can never seem to make that version look nice. You could also cut some plastic (eg. delrin) to fit and drill the holes with a drill bit.

Thank you these are great making a few for my daughter birthday party

I'm in love with tiny things thank you soooooooo much for sharing

So does the paint dry and how did you do the laser cut

Yes, it does dry, which is a good thing here! Tube watercolors are nice like that. When you add a little water with your paintbrush it wets them again so you can use them. This would not work with acrylics or any other type of paint that I know of.

Not sure what details you need on the lasercutter? A lasercutter uses a moving laser to cut out any design you can make on a computer. There may be a local makerspace, hackerspace, library, or TechShop near you that has one you can use. There are also services that will cut files for you out of a variety of materials, such as Ponoko (but I find them rather expensive).

that's adorable, I can't wait to make one, or a dozen. would duck tape work to cover the top? I wonder what other media could be used this way? Thank you so much for this instructable