Introduction: Rice Toss Art

With rice toss art, coloured rice is used to create an image on a flat board. The rice is then gently thrown into the air making the image viewable for a split second before the rice lands again.

Rice toss art is a type of ephemeral art that only lasts for a split second but if you have a camera to capture the moment you can enjoy watching it over and over.

This is a fun art project that is suitable for all ages. You may even have all the supplies you need to make it at home already.

These instructions will firstly show you how to make coloured rice and then how to do the rice toss to create the fun moment when the image you made with the rice appears in the air.


  • Rice (white or brown rice is ok)
  • Vinegar
  • Food colouring (red
  • Large flat board - for laying out the art to toss it in the air

Oh, to enjoy the art created by the rice toss it will also be very handy to have a camera that is capable of recording in slow motion. A lot of modern smart phones are capable of doing that.

Step 1: Making Coloured Rice

If the artwork you want to make has white in it then you will probably want to use white rice. However, the following recipe can be used to colour white or brown rice.

Pour the rice you want to colour into a bowl. Have your vinegar and food colouring handy.

The general ratio of vinegar you will need for colouring the rice is about one teaspoon of vinegar per cup of rice. The vinegar helps distribute the food colouring evenly and permanently colour the rice. It also prevents the rice from sticking together.

Now add a few drops of food colouring to the mixture and stir. A little bit of food colouring goes a long way so you only need a very small amount.

You can experiment with mixing of different food colourings to get the exact colours you need. If you are not sure how to combine colours, here is a cheat sheet for mixing common colours of food colouring to give you a head start.

Step 2: Spread the Rice on Trays and Let It Dry

This step is easy but just requires a little bit of patience. Once you have coloured the rice it is time to let it dry.

Spread the rice onto trays and store the trays in a dry area. Spreading the rice out thin will help the rice dry more quickly and you can also put the trays near an open window to catch some breeze.

For faster drying you can line the trays with some absorbent paper to take up any excess moisture a bit faster.

Drying time will depend on how much rice you are making. Your rice will likely be dry to touch and use within a few hours. If you can let the rice dry overnight you can be certain it will be dried out and safe to touch without any colour transferring onto fingers.

It's possible to store the coloured rice in sealable bags for many months.

Step 3: Make Your Design on the Board

Time to get your board and make a design. You could use a piece of cardboard but just make sure it is thick and stiff enough that it won't bend when you lift it up to carry your rice.

The design in this picture is Bluey from the popular Australian television show.

Sketch your design onto the board first and then it will be easy to fill in the colours in the right positions quickly.

Step 4: Time to Make Your Art Appear in the Air With the Rice Toss

For the rice toss it is probably best advised to do outdoors if you can. Unless of course you don't mind picking rice up off the floor from inside the house.

Set up a camera on a tripod or get a friend to help you film the rice going in the air. Set the camera to slow motion recording if you have it available. Watching the video back in slow motion will be important for the enjoyment of seeing your artwork appear in the air.

Now this bit is really important - The technique to make the art appear in the air doesn't really require any significant throwing of the rice.

Instead, you are simply raising the board towards a vertical position, swiftly but not aggressively. The rice on the board will have upwards momentum from this action. Then as you bring the board back down the rice will remain in the air a fraction of a second longer and thus your image can appear.

It's definitely best to watch the video to see the action required for the rice toss.

Step 5: Clean Up

You can try to catch your rice back on the board but almost certainly you will spill some on the ground.

That's ok though because the rice is dry and easy to sweep up.

Have fun making your own rice toss art and if you give it a go it would be great to share your attempt for others to see.