Lasercut Mini Mint Tin Watercolor Palette

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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 Discussions

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    ilagowski

    3 years ago on Introduction

    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

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    Diy_kitty

    4 years ago

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

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    Natalie FreedDiy_kitty

    Reply 4 years ago

    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.

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    twalls1

    4 years ago

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

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    daisy_kay17

    4 years ago

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

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    twalls1

    4 years ago

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

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    Natalie Freedtwalls1

    Reply 4 years ago

    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).

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    hettye

    4 years ago on Introduction

    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

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    Natalie Freedhettye

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I've never tried duct tape but would be cool to see if you try it! You could also always spray paint these, but I don't particularly like the smell/mess of spray paint so I didn't.

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    elviriuxi

    4 years ago

    Great Job !! I totally Love it , Good luck

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    tofugami

    4 years ago

    Super cute. Great for on the go activity for kids.