Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a common nuisance weed in the northeast that is poisonous if consumed by humans. there are some who say there are safe ways to eat it but I say why bother trying. Its berries are a beautiful dark purple and if you've ever squished one, you know how well they stain. So my five-year-old son and I decided to make some paint from them.
Before you accuse me of being a reckless parent for intentionally playing with poison, look at it this way: Vance got a hands-on lesson in the beauty — and danger — of his natural world. And he got a heads-up in navigating the grey area in the middle from a responsible adult. Really I am! :) Knowledge is power.
My son and I make a video series, #vancemaker, on youtube where he makes things he wants to make with my supervision. Last episode I had him MIG welding. If you enjoy this, you may like them all. Youtube.com/timsway. I have no advertisements on my channel and make no money from it, so I'm not inviting you there for profit, just for fun.
As for making paint? it's as easy as it sounds: three steps...
Step 1: Collect Berries
This is what the plant looks like. We wore rubber gloves to keep our hands somewhat clean and pulled the purple berries off, into a cup. Leave the green ones for later. Messy and fun.
Step 2: Squish Them Up
We mashed them up in the cup with a stick and the paint was ready! To do this properly, you could mash it up even more and run it through a strainer to remove the seeds, but we didn't bother. It was less work and more fun this way.
You can also stretch the ink by adding a little water, but too much and it get's too light. About equal parts water/berry juice seemed to be the max.
Step 3: Paint! (and Clean Up - Optional)
That's it. Paint away! You might want to stay outside with this stuff and wear play clothes. It does wash off skin and the brushes fairly easily but stains clothes. I also experimented with staining wood. It Dried lighter than the picture but looks cool. some say UV light will turn it brown, but on indoor items it should stay nice. If something unexpected happens in the future, I'll add an update.