Watercolor Effects

Here are some fun and easy ways to experiment with watercolor paints. The paints we used here at the library are liquid watercolors, but the same effects can be done with dry watercolors and water. Even though most watercolors wash out, it’s still a good idea to cover up or wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. That goes for whatever surface you’re painting on as well. These watercolor techniques are a lot of fun, but they are messy too! (But that’s part of the fun, right?)


  • Paint a swatch of color, or paint the whole page, with a brush and a mixture of different colors. Make sure that the paint is wet (this means you need to work quickly!)
  • Sprinkle some salt over the wet paint – table salt works OK, but I found kosher salt makes a better effect due to the large size of the salt crystals
  • Allow the paint to completely dry before brushing off the salt, revealing a cool speckled pattern in the paint
  • The effect is caused by the salt absorbing the pigments in the paint.


  • Paint a swatch of color, or paint the whole page, with a brush and a mixture of different colors. Make sure that the paint is wet (this means you need to work quickly!)
  • Fill an eyedropper with isopropyl alcohol (91% works best) and drip it onto the wet paint
  • If you don’t have an eyedropper, Q-tips are another option – just dip them into the alcohol and touch them to the paint.
  • Unlike the salt, the effects of the alcohol drops will take place immediately
  • Watercolor and alcohol do not mix, causing the colors to “run away” from the alcohol; this can also cause a fisheye effect.

Plastic Wrap:

  • Paint a swatch of color, or paint the whole page, with a brush and a mixture of different colors – just keep it wet!
  • While the paint is still wet, lay a piece of saran wrap over the paint.
  • Don’t smooth out the wrinkles – the more the better! You can move the wrinkles around overtop the wet paint
  • Let the paint dry completely before removing the saran wrap
  • The web-like effect is created by the pockets of paint caught in and outside of the wrinkles of the saran wrap.


  • No brushes needed for this one! If you have liquid watercolors, you can pour some drops directly onto your paper. If you don’t have liquid watercolors, mix some water with the dry paint and drip it onto the paper
  • Take a drinking straw and blow hard over the paint – don’t touch the straw directly to the paper, but just about an inch or so above
  • Experiment by blowing the paint in different directions. See how a big puff through the straw effects the paint differently than a little puff of air
  • Be sure to rest in between breaths – it’s easy to get light-headed doing this!
  • The result reveals trails of colors spreading all over the page.

Proper brush cleaning:

  • Don’t let the brushes sit in water; this weakens the bristles and harms the overall integrity of the brush.
  • Use a mild soap on brushes – try putting some soap in your hand and gently move the brush in a circular motion on your palm.
  • Rinse the brush under warm running water until the water runs clear.
  • Pat dry on a towel – don’t squeeze too hard or pull on the bristles as this damages them
  • Set on a towel to dry

Helpful Links:

Summer Reading Club 2017


We are setting sail for reading fun this summer!  Haven’t registered yet?  No problem!  Click here to register children ages 0 to 6th grade.  Don’t forget to print out your log so you can keep track of the days you read.


Besides awesome books and prizes, we have some amazing programs to check out this summer too!  Visits from Captain Underpants, Frog and Toad, amazing athletes and creative artists are just around the corner.  Want in on the fun?  Check out our calendar.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

I’m not much on realistic fiction typically.  Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?!  For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me.  I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory.  The graphic format is just more powerful for me.

Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far.  This should come as no surprise.  This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.

This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”.  The friends who get you and have your back no matter what.  Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows.  This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective.  The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.

The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change.  As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.

The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too.  Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.

This graphic novel is beautifully done and fans of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier are going to eat this one up!

Celebrating Mom

With our next holiday around the corner, we have had a lot of families coming in asking for Mother’s Day Books.  While there are some great ones out there about the holiday specifically, we wanted to share some of our favorites about how much moms rock all the time!

I Love Mom by Joanna Walsh

My Mom Has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister

My Mom is Trying to Ruin My Life by Kate Feiffer

M.O.M. (Mom Operating Manual) by Doreen Cronin and Laura Cornell

Pirate Mom by Deborah Underwood

Little Owl Lost By Chris Haughton

What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day by Martha Simpson

How to Raise a Mom by Claudia Harrington

A Baby’s Guide to Surviving Mom by Benjamin Bird

A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager


Our tweens and teens group had the chance to make their own emoji pillows this week!  Let me tell you, the hype that surrounded this program was crazy good!  Anytime I was out on desk getting anything prepped for these pillows, I would have kids coming up and asking me tons of questions, which I loved!  Since it was so popular in my library, I figured a quick lil’ tutorial to share the love would be helpful so here you go!  The step-by-step with pictures is located below, but read on through for the details and what worked well for us.

Our awesome teen librarian and I started by looking at our audience.  We are working with kids in grades four to eight, many of whom had never sewn before.  We wanted to give them the chance to learn basic stitches and to use a sewing machine.   Working with upper elementary and middle school kiddos meant we needed materials that were forgiving.  We ended up choosing fleece for the heads because it has enough give that it could easily cover slight mishaps with cutting and stitching.  The felt, however, was by far the easiest to cut since it is so sturdy and therefore was the best material for the facial pieces.

Speaking of those faces, we took advantage of some of the great free coloring sheet sites in order to create our patterns.  We printed them out to fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, then had the kids cut the pieces, pin them down to the felt, and cut around.  This was pretty much the most pattern cutting the kids did since we decided to pre-cut the yellow circles that everyone would be using for their pillows.  Depending on how long your program is, you could let kids do this, but for our time frame, it made much more sense for us to get this out of the way ahead of time.  They still got plenty of practice with patterns and cutting when it came to constructing their emojis though!

To be honest, we did cheat a bit in another area too.  The kids stitched the fleece pieces together, but glued the felt pieces on.  For the skill level our kiddos were at (and our librarians, but shhh… don’t tell), it just made the most sense so no one got frustrated. It also gave the kids a lot more freedom to create some of the faces with smaller pieces that would have been a real pain to sew.  One important detail… do get fabric glue!  It worked beautifully even when a little too much glue was used!  Other glues also don’t hold as well over time and we didn’t want anyone’s face falling apart.  The other plus?  It dried quickly!  While we were showing some great youtube tutorials on back-stitching, ladder stitching, and going over the sewing machines and letting them give those a whirl with some practice paper, the glue dried and we were able to move on to the sewing!

As I am sure you noticed if you did the Pinterest spin through looking at different tutorials like we did, a lot of folks use no sew for these pillows!  We opted to sew for two reasons.  First of all because sewing is an awesome skill that everyone should have a basic concept of.  Second, because when we tried glue, we had a bit of a disaster.  It puckered and left some gaps.  You had to clothes pin it all over to get it to stay together.  Granted, that was using fabric glue since hot glue isn’t an option with so many kids and so few of us grownups in the room.  Still,  sewing everything but the gap for stuffing and using glue to close said gap didn’t even work.  On one of our test runs, we tried this theory and it literally looked like someone had taken a bite our of our emoji’s chin!  So with all that said, we stuck with sewing.

Hover over or click on the steps pictured below to get the details and tips that helped us have success with this.  The step-by-step below was done by hand using a double floss for thread.   If you are new to sewing, I promise, it isn’t as hard as it may look.  Tutorials make it very easy to watch as you sew to double check yourself.  If you are comfortable with a machine, these zip through very quickly.  Just be careful since fleece does have quite a bit of give.


The kids absolutely LOVED this project and we hope you do too!  We would love to hear about how your pillows turn out or any suggestions you have for us! Drop us a comment below!

Link Grab Bag



Things we like from around the web…


We featured electrical circuits in Exploratorium a few weeks ago using circuits made from holiday lights inspired by this blog post and paired that activity with Squishy Circuits.  Talk about an awesome combination!  The Squishy Circuits were the perfect tool to teach the concept of open and closed circuits and how the electrical current flows.  Once the kids had these basic concepts down, they were able to create their own circuits!  They were even able troubleshoot their way through the activity, reflecting back on the various activities they had done with the Squishy Circuits right before.  It was one of those days that reminded me why I do what I do.  Thanks for the inspiration nittygrittyscience.com!

Next in the grab bag…

We were very excited to hear that one of our favorite children’s musicians will be in our area this summer!  Laurie Berkner (who has an AMAZING youtube channel you should check out!) sings awesome kids tunes like Victor Vito, Buzz, Buzz, We are the Dinosaurs, and our personal favorite, I Know a Chicken (or The Shakey Egg song if you ask our littlest library friends).  They get kids (and adults) up and moving and have fun, silly, positive messages.  We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her and the band at the Butterworth Center in July! Click here for more info.


Along the lines of local fun…

Big Nate the Musical?!  Until recently, I didn’t know this was a thing, but I am so glad it is!  I’m even more glad to say it is coming to our area!  Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse is featuring Big Nate as one of their Spring shows this year.  Click on over to their site for information, but it should be a lot of fun.  The cast will also be making a visit to the library so be sure and check our calendar for more info!


And last but not least…

This rainy spring has kept a lot of us indoors.  For small wiggly bodies, that is tough so we have been looking for ways to get those wiggles out without getting soggy.  Ms. Janna found this great channel on youtube and shared it and we couldn’t love it more!  Cosmic Kids Yoga has some great videos for you and your littles to do on a rainy day… or any day for that matter.  Personally, I recommend the Star Wars adventure!


Until next time… happy clicking!

If You Loved… Warriors (Read-Alike series)