how to make black glue

Black glue has some huge possibilities in the world of art making.  And it’s easy to make with art supplies you already have in your art and craft supplies!

Why make black glue…

I love using glue as a “resist” in art projects.  That means glue is no longer being used as an adhesive but as an element of design within the artwork.

I use glue as a resist in this spiderweb drawing with watercolor and this glue drawing with chalk pastel.  In these drawings the glue is plain white school glue which dries relatively clear, taking on the color of the paper.

By learning how to make black glue you’ll introduce a whole new element to your artwork.  Whether you’re using glue lines to resist watercolor paints or chalk pastels the back glue will add bold, black lines to your design.

Ingredients for black glue…

Black glue isn’t difficult to make and it can be done using a variety of everyday supplies.  I made black glue four different ways and I’ll share the pros and cons of each method and which one is my favorite!

For every method you’ll need a bottle of Elmer’s school glue to start. If you have an old, half used up bottle grab that.  It’s important to have space within the bottle to add the black pigment. And it will be easier to mix up of the glue isn’t full to the top too!

supplies for making black glue

How to make black glue with India ink…

I added about three droppers full of India ink to a 3/4 full 7 oz. bottle of glue.  After shaking the bottle up the glue still wasn’t a rich black.  I added another three droppers full to obtain a rich black.  The consistency of the glue did not change, even with the added liquid.

India ink is not terribly expensive so using a bit more of it to get rich black glue isn’t a big deal.  However, if you’re making enough black glue for a class the cost of India ink may add up to more than other options!

How to make black glue with liquid watercolor…

This method is one I won’t try again.  The black liquid watercolor did make the glue black but I had to use six to eight droppers full of black liquid watercolor.  Liquid watercolors are not cheap.

If you don’t have any of the other black pigments this one will work to make black glue but it is the least economically efficient!

 how to make black glue four different ways

How to make black glue with powdered tempera…

I added approximately four tablespoons of black powdered tempera pigment to a 3/4 full 7 oz. glue bottle. Because it took so much of the pigment to get a rich black this method was the hardest to get thoroughly mixed up.

Once mixed the glue did have a slightly thicker texture and it was a bit harder to squeeze out of the bottle. If you’re working with young students with limited hand strength that small change in consistency may be a game changer.

How to make black glue with acrylic paint…

Adding black craft acrylic paint, in my opinion, is the quickest, most cost effective route to making your own black glue.  Craft acrylic paint is cheap and easily accessible.  Most of you probably already have a bottle of it stashed somewhere!

Maybe because the consistency of the craft paint and the glue are so similar these two were the easiest to mix.  This combo also yielded the richest, most solid black color.

While there are many possibilities for making your own black glue I would recommend this one as the top choice!

Using black glue as a resist…

Experiment with drawing with black glue. Play with how far the glue nozzle is open to find a happy medium between pouring out and being super difficult to squeeze a smooth line. Encourage your kiddos not to touch the glue nozzle to the paper but to hold it up a few inches.

Turn your glue drawing experiment into a finished painting by adding watercolor paint.  The glue lines act as a resist and will keep areas of paint separate.

Black glue is also really fun to pair with chalk pastels!

black glue drawing with watercolor paint


A couple of tips for any method of making black glue…

Don’t start with brand new bottles of glue.  Partially full bottles will allow you a little extra room for filling with pigment and mixing.

Unless you love stirring and shaking bottles of glue allowing yourself a bit of extra time will make this process much easier. (Especially if you’re preparing enough bottles for classroom use!) Add whatever black pigment you choose to partially full bottles of glue.  Then, turn them upside down and allow them so sit for a few hours, even overnight. The next day shaking them up to mix the glue and the pigment will be much easier!

When making artwork that incorporates glue lines keep in mind you will need to allow artwork to dry on a flat surface.  Most drying racks tilt the artwork which will result in a puddle of black glue instead of those smooth black lines your kiddos drew! Lay glue drawings flat to dry!

how to make black glue four different ways


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