• Youth Energy Squad

Painting With Plants: Dandelion

Context: Every year people spend a lot of money on managing their lawn to keep the

weeds out. Contrary to popular belief, many of these so-called weeds have many benefits to animals and humans. During this activity we are going to focus on a very common weed that you may already know how to identify. Many people do not think of plants as assets to art or even using plants for pigment. In today's activity we will collect some dandelion and use it to extract pigment to make some natural eco-art. Hopefully after this activity you look at so-called “weeds” in a more positive light and you might even ask the question “why grass?”

Goals: Age Group: K-12

  • Become more aware of the possible ways to interact with urban greenspaces.

  • Make art in a sustainable way.

  • Critically think about the potential advantages of plants.

  • Participate in manual selective herbicid

Supplies: Time: 1-4 hours

  • dandelions

  • a bowl

  • a canvas or something to put your art on

  • scissors

  • a spoon

  • 1 cup of hot water

  • baking soda

  • 100% lime or lemon juice

  • a paintbrush

  • small cups

  • “smusher” or (mortar and pestle)

Instructions

Watch the video after doing the activity then try to answer the reflection questions.


Video:


Activity

First we have to gather some dandelions; be sure to grab your scissors . Following proper social distancing guidelines, go out and look for dandelions to clip off the flowers “heads”. If you have trouble identifying them they look like this...



Take the dandelions and add them to the bowl. add a little bit of hot water to the bowl. enough so that it lightly coats the bottom of the bowl.


Take your “smusher” and begin to smash the dandelion( twisting and pounding it all the way) you should begin to see a yellow pigment absorbing into the water. It may be difficult to see the water at this point, so tilt the bowl and move all of the dandelions to one side so that you can see the water at the bottom of the bowl. The water should be a different color.



At this point you successfully extracted a bit of color but it might be hard to see. You can add more dandelion to the mix and be sure to strain it out really good.



If you let the mixture sit longer the color will be richer


Dip your brush and begin painting on your canvas.


Take the hot water and dissolve some baking soda in it. Not too much, just enough so that the water is a little bit cloudier. Use this to see how it alters the color.



Add the lime or lemon juice to a cup. You can dip your paintbrush in it after dipping it in your dandelion water to see how we will alter the color



The longer it sits, the more potent the effect will be.

Reflection Questions

  • Were you able to make a successful plant based paint?

  • Did you know about the effects of paint on the environment ?

  • Why do you think people consider dandelion a weed?

  • What are VOCs?

  • How does the commercial paint that we typically see impact the environment?

  • Did you have to travel far from home to find these plants?

  • Did you know about this plant already?

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