Anthotypes are a fun way to play with colour, plants and sunlight!

All you need is:

☼ Your choice of: berries, beets, black beans or red cabbage

☼ Watercolour paper or some other kind of thick, absorbent paper

☼ Brushes, paint rollers, sponges or some sort of contraption to spread paint

☼ Shapes! You can cut them out of paper, card, or you can use dried leaves, perhaps?

☼ Sellotape or masking tape

1. To make your anthotype, chop your berries, beets or red cabbage and leave them in a jar or container to soak overnight. If you’re using black beans, you don’t need to chop, just let them soak overnight in just enough water to cover them.

2. The next day, check out the colour of the water in your jar/container. Has it changed? You can also put your berries, beets or red cabbage and coloured water in the blender to make a sort of juice. Strain. For the black beans, don’t blend, just strain them and your beans are now ready to be cooked! Keep the coloured water, you’ll use it like paint.

3. For extra colourful fun, you can split your colour juice into three jars and mix in a pinch of baking soda in the first one. Add a splash or vinegar to the second one and leave the third one as is. Do you see the colours changing?

4. Dip your painting materials in your colourful water and paint away, trying to cover as much of your watercolour paper as possible. Get creative! Build up layers of colour as it dries to make it darker.

5. Leave to dry and watch the colours change!

6. Now, place your shapes on top of your painted watercolour paper and secure in place as best you can.

7. Place your anthotype-to-be in a very sunny window and leave it there for a few days until you see the exposed bits have faded.

8. The sun will make the paint fade in the places where it’s not covered by shapes and only the shapes will remain. It’s like taking a photo, but way more fun!

✧ Anthotypes are made possible thanks to anthocyanins in plants such as berries, beets, black beans or red cabbage. But what are anthocyanins?