Discovering Handmade Watercolor Paints

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It took me more than 2 years of watercoloring to finally purchase my first handmade watercolor paint. I’m not sure why it took me so long to look into them but I’m just now starting to discover this world of handmade watercolors.

In all honesty, the only reason I really began looking into handmade watercolors was because quite a few handmade watercolor artisans had purchased my swatch stamp and started sharing swatches of their paints on Instagram.

It’s not because I didn’t know about handmade watercolors, it was more because I felt like I already owned a lot of watercolor paints and wasn’t sure what to add to my collection (or if I even needed them).

But the thing is, once I started seeing all the beautiful colors being made by different paint makers, I couldn’t resist.

When I decided to start shopping around I’ll admit I got a bit overwhelmed and couldn’t decide. So you know what I did? I decided to start with a single color.

Yup, just one.

You could call it self-control, but it was really more like self-preservation. (I had been browsing for a few days in a row and I needed to save myself from myself and just make a decision already.)

I picked a beautiful dusty rose color called “Cinder Rose” from Stakiwi Colours and she was kind enough to send me 4 additional dot cards of her colors.

I swatched them all onto swatch cards and recorded it for you in case you want to watch! (I’ll link the video at the bottom of this post)


So this is what I’ve learned so far about what goes into making handmade watercolors:

A pigment or mix of pigments create the color of the paint. Now I see how fun and creative this process can be - you’re essentially mixing up very unique colors based whatever combination of pigments you decide to use.

Binder is the glue that holds all the pigments together and everyone seems to have their own “recipe”. Usually the base of that recipe is gum arabic.

Mulling is mixing pigment & binder together with a palette knife and then mulling it with a glass muller on a glass surface. This looks really fun and therapeutic.

Using a palette knife, the freshly mulled paint gets scooped into tiny pans. I feel like would make a mess of this.

Now that’s just my basic knowledge of how watercolor gets made by hand. Like any other craft, there’s a lot more to it than this! But if you’ve never looked into it before, hopefully this information was interesting and helpful.

And if you’re thinking of making your own paints, Stakiwi Colours’ blog looks like a great place to start!

When swatching, I noticed Stakiwi’s paints re-wet beautifully and feel buttery smooth when painting. I’ve just begun to discover handmade watercolor paints so I don’t know too much about them other than what I’ve shared above.

But I’ll definitely be exploring them more! There’s certainly something to be said about knowing that your paint was mixed and mulled by hand…by a real person.


Handmade paints seem to sell out quickly because they are made in small batches by real people. I’ve found that Instagram is a good place to follow them because they post shop updates there and you can also see the process behind making paints. Plus, who doesn’t like admiring beautiful colors?

Below is a short list of handmade watercolor paint-makers that I’ve come across on Instagram in case you want to check out their selection of colors!

As always, thank you for reading!