Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top

Published 25 May 2017

Stuck for something to do? Learn how to make a spinning top that will spin and spin, splattering paint to create multiple masterpieces. Suitable for children aged 5+

  • With things that you might have lying around the house, you can get busy creating an original splatter masterpiece. All you need is an old CD, some coins, some paint, a pen and some rubber bands. Layer colours and experiment with paint. Daub it on thickly or water it down and watch your spinning-top spray and sprinkle colour across your paper!

    Warning: this activity can be messy. Cover your work area with newspaper and wear an apron

  • Here's what to do...

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! MATERIALS

      What you need

      • A recycled CD

      • Sticky tape or masking tape

      • Rubber bands, the more the better! (We used 15)

      • A pen that will fit through the hole in the disk

      • 4 coins of the same size

      • Acrylic paint, poster paint or inks

      • Water

      • A pot, tray or egg carton to mix the paint colours

      • Brushes and an old spoon to mix and drop the paint

      • A large piece of paper (A3 or A2)

      • An apron to cover your clothes

      • A work area where you can get messy

      • Newspaper to cover your work area

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 1

      1. Tape coins to the underside of the disc

      Tape four coins onto the underside of the disc (the side closest to the paper). The coins will give the top some weight so that it spins longer and more evenly.

      Space them equally so they are balanced.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 2 ALTERNATIVE

      2. Position the pen through the disc

      Put the pen through the hole in the middle of the disc.

      Push it about 2cm through the hole, so only the end of the pencil is through, and the rest is on the other side. It needs to be quite low on the pencil in order for it to spin.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 3

      3. Use elastic bands to secure the pen

      Secure the pencil or pen by wrapping elastic bands on both sides of the CD.

      You will need quite a few of them to make sure the pencil does not wobble in the CD hole. You may need around 15 or 20, or even more, depending on the size of the bands. If in doubt, add more!

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 4

      4. Test your spinner

      Test the spinner, to make sure it will spin. If it’s a bit wonky or doesn’t work:

      • Check the coins are fastened properly

      • Check the coins are spaced evenly

      • Check the rubber bands are tight on the pencil, keeping it still and making the CD level (flat in relation to the surface you are spinning on).

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 4

      5. Prepare your paint mixture

      Get an adult to help you make sure your work surface is completely covered in newspaper because this will get messy!

      If you are using poster paint, you don’t need to add water. If you are using acrylics, add a bit of water to make it quite runny.

      The different consistencies of paint will alter how the paint spins off the spinner.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 5

      6. Holding the spinner still, add your paint mixture

      Add a few blobs of the paint mixture to the top of the spinner, while you are holding it still and upright so that the paint stays on the disc. Try not to hold it at an angle.

      You can add paint straight from the bottle or spoon some on with an old spoon.

      Get an adult to hold it still while you add paint if it’s easier.

      You can do multiple colours at a time.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 6

      7. Get spinning!

      Twist the spinner and watch it splatter!

      You can also keep your hand on it, and twist the pen/pencil so that the paint sprays around while you hold it.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! Step 7

      8. You can keep spinning until all the paint has come off

      Have another go, adding more paint if you need to. Watch it splatter the paint across your paper.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! end

      9. Try layering the paint with different colours

      Try another colour, wiping the top of the spinner down first if you need to.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! end 3

      10. Start again with some new colours

      Try using new paint colours and/or a different coloured paper background.

    • Family how-to: make a paint-splattering spinning top! end 2

      11. Experiment with different consistencies of paint

      You could experiment with adding different consistencies of paint.

      How does using runnier paint change your painting?

      How does using thicker paint change your painting?

    • Engaging families

      Families visiting the RA

      From free drop-in workshops to our fun and engaging Art Detective trails, and galleries full of colourful paintings and sculptures to explore, families are welcome at the RA – and kids under 16 go free to all our exhibitions.

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