“It’s like drawing with lipstick!” said one of the after-school kids as she flipped over her piece of paper so she could cover the other side with the luscious colours of our new pencil grip Kwik Stix – Thin Stix.
It was meant to be an Easter Egg craft where the kids could experiment with the Thin Stix on newspaper, then cut the newspaper into pieces and glue them onto an egg. But the first swipe by the first kid was a red arc and suddenly I was surrounded by rainbows, and multi-layered hearts and flowers; but mostly rainbows. (If an art project goes off the rails, rainbows and flowers aren’t a bad place to go…)
Kwik Stix are basically, paint in a tube but without the mess. They go on slightly wet and dry within 90 seconds. For those who are a little phobic about a mess, or just want a stress-free activity, these are great. Add a sheet of paper and your kids will draw and colour until bedtime! The tips are basically flat but you can use the edges to make finer lines. The opaqueness varies depending on the pressure, but pushing too hard will leave small bits of it behind and wear them down more quickly. They have a whole tube of paint though and you just twist the bottom to push it up. (Kids figure that out really quickly!)
So what do Kwik Stix offer if you’re not afraid of the mess?? One word: WASHABLE! When doing projects with my younger art class or the After School Program, washable materials keep the parents happy. Smocks help but don’t always do the whole job. At least a couple of times some enthusiasm led to part of the table getting covered in Kwik Stix but it wiped off easily which means clean-up is easy and less stressful for you too!
Kwik Stix also offers creative advantages. Darker colours do cover crayon though and don’t resist like watercolours, but if you brush the Kwik Stix colour with water the colour becomes fluid, like watercolours, and you can uncover crayon or blend colours or just experiment as we did with an Earth Day craft.
The other thing I love about these paint sticks is their ability to create layers and work with other materials.
The lighter colours are translucent which allows textures to show through when using different kinds of canvases like newspaper and wood (although they don’t show up as well on cardboard or darker coloured paper).
For a Valentine’s Day project and mural, the kids used markers on the coffee filter and then covered it with water so the colour would bleed onto a piece of paper underneath. We tried Kwik Stix on the wet filter which worked beautifully, but we used it to add layers of colour onto the paper underneath when it dried.
They also provide great coverage. I used Kwik Stix for an Art Playdate recently where we were making Ninja Turtle Hideouts with a couple of 4-year-olds. I’d covered a 1L milk carton with white acrylic so they could paint them, but tempera paint over top was uneven and didn’t cover the white. The Kwik Stix, however, went on smooth and even and dried almost instantly so the visiting family could take their Hideout home when the playdate was over.
We’ve used our pencil grip Kwik Stix a LOT over the last few weeks and there are lots of ideas out there. (I can’t wait to do Scratch Art with them!) The pencil grip Kwik Stix -Thin Stix are about the size of a regular marker and the regular Kwik Stix are the size of a small glue stick. I tried out the Thin Stix with toddlers and they managed but the smaller ones were much easier for them to use.
I mentioned Kwik Stix and the lipstick line to my sister-in-law who’s an artist and she admitted that she’s now on the hunt for a set of Kwik Stix – for herself. (She lives in Ottawa.) “Who doesn’t want to draw with lipstick?” she said. It’s true! Adults will have fun with them too. Just be prepared for rainbows.
Written by Alison McLean, educator and craft creator at Earl Grey Community Centre. You can follow Alison on Facebook: Alison’s Crafts To Go and on Instagram: @alisonsmagicalcrafts.