RENEW
Feb 22, 2012

Posted by | 16 Comments

It’s a Piece of ‘Tempra’ Cake!

Do you think choosing the correct paint to is easy? I don’t!  I wish choosing paint was a “Piece of Cake” but I find it takes a lot of trial and error.

One art supply I have a love hate relationship with is Tempera Cakes.  They are that fine line between tempera and watercolor. I have great success with watercolor paints in lessons like “Kandinsky Lines and Shapes” and like having a enough little palettes that student can each have their own.

When it comes to Tempera cakes, however, I have been experimenting with different brands to find my sweet spot and I am still torn!

Round Tempera Cakes:

Likes: I started out with the round tempera cakes, and believe I buy Dick Blick’s brand of round cakes. I order them in bulk and snap in a new cake when I have found one is out.  I like this kind because the color is more opaque, like watercolor, the trays are user-friendly to store and use for the kids and the colors look pretty good.

Dislikes: What I don’t like is the chalky texture that is left after the paint drys.  They look dull and I prefer a shiny look.  I also dislike  how much water can pool in the bottom of the trays, making for some interesting paint spills.

Square “BIGGIE” Cakes:

Likes: These come in square form in little plastic containers. A colleague suggested to clip off the plastic top and pop them into a 9×13 cake pan. It easily fits 12 colors.  I like these paints because the color is VERY bold. They are creamier and seem to be thicker and cover better. Another plus is because they are all individually segmented in the pan, a student who needs the yellow can just take it out of the pan, put it right beside them and not have to reach. This is super handy!

Dislikes: The cake pans are  little heavy for students to help much with passing these out. I would opt for plastic pans next time.  also, these colors are SO bold, sometimes they cover the Sharpie outlining and can get a little dark if students use too much.

So…

Both types of tempera cakes are an investment when purchasing  enough for the whole class. I find once I buy, replacements aren’t necessary for at least a year or two, and I can buy individual colors at one time, just the ones I need.

In the end, I just use these interchangeably for different projects, depending on the look I am going for. Because I don’t use any very often (Because I am still switching out with watercolor and liquid tempera) they will last me awhile.

Talk to me about Tempera Cakes- Love or Hate?  

(this is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to talk about Tempera Cakes, mmmkay!)

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  • http://msnovak.blogspot.com Novak

    Honestly – I RARELY use tempra cakes due to what you just said — they are either too light and are super chalky when they dry or they are far too bold and cover anything I wanted to keep. So, I either go with watercolors or tempra paint. If I need A LOT of one color to do a wash type – I just water down some tempra paint and call it good. I am, however, trying out liquid watercolors. Other art teachers in my district swear by them — I am still unsure of how to use them best and store them — but I got a set to give it a whirl.

    • kristi-d

      I try to use all types of paint in my room – and love tempera cakes for a lot of reasons.  I also really like the liquid watercolors.  I made trays for the liquid watercolors using pie pans, plaster of paris, and 3oz plastic cups.  Sink 7 plastic cups in the plaster- you may need to put something in them to weigh them down (I may have hot-glued them in temporarily, it’s been awhile since I made these).  Put another cup inside each cup so that you can easily pour the liquid watercolors back in to the container.  While it seems like a lot of work in the beginning, these lasted me for years and the kids can use the plaster to blot their brush saving on the paper towels, too.  

      • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

        I am definitely ordering liquid watercolors for next year!! Thanks for the tips!

    • Akurzawski

      With liquid water color I find that old plastic ice cube trays are fantastic. I put a piece of color masking tape on each edge to mark the colors for the kids. Then I just let them air dry after the project. Next time I need them I spray them down with water from a spray bottle and they are back to new.

  • http://www.colored-thread.blogspot.com/ Mariee

    I got to use the Biggie Tempera cakes with my high schoolers during student teaching for the first time. I loved how opaque they were. The kids would experiment with color mixing right on the cake, which was an interesting discovery for them, and I would just wash away the mixtures by running them under some water. It was a bit wasteful, but we had SO MANY I wasn’t worried about it.

  • Karen Mason

    I love using the tempra cakes with kindergarten. I can limit the palette when needed. I use the squares and they rinse easily when colors get mixed on the cakes. They do last forever. We have started calling them bubble paint, because if you want good coverage you need to stir until you get bubbles. I store them by color snapped shut in gallon ice cream buckets.

  • http://rainbowskiesanddragonflies.blogspot.com Tery

    I agree, It’s a love/ hate! I used them religiously years and years ago when I was “art on a cart” They do last forever and a day! I have been thinking about using them again just for the convenience. Thanks for the likes/dislikes! :)

  • http://artprojectgirl.blogspot.com Erica

    I bring them out when I need a break. . . mostly I use liquid watercolor and tempera. Think “MARCH MADNESS” when I want to paint but there are no days off and endless testing. . . that’s when I’ll bust out the tempera cakes to make my life manageable if we want to paint:)

  • Janis

    Great article! I think of my tempera cakes as the “hidden gems” of the art room. I can’t believe how much use I get out of them! I use Sax cake refills, although I supplement with the peach and brown Biggie squares. The Sax are great, bright colors, and they can go on anywhere from transparent to almost opaque. I don’t notice them as being too chalky. But they are no substitute for learning how to use tempera paint, or the fine art of watercolor. We use them primarily for cray-pas resists.

  • http://www.TABroom.blogspot.com laurie dyer

    I LOVE tempera cakes; I buy the square ones, and put them in their own little tubs. Much less waste that way, and the colors don’t get mixed up.

    laurie dyer

  • Laura

    I love them. I use the square, keep them in the packaging like you do, but use a plastic tray. I also cut a paper to fit in the bottom of the tray, and painted a square for each color, so we can easily see which colors are missing. I also laminate the tray liner before I put it in there. Love, love, love them!

  • http://www.wesbmsart.blogspot.in/ Mrs. Erb

    I love them.  They are the best for the younger age groups.  Less clean up, easy brush washing, and bright colors.  Plus, less color mixing when you are in a lesson hurry!!

  • Elizabeth A.

    I use tempra cakes occasionally in part because it gives the students some color choices with out wasting so much liquid tempra. Unfortunately, they can be very chalky. Does anyone have an idea on how to get them shiny? Is there a spray or a sealant that I can use to give them their shine back?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.macintosh.5 Danielle MacIntosh

    I just started using the tempera cakes for middle school instead of watercolor. Mostly becuase they are larger and they last longer than watercolors! My 1st set of cakes lasted 2 years! I also like having white and most watercolors do not. I make my kiddos mix to teach color theory so I like the simple 6 color try. The drawback of the chalky colors does bother me, but there is so much gain! On a side note, the best regualar tempera I have found is SAX versatemp. Excellent colors, long lasting, economical, and great color mixing. I won’t use anything else!

    • Heidi

      Do you have them mix on a separate tray, or directly on the paper? I have found it hard to do that with the tempera cakes, especially with little kids because theres so much process involved.
      a.) clean and dry the brush(to make sure all paint is out)
      b.) wet the brush and mix around in the paint – for a long long time, to get enough liquid paint on your brush.
      c.) transfer to another tray or palette
      d.) clean and dry brush to completely remove paint
      e.) wet brush
      f.) get more paint – rubbing brush around for another longish time.
      etc…

      how do you do it?

  • Heidi

    I have used the biggie square cakes in sets of 12. Its not a replacement for using luscious liquid – good quality tempera paint. Its ok. Im interested in how you teach kids to thoroughly rinse their brush before they get a new color. These paints have so much dye in them, it takes quite a bit of scrub-scrub-scrub. And they HAVE to also Dab-Dab-Dab on paper towels. Despite my training them to do this, the cakes regularly get other colors on them, requiring me to wait for them to dry and then washing each one with a wet wash rag. Its been a lot of work setting up and cleaning up. I have large classes – 30 students, and use them for 1st-8th grade. I must say I am exhausted after a day of using these (or any other paints).

    What type of water container do you use? I am using cans, and they are way too small. Im worried about a larger can or container tipping over.

    Thanks, Heidi