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How to Grow Crystals on Paper, Painting Real Ice in Watercolor

Updated on April 21, 2018
Rada4Health profile image

Rada is a translator, writer, finance consultant and a muse. As an explorer of life, she likes to share her findings with other people.

There are many watecolor teсhniques to paint ice. Usually it requires patience and time, because you have to wait when areas dry thoroughly and then move to a practical next step. Although, none of the ways can give you the most natural effect of a real ice freezing pattern as Nature can. The secret of sparkling ice is all in growing real crystals on your painting.

The process of ice formation resembles the crystallization process. Ice falls as snowflakes and hail or occurs as frost, icicles or ice spikes. Ice has the crystalline structure as well as a snowflake. Snowflakes are ice crystals that are hexagonal in shape. The main constituent shapes for ice crystals, from which complex combinations may occur, are needle, column, plate and rime.

For our experiment we are going to grow Magnesium Sulfate crystals on watercolor paper. Magnesium results in multiple needle-like crystals through chemical reaction.

There are fast and slow crystallization methods for growing a crystal. Fast crystallization is not good enough for getting a large single crystal because of a risk of trapping impurities within the crystals. In contrast, slow crystallization increases the chance of obtaining large crystals. The slower the process of crystallization is the bigger the crystals are. You have to make the solution cool as slowly as possible. Crystal formation is governed by certain rules. If you have a strong intention you will make a great progress.

Crystals are amplifying minerals. You have a crystal in a radio - it amplifies the sound waves. You have a crystal in a television set - it amplifies the light waves. When you hold crystals, they amplify thought waves.

— Shirley MacLaine

Are Crystals Alive?

Everything on Earth has consciousness, or in other words, energy. We all made of this energy. Nicola Tesla believed that in crystal we have a pure evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and although in spite of everything we cannot understand the life of crystals – it is still a living being. According to his research, any crystal can send and receive energy. This special property can help people to heal themselves. Also, these sparkling creatures can serve as an additional energy source. Real-life people notice the true effectiveness of crystals, which is the measure of truth. Many of them collect the most beautiful types and even use this form of a healing therapy in their workshops.

We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we've lost our connection to ourselves.

— Andy Goldsworthy

Here We Go...

Tools Needed
Magnesium Sulphate
Watercolor paper
A glass


1. For making a magic solution take 20 grams of Magnesium Sulfate and the same amount of water (with color added). You have to get the 1:1 proportion.

2. Add a pinch of salt into a solution.

3. You need to heat the solution of salt and water until the mixture is completely dissolved.

4. Now, we can start creating real ice freezing patterns on our paintings.


You can get a really great effect, if will paint watercolors (our finished solution) on wet paper.


Porous texture of watecolor paper is a necessary condition for growing crystals.


Magnesium Sulfate is an inorganic salt with the formula MgSO4. It is a common mineral pharmaceutical preparation of magnesium, commonly known as Epsom salt, used both externally and internally. Oral Magnesium Sulfate is commonly used as a saline laxative or osmotic purgative. If you are making this experiment with a child, be careful, the salt shouldn't get into his mouth. Don't forget to wash your hands!


Long crystals are forming in little puddles of watercolors. It takes about 15 minutes to fully dry.


As the water evaporates from the paper, our crystals may take their original shape, they can become a crystal dust. So it's better to cover your crystal painting with a colorless varnish for safekeeping.

The crystal growing experiments are increasing in popularity every day. We don't need a complex empirical laboratory and sophisticated equipment to create. Once you start to grow crystals, your mystic experience will always be remembered. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. Create and behold!

© 2018 Rada Heger


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