Chromatography Flowers

Do you know what chromatography means? Well, I didn’t either! Not until I came across this craft and brought nature indoors – especially during the winter months. Chromatography is the separation of a mixture brought about by passing a solution through a medium. Our mixture is colored markers. Our solution is water. Our medium is a coffee filter.


Let’s gather supplies and get going!

  • White coffee filters (basket-shaped – the ones that are a full circle when laid flat)

  • Washable markers

  • Cups with water

  • Scissors

  • Clear tape

  • Small sticks or twigs

The science side!

  • Take your coffee filter and lay it flat over a piece of scrap paper. This will help keep color from bleeding onto your work surface.

  • Draw a thick circle in the middle of the filter, just inside the ribbed part.

  • Fold your filter in half, then in half again.

  • Get a cup and fill it just a bit with water – enough so the tip of your coffee filter sits in the water, but not enough so the water touches the ink. You don’t want to accidentally color your water.

  • Open up the top of your filter and balance it on the rim of the glass, point side down.

  • Let the filter sit in the water for about 20-30 minutes, until the water completely filters to the edge of the cone.

  • Place your filter aside and lay it flat to dry. If you want to do the art part, make a bunch more.

The art part!

  • Once you’ve made a handful of filters and they’ve all dried, fold your filter in half four times - you’ll end up with an ice cream cone shape.

  • Round the edges of the flat part of your cone – this will give your filter a flower-like shape.

  • Cut off the very tip of your filter and open it up – you want a small hole, just enough to stick your stick in.

  • Start bunching and wrapping the end of the filter around your stick about an inch.

  • Take your clear tape and secure the filter in place.

  • Repeat with however many filters you want and then display them!

What color bleeding took you by surprise? What happened if you left them in the water for longer than 30 minutes? Were there some colors that bled a lot easier? Did you try different brands of markers? I would love to see how your flowers turned out. Come check out the Innovation Wyrkshop and see how my flowers turned out! (We’ve also got a lot of other fun projects on display too!)

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