Painting Heart Doilies & A Valentine’s Day Bunting

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A Painted Heart Doily Bunting - A fun kids' art activity that also makes a great Valentine's Day decoration

We're getting into Valentine's Day making and decorating a little early this year. I don't understand why I get so inspired by hearts every year, but I do. My kids are all for hearts year round, by the way.

This time we painted heart doilies, which we strung together into a Valentine's bunting (with the addition of oil for the suncatcher effect). This activity also creates watercolor resist heart paintings that can be used for Valentine's Day cards or decorations.

Here's how we made the painted heart doilies and bunting:

Materials and Set Up for Painting Doilies


  • Uncoated white heart doilies (that's a link for a packet of assorted doilies, including red, silver, and gold as well as the white ones we used for this project; you can also just buy some white doilies at the craft store or drug store)
  • Watercolor paper (I cut ours into smallish pieces)
  • Liquid watercolor paint OR watercolor paints in a tin
  • Paint brush
  • Water to clean brush between colors
  • Salt (optional)
  • Art tray or plastic placemat to protect work surface
  • Vegetable oil
  • Yarn or embroidery floss
  • Yarn or embroidery needle

Doilies and watercolors

This painted heart doily bunting came about in a rather circuitous manner. First, we tried doily resist watercolor art with metallic coated round doilies (which worked great), then the same with heart doilies, and finally started painting uncoated white heart doilies inspired by a piece of Daphne's doily art.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 11


1. Holding the doily in place over the watercolor paper (you can tape it lightly if you like) paint the doily, the paper surrounding the doily, and inside the little holes in the doily.

Note: Make sure you get the uncoated heart doilies rather than the kind that have the shiny coating. The uncoated doilies will soak up the watercolor paint beautifully. The coated kind won't at all.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 13

Continue until the doily and the paper are completely painted.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 24

Or just paint the doily, if you'd rather. Maia's friend Ava painted the details of the doily different colors.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 23

2. (Optional) Add a sprinkle of salt to the wet watercolor paint if desired.

Daphne and her friend Cora, above, were very into painting the heart doilies. And very into adding salt.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 18

3. Lift the doily off the paper and let both dry completely.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 27

If your kids added stickers as well before painting, pull them off now. The doily (and sticker) resist watercolor paper hearts are beautiful as is. I thought about sewing them together for another kind of bunting, but think we'll use them as Valentine's Day cards instead.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 31

4. Turn the doilies over and paint the reverse with a light coat of vegetable oil. This makes them more translucent (for the suncatcher effect) and the colors more vibrant.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 33

5. Use yarn and a yarn needle to sew through the holes at the tops of the doilies, stringing them together into a bunting.

Watercolor Heart Doilies for Valentine's Day 39

6.  Hang the bunting in the window where the light can shine through the colorful hearts.

Watercolor Painted Heart Doily in the Window

Painting the doilies with watercolors is such a simple activity—both for parents to set up and for kids to do—yet the process is fun and the results are beautiful.

Give it a try!

And if you're so inclined, use the doily hearts to create a Valentine's Day bunting…

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  1. says

    Beautiful! We used Do-a-Dot pens for a similar effect last year, but my four year old has been drawn to liquid water colors more than ever lately, so I think we’ll give them a whirl on doilies this year. Love the oil effect especially. We just tried the melted crayon bunting you recently posted, and we love the translucent magic. :D

  2. Lara says

    i want to try this with my son who is not yet 2 1/2. am i crazy? i’ve looked through your posts tagged under toddler art and they give great suggestions, but i didn’t see any particular art projects specifically for toddlers–maybe for good reason! i am just overly excited to create with him!! thanks!

  3. says

    What is the best painting tip with the vegetable oil, I feel like I am putting too thick of a coat on when I try to paint and it ruins the doilies. Should I use a smaller brush or a cloth. thank you.

  4. says

    How lovely the painting is! And the kid is lovely, too! I will teach my child to make this “painted heart”.