Saturday 19 November 2016

Character Options Magic Dip Design Art Centre review

When I was a child, when it came to fun and creative activities, paper marbling was all the rage. You would float food colouring on top of a bowl of water and carefully lay a sheet of paper on top to soak up the colour before leaving it to dry out (and invariably curl up !) on the radiator. The modern version seems to be using shaving foam instead of water, which sounds like it should work better than the original version. We recently received the Magic Dip Design Art Centre from Character Options to review and discovered an even cooler way of marbling that produces funky and totally unique designs on pretty much any material, including plastic, paper, wood and fabric. In fact, the official write-up says "Any material can be dipped, if you can dip it you can colour it!" I had to convince the kids not to dip their fingers in it, pointing out that if it came with a protective glove (literally one - they could have at least put in a pair !) and a big pair of plastic tweezers, marbling your skin was definitely not a good idea !

Inside the box, you get a work station with handy spaces for setting out everything you need and then storing it all away in one place. Along with two different sized dipping bowls (which were flimsier than we expected but they do the job), you get six different coloured paints, a glossy fixing spray, tweezers and stirring sticks, some glitter to add those sparkly finishing touches and some gem stickers to really set off your finished designs.

You also get a nice collection of items to dip, which includes a hairband, a bangle, some charms, a photo frame and some greeting cards. As the kit is designed for girls (and boys) aged eight upwards, the hairband seemed a bit too young to us, but Juliette enjoyed decorating it and will probably give it to her cousins. This is just to start you off though - you can use anything you like that you find around the house.

The whole marbling process is surprisingly easy and very effective. You just put room temperature water into the bowl, use the squeezy bottles of paint to add a few drops of whichever colours take your fancy, use the stick to give it a gentle stir to create funky designs, put on your glove (and an apron ... and lay down a plastic tablecloth because it can get quite messy if you're not very careful) and dunk the object into the bowl using the tweezers. If the object is heavy, you might end up dropping it into the water completely but as long as you don't make the contents of the bowl splash all over you and the table, this doesn't actually matter because it needs to be fully submerged anyway. The marbled design is instantly transferred to your object and just needs to be finished off with glitter and fixed into place with the spray (I would guess hairspray would work just as well once it's all gone). You need to work quite quickly so that the paint doesn't set on the water and you also need to work in a well ventilated room (this would be a great outdoor activity in the summer if you have a plastic picnic table) but the whole process is great fun and Juliette needed no help at all, although I was there to supervise and avoid spillages.

I'm not allowed to show you the finished articles that we made because they have been secreted away as Christmas presents, but they do come out just as good as the pictures on the box. It's a lovely activity that produces some really funky and functional objects that any tween or teen would be really happy and proud to make and use, or give away as a special personalised and totally unique gift. I've already been to check and you can buy a refill kit (labelled as a starter kit) for £10, which comes with extra paints and fixing spray, as well as more items to dip including iphone cases, which is pretty good value. If you're looking for a creative Christmas gift for a crafty teen or tween, this is sure to be a big hit.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £29.99

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.


  1. That looks really amazing -I can imagine transforming quite a few things in my house! (the settee's looking a bit drab so The other half better move quickly)


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