Art for Kids: Salt Art Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto {Kids Get Arty}

Salt Art for Kids Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto

A recent trip to our local art museum has inspired such a fun art project for kids…using salt! Keep reading to find out what we made and to learn more about the amazing artist, Motoi Yamaoto.

“Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory.  Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.” – Motoi Yamamoto

My five year old, Lucy, and I just recently went to our local art museum to see their latest exhibit, “Return to the Sea”, Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto. I can’t even fully describe what an amazing thing his art was to see.

Salt Artwork- View from the floor of the gallery

Salt Artwork- View from the floor of the gallery

Motoi is a contemporary Japanese artist who has recently been creating installations made entirely from salt. In the Japanese culture, salt is a symbol of purification and mourning. Working with salt has helped Motoi work through the death of his sister and help to heal his grief.

Close-up of the piece

Close-up of the piece

This particular piece covered almost the entire gallery floor and used about 300 pounds of salt! The patterns of this installation was very lace-like. In a video shown at the museum, the artist explains that each little bubble-like shape in the lace pattern represents a small memory, and all the little memories come together to form the finished piece.

View from above the gallery

View from above the gallery

As amazing as this art is in itself, what even touched me more was how he involves the communities where he displays his saltworks. While the artist is creating his installation, the public is invited to watch and interact with him.  And, during the closing of the exhibition, visitors are invited to participate in the dismantling of the salt artwork. They help to scoop the salt up into bags and bottles and then take a community walk to the sea where the salt is released into the ocean. We cannot wait to take part in this!


Lucy sketching the patterns and designs she observed

Lucy sketching the patterns and designs she observed

Message from the artist

Message from the artist

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We were very inspired to begin making our own creations with salt once we were home. Because the sensory experience is so important to the artist, I first started out with a salt sensory tray invitation for the kids. They spent lots of time exploring the salt in our regular and mini sized salt trays. 

A few days later we were ready to start our own salt art on a larger scale! We really wanted to try to draw with salt just like the artist. Luckily I had a couple of squeeze bottles on hand. We filled them with salt and found the biggest canvas we could~ our porch! We all headed outside and began to ‘draw’ with the salt-filled bottles. It was actually quite calming moving the bottles around as the salt slowly poured out. 

lucy porch 2

Lucy used a small bottle to draw some curvy lines.


Salt Art for Kids Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto

I created some straight lines resembling a maze.


theo porch 2

Even 2 year old Theo took part. His contribution was placing little piles of salt everywhere!

Later we thought it would be fun to try drawing with colored salt. To make our colored salt, we filled some plastic cups with salt and added a few drops of food coloring to each one. It took quite a bit of stirring to get the color to distribute evenly. We then let it dry overnight.

colored salt

Our colored sand drying

The next day we filled our squeeze bottles with the colored salt. It was a bit more difficult drawing with it, as it didn’t flow quite as smoothly as the plain, white salt. However, with a bit of patience, we still managed to create some colorful salt art! (You could probably do this using colored sand in place of the salt.) Since we had sketched Yamamoto’s patterns in our sketchbook at the museum, we thought it would be fun to make our colored salt art similar to his.

Salt Art for Kids Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto

Our colored salt art on the front porch


Salt Art for Kids Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto

Here is our salt art up close


We were having so much fun we had to try a few other canvases! 


Salt Art for Kids Inspired by Motoi Yamamoto

The deck was fun to draw on!


lucy deck 2

I left the salt bottles out on our deck in the backyard for the kids to use whenever they were playing out back. They never seemed to tire of the salt!


theo deck

Theo even discovered some holes to fill with salt!


If you’d rather try something on a smaller scale, drawing with salt would make a great invitation to create! All you need is a tray and a container of salt. I left this out one morning for the kids to create with.

drawing w salt invitation

An invitation to create using salt

Learning about the art and inspiration of Motoi Yamamoto has been an amazing experience. Lucy was especially taken with how the artist used his artwork to express his emotions. I think she will remember this for quite a long time! 

I would like to invite you to take a moment  and check out the links below to learn more about this amazing artist. I hope you find some inspiration from him as well!

Here are some amazing sites with videos and photographs of other salt installations by the artist, Motoi Yamamoto:

1.This site has an amazing video with Motoi speaking about why and how he creates his saltwork. I just love hearing the ideas coming right in his own voice.

2. This link will take you to the same video that was shown to us at the museum. You’ll find the video all the way at the end of the page.


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  1. I LOVE this! Gorgeous and fun. I think my kids would really love doing this, since they are addicted to anything involving squeezy bottles!
    Allison recently posted…Frozen Art for KidsMy Profile

  2. Oh my word, there are so many things I love about this activity!!! Wonderful way to link back to an art display, and we are definitely going to have to try this out in the near future. Going to pin this shortly. Just LOVE it!!!!
    Mary Catherine recently posted…Traveling with a Child: A Sleeper Train Adventure!My Profile

  3. What a great tactile craft project. Looks lovely in it’s natural state and coloured
    Zing Zing Tree recently posted…Wild Grass Seed Head ArtMy Profile

  4. This is wonderful! I’ve seen work like this before and think it would be a great experience for kids to get them to slooooow down and focus on what they are making- I always wonder what happens if the artist sneezes halfway through making something like this.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Art Projects For Kids: Alien and Robot PortraitsMy Profile

  5. Really great use of salt for art! I hadn’t heard of Motoi Yamamoto before. Thanks for the introduction to his work.
    Ana recently posted…Flower Power DIY Wall DecalsMy Profile

  6. Hey Chelsey (sorry for the previous typo)
    I was just going through your fb page today, and couldn’t help reading the blog! I absolutely love the salt art. So creative and unique, and an amazing activity to do with the kids as quality time!

    thoroughly enjoyed the pictures. If i may ask, what was the proportion of salt and food color to give such vibrant results? :)

    Eva recently posted…Add the ‘Fun’ element to not-so-fun-study-time!My Profile

  7. This is simply inspiring! It really makes me want to create! I think my son would really enjoy this! When we do this, I will link back to you :)
    Rachel recently posted…Exploring New MediumsMy Profile

  8. I love this! What a great outdoors activity. Will def be trying this one with my kiddos :)
    Sarah recently posted…Let’s Go Fly A Kite – An Instagram EssayMy Profile

  9. what a simple yet absolutely fantastic idea!! Now following you

    would love if you you could share this on my weekly link party Serenity Saturday

    Natasha @ Serenity You

  10. This is such a great idea and so simple!
    Cristina recently posted…strawberry party treatsMy Profile

  11. Very pretty! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library; featuring you this week!
    Ashley recently posted…Starting Sound SnappingMy Profile

  12. Great art! and the kids are having fun, looks like. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library. I am featuring it on iGameMom
    iGameMom recently posted…Off Screen with App: Bring Coloring Page to Life in 3DMy Profile

  13. This is amazing and I am looking forward to trying this with the grandkids. On the kids craft website they had an article for making colored salt with sidewalk chalk, just put the salt a stick of salt in a plastic baggy and rub around until you get the color you want, it works great and there is no waiting to play.
    First but not last time on your site, love it.

  14. Jaqi sheppard says:

    I love this project. It would probably work just as well with glitter, (hyper messy though).
    When I first saw it I thought it was crochet so I’m going to try and do a piece using yarn. Many thanks for the inspiration.

  15. What a fantastic inspiration. I love your colored salt work. I am sure your kids will remember both the visit to the museum and their own salt masterpieces…
    Natalie recently posted…Letting Your Children Do Things Their Way…My Profile

  16. I love this idea, I think my girls would really enjoy this project.
    mummyzilla recently posted…More overdyingMy Profile

  17. This is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. I don’t have any kids But I think I just might have to play with some salt all by myself.

  18. What an amazing idea! Im excited to let my kids try it. I’m sure they’ll have a great time creating with salt. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad I found your blog!
    Ing recently posted…Let The Children Play… With SandMy Profile

  19. This is beautiful. I love the artwork they created. It’s great how they came home inspired to imitate.

  20. This is amazing and I can’t wait to try it myself! Thank you for sharing and I’ll be featuring it on The Crafty Crow!
    Cassi recently posted…Macrame Dolls Made From T-Shirt YarnMy Profile


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