Spin Art

Make spin art with paper tops and learn about mixing colors! Start with primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Then try secondary colors: green, purple, and orange. What colors can you make with your top?

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Cut the colored paper into half inch strips. You will need between 5 and 10 strips. Take one strip and tape one end near the tip of the toothpick.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Tightly roll the paper around the toothpick.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    When you get to the end of the first strip, tape it to the end of the second strip and continue rolling.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the paper roll is about three-fourths inches in diameter. When you're done, test out your top by spinning it. If it doesn't spin well, try rolling the paper roll more tightly.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Tape the cardstock to a hard, smooth surface (like a desk). Drip one drop of each paint color near the center of the paper.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Now, you can create your own spin art! Spin the top in the middle of the paper and watch it migrate towards the drops of paint or dip the top into the paint, give it a spin, and follow its path by tracing the paint lines! Look at how the colors begin to mix together as you spin the top more and more. How can you make the top spin longer? Can you tilt the cardstock to make the top move more? Experiment further by varying the width of your paper strips and the diameter of the paper roll or using different colors of paint and seeing how they mix.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Learn moreMagnifying graphic

    What’s going on? Your paper top works in the same way as any toy spinner: thanks to the laws of physics. The rolled-up paper at the bottom of the spinner gives the spinner a lot of weight. Once the spinner begins to spin, this weight creates a lot of angular momentum, which just means that the spinner will continue to spin for a long time unless some outside force is able to slow it down. This angular momentum also keeps the spinner upright as long as it’s still spinning. You can increase this angular momentum by wrapping more paper around the bottom of the spinner, which should allow the spinner to spin for even longer.

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