“No paint to spill, no mess.”
In 1967, Lakeside Toys released a children’s painting set that used cotton to “magically” create a mess-free colouring activity.
The science behind the magic lay in cotton’s ability to absorb and retain paint colours after it dries. To begin a session of painting, children rolled a half-inch piece of soft, fluffy, coloured fiber onto a pointy pencil-shaped wooden stick and dipped it into a plastic water well that was built into the packaging. Rehydrating the dried cotton in this way resulted in a simple paint brush that was relatively drip- and spill-free. Kids could alternate between using the tip for fine lines and the sides for broad strokes.
Lakeside offered two Cotton Magic Paint Sets. The basic set provided five non-toxic colours (green, yellow, blue, red, and orange), while the deluxe set increased a palette of ten colours. The larger set also featured a selection of pre-drawn pictures of popular cartoon figures from the company’s stable of licensed characters that could be filled in with paint.
Even with magic, accidents may still happen, so Lakeside ensured the paints in each set were washable.