Amino Labs

Canvas Kit - Create Living Paintings

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Create living paintings with colourful bacteria! Great for science class, visual arts class, or as a fun and easy science and art exercise at home. 

The Canvas Kit is a fun first step into learning about biotechnology, genetic engineering, and an exciting new branch of art called BioArt. That's right! You can make art with bacteria! This kit lets you use colourful bacteria to make some beautiful living art.

Further, this kit is the subject of Chapter 3 of the Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book.

    While you do not need any specialized laboratory equipment to complete this kit, a DNA Playground can be used to incubate the paintings for easy and remarkable results. If you do not have an incubator, you can simply place your Petri dishes in the bags provided in a warm spot.

    You can even visit the American Society for Microbiology Agar Art Competition for inspiration and a chance to enter your artwork & win! 

    Fluorescent beach scene painting by Nobel laureate Roger Tsien's research lab. 

    In this kit, you will:

    For this art-meets-science project, you will:

    1. Make your own "painting canvases," called LB agar Petri dishes; a ubiquitous skill in the life sciences.
    2. Create a 'painting palette' and incubate it to have ample paint to use
    3. Paint or stencil the colourful bacteria included in the kit onto three Petri dish canvases.
    4. Incubate them in a warm spot, or an incubator if you have one
    5. Like an invisible ink, you won't see them at first, but as they grow and divide, they will become visible between 12-48 hours and change colour. Your painting will emerge! 
    Timeline for Canvas kit - Amino Labs Bioart kit, Petri dish art kit, microbial art kit for glowing bacteria, bacteria art, bacterial art, living art, STEM science project kit, sciart, great for middle school science, biology, high school, DIY bio, biohacking, home biotechnology
    What's Included & what's required


    • (1) Canvas Kit in Individual or Group size: Sterile water, LB agar, and selective antibiotics, bacteria paintbrushes, Petri dishes (6 cm), colourful bacteria tubes, stencils.  Bacteria included are purple, "invisible-ink" cyan (fluorescent), and magenta (fluorescent). If you have already engineered cells with an Engineer-it Kit and still have them, you can also use those cells with a Canvas Kit!
      • Individual Kits: An individual kit with all the ingredients needed for completing one entire science experience. Great for an individual or a small group.
      • Classroom/Group Kits: Eight individually packaged kits with the needed ingredients to complete eight entire science experiences. 1 shared resources bag containing the coloured bacteria and inactivation bags, which are shared between all participants. Save $165 compared to 8 separate Individual Kits. 
      • Refill Individual Kit:  An individual refill kit with all the ingredients to make 4 new Canvas Petri dishes and use your existing colourful bacteria from another Canvas kit. Great for an individual or a small group. Does not come with colourful bacteria.
      • Refill Group Kit: A group refill kit with all the ingredients to make 32 new Canvas Petri dishes and use your existing colourful bacteria from another Canvas kit. Great for classrooms and groups. Does not come with colourful bacteria.
    • Instructions: a manual with easy-to-understand vocabulary and step-by-step procedures and an online experiment simulation to practice with, teach you fundamentals, and guide you along the way. Available online. 

    The kit must be refrigerated upon arrival for longer shelf life. 

    Necessary equipment: 37 °C incubator recommended but not required. Compatible with the DNA Playground & BioExplorer. 

    Cleaning and safety supplies are not included. These supplies are latex or nitrile gloves, a chlorinated cleaner or a solution of chlorinated bleach in a spray bottle. For more information about safety, set up and clean up, have a look at the instruction manual(s) for your kit or mini lab. 

     What is Bioart

    BioArt (or biology art, petri dish art, bacteria art, bacterial art, microbial art, agar art...) is a new and exciting STEM topic that is being explored by all ages and skill levels. From top art and design schools such as the Royal College of Art in London to Parson’s School of Design in New York City to your school or home, Bioart offers many opportunities to explore the boundaries between science and art. By leveraging the age-old technique of painting and combining it with the cutting-edge activity of growing genetically engineered cells, your students can express what is important to them through a visual arts activity while doing and practicing science.

    Bacterial painting is a uniquely rewarding and challenging form of art because the “paint” is actually living. It grows and changes through time! This is unlike traditional painting, where once your paintbrush stroke lands on the canvas, it doesn’t change unless you add or mix something into it. The outcome of your bacterial paintings is a mix of your strokes, the temperature at which you incubate, the length of time that you allow the cells to grow, and whether anything else in your environment landed on your canvas. Your very own living art!

    Shipping Times

    Experiment kits are shipped 1-5 working days after you place your order. If you require yours for a specific date or event, please contact us before or with your order # so that we can try to make it happen for you! ☺︎ 

    The experiment kit(s) must be refrigerated upon arrival for a longer shelf life.