I like to paint homemade soaps with powdered mica – usually gold or sometimes iridescent glitter – in particular the ones I do in fancy molds or the ones that I stamp.
I wouldn’t call them strictly natural but I am more comfortable painting with them than the ultra marines etc. (to be fair I am not up on current ingredients in soap colourants and did just purchase a little set of soap paints that I haven’t tried yet.)
When I painted my Halloween soaps I tried something different. I needed a black and only had Midnight Black Australian Clay. I did a test run at trying it dry like I usually do my micas but the particles were too big so they didn’t stick.
I decided to try wetting it with water, not expecting much. Since the soaps are orange and black and I did put some gold mica on them, I also added a touch of the mica to the mix as well.
Eureka! It worked really well. The painted on black clay looks as good as I could hope for, so I tried a few more.
THE BASIC RUNDOWN
I had mixed results. This seems to be the basic rundown.
It’s better to use your brush to put a few drops of water onto a plate and then use the brush to put a bit of clay in the water and mix with the brush.
Add a bit of water or clay as seems fit. Otherwise it’s hard to get the exact right consistency. The other colours that I tried didn’t come out as well as the black, probably because they are lighter and I was experimenting on larger surfaces, which brings me to …
A FEW TIPS
- It seems to work best if you highlight smaller areas than paint larger areas. Not to say that it can’t be done, it would depend on colour and soap/background.
- It works much better with a little mica or iridescent glitter mixed in. It takes away from the flat tone but it also seems to spread nicer. It could be that the small partical size helps with this, giving a smoother finish.
COLOURS TO EXPECT
French Pink Clay turns brownish – maybe you could call it a deep dusty rose.
French Green Clay will give a nice light green tone that isn’t very solid.
Calamine Powder gives a nice pink colour, best when mixed with iridescent glitter.
French Yellow clay gives a mustard like colour, when mixed with gold glitter it brightens a little. Could be good for flowers or sunflower soap.
Painting your soaps in this way can really jazz up a soap made in a mold such as Milky Way or Fine Art Molds. It is time consuming, taking your soap more into the realm of artwork than skincare only (that’s the greatest thing though, since it is being done on ‘real’ soap, it is still high quality skincare as well).
If you are selling, due to the time it takes you will want to be selling them at a good price, a novelty gift shop would be a great place to take them. Once you get onto it, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but it is certainly slower than doing soap blocks with a cutter. If you wrap them drawstring bags, it can cut processing time and improve the look further.
If you are doing them as a hobby, you may love to give this a try. Painted fancy mold soaps can really be a nice decorating touch – either alone at your sink or in a basket on display.
And they are also very enjoyable to use. Plain soaps can really be jazzed up – maybe in an instance where you want to give a gift to someone who has sensitive skin and can’t use just any old soap or if they have a favourite that is quite basic and you want to give a selection as a gift, or if they cannot tolerate scent you can make it up with style.
HOW TO PAINT HOMEMADE SOAP WITH CLAYS AND MICAS
The method is quite simple after a little trial and error.
Here’s how I’ve found it works best.
- Put a tiny bit of water in a bowl or plate.
- Add a bit of clay and mix it up. You don’t need much to go a long way, I mixed up about 1/8th of a teaspoon. Add a wee touch of mica, a very little goes a long way. It wll disperse easily into your clay/water mixture.
- A small, flat paint brush works best, of course it will depend on what you are painting and the effect you are going for. In some instances a thin, fine point brush may also be needed or preferred.
When working with any item of fine particles always be sure to have plenty of ventilation and do not breathe the article directly (for instance do not try to smell a bag a mica – it will be like snorting it straight up your nose!)
If you are working in an area with sun streaming in you may actually be able to see the mica particles floating in the air to give you an idea of how ‘airborn’ they are.
If they get in your lungs they can be irritating. I basically try not to breathe too close to the dry material. A dust mask may even be called for if you are doing a lot of soaps. Good ventilation can never hurt, just be sure there is no breeze that could stir up more mica/clay dust, especially if you are down wind.