I’m pretty stoked because here lately my projects have NOT been turning out. I’ve been cranking out ideas and acting on them but a lot of them have just flopped or not produced consistent results. A lot of it is since I cut myself a little bit ago I’m terrified of hurting myself again. It’s kind of nuts-o, really. Even a pair of scissors gets me a little anxious. And so I’m working on other things that, hopefully, won’t produce any kind of emergency situation while I get my craft legs back under me, haha! Today’s project is really simple but is great to dd a little extra flair to your melt and pour soaps by painting them. I’ve gone through lots and lots of ideas and concepts I have found and quite a few of them produced lackluster results, but I did lots of experimentation and I can tell you know, this tutorial is bang on. Learn how to paint soap with long-lasting designs & great results!
It’s mostly before I go to bed that I find myself randomly wandering the internet on my phone and I started off trying to find some tips and tricks for painting with soap in the bottom of my molds and what I learned didn’t help me at all when I tried to put it into practice with this sweet Easter egg shaped silicone mold I found at Walmart. Straight up, the curved sides just made my piped liquid soap pool at the bottom making my mold not a contender for adding color in this way. While I was trying to figure out the perfect way to do this with my particular goal of soap painting in mind things went wonky as they often do. It’s 10:30 at night somehow I’ve gone from soap to suddenly realizing that I must find the most perfect shrimp scampi recipe for supper the next day (pin the most amazing shrimp scampi recipe for later over here…) And this leads me to wonder, are shrimp everywhere in the world? Why? I don’t know it’s just how my mind goes. What does this have to do with soap? Absolutely nothing. But because I’ve piqued your curiosity, yes, shrimp are common all over the world and, in fact, there are over 2,000 species of shrimp on our planet.
Things always somehow evolve to the macabre. I’m looking up a shrimp recipe and the road I go down leads me to respond “reading about England’s first female serial killer” when Mr. Rob asks what I’m doing. She was Mary Ann Cotton, by the by, and if you’re interested there is a mini-series called Dark Angel about her.
Who knows. Maybe you’re here in the same manner I find myself in different places on the internet. One very distinct purpose leads to another page, another clicked link, a random thought that suddenly needs to be researched and then you’re suddenly terrified of spray deodorant because you happened on a Wikipedia about the strangest ways people have died. Like, for real. I’m a little terrified of spray deodorant right now for just that reason :)
But hey, let’s get back to painting soap, right? I eventually found myself on some forums for Etsy sellers, a great go-to resource for DIY since these people sell their wares and really, really don’t want to deal with negative feedback and try to do things right, I got some great ideas. And I compiled a list and tried everything and this is what worked out.
Want to learn how to paint soap that will keep the design for more than a single wash? This painted technique will last for many washes staying pretty for a good deal of time making your effort worth the time!
For this project you will need:
- Melt and Pour Soap (I used Stephenson Goat’s Milk Base)
- Soap Colorant
- Fragrance or Essential Oils
- Soap or Other Mold (mine is an Easter Egg silicone mold meant for baking)
- Mod Podge Sealer
- Acrylic Paints
- Super Soft Bristled Brushes
This is my mold and I was super excited to find it in the Easter section at Walmart but I also found the same design in different colors on Amazon. In the middle of Walmart I literally yelled across the aisle to Rob looking at toothpaste, “look, it’s the perfect size for a bar of soap”. To which he replied with a shrug. :)
Since the egg shape is rounded when I’d color my soap and try to pipe it into the deeper areas meant to design the end result, the soap would just run down the curve and pool into the bottom. This is the perfect time to paint soap to embellish it.
To get started tint your soap with your fave colorant and allow it to set up at room temperature. Don’t put it in the fridge because that can sometimes cause it to sweat and we need dry, dry, dry soap.
Allow to stay in the mold at least a few hours and then remove and place pretty side up to air out at least overnight.
Now acrylic paints want to glob up on soap normally. Go ahead and try it on a piece of junk soap and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’ve read to prepare the soap with cornstarch or baby powder to “dry” the surface, I suppose, but all I get is a clumpy nightmare of a mess. What we are going to do instead is seal the bars before we even get started.
Using your favorite Mod Podge formula, apply 1 thin coat to the pretty side of your soap. Leave the back side free so that the bar can still lather up. Allow the Mod Podge to fully dry at least a few hours and repeat for a total of 3 coats.
I found that I could use just about any formula but Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge works super well if you want to brush your sealer on. Since it is somewhat waterproof it will stay on your bar through a good number of uses meaning your paint stays put, too.
I personally prefer using a spray sealer in a matte or satin finish to keep from getting brush strokes already going on the surface of the soap. When we paint, there will be some texture from the brush and to keep that to a minimum, spraying produces a super smooth and wonderful basecoat that I just love. In my attempts, I used both Mod Podge brand sealer which held for several washes and I also used some spray polyurethane and the designs on those bars are still going strong halfway through the soap. Though I don’t think using a spray is a bad idea, I had read that poly is considered by some woodworkers to be considered food safe after curing a month and so I’m figuring the same could be said for your soaps if you want to have the long, long-lasting finish the spray polyurethane provides over the brushed on Mod Podge.
Okay. So, you’ve got 2-3 coats of sealer on the pretty side of your soap and it’s all nice and dry, right? The surface should feel slicker now and less sort of sticky. You can rub the back and front side of the soap to compare if you’re naturally inquisitive like me.
Start by placing a small amount of craft acrylic paints onto palette paper or a paper plate. For this project using runnier paints is actually better than thicker paints. I tend to like Martha Stewart brand acrylic paints because the colors are lovely and the paint is nice and thick BUT it wound up being too thick for this project. Using a much less expensive bottle of yellow from Apple Barrel produced the best result straight out of the bottle, but you can also use water to make your thicker paints runnier and better for this project.
For the best results apply 3-5 very, very thin coats of paint onto your decorative areas with a very fine, very soft bristled brush. Rough bristles will cause some crazy texture in the paint. Overloading your brush with super thick paint will also create heavy brush strokes with strong texture. See the purple zig zag? The first coat was using thick paint straight out of the tube and you can see lines in the finish where it was brushed on.
The pink dots in the center show how well multiple coats work well toether. The left dot is 2 coats and the center is just 1. Be sure to allow the paint plenty of time to dry in between coats for the best results.
Once you are happy with your design and the paint is dry give the decorative side only another coat of sealer to keep the design intact for as many uses as possible.
When using the top part of the bar won’t lather since it’s been sealed. See how it almost looks like plastic?
The back side of the soap is what will lather up making the soap still perfectly useable. Cool, right?
Though this does take quite a bit of time because of all the waiting around you do, the results are super stunning and the actual work is super easy. Give yourself an extra few days to make painted soap to allow for all of the drying time and you’ll be set and making some super pretty soaps!