DIY Art Brush Soap Using ZOTE Soap

 

Once upon a time, a few months ago, I ran out of my store-bought “professional grade” brush soap. I had a bar of ZOTE soap around from when I was experimenting with making my own laundry soap, and decided to try it on my brushes. The soap worked great, especially on synthetic brushes, but was a little drying on my natural brushes. The ZOTE soap has a higher fat (Sodium tallowate) content than your typical bar of bath soap.

I decided to experiment a little since a huge bar of soap ZOTE is only 98 cents in the US. Before throwing away brushes with dried paint, try soaking it in ZOTE soap overnight. You can also use this soap to wash off major part of the dirt and use a more expensive soap at the end, to save some money. Got paint on your clothes? Rub ZOTE soap onto the spot before washing. I have also seen liquid pink soap sold in a small bottle for almost $5 at the art store. As an artist who paints almost daily, every penny counts when it comes to buying materials and supplies. I decided to show how I make my brush soap cleaner in a can:

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Ingredients:

1 Bar ZOTE soap (pink or white)

2 ½ cups of water, or as much needed to barely cover soap

1 Tablespoon of safflower oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. I like safflower oil the best and, on its own, makes a great conditioner for your brushes.

1 reusable plastic tub, or can

Optional: 4 drops of lavender essential oil (used in many professional soap cleaners)

Note: ZOTE soap is drying on the hands, so make sure you rub a few drops of oil (not essential oil) onto your hands before handling.

Step 1: Chop up the ZOTE soap with a large knife–I believe you can get this already shredded in some places but it is fairly easy to chop.

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Step 2: Place in pot with water and set stove to low-med heat. Stir occasionally to prevent soap from sticking to bottom of the pot.

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Step 3: Wait until the water starts to boil slightly and test soap for consistency. Soap should be easy to mush with a fork or spoon, like mashed potatoes.

Step 4: Pour out extra liquid onto a separate container, squirt, or spray bottle and fill the rest with water. You can use this liquid to clean up messes in your studio, on your kitchen counters, for laundry stains, or whatever you desire.  Add water, as the liquid will firm slightly in the bottle. Here are some uses for ZOTE soap: http://www.happypreppers.com/zote.html

 

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Step 5: Keep mushing and mixing soap together and mix in oils well.

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Step 6: Spoon into a container, or can, and press down firmly. Swirl your dirty brushes into the soap and rinse. I like to use a can because the ridges can help gently remove paint from paint brushes without compromising the hairs. You can place in the fridge for an hour to cool, or use right away. Store like you would any soap.

 

If you give this a try, let me know how it works for you!  I will continue to  experiment with different oils and will revise and update if I find something that works better.

If you have any recipes, please feel free to share in the comments!

 

Forsyth Park: Watercolor on Paper

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Forsyth Park: 12″ x 9″ Watercolor on Watercolor Paper: I am loving watercolor for studying light and form.

I’m excited that my website now has a buy button to make it easier to purchase: https://vanessawithun.com/watercolors/
Check out and share!

I just also found out that I will be doing an art show at JEA Gallery in December. I will definitely host a reception this time! This is going to be a busy year, but so thankful for every bit of it!

Why Artists and Creators Should Meditate

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 I had previously read about the benefits of meditation and decided to give it a try. I began meditating for about 10 minutes a day a month ago. I have specifically noticed that I have a more positive outlook on life and I no longer feel like my mind is constantly racing. It is so easy to get caught up with daily life and our minds are saturated with so much information and sensory input that it needs a break to filter out unnecessary information. I have decided to write about the benefits of meditation in hopes that it may help others, especially if you suffer from severe anxiety. Meditation is certainly not a substitution for prescribed therapy, religious practices, or prescribed medication. It is, however, an easy tool to use in combination with other activities that can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Meditation is beneficial if you suffer from any form of mental illness or medical condition. Meditation has been proven to decrease stress, lower blood pressure, improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and even slow down the aging process. According to a study done my Harvard University, meditation even can help repair the grey matter of the brain in about eight weeks (see here). The grey matter of the brain is involved with sensory perception, muscle control, memory, emotions, decision making, and speech.

As we all know, creators and artists use their brain extensively. Training the mind to relax and concentrate is crucial to the creative act. As much as we love Vincent van Gogh’s art, mental illness is not intrinsic to the artistic process. In fact, it is difficult to know what anyone is truly capable of without having the ability to fully explore their creativity in a positive metal state. In the end, meditation can help our brains to perform optimally.

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We all have heard about the process of meditation, but few know how to do it or where to begin. There are many free apps available that guide you through the process of meditation. My favorite so far is the app called “Meditation and Relaxation.” The app has a blue circle with a white background (Link): Just to clarify, I am not a sponsor for the app, but I really like that they walk you through the process step-by-step. There are plenty of other free apps available for your choosing.

If apps are not your thing, the best thing to do is to find 10 minutes a day to sit down somewhere quiet, play soothing music or sounds of nature (no voices), close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. The point of meditation is to be in the present state rather than somewhere else. As your mind wonders, the idea is to bring it back to your body and refocus on your breathing. Letting yourself let go of all your fears and worries that hamper your creative process will do wonders for you. Your brain will naturally learn how to remove or block unwanted or unnecessary thoughts, maintain a positive attitude, and allow you to focus on your goals.

I would love to hear your thoughts on meditation. Have you tried it, and what is your experience with it?