Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE!
ArtistsBillofRights.org reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

DIY: All Natural Tie Dye (with Earth Pigments)!

Tie dyeing is a classic way to add fun, colorful designs to towels, shirts, and different fabrics as a great Summertime craft. But the conventional tie dye kits contain toxic, petroleum based dyes and chemicals that we’d like to avoid. Let’s go back to our ancestral roots and use earth and plant-based ingredients to create the same beautiful results!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup soybeans
  • Water
  • Mason Jar
  • Blender
  • Fabric for straining the mixture (sheer stockings fabric works great for this!)
  • Natural Earth Pigment
  • Reusable bottles
  • Rubber bands
  • Wide tupper ware or bowl
  • Fabric (for dyeing!)

First, here’s how to make the soy milk binder:

(Note: store-bought soy milk does not work as an effective binder!)

1. Add 1/4 cup of soybeans to a mason jar and enough water to completely submerge the soybeans. Let the soybeans sit in the jar overnight.

2. Pour the soybean mixture into a blender and add 3 cups of warm water.

3. Blend the mixture on high for 5 minutes.

4. Prepare your filter by wrapping the top of the mason jar with stockings fabric and securing with a rubber band. 

5. Filter the blended soybean mixture through the fabric. You’ll need to periodically scoop out the soybean pulp that collects in the filter.

 6. Add some soymilk to a large container and dilute with four parts water. (The amount of soymilk used will depend on the size of the fabric you want to dye)

7. Place your fabric in the soymilk mixture. Make sure that EVERY part of the fabric absorbs the soymilk!

8. Hang the fabric outside to dry. In the meantime, begin making the dyes.

Making the dyes:

1. Add 1/2 tablespoon of Natural Earth Pigment to one of your reusable bottles. Add 3-4 tablespoons of filtered soymilk and then dilute with 4 parts water. Shake the bottle to ensure that the pigment is thoroughly mixed. (You can add more pigment for deeper colors)

2. When your fabric has dried, prepare your design. Techniques for different tie dye designs can be found Here.

I prepared a spiral design by pinching the center of the fabric and twisting to form a cinnamon-roll like shape, then using three rubber bands to divide the fabric into 6 sections.

3. Begin to add your dye to the fabric in whatever pattern you choose. Make sure to get between the folds of the fabric as well.

4. Let the fabric sit with the dye overnight. Then remove the rubber bands, rinse off any excess dye, and hang to dry. 

Ta-da! An all-natural tie dye!

 

How to Make Natural Oil Paints

Making your own natural oil paint is not only super quick, easy and economical but it also makes the most archival, vibrant and pure paint on the planet. Unlike tubed conventional oil paints, these paints don’t have fillers (bulking agent), toxic preservatives, heavy metal or petroleum-based pigments, solvents or chemical additives. These paints will last for thousands of years and be 100% lightfast, humidity resistant and won’t off-gas into your home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Quick & Easy….

1. Add a pile of pigment to your mixing palette.

2. Create a small hole at the top of the pile, like a volcano.


3. Add about 30% by volume of oil to the pigment or just add drops of oil and start mixing. You can use a syringe or dropper to make adding oil easier or simply pour carefully from the bottle.

Note: All natural pigments absorb liquid differently and in different amounts, for example green may need a lot more oil to make a thick paste than yellow. Just add drops of oil and mix until a thick paste forms – you don’t want it too liquid.


4. Mix the pigment and oil with your palette knife. 

5. Add more walnut oil as necessary until you reach the desired consistency for your paint – a creamy, thick paste.

6. To store your paint, you can transfer your paint onto a piece of aluminum foil, fold it up, and save it for your next masterpiece. Or put it in a small jar with lid or scoop into an empty aluminum paint tube!

Or if you know you’ll be painting throughout the week you can simply leave it on your palette since it takes over a week before it will dry.

Optional Final Step:

Some artists use a glass muller after mixing their pigments and oil with a palette knife. This is simply to make sure that every single particle of pigment is completely coated in oil and there are no air pockets that my crack a painting surface in the future.

Watch Natural Earth Paint Founder, Leah Fanning, mix a batch of oil paint….

Why is Earth Paint Sacred?

The Mythical Snake:

It’s a well guarded secret by the Aborigines in Australia and it’s forbidden for them to talk about it, but there are many guesses as to why earth paint is considered sacred. It was a general belief among Aboriginal cultures that the geographical features of the land were created by a mythical snake as it journeyed over it. The colored ochre seams were believed to be the “tracks” left by the snake through the earth, and therefore just one remove from touching that god-body.

Dreamtime:

There are probably as many dreamtime stories about red ochre as there are tribes, but most of them have the spilling of blood as the central theme. For example, one dreamtime story is about a handsome man named Kirkin who would stand on a high boulder at sunrise every morning and comb his golden hair, enjoying all the adulation and attention from others. Except one person, a healer named Wyju, who saw right through to his vanity. Kirkin hated him for this and plotted revenge. He tricked Wyju into leaping into a trap of spiked spears. Kirkin laughed while Wyju writhed bleeding into the earth. Ever since, the Aboriginals have gone to that specific valley for red ochre.

Initiation:

Red ochre is an integral part of the initiation ceremony of young boys when they become men. In Arnhemland, novices are smeared with ochre in sacred clan patterns on their chests, with white clay masks on their faces. The paint is part of the secret initiation. Anthropologists say the red earth represents men’s blood (death) or women’s menstrual blood (birth) but there’s another theory that the iron in the red ochre acts as a kind of magnet to show Ancestors and Aboriginal people the way along sacred paths.

Modern Day Aboriginal Art

Recently, modern day Aboriginal art has become very popular around the world, selling for large amounts of money in major galleries and museums. But guess what type of paint they use- acrylics! Perhaps this makes it less complicated for them to represent their secret and sacred Dreaming stories for outsiders if the materials themselves are not sacred. As if by changing the paint, the designs begin to lose the things that make them dangerous and powerful.

Native Americans are also known for their earth-based body paintings and the first white settlers in N. America called them “Red Indians” because of the way they painted themselves with red ochre. It acted as a shield against evil and also protection against winter cold and summer insects. Like the Aboriginals in Australia and most indigenous cultures, they also considered ochre sacred and infused it into their everyday objects like clothing, tools, pottery, rawhide, etc.

DIY Natural Cold Porcelain Clay (without Glue!)

Natural Cold Porcelain Clay is a perfect substitute for toxic polymer clay and allows for even finer detail and ease of sculpting. It’s also incredibly inexpensive and super simple to make. The clay is air-dried so no need for baking and it dries to a light weight, luminous, stone-like texture. Perfect for kids through professional artists. 

The DIY cold porcelain recipes that we found online all called for glue or PVA which can contain dangerous chemicals like xylene and toluene, so instead, we have a simple recipe using only three natural ingredients!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 non-stick pot or skillet
  • Some Natural Earth Paint to decorate your creation!

 

Steps

1. Mix all of the ingredients in the pot/skillet and place on stovetop over medium heat.

2. Keep stirring the mixture until the clay thickens so that the clay can be lifted out of the pot in one piece (this may take up to 10-15 minutes!)

3. Set the clay aside to cool. When cooled, if the clay is too sticky to knead, place it back on the stovetop to heat again. You’ll want the clay to be soft enough to knead, but not too soft where it sticks to your hands like a paste.

4. After the clay is properly cooled, it’s time to CREATE! The clay takes several hours to a day to dry.

Options for coloring your porcelain:

 

I painted this leaf with Terre Verte Natural Pigment.

The possibilities with this clay are ENDLESS! I made this faux white marble ornament by using a cookie cutter and a gray marker.

If you have any leftover clay, store it in an airtight container and keep inside your fridge until you’re ready to create more!

Natural Earth Paint Featured on TV!

Our Natural Earth Paint was featured on Good Day LA during a segment describing the best educational toys for kids!

Nasiba Adilova, the entrepreneur mom behind “The Tot,” talks about eco-friendly and non-toxic products for moms and children, and says our paint is great for kids’ imagination and decision-making.

Check out the video below:

And if you’re looking for some fun Mother’s Day activities for tomorrow, check out our blog post on Natural Mother’s Day crafts!

DIY Natural & Kid-Friendly Slime

Slime just never seems to get old! My 8 year old has loved it his entire life. Most slime recipes that we’ve found online call for a use of chemical glues, petroleum based dyes / pigments and borax that may cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation. 

Here’s an all natural, kid-friendly slime with only 4 ingredients!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs Psyllium Powder (you can find this at various health shops or pharmacies)
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Natural Earth Pigment of your choice (I used ultramarine blue!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • A medium sized pot
  • A whisk

STEPS:

1. Place your pot on the stove top over medium heat.

2. Add in the three dry ingredients. Add the pigment first, then psyllium powder, and then cornstarch, mixing between each addition.

3. Keep mixing with a whisk over medium heat until you achieve the slime consistency you want. I kept mixing for about 10 minutes.

4. Let the slime cool. Afterwards, feel free to play with it or keep it in an airtight container! (Note: Although the slime may leave a few bits on your hands, it won’t stain your skin!)

 

Featured in Green Child Magazine (and more ways to celebrate Earth Day!)

Earth Day is tomorrow and Green Child Magazine features some Kid-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Earth Dayincluding using our Natural Earth Paint products!

The article gives ideas from creating a butterfly garden to visiting a local farmer’s market to celebrate the Earth’s natural wonders. The article also links to Nature-inspired Art Projects + Making Your Own Paints & Brushes written by Natural Earth Paint owner, Leah Fanning!

You can learn how to make natural paints out of materials you have at home such as eggs or milk, and even use the paints to make nature prints!

5 Earth-Friendly Ways to Spend Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd! Here are a few creative ideas for eco-friendly activities you can do with your family!

1. Admire a few eco-friendly artists (or become one yourself!)

This article in Huffington Post highlights a few incredible artists who focus their artwork on sustainability and environmentalism. Many of the pieces are created with either natural materials or recycled plastic!

You can also become an eco-artist yourself! With the Eco Friendly Artist’s Oil Paint Kit, you can create your own luminous and archival paintings without harming the Earth! Made with natural earth & mineral pigments, organic walnut oil and a plant-based solvent. 

2. Make some Earth Pigment Crayons

Christina over at The Hippy Homemaker used our Natural Pigments to create non-toxic, eco-friendly Homemade Wax Crayons! These crayons are a great project you can complete with your kids, and you can use blue, white, and green pigments to create Earth-themed crayon sets!

  • 3. Earth Day Paper Marbling

  • Last week, we shared a blog post on how to do Natural Paper Marbling at home using natural materials! All you need is Methyl Cellulose (a plant adhesive), Natural Earth Pigments, and Walnut Oil to create your very own marbled masterpiece!



  • 4. Beach / Lake Clean Up

  •  


  • And of course, there’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than with taking action to help clean up our planet! Many organizations do planned Earth Day beach, river, or forest clean ups, but you can also just as easily go out and clean up by yourself! 


  • Be sure to bring bags, sturdy gloves (in case of glass), and comfortable shoes. And don’t forget to enjoy nature while you’re there!
  •  

  • 5. Start Composting

  • Last but not least, Earth Day is a perfect time to start a compost bin! Compost is decomposed organic material, like food waste or leaves, that is often added to soil to improve soil structure. Composting helps add nutrients to soil, aids in plant growth, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. 

    Today.com offers a great Beginner’s Guide to Composting to help you get started! Composting is also a great way to keep the Earth Day spirit going throughout the year. It doesn’t need to be Earth Day for us to be eco-friendly!

    DIY Natural Marbled Paper for Earth Day

    In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, we have taken the traditional craft of paper marbling and adapted it into a 100% natural, non-toxic and earth-based activity using earth pigments, walnut oil and a plant based glue. 

    This is a fun and fascinating way to create unique paint designs on paper for cards and decorations. The process works by having the paint sit right on the surface of the water, so that it can easily get picked up by paper.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    (Water marbling is definitely a trial-and-error type of process, so feel free to try different ratios and materials to see what works best!)

    1. Water + Methyl Cellulose. Mix hot water and methyl cellulose in a large, flat container with whisk, using enough so that the water fills the container about 1-2 inches high. I used about 1 tablespoon of methyl cellulose to 4 cups of water.

    • One option for mixing – put hot water and methyl cellulose in a glass jar and shake with lid on until mixed. Let sit until fully dissolved.

    2. The Paint. It’s important to get your paint to the right consistency so that it can easily float on top of the water. I added a small amount of earth pigment to walnut oil in about a 1:8 ratio (enough for the oil to have color, but not so much that the consistency of the oil changes). 

    • The paint can be poured slowly into the container. If the paint does not float, add more oil to the paint. If it forms bubbles slightly under the water, you can easily pop them with a toothpick. You can use the toothpick to create different designs as well.
    • I alternated between green, white, and blue paints to imitate the swirling colors of a globe.

     

    3. The Paper. Try what papers you have on hand but I had the most luck with some scraps of textured cardstock. I set the paper onto the paint and let it sit for a few seconds before carefully picking it up. (Wear gloves if you don’t want your hands to get messy!)

    4. Finalizing Your Design. Let the paint settle onto the paper for several minutes, then carefully run your paper under lightly flowing water to remove any excess paint or thickened water. Let your final design dry for a few hours, then TADA! Feel free to use your water marbled paper in other crafts and projects! You can cut your paper into circles to make small Earth cards! Just in time for Earth Day!