Thursday, April 25, 2013

Soap Challenge #3 - Mica Swirled Tops

I am a little behind on my challenges...  I'm really enjoying doing them, but as this is a pretty busy time, I haven't had as much time to play with these new techniques as I wanted.  Having said that, I was a little apprehensive about doing mica swirled tops.  I've seen blog posts by Emily at Sheih Design Studio with her amazing and creative mica tops, and I was a little intimidated to try myself.

I looked at what cool micas I had that would be good for a swirl, found that I had a beautiful gold mica from Brambleberry and built a recipe around that mica.  I had some lemongrass essential oil and wanted to try a blend with spearmint EO, and the colors that made the most sense to me were yellow and green.  I had some spearmint leaves for some texture in the soap, and I felt good to go.

I colored the bottom half yellow, used a cocoa powder pencil line, and made the top green so that I could use the super pearly white and gold micas for the swirl top.  I didn't have any pipettes, but luckily, I had given my husband a molecular mixology set for Christmas which had pipettes, so I repurposed a couple (shhh, don't tell him...)

Here's what the wet soap mica swirls looked like:

I was so pleased with how these turned out!  They kind of look like a tapestry, honestly.  I stuck them in the oven overnight to gel, and the house smelled so good.  The blend was lemongrass, spearmint, and frankincense EOs, but it smells kind of like lemon cake to me right now.

Here's what the soaps look like when cured:

Still looking good!

Some of the beauty of the swirls was lost when the bars were cut, but I really love the colors. If I had a better close up, you could see the spearmint leaves as added texture inside the bar.  Unfortunately, the light wasn't great this morning for pics.

I'm definitely doing this technique again.  I want to try it with textured tops, too.  It was easier than I thought, and it makes these soaps look so polished and fancy!

The only thing I noticed when unmolding, though, is that the mica on top was starting to rub off on my hands...  Has anyone who has tried this technique noticed the same thing? Did I use too much mica?  


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

66 bars of soap on the table ... 66 bars of soap!

So, I worked pretty hard the other night, used up all the log molds I have, and made a bunch of honey oatmeal soap.  I have a palm- and coconut- free recipe for my sensitive skin friends, and I thought I would mass produce some honey soap.  I made 2 large batches - 33 bars each.

That's a whole lot of soap, you say.  Yes, I know, because I had to carry it all out to the garage to cool down, and then back inside once it was cool...

 Here are the first logs I cut into:
These are my 2-lb log molds.  I love them, but I haven't used them much lately.

I love how creamy this soap looks!
I had a 5-lb loaf, too, but I don't have pics of that one.  Interestingly, the freezer paper was all damp when I unmolded, and I had to peel a bunch of little paper bits off of the soap log.  I've never had that happen before.

Here they are after cutting.  The color will lighten in a few days.  I have them curing in their own room so that they do not pick up the scents of the other soaps, since this is an unscented, uncolored batch.
Unfortunately, these batches were not without their issues.  When I tried to unmold the SH mold, I really struggled getting the edge pieces away from the soap.  I should know by now that there's a reason they're difficult to get pulled off, but I just muscled through, and here's what happened when I twisted off one side...
Yep, soap was not ready to be unmolded.  The edge piece has a chunk of my soap attached now.
I will let these 3 logs just wait a little more.  I will unmold them when they're ready and not before :)


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013 - Elemental Swirl

For week 2 of the Soap Challenge, the technique is the Elemental Swirl.  Here is the link to her blog with the pictures of other soaper's creations as well as a little more info on the Elemental Swirl.

I really struggled with what to do with this elemental swirl.  I wasn't sure about the colors to use (I have a relatively limited selection of colorants - mainly oxides, micas, and natural colorants).  I wasn't even sure about what scent I wanted to make.

So, I looked at DesignSeeds for some inspiration:

Inspiration photo from DesignSeeds at:
I love these colors, and I figured I could get close enough with the colorants I have.  For scent, I have had a spearmint and ginger EO blend on my list of things to try.  To balance it out a little more, I added some coriander EO I had laying around (This is a very expensive soap - these EOs aren't cheap...)

I rolled up my sleeves, turned on the Elton John Pandora station on my computer downstairs and started creating.

Here is the soap log before and after cutting.  I really love how the colors turned out!  I didn't have very high expectations for this soap, but it was really fun to do, and I like how it turned out.  The "green" smell of the EO blends and the flower-like colors really make me wish spring was here already.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the cut soap.  The swirls turned out great, but I wish I had poured a little more forcefully to get a wavy pencil line.

One more for good measure:

The colors aren't exactly like the DesignSeeds palette above, but I am proud of how this soap turned out!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Amy Warden's Soap Challenge 2013 - Tiger Stripes

Hey everyone - I have not been as active on the blog this past week or so.  It's getting to be spring here (finally!) and there is so much to do!  I'm working on some pretty exciting things that I should be able to share in the next month or so.

This post is my submission (even though I am blogging too late to be included in Great Cakes Soapworks' list for this week) for her Tiger Stripes challenge.  Many of you are familiar with the challenge, but for those of you who are not, Amy Warden has hosted Soap Challenges for the past two years for soapers to try out new techniques in soap designs and styles.  I didn't participate in this challenge last year, but I am very excited for this year.  She has 4 challenges:  Tiger Stripes, Elemental Swirl, Mica Swirl Tops, and Leopard Spots.

This is the first soap my husband and I worked on together, and it was pretty fun!

He even did the swirls on the tops for the left and center logs!

I decided to use purple, black and white for my tiger stripes in a Black Raspberry Vanilla scent, since I needed to make some more in that scent.  I am using Rich's 3-log set-up of my mold, and I needed my husband to help me out with the pouring.  The reason I used the 3-log set-up is that I wanted to try the tiger stripes at thin trace, medium trace and thick trace to see how this impacts the soap design.

At least that was my theory :)  I really struggled to get the soap even to medium trace for the last log, which was odd.  I guess I was so nervous about it thickening up too quickly that I was light-handed with the mixing.

Here is the first log we poured - it has weird soap flakes on the edges where it was cut.  This was actually the last log cut, and even though I wiped the wires off between cuttings, I may not have wiped well enough...

The second log did not turn out how I expected at all...  I think it's because we didn't do a great job of pouring directly on top of the soap batter line beneath, but it turned out some pretty awesome soaps:

I love the faces on these bars - there were probably 3 or 4 bars that had these faces.  The rest were some kind of impressionistic swirl :)
The third log was the most tiger stripe-like.  In between pouring each log, we stick-blended and whisked the batter to get it to thicken up a little more.  These looked the most clean, even though they weren't exactly what I was looking for:

Here are my favorite two of the bunch:
The faces on the second loaf just crack me up!
Hope you all have a great weekend!