Sunday, September 8, 2013

NFC North Soaps

Are you ready for some football??  I am!  To celebrate the fall and the first football game (my Vikings vs DH's Lions), I decided to make some NFC North football soaps.  I first made a Lions soap, because my husband is a HUGE Lions fan.

The first soap is nice, but I didn't like two things - first, the blue is really light (see the Lions hat to the left), and second, the fragrance (Beach from WSP) really accelerated on me, so the swirls didn't come out quite as I had pictured.

On my second try, though, I was so happy.  I really love this soap!  It is scented with NG's Green Tweed, and both the colors and design turned out just as I had wanted!!

Look at how well this color matches!  I feel awesome looking at it :)

Next, I moved on to the Green Bay Packers, because I have many Packers fans friends.  It's scented with BB's Coconut Lemongrass FO.

I really love how this mica top turned out - I wish I'd thought of doing it on the Vikings soap instead :/

Here's the finished product - it's a really pretty Packers soap.  (too pretty, my fellow Vikings fans have said...)
And finally, to my pièce de résistance - the Vikings soap!

I used LabColors to make the purple and gold of this soap.  When I first mixed the purple, though, it was this crazy blue color.  I wish I had taken a photo before I put it in the oven, because the blue / purple on the entire top of the soap loaf was really beautiful.  You can see the color on the side of the mold below - it was more of a Lions Blue than a Vikings Purple before I heated it up...

Straight lines are not my specialty, but I really love the effect of the colors and lines - looks like football to me!

This soap makes me feel proud, too!  It's a gorgeous color, and the purple is a nice, deep purple.
But where is the Bears soap, you may ask?  I didn't make one.  Because the Bears still suck :)

Hope you all had a good Sunday, and even though my Vikings didn't win, our household is happy because the Lions did win!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fall / Holiday Scents

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love that the air gets crisp and cool, I love the smell of the dying leaves, I like that we don't have to mow the lawn so frequently, and the colors we get up north are so beautiful!

I've been testing out some fall fragrances to add this year, and here are some pics!

This is a blend I made using BB's Almond Biscotti FO, some coffee EO I had at home, and a little cocoa powder to make the base of the cupcake a bit more tan.  This fragrance smells ah-mazing!  I even keep one cupcake up in the living room while it cures so I can smell it whenever I want :)  The blend with the coffee EO is so fabulous - I just wish the coffee EO wasn't so expensive.  This is definitely a limited-production blend.  (side note- I think I've finally figured out the right consistency to pipe soap designs.  I am so impatient, I never wait long enough.  I think I finally nailed it on these cupcakes).

Ok, this next one is not a traditional fall scent, but I wanted to show off this cool halo effect the woad powder gave these swirls in this Caribbean Coconut soap.  We got married in the Bahamas last year less than one week after Hurricane Sandy passed through, so these colors and swirls remind me of a Bahamas hurricane.

Last year, I tried to make some Fresh Snow soap, but I ended up forgetting to scent the soap before I poured it in the mold.  This design is just what I was going for, using BB's vertical mold.  I love the scent, I love the colors, I love it all :)

And last, but not least, is my Gingerbread Cookie soap.  This is such a delicious fragrance - it smells just like a gingerbread cookie!  It's a nice, round fragrance that is not too sugar-forward.  The soap batter was not quite thick enough to suspend the gingerbread man embeds, but I feel happy with how this soap looks and smells.  I used a vanilla stabilizer to help prevent the soap from discoloring too dark.

I am looking forward to trying a few more fall fragrances coming up.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Playing with LabColors

I have been having so much fun lately with colors.  I had ordered the sample LabColors from BB a few months ago, but I haven't tried to play with them until recently.  I read the instructions on how to use the LabColors, and while using them diluted is preferred, you can also use them undiluted in drop-sized amounts.

I had 2 new BB scents - Berrywine and Spiced Mahogany - that I wanted to try out for my fall soaps.

First, the Berrywine.  I didn't love this scent out of the bottle - it smelled too similar to red wine that has gone stale.  I used the (undiluted) formulation for Wineberry Mist in my packet (1 part red, 1/2 part emerald), squeezed the color drops directly into the soap, and mixed the color in the soap with the tiny blender.  I wanted to try a color gradation, and I'm really like how the layers turned out.

You can see that there are specs of colors in the layers.  This is because I didn't dilute the LabColors and I just added each drop directly to the soap, instead of mixing the color and then adding the entire color to the soap.  The scent also really mellowed over time, and now it smells really nice and bright - no longer like the day after a party.  I will definitely make this soap again!

Next, I tried Spiced Mahogany.  I was super excited about this, because I've always wanted to smell like Ron Burgundy's apartment (Anchorman reference - I love that movie...).  The fragrance has discolored because of the vanilla.  I made one layer using the suggested formula for Oyster (1 part canary, 1 part peach, 1 part royal purple).  Same spotty problem as the berrywine soap above, but I am really loving this scent!  It's a nice masculine scent, but I don't think it's off-putting.

After this initial run, I found my Germall Plus preservative, some 2 oz bottles I had around (I needed 8 oz for the fully diluted 10 ml LabColor bottles, but 2 oz bottles are all I had, so I scaled the water and the LabColors added down to 1/4 of the instructions).  After all my LabColors were diluted, I made this Wish Upon A Star soap with WSP's Beneath The Stars FO.  I really love this scent.  I wanted to make the soap look like nightfall, so I used LabColors, because they will bleed and blend the layers, and this gave me an excuse to use them, now diluted!

I love how this turned out!  The embeds were nice and sharp, and the layers did bleed, which had just the effect I was looking for!  And the scent is really heavenly (see what I did there?  haha!).

Hope everyone is enjoying their day!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rebatching Salt Bars - a mostly picture-free tutorial :)

Sometimes when things go wrong, I just don't want to document that I've had a "learning opportunity".  I regret that choice in this case, because I learned a lot through my salt bar mishap.  I will try to paint you pictures with words for this tutorial.

I made a loaf of salt bars one weekend morning.  I knew they'd be ready to cut in 2-5 hours, but I had only 2.5 hours before I had to leave for the weekend.  I was using a Brambleberry 5 lb mold with a sliding bottom and a silicone liner so that I had nice, crisp edges.  I slid the soap and liner out of the mold before I truly realized how soft it was!  I tried to maneuver everything back into the mold, but half of the soap ended up sliding up and out of the mold, creating a really tall mess of soap.

Since we were in a hurry to leave for the weekend, I let the soap blob sit and figured I'd think of something when I got home the following day.  I did a lot of research on rebatching salt bars, but I seemed to only find instructions to crumble up the bars and use them in new soap batches.

I decided to try to rebatch in my crockpot, just to see what would happen.  Since I had tried to rebatch only about 30-35 hours after I made the bars, they were not rock hard yet (my recipe is 80% coconut oil, 15% avocado, 5% castor, and 60% salt to oils - I think this lower percentage of salt kept the bars softer a little longer).  I salvaged the half of the recipe that stayed in the same shape as it was poured.  I painstakingly crumbled up the blob, stuck it in a crockpot on high, and let it sit for a half hour.  I didn't add oil or water, since the bars were so fresh.  Checked after a half hour, and it looked exactly like when I first put it in.  Checked in another half hour.  No change.  Kept checking, and *finally* 3 hours later, the soap had completely melted and was in a perfect consistency to put in a mold.  I made sure to mix up the melted soap again before I stuck it in the mold.  A few hours later, it was ready to be cut.

What's cool is that it's very difficult to tell the rebatched salt bars from the original - the soap melted so well there were no textured pieces remaining to give away the fact that it was rebatched!  I don't plan to rebatch salt bars going forward, but it's nice to know it can be done!  I have only tried with relatively soft, fresh soap - I'm not sure whether this would work for older, more cured bars, though - if anyone has tried, I'd love to hear about it!

The soap on the left is the rebatched salt bar - the one on the right is what I was able to salvage before The Rebatch.
The rebatched bars also seem a little less crumbly than the original bars after they've been curing for a few weeks, but otherwise, I don't notice a difference between the two, which is awesome!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rebatch Soaps (and some beer soaps for good measure)

I've been really enjoying hot processing my soap lately, so I wanted to show off some of my most recent creations:
This is a Cucumber Wasabi Cilantro fragrance that I HP'd - I wanted to get the flecks of color in the bars, kind of like granite.  I'm pleased with how the purple and green really did accent these bars.
This is a Pink Himalayan Salt bar that I rebatched (post to follow) . I love the color that the salt adds to the bar.

It's time to think about beer soaps.  I have really enjoyed making them in the past, including the Guinness soap I made last year, because beer makes the lather nice and fluffy and gives the soap a great toasted caramel fragrance.  I added white kaolin clay to these two beer soaps for a little extra exfoliation.

It's been a week since I made the Oatmeal Stout soap, and the scent has finally calmed down - I had to put it in the garage while it's been curing because the entire house has started to smell like this soap.  I like the scent, but it was incredibly overpowering at first!
The one uses BB's Oatmeal Stout FO, and has some swirls of activated charcoal. 

I do really like the soap now that the scent has faded.
I also made a berry beer-y soap :)  This one has some raspberry beer that my parents gave to me for soaping and a berry vanilla FO.  I added some pink kaolin clay for color, and I'm in love with how this soap smells and looks.
Even though the round soaps can be a pain to make, I really like how they fit in my hand!

Until later!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Soaps (and gratuitous dog pictures)

Wow - time really flies!  I can't believe it's been so long since I've sat down and written a blog post.  I always tell myself I want to be more disciplined about this kind of stuff, and of course once I've made a decision to do something regularly, I no longer want to do it :)

I wanted to showcase my new soaps that I've made in the last month or so, but before I do, here are some spontaneous pictures I got of Hannah & Hobbes earlier today when they were investigating soap I was planning to photograph.  I guess they're not the Lead Soap Sniffer and Lead Soap Investigator for nothing!

Hobbes was laying in the sunbeam, looking so adorable, I had to try to get a picture.

Soon, Hannah came over to investigate why I was paying so much attention to Hobbes.

She had to prove she could do model poses, too :)

My two-headed dog monster

I love it when Hobbes does that head tilt thing.  It's like he's saying "Well, Hannah is how she is, what can I do?"

Now that those photos are out of the way, here are some pictures of soap :)

This one is a Black Raspberry Vanilla swirl - I wanted to try the feather mantra swirl - I am pleased with how it turned out!
I tried out two manly fragrances - Barber Shoppe and Santa's Pipe from WSP.  
Barber Shoppe accelerated trace on me a ton, but I was able to tamp the mold many, many times to get the layers to stick together and eliminate as many air bubbles as possible.  They are really only visible on the sides.  

Kris loves this scent, but my favorite is the Santa's Pipe - it's the first time I worked with a vanilla stabilizer, due to the high vanillin content of this fragrance.  This soap makes me happy that I make (and can keep) as much soap as I want - I am absolutely in love with this fragrance, and I may not share with anyone else :)

It's a perfect cherry tobacco scent - comforting, but not smokey.  I'm definitely reordering this fragrance!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Wednesday!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lye Safety and New Soaps!

My former set up for soap making was in a room with a cement floor using a relatively flimsy wooden base with a door on top laid flat for the working surface.  It was mostly level and mostly sturdy, and it was nice and wide so I had room for all of the dishes needed for my soap.  I knew I needed a better set up, but I had been dragging my feet on building something different.

I say that in the past tense, because recently I had a pretty scary lye spill that forced me to be more proactive on building a sturdy soap work bench for myself.  I set the container with my lye solution on the part of the table where the hinge of the door was on accident, and it spilled EVERYWHERE!  What's worse is that Hobbes was also with me, and when I yelled at him to get out of the room, he got so scared and curled up into a little ball.  So, I took gloves off and brought him out of the room, and went back to control the damage. As everyone hopefully knows by now, lye solution is very dangerous - the lye solution completely ate the paint on the floor where it spilled!  For anyone who has been feeling lax about lye safety - let this accident be a warning to everyone to continue to exercise good caution around lye and raw soap.

So, luckily I (and Hobbes) were unharmed, and the only real damage was to the floor paint.  I researched and found this work bench plan, and bought the hardware to make it.  I enlisted the help of my husband and dad to build this "two hour" bench.  Probably an experienced carpenter could make this bench in two hours, but not me.  I cannot tell you how many trips I had to make to the hardware stores nearby.  I kept going to different ones so that the employees would't recognize me :)  I powered through, though, and got it done!  I feel so good about myself now that this is built and level!

Here is the final product - I can't wait to start creating again!!  This bench is great - it has a 6" long work surface with 2 shelves, it's really sturdy and can hold a significant amount of weight, and I have a cool hanging light that I was able to attach right to the bench for plenty of light as I'm creating.  Best of all, the design created nearly no waste of wood!

My favorite part is the counter top I found for the workbench surface.  It raises the bench up another inch, which makes it more comfortable for me.  The bench is 30" deep and has 4" wide ledge in the back, but the counter top is only 24" deep and has a ridge in the back.  This makes it a perfect place for me to put the containers with lye or fragrances out of the way so they don't get bumped and spill everywhere.  Love it!

Before The Spill, I was playing around with some more design ideas for the Pinkberry Mimosa FO that I've really loved lately, and here is a Tiger Stripe version with heart embeds:

I'm glad the Tiger Stripe came out well - I want to make a signature soap for Hannah and for Hobbes, and I thought it'd be fun to have something tiger-related (either color or pattern) for him.

Happy Thursday, everyone!