2018 September Soap Challange Soap Entry
This was hands down the most spectacular of the 4 attempts I made. It was also the 4th one!
This months Challenge was a tricky one, called the “Mini Drop Swirl”, and it was a tough nut to crack! I immediately was inspired by some hand blown wine glasses that are my favorites here in the house. I used these as my inspiration to make all the attempts at this design.
To create this soap, I followed the tutorial provided by the Soap Challenge Club on the website, as well watching multiple videos on YouTube. I used my own created soap recipe, which is comprised of Lard, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea butter, Castor Oil, and Beef Tallow. I also added a bit tussah silk for luxury and a dash of sugar to the lye mixture to get the extra bubbles everyone loves in a good bar of soap! I used the scent “Clean Cotton” by itself for this challenge, as I know it behaves well.
My colors were a blend of different micas as well as a natural colorant. To get that deep distinctive blue, I used woad, which is a natural plant colorant that I am particularly enamored with. However, it doesn’t always behave like it should, or keep it’s color. To help it along, and lighten it up a tad, I used a blend of a few other micas as well as some titanium dioxide.
The other colors are all mica’s, most blended with TD to help lift them and give them opacity that is needed for yellow in particular. That beautiful red is mostly thanks to Nurture Soaps Really Red, that I have been a fan of since the day I brought it home. The rest are mostly from Soap Box Micas, who are a smaller company, but one I really love!
To achieve this look, I mixed all my colors ahead of time in sunflower oil, blended my recipe, and let my lye solution and oil batter blend come to room temperature. I added the lye, and blended with a bit of stick blending bursts till it was emulsified. I then divided my batter into 2 containers which I weighed to make sure were even, and added the scent to both containers and then hand mixed it in.
The first got the base color added, and then the second container was divided into the already prepared wide mouth condiment squirt bottle. (I lined all of them with sandwich bags to make clean up easier, which was a Great tip from one of the other soapers! )
I filled the mold (the smaller Tall and Skinny from Nurture Soaps) a little over 1/2 way with the base color, (that lovely navy) and then got out the squirt bottles. I aimed down and used a fair amount of pressure. I had learned from my prior 3 attempts, that if I made a little bit of flatter line, and then followed directly over that with lots of pressure, that I could get these encapsulated drops that I found so interesting. I also discovered that I could get the direction of the bottles to make the soap drops really wiggle around, which went with the look I had in my head.
Then came the long process of doing the above, with multiple lines and squirt bottles of soap about a million times. I had learned from my first batch, that I would have a good bit of extra soap, but that I also wanted a neat topper. Knowing this, I had held back a little of the Navy base so I would have a clean surface.
After I had a thin layer of the navy base covering the lines below, I then started to pipe these glorious little marbles! I had initially wanted to try something slightly different (I had planned on them all seeping into each other) but the soap had started to thicken by that point, so the layers didn’t come down and blend. They just stayed there as happy little marbles. After the first two did the same thing, inspiration struck, and I immediately knew what I would do! I quickly piped the base colors in, then alternated with other colors and sizes, till every color had been both on the bottom and on the top and middle. I also varied the sizes and the locations.
I won’t lie, when I got to this part of the bar, I was literally gleeful! This was by far the most fun I had had making soap, and it was coming out so neat!
After I had finished the top, I took about a million pictures, sprayed it with 99% alcohol and then placed the loaf in the oven with another loaf made earlier. I then tried to pretend I hadn’t made this soap, so I wouldn’t open the oven a million times. I failed.
I un-molded the soap the next day, and it was still just a bit soft. I ended up letting it rest outside the mold for a little, then cut it. (Cutting video is on our Facebook page if anyone would like to see it!) If you watch the video, you can hear my voice pitch change as I got a look at what the inside looked like. Perfection! This was Exactly what I was hoping for, though the drops did travel farther down into the soap then I had envisioned, the effect was stunning!
After the cut, the soap was allowed to rest for a day, and then I beveled them. I don’t like the commercial bevel tool I currently have, so use a potato peeler. It means that my cuts aren’t always exact, as I can make a mistake, but I like that I have some control over all of it, and I can be mindful of the cute tops!
Then pictures! Oh my goodness pictures. This was Way harder then making the soap. Amy had encouraged us to make light boxes and get Good photos of our soap, so I listened. I made a cardboard light box, and pulled out my iPhone, and got to snapping! I only have one light, so many of the photos had some shadows. I ended up getting a friend to help me lift some of those shadows, and I have the before and afters on the Facebook site to show them off! Amazing what a bit of white balance does.
This has been such a great challenge, and I really learned so much! It was exciting to participate, and I really look forward to the future challenges!