Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Soap Challenge - Final Week

The  leopard spots technique looked really challenging from the beginning, especially with the slowly moving batters that I have had lately! But I couldn´t wait to try it...

I wanted to create a summer, fruity soap. I made a blend of FO/EOs, the dominant tone was grapefruit. My plan was yellow soap with pink and orange spots, and a purple swirl on the top. I chose one of my regular recipes and prepared a stick-blender as I wanted to secure reaching a thick trace. But as soon as my FO/EO mix touched the bowl my soap seized immediately, I didn´t even have time to get surprised! My first seizure!
I wanted to at least colour the soap and to blob it in the mold but the colours didn´t  incorporate so I had to HP it - again for the first time! It was one of the FOs for sure, Green Apple is the greatest suspect. I didn´t know how the scent would hold in the oven, it was very weak so before putting the soap in the mold, I added a little more of this damned Green Apple. After unmolding, my son said it reminded him of something. Yes, it looks like "paté" (I don´t know how to say in English, it´s made from meat and you eat it with bread). It´s funny that so many soaps turn out to look like a sort of meat!
So let´s start again. I had to chose a different scent (obviously not only because I ran out of some FOs). I didn´t give up my idea of fruity soap, so I tried a combo of Watermelon, Cucumber and Lemon, anchored with Cedarwood. This time the trace got thick quite fast as well, but it was manageable. I mixed in the colours and went on the piping. It wasn´t easy at all. I think it is crucial to have thick trace and a good piping bag. With the thick trace I got I had to make a different top, but I like it.
Of course that I got air bubbles, but overall I am pleased with the look, and the scent gets better and better with time. The yellow turned out not as bright as I wanted, but it´s a kind of fruity pineapple yellow and goes well with the fresh scent. Do you want to see the other colourful leopards? You can find them on Great Cakes Soapworks.

I am so happy that I joined the Challenge, I learned a lot! The best thing is to share with others, our stories, successes and failures, to see all the different soaping styles, to read the encouraging comments...
Thank you Amy for these nice moments!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Soap Challenge - Week 3

The third week´s challenge theme is "oil mica swirl". This is for the first time that I am trying it (the same with the other challenge techiques).
I chose to swirl with gold mica, and a combination of blue and yellow for the soap. After my last week´s fluid batter which refused to thicken, I wanted to try the ITP swirl again and decided to combine it with tiger stripes - a kind of revision of the learned techniques. This time I really wanted my soap to come to at least medium trace, so I decided to use buttermilk as usually.
For the scent I made a blend of EOs/FOs - Aloe Vera, Lemon are dominant, a little Peppermint and Lavender, with Cedarwood as a base note. I used TD to whiten the base and then coloured the soap - for the yellow I used Gold mica and a bit of Yellow Oxide, for the shades of blue I used Ultramarine, Yellow Oxide, Black Oxide and Zinc Oxide.
For the top swirl I took a little bit of olive and castor mix from the weighed oils and made quite a thick mixture with mica. At the time of swirling my soap was around medium trace and I found the thicker oil and mica mixture easy to work with.
I was lucky this time - no suprises, the soap behaved properly (which means not many mistakes on my side) - and I am really pleased with the results! Thank you again, Amy, for me the Challenge is mainly a great way to learn and improve my skills. And of course I love looking at other´s beautiful and inventive creations!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Soap Challenge - Week 2

From the beginning I knew this would be a very challenging technique for me! And it really turned out to be one of those soaping adventures...

My idea started with the pencil line - I decided to use golden mica. Regarding the theme and colours, I was thinking about expressing the contrast between light and dark, or yin and jang. For the scent I made a EOs/FOs blend using Almond Milk, Orange, Eucalyptus, Tea tree and Sandalwood.
The night before I had even dreamed about which recipe to use. Finally I decided for the "high percentage of hard oils" recipe as I wanted a white base and didn´t plan to use TD. I like hard oils and butters, use them a lot, usually with milk/buttermilk and no problems so far with trace. But with so many colours and swirling to do I was very careful. I prepared everything, I had a paper with written steps to be able to concentrate fully. For colouring one half I used Activated Charcoal (dark grey), Cocoa powder+AC (brown), Ultramarine+Red Ocre/Red Oxide (burgundy), for the other half White Mica (white), Yellow Oxide (yellow) and Yellow Oxide+White Clay+Red Oxide (Apricot). I didn´t plan to add any other additives, this was enough for me! I took a deep breath and started.
My oils and lye were around body temperature, after emulsification I feeled the heat and got the impression of thickening so I divided the soap to the prepared cups with colours and started stirring. I was lucky that my husband was helping me to take care of all the eight bowls and cups! And we stirred and stirred and the soap was still thin, and as we have a quite cold flat, it lost the heat. I couldn´t use stickblender in the small cups, so more stirring and stirring, I even put everything in the oven for a while and stirred again, this all for at least an hour and a half. When it finally appeared to be a little thicker I lost my patience, swirled and poured. It looked like all the colours mixed completely together and the batter was still super-thin in the mold. So straight in the oven and I had to start tidying up and doing the laundry, just tried to do other things than check the soap every ten minutes. Is it false trace? Bad lye? It behaved really strange. After some  three hours it was still almost pourable but smooth. I relaxed when I caught the soap gelling - after some five hours in the mold!
Today in the morning unmolded, after two hours cut - I was so happy to see the solid soap! My pencil line is barely visible but the colours turned out much better than I expected. I like the look, it goes well with the delicate scent. This techique was really hard for me, but a lot of fun! I will definitely try it again because I like the complex yet subtle look it gives to soaps. All of the Challenge soaps I´ve seen so far are wonderful and very original!

Today I missed swirling, I wanted to do at least a chocolate in the mold swirl when baking a cake - but men had eaten all chocolate, what a pity ;-)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013 - 1st Week

Like other soapers, I love to look at soaps, to see all the different ideas and infinite possibilities. In soapmaking, every slight change of colour, scent, technique, recipe or conditions, changes the overall look...and that´s the soap! Last year as a soapmaker-beginner I discovered Amy Warden´s blog and also the Challenges, and I admired the beautiful soaps! This year, still soapmaker-beginner, I decided to sign in as well and I am so excited to try new techniques and meet other soapers as well!

The goal for the first week was Tiger Swirl. Having a Bubble Gum FO waiting to be used, I got the idea that this technique with its elastic, waving look would match the scent well. So I planned to make a pink and white soap with a small green spot to the side. I made a blend of FO/EO´s using Bubble Gum, Cucumber, Peppermint and Rosewood.

I colored one half of the batch with Pink clay, the other one with TD. I left a small part out and mixed in Ultramarine, Yellow oxide and TD to get the green. At first the soap was moving slowly, but while I was adding the colours it started to thicken - so I went quickly to pouring. Now I think I could have waited a bit longer to get the stripes more distinct. I gelled the soap and finished by painting the top with White mica. I could cut it after 12 hours in the mold.

Overall I like the look, the colours came out nice. I enjoy this technique and plan to use it again for sure.

Have a look at other´s challenge soaps - it´s wonderful to see so many amazing creations from all over the world! And it´s so much fun to be a part of it and to share with others. Looking forward to the next week - which is this week - so see you soon!  Barbora

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My new curing racks

My husband made new shelves for me last week - look at our recent soaps curing!  Before I had the soaps here and there and everywhere...  Thank you!