Friday, August 16, 2013

The Holly Swirl Challenge

Bayberry Soap
This month I had the time to participate in the monthly soap challenge hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  When I started making soap years back, we were limited to books and online tutorials with photos.  Now we have You Tube to learn new techniques and the creativity is mind boggling.  This month's challenge was to use the technique called The Holly Swirl, or a swirl within a swirl. 

My first attempt was the only one that I took pictures of the entire process, and fortunately that is the one that I liked the best.  My second and third attempts are posted here.  I had done something similar to the Holly Swirl prior to the challenge and included the resulting soap along with the second and third attempt. 

As this was The Holly Swirl, I was thinking along the lines of Holly Jolly Christmas and chose to make a soap scented with Bayberry.  I used oxides for colorants, and after the addition of the fragrance the batter started moving along into a thicker trace than I would have wanted but I liked the results, none the less.  (My second attempt was more fluid and poured at a light trace, and the third attempt was poured at medium/light trace.)  For the Bayberry soap, the contrast between the red and white swirl against the green really made the colors pop. 

 The process to the end result:

Red and white swirl in the pot
Red and white swirl poured into the green soap base

All finished and ready to tuck the soap into bed for the night

Someone recently posted in one of the soap groups that I particpate in to take thumb tacks and poke them into the top of the mold before tucking textured top soaps into a blanket for the night.  Great tip, no more botched textured tops on soaps!   
Soap log ready for cutting

I don't have one of those fancy cutters (still a dream for me), just my trusty old Cutco chef's knife and a wooden cutting guide.  Seeing as no one was home when I made or cut the soap, I have no photos of the cutting process to show you. 
Close up of one of the cut bars of soap
I really enjoyed participating in this month's challenge and have some amazing soaps to show for it.  One of these days I might get brave enough to produce some You Tube videos of my soapmaking adventures.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Practicing for a Challenge

I decided since I was on vacation that I would have a bit of fun by participating in a soap challenge (more about that in another post to follow).  It was great fun practicing the technique for this challenge and I wanted to share the ones that didn't make the final cut as being "the one" I would enter in the challenge.  :)

#1 ~ Eucalyptus & Mint ~ This soap was the second attempt for the challenge.  My daughter says the top looks like ribbon candy.  Smells heavenly, but the pink and white swirls kind of just "disappear" and no clear contrast of colors. 

Eucalyptus & Mint Soap

#2 ~ Lavender Pine ~ This soap was the third attempt and this time I wanted the lavender and white swirl to be wispy and achieved that, but the contrast against the green while very pretty, didn't give enough contrast of colors to be "the entry" for the challenge. 

Lavender Pine Soap
#3 ~ Ok this doesn't really count as an attempt for this challenge.  However, it must be shared that when I made this Candy Cane soap I made a similar swirl of red and white for one of the layers.  Although this soap wasn't made for this challenge, and the swirl wasn't dropped into the lower portion of the soap, the end result turned out really cool.

Candy Cane Soap
So what about the soap I selected to use for the entry in the challenge?  Well, I happen to love the first attempt.  And, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow to hear all about the challenge and see the soap I chose to enter. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Hibernator

The Hibernator Soap
There is nothing more comforting on those cold winter days than to sit in a cozy chair with a steaming cup of hot cocoa all nestled in with nice warm blanket by a roaring fire. 

The Hibernator Soap is our second in a series of soaps made with beer from the Long Trail Brewing Company.  Smoky and mysterious, this scent has notes of cherrywood, raspberry, vanilla and tobacco.

The creamy tan color was achieved by a combination of the beer and fragrance oil used, and was muted a touch with the use of Titanium Dioxide (white).  The blue was achieved with the use of Indigo Powder and Titanium Dioxide. 

Tha natural sugar content in the beer helps to boost the lather, and soap made with beer has become a favorite in the shower around our house. 

The Hibernator Soap will be available in our online shop later this month. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ode to Autumn

I came to realize the other day that I have been away from my blog for over a month now and need to get back into the blogging groove. 

To catch you up to speed...I am still struggling with back issues and the healing process has been extremely slow going.  I think I tend to forget/ignore that I am supposed to not be lifting heavy items, and that doesn't help.  For one who is very independent let's just say it isn't always easy changing habits to become dependent on others and to ask for help.  I've learned a valuable lesson in patience so to not annoy my family with nagging when I need something done.  I've had to adapt my day to day chores to fit within the lifting limitations and wait for help to tackle the ones that are beyond those limitations. 

Fortunately, making soap has not been affected with these limitations, so long as I get someone to lift the heavy buckets where I have been extremely creative in masterbatching the oils into a 5 gallon bucket that I keep warm with the use of a heating pad so all I have to do is scoop out what I need to make a batch of soap without having to move things around all the time. 

Rustic Pumpkin Soap
I have made so many new soap designs over the summer, but the one that has quickly become my favorite is the Rustic Pumpkin soap.  It was a very hot day when I made the soap and I was really bummed out when I noticed the color sort of "crackled" on me during the saponification process.  However, that disappointment was extremely shortlived as the crackled appearance actually enhanced the look of the soap and by the time I finished cutting the log of soap into bars I was in love!   This soap is made with pumpkin, and the scent is like taking a walk through the pumpkin patch on a crisp autumn day combined with a hint of spice from a freshly baked pumpkin pie. 
Fresh Fallen Leaves Soap
Autumn is spectacular in Vermont with a beautiful display of foliage that is jaw dropping.  It has already been feeling like September weather and there are visible signs of foliage changing over to color popping up on the trees.  We've captured the fall foliage hues and scents in a single bar of of soap that offers many showers of bubble lathering goodness ~ Fresh Fallen Leaves

I am currently working on soaps with a Christmas theme so keep watch for soapy updates.