Monday, February 17, 2014

Embed Soap Challenge

This month's challenge issued by Amy through her Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Club is to make a soap using cold process embeds. This is not a new technique for me, however I've shied away from embeds lately because of some frustrations I've had with them, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to work through those issues. Let me explain.

A few years ago I bought several embed molds from The detail is amazing and I love them, but using one of my regular soap recipes resulted in softer embeds that were easily damaged while popping them out of the mold, even when they were frozen. Then I learned that most people use melt & pour soap for these molds. I've never used melt & pour and really don't have a desire to begin. Not that I have anything against melt & pour; a lot of soap makers make beautiful soap using it. But for me, the thrill of soap making comes in the chemical reaction, that moment the lye water hits the soap pot and magically transforms the oils/butters into that gorgeous, creamy batter that will become soap! Also, in Canada, those of us who sell our soap must register our formulas with Health Canada and our soap must be labelled accordingly. Adding melt & pour embeds would mean that I need to register yet another Cosmetic Notification Form and re-do some of my labels - call me lazy, I just don't want to go there.

So what to do? I needed a hard soap recipe that would not obligate me to re-submit my CNFs. I remembered that the last time I made my castile soap my soap cutter could barely get through it after 24 hours. Also ALL of my soap recipes have a high olive oil content as well as coconut oil. So I mixed up a small batch of soap using the following recipe:
  • 75% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 5% SF
  • 25% water discount
  • no fragrance
Adding these embeds to any of my existing soap recipes would not change the ingredient ranges listed in my CNFs and would therefore be perfectly acceptable according to Health Canada guidelines.

For this challenge I decided to use the only flexible mold that I have not yet used - baby blocks. I made a small batch, coloured it, poured it into the mold, and let it sit for about 30 hours. Then it went into the freezer overnight. In the morning I took the mold out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes before unmolding. To my delight, the little baby blocks popped right out, no problem! Using the same formula I also made some pink heart. And this is what I came up with:
'Baby on the Way!' Soap in the mold

'Baby on the Way!' cut, trimmed & stamped; scented with lavender, orange, lemon & litsea essential oils
Now, just to be clear, I am NOT making an announcement here. But if I were, wouldn't this be a fun way to do it?? I've been blessed to have given birth to 4 of the most amazing people I know. Not once did I know if I was having a boy or a girl. But it seems these days expectant parents know long before baby's arrival and they seek out cleaver ways to reveal their child's gender. I had hoped to make another log with a blue heart stamped 'Its a boy', but I ran out of time.
I love these little soap blocks!

These were stamped with letters from a clay embossing set
And if I wanted to present these at a gathering to reveal my baby's gender, this is how I would present them:

Package created using instructions form Dorothy Martin'sYouTube video "How to make a Soap Gift bag"

I had so much fun with this challenge. I learned that the olive/coconut recipe is perfect for making embeds to place on top of the soap. But to embed into the soap a water discount is probably not a good idea. The hearts were rather solid, but the rest of the bar was a bit soft. I placed the log in the freezer for a few hours right after making it to prevent gel. I really tried to wait 24 hours after the soap had returned to room temperature, but patience is not a virtue I possess.

Thanks, Amy! Looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year - New Inspiration

Welcome 2014!!

I love a new year! It signals a fresh start - a time to review all that happened last year and to image all that will take place in the coming year. And 2014 promises to be an exciting year indeed!

I'm starting to fill my empty curing racks with new soap creations. Take a look at how it's been filling up.

Baby Rose Shea Butter Bar

...with rose soap embeds

This one is scented with banana, chocolate and strawberry. I originally called it Banana Split, but I'm not convinced.

Any ideas for a better name out there???

Knock out! Shea Butter Bar

My son was complaining that I didn't have enough 'man' scents, so this one is for him.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2014 bring you Love, Peace and Happiness!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dandelion Swirl Challenge

It's been a few months since I've been able to take part in Amy's soap challenges at Greatcakes Soapworks. This month's challenge was the Dandelion Swirl - a pretty cool technique if you ask me. I purchased some new micas from Two Blooms Aromatics a while ago and what a perfect opportunity to try all three of them.
Fresh in the mold.
For the swirl I used Apple Martini, Hot Pink and Peacock Blue Micas from Two Blooms. I didn't want a bright white for the base so I added just a touch of Tangerine WOW from Brambleberry; think I should have added a touch more. I scented is with a combination of Raspberry fragrance oil and Peppermint essential oil. I don't know what I was thinking when I came up with that scent combo but I really like it.
Love that moment when the soap log is just cut!

Do you see the kissing dolphins??

Raspberry Mint Dandelion Swirl

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ginger Boy and Other Recent Soaps

So have you wondered what became of my soda ash-free Ginger Boys? They became the first installment of my Fall/Winter soaps.
Ginger Boy Three Butter Bar

A Christmas Duo

Candy Cane Shea Butter Bar

These two bars are destined for a beautiful gift pack for Christmas gift giving. Can't wait for my beautiful boxes to arrive!

Here are a few other soaps that I've recently made.
Brown Sugar & Fig Shea Butter Bar

Gifts of the Magi Cocoa Butter Bar

Harvest Moon Cocoa Butter Bar with Goat Milk

Winter Garden Shea Butter Snowflakes

Spiced Apple Pumpkin Three Butter Bar

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Soda Ash - be GONE!

Have I mentioned how much I hate Soda Ash?? Just because I hate it though, doesn't mean it hasn't reared it's ugly head into my soap room. And I have tried everything to deal with it. I have
  • covered my peak topped soap mold as much as possible
  • sprayed tops with alcohol
  • dipped ash covered soap in a water bath
  • steamed the ash with a kettle
Each method worked a bit, but not to my satisfaction. So it was time to suck it up and 'embrace' the Soda Ash. After all, it's not harmful, just ugly. So with the right attitude it is possible to convince people that it's part of the design. Right??

Well, a few weeks ago I read somewhere in Soaper's Blogland about a method someone used to more effectively steam away soda ash. They created a dome of sorts around their ash covered soap along with a steaming cup of water, left it for about 20 minutes and, ta-da! no more soda ash!! I tucked that tidbit of info into the back of my mind.  (My deepest apologies to the wonderful soap maker who blogged about this - I can't remember who you are. Please stand up and take credit if you are in the room!)

Then I made some gingerbread embeds that I hoped to use in a seasonal soap that I was planning. And sure enough, Soda Ash showed up!

My poor disfigured soda ash covered Gingerbread boys.      

Oh, Soda Ash, why???

It was time to try this new-found trick.

Ring around the steaming water bowl

The only 'dome' I could find - it fit.
After 20 minutes I removed the 'dome'. Don't they look GREAT?!
Thirty minutes later they are dry and still look great!

I am a happy soaper!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mantra Swirl

For this month's Greatcakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club we tackled the Mantra Swirl. I tried this swirl a few months ago; didn't get the swirl part at all. So I was glad to join with over a hundred other soapers worldwide who were eager to learn this technique as well.

I didn't get many pictures of the process. I used my cocoa butter recipe. A slower moving recipe probably would have been a good thing as I would have had more time to work through the process (not to mention stop to take a few pictures) but I do love this recipe.

I was so pleased with the outcome here that I had to celebrate with some glitter on top! I scented this with bamboo and white grapefruit.

Overall, I'm pleased with the final results. Next time I think I'll use a thinner line of colour in the middle.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Peacock Swirl

Once again Amy from Greatcakes Soapworks has issued a soap making challenge, this time using the Peacock Swirl technique. I've tried this technique before for Erica's Colour Palette Challenges at Bath Alchemy. At that time I used a small recycled container that was about 8"X 8". For this challenge I used a mold that I made from coroplast that measures 12" X 9" and lined it with very thin silicone baking mat. For the rake I used what I had on hand, which was another piece of coroplast and some bolts; when the bolts were screwed into the coro they were very sturdy, straight and didn't move. I quite liked that.

Everything is prepped and ready to go
I have to say, I thought Amy's method of pouring a solid base before adding the coloured stripes was pure GENIUS! I didn't like the muddied up edges of my last peacock swirl attempt. I poured a pale blue base, then layered stripes of orange, yellow, green and purple.

Ready to 'rake'

I almost left it like this - I really liked the look here. But that wouldn't be a Peacock swirl, so I continued.

Don't you just love the look of wet soap?! It's all shiny and bright. These are the colours I wanted for the final soap. But alas, the shine goes away and the bright colours lose some intensity.

When I came back to my soap the next morning there were HUGE cracks throughout. I wish I had my camera and could have taken pictures. I remembered seeing a youtube video on how to repair soap cracks so I quickly went in search of it. Just about every bar had a crack in it, but 2 in particular were so large I didn't think anything could fix it. But Bonnie's method worked beautifully!

Thanks for another great challenge, Amy! Looking forward to the next one!!