Friday, August 14, 2015

Mantra Marbles Soap Challenge

Mantra Marbles Soap Challenge!

Hello all!  I am back with another challenge hosted by Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge.  You too can participate in future challenges by visiting her website and signing up!  I had so much fun learning this new technique AND I got my husband to make me a new mold :) 
Lavender Martini Mantra Marbles Soap
I decided to make the Mantra Marbles swirl using the Nonpareil Mantra Marble which was using squirt bottles a comb and a spoon to achieve the desired swirl in a slab mold.  My slab mold was custom made (by my wonderful husband) for 6 bars of soap.  My mold has hinges on it for easy lining and I lined my mold with Press and Seal.  SO easy!  I decided to use foam board for dividers (nice and snug) and I tried 3 different ways of wrapping them to protect them.

3 different divider styles
The first divider (left) is covered in plastic wrap with packing tape on the ends to hold it down.  The second divider (middle) has Press and Seal wrapped around it with packing tape to seal the ends. The third divider (right) is completely covered in tape.  I wanted to test out different methods to see which worked best.  Turns out, the tape worked the best because there was very little leakage and the wrapping was tight on the foam board.  

I made my own comb too.  I decided that, since my mold was small, I wanted a smaller toothed comb for dragging the soap and toothpicks seemed to do the trick.  I stuck the toothpicks into the corrugated cardboard holes on the end but they seemed a little loose.  I decided to put a little (*cough* a lot . . . ) of hot glue on those suckers to keep them in place.  This worked great and all of my little toothpicks stayed in place.

Homemade soap comb

These are the colors that I decided to use (right).  I just mixed a little of sweet almond oil with the micas so they would mix in easier.  All of the micas that I used are from Mad Oils and Nurture Soap. I just LOVE these colors!  I have a pink, gold, blue-green and green for the swirls and purple is for the solid color block.  The most impressive is probably the Purple Vibrance from Nurture because it doesn't turn grey!  YES!!  So awesome!

I decided to use the slow moving recipe that Amy provided subbing Palm oil for the lard.  I ran my formula through a lye calculator and got to work!  This recipe really was a slow mover and I am glad that I decided to give this a try.  The fragrance I used was was Lavender Martini from Natures Garden and it smells AMAZING!  I used this one before and I knew that I would have plenty of time to work with my soap.  Once my soap was emulsified/very thin trace I divided it up into 4 squirt bottles and the remainder stayed in my bowl for the solid block.  I added my dispersed micas and shook those bad boys up!  Here are my squirt bottles ready to be used. 

Colored soap in squirt bottles ready for action
I started by pouring a little of the purple soap into the mold in one of the small cavities and one of the larger cavities.  My mold was set up a little opposite then what was planned and I had to use more dividers for a 2x3 in bar.  No worries!  This gave me more chances to play with the dividers and really see how they work. 

Pouring the purple
Once the initial layer of purple was added I got to work squirting my colors into the opposite cavities.  I always have a lot of fun utilizing the squirt bottles, even it they do make quite the mess . . . or, I guess . . . even if I make quite the mess . . .

Squirty squirt!
Here I am, a little farther in my squirt soap progression.  Ugh, you see that?  The spatula in my soap pot . . . why does this always happen?  Goo on the handle is not desired.  Good thing I wear gloves!
More squirty!
YAY!  All of the soap has been poured and it is now time to remove the dividers.  CAREFULLY!

Removing the dividers
YES!  All of that careful pulling payed off and my soap looks great!  I am now ready for the comb.
Ahhh! The dividers are out!

At first, I made the cardboard a smidge too long and I had to chop off a bit on the end.  That is why you may notice soap on the comb in this picture when it was just inserted.  I put the comb (back) into the soap and dragged it all the way through.

Using the comb for the first time
Looks like my soap is starting to thicken up a tiny bit.  The soap held a little bit of it's shape after I drug the comb through it.  I decided to use a spoon handle- a flat metal one- for my swirl.

After the comb went through the soap

Time for some swirl!
Figure 8's are hard to do in soap.  I don't know why they are SO easy on paper and then you get to the soap and you suddenly feel like you don't even know what shape that is.  After a slight moment of hesitation I dove right in and made my swirls.  I gave the soap a little tap and it smoothed right out. 

Swirly swirly!

Here is my soap after I cut it.  Not too shabby.  Thank you Amy for hosting the soap challenges and encouraging me to try new techniques.  This has been so much fun!!

Finished soap! YAY!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Soap

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is my all time favorite pie to make and to eat!  I usually make 6-10 pies a summer to give away to my friends and family.  My husband and I even grow our own rhubarb in our backyard.  We have one huge plant that is starting to take over our yard.  It just gets bigger and bigger every year.

So, when I saw that Nature's Garden had a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie fragrance I just had to have it and make my very own soapy pie creation!!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Soap!
Well, to start off I wanted to have strawberry and rhubarb chunks incorporated into the soap but I didn't necessarily want them in the middle of the soap because when you cut into the soap you don't have so much of an identity to the cut chunks but more of a big pink-red spot.  I really wanted them to be more recognizable.  I decided that I wanted to put my pieces on the top of the soap and then cover them in a lattice top similar to my homemade pies.

To go about constructing the strawberries and rhubarb pieces I had to figure out what kind of mold I would like to use.  I wanted to use melt and pour so I knew that I would not really be able to hand form the pieces so I took to the internet and found a tutorial on YouTube from Sarah Milroy with Spicy Pinecone on how to make your own silicone molds from a tube of caulk.  You can buy molds for strawberries but I was up for an adventure and I wanted to learn something new.  I found the tutorial here. SO fun!

My strawberry silicone mold

I decided to use purple acrylic paint for my molds and they turned out great!  The only thing that I didn't anticipate was the smell . . . oh!  The smell was pretty horrible!  The silicone caulk had a very strong odor (I was mixing in my basement) and I quickly realized why Sarah was outside mixing her caulk and headed to a more ventilated area.  Pee-yew!!  

Filling my molds

When my silicone was fully mixed I blobbed some into a small plastic cup and stuck in my FROZEN (yes, frozen) strawberries point down.  I covered a small amount of the top of the berries and left a small hole.  I froze my strawberries for molding because I had a feeling that I was going to have to apply some pressure to the berries and I did not want the structure to be compromised from all of the pushing.  I let the silicone set for around 24 hours and then I removed the berries.  They were totally squishy and gross but came out, mostly, intact.  I let the molds sit for another 24 hours and then I "cleaned" them with melt and pour soap.  I just filled the molds with soap and let them harden and then removed it.  I used the same soap to clean the molds about 4x.  I wanted to make sure all of the seeds were removed from the silicone.  When the molds were all clean I melted my melt and pour and mixed in my beautiful micas and made myself about 10 strawberries.

The rhubarb pieces were slightly less labor intensive- slightly.  I used a 1 in PVC tube cut to about a foot long that I attempted to oil with sweet almond oil.  I slapped some plastic wrap and a rubber band on one end of the tube and poured my soap.  I thought the sweet almond oil was going to be sufficient to lubricate the tube, but, nope!  I pushed and pushed the soap from one end and then tried the other end and that soap did not budge.  I just tore up the end a bit.  Well, needless to say, I was a bit frustrated.  I decided to pop the whole tube in the microwave for 15 seconds and then give it another go.  Whoops!  It melted a little too much and when I pressed on the soap it gooed on me.  I left it to harden for around 15-30 minutes and then I gave it another push and my soap came right out!  YAY!!  I had a nice 10 in long piece of pink-red tubular soap that was slightly mashed on the ends!
I wanted the berries to lay flat on the top of the soap so I cut all of the strawberries in half and I cut the tube of "rhubarb" in half to have to half moon pieces and then I cut them into around 1/2 in pieces.  I gave them a good dusting of mica to give them a nice shimmer.

Mica covered strawberry halves and rhubarb pieces
When the embeds were ready it was then time to get to work making my Strawberry Rhubarb Soap!  I divided my soap into 4 different sections.  3 of the sections were used for an in the pot swirl and 1 of the sections was used for the "crust" layer.  I mixed the "crust" layer first and poured a little on the bottom of the mold to represent the bottom of the pie.  

Base soap with swirly top
Soap with embeds placed
Next, I used a pink mica, a pink mica mixed with red mica and titanium dioxide for the middle of the soap.  I did an in the pot swirl and them poured the soap on top of the "crust" layer.  Then, I did a little swirl on the top just for fun (left).  Almost too pretty to put the embeds on-- not!  Bring on the embeds!!  I placed the strawberry halves and the rhubarb pieces randomly on top of the base soap when it was still wet but firm enough to not sink through to the bottom (right).  Then, the soap was ready for the lattice top.

Bag ready for soap!
To make the lattice top I used the reserved "crust" portion of base soap from earlier.  By now the soap was thickening up nicely but it still was not thick enough to pipe with.  I was looking for a nice frosting consistency in order to be able to use my special tip.  I used a 47 Sunny Side Up tip from Hobby Lobby to achieve the look of a textured lattice top.  One side of the tip is ribbed and the other side is smooth.  I could have, easily, flipped the tip over and made a smooth line instead of the texture that I decided to use.  I waited another 10 minutes, or so, and then filled my piping bag and made a test strip on parchment paper.  At this point my soap was perfect for piping.  The texture was well defined and did not run or smooth out into a fat line when I piped the soap out.  Perfect!

Here is my final soap!  I decided to do a lattice top at an angle so you could see cross sections on the individual soap bars instead of random lines.  Looks good enough to eat!!  But, eating is not recommended . . . at all . . . not unless you want bad things to happen to your digestive system . . .
Look at that wet soap!
Awesome Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Soap!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Soap Slice
I definitely want to make this soap again.  Next time, I might make this in a round silicone pan so it is more pie shaped.  Also, a dollop of soapy whipped cream would have been nice on top.  Who doesn't love whipped cream?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge-What Happens Under the Field

Hello!  This is my first blog and my first soap challenge.  I found this challenge through the interview that Soap Queen did of Amy Warden and Great Cake Soap Works here.  I was inspired by the interview and I immediately wanted to try many new techniques.  I found the membership here and I signed up for a 3 month membership.  I have been making soap for about 9 months now and I have been mixing like crazy.  I am in love with this art!

This is my entry- What Happens Under the Field.  I got my inspiration from the well known Packers and Bears rivalry.

What Happens Under the Field
I just happen to be from Wisconsin and we happen to take our football pretty seriously.  The Bears are a well known rival of the Packers and I thought that I would style my soap after them.  I wanted to show that not all of the action happens above the field.  As you can see, the left side of the soap is green and gold-Packers colors.  The right side is blue and orange-Bears colors.  I fragranced my soap with two different fragrances.  I used Champagne Kisses for the Packers side because, of course, we are winners and we are celebrating with some champagne.  The Bears side is fragranced with Monkey Farts because they, well, stink-- to put it mildly.  If you look closely, the football was strategically placed on the Packers side because, of course, we have possession of the ball.  Also, there is a little discoloring on the Bears side of the grass because they just happen to be making the grass rot from their presence.   Finally, I would like you to take note of the pattern in the below picture.  On the Packers side there is a smiley face and on the Bears side there is a frown.  I can only assume that this happened because the Packers are winning and the Bears are losing.  Ha!  Perfect!

Packers=Happy  Bears=Angry

My fancy homemade divider
The theme of the challenge this month was opposites.  The requirements were that I use a log mold and a divider with cold process soap only.  This was my first time using a divider and I always wanted to try this technique. I did not have a divider at home, so, I made one myself.  All I did was wrap some shipping tape (Scotch butterfly pattern is what I had on hand) around a piece of cardboard that I had cut to size.

Here is my beautiful divider placed snugly into my mold.  I made sure to make the divider slightly larger then the mold opening so I could wedge it in and not have to hold it.  Awesome.  The ends did bow out ever so slightly, but, I did not notice that this was a problem.
10" Silicone mold with my fancy divider
The very first thing that I did was make the soap for my embeds.  I have never hand formed cold process soap embeds before so this was a learning experience.  I used the same soap formula for the embeds that I used for the loaf of soap.  I poured brown for the footballs and yellow for the goal posts.  I also made the laces and the yard lines by piping them onto butcher paper.

Brown soap for footballs
Yellow soap for the goal posts
I waited 24 hours for the brown squares of soap to set up and then I quartered them and rolled them into a football shape.  The soap was kind of sticky because it did not gel but it was workable.  After I formed the footballs I placed the laces on the soap while it was still tacky so it would stick.  For the goal posts I waited 48 hours for them to set up more and then I carved them into shape. 

Football embeds with piped laces

Goal post embeds

Laces: colored with titanium dioxide from Brambleberry

Footballs: colored with brown oxide from Brambleberry

Goal posts: colored with Bright Yellow Raincoat Mica and Goldfinger Mica from Madoils

After the embeds were made I got ready to make my main soap log.  I soaped at room temperature and I had a lot of time to work with my mixing.  For the Packers side I used The Manical Pea, Enchanted Forrest and Bright Yellow Raincoat Micas.  For the Bears side I used Twilight and Orange Crush Mica.  These micas were from Mad Oils.  I also set aside a portion of my batter for the "dirt" layer (Hot Man on a Tin Roof Mica) and the "grass" layer (The Manical Pea and Enchanted Forrest). 

My colors for the main soap log!

After the colors were all mixed I added the fragrances: Champagne Kisses for the Packers side (because we're the winners and, of course, we are celebrating) and Monkey Farts for the Bears (because, well, they stink).  I got Champagne Kisses Fragrance Oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus and I got Monkey Farts Fragrance Oil from Nature's Garden.  They both seemed to mix in well and stayed fluid.  After all of that excitement, I got to soaping!  I just alternated colors on both sides and tried to keep them even as I poured.  I made a little of a mess in the process . . .

This is my soapy mess . . .

After I poured the two sides I carefully removed the divider and did a little swirling on the top . . . just 'cause I like the swirls. I then poured a thin layer on top to represent the dirt under the field. 

Here are my swirls!
Goal posts placed
"Dirt" layer freshly poured

I let the soap set up a little before I placed the goal posts, but, they were still a little heavy and sank in a little so I propped them up with some tongue depressors.  Good thing that I have tons of those things sitting around.  They come in super handy for tons of things.  Then I got to the piping.  YAY!  I used a triple star tip for most of the grass and then I switched to a single star tip to fill in the open spots.  When I finished with the lush, green grass I switched to a piping bag with Hot Man on a Tin Roof (mixed with oil) brushed on the inside of the bag and piped some "dying" grass on the Bears side of the field.  When I finished with the grass I placed the football embeds and then I put a white strip on the grass to represent the yard lines on the field. 

Top of the soap with embeds
I waited 3 days to unmold this soap because I was out of town.  I could not wait to get back to pop this sucker out and slice the log into bars.  

Unmolded soap

 Here are the pictures of the finished soap!  This turned out pretty awesome!

What Happens Under the Field

Packers have possession of the ball!

Happy and Sad

Football!  Football!  Football!!