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?