Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Great Cakes Soap Works Challenge--The Wall Pour

I must have read Amy's mind, because a week or so before I received the October Challenge technique, I had been messing around with wall-pour soaps. I've been doing these quite sometime, but mostly using a regular mold. Vinvela Ebony who created the lovely Dandelion technique had a series of tutorials I found somewhere where she featured this technique. I do all kinds of things with it.
Sandalwood & Patchouli
In the example on the left, I did alternating pours with the red and white with thin traced soap, then dumped in the mustard yellow. Each bar is so cool--never know what you're going to get!  This is my standard go-to technique for Sandalwood Patchouli soap. Here's one I did using a skinny mold before Amy announced the challenge.
Cherry Almond
This scent makes my mouth water. It's been wildly popular at the craft show--black cherry almond. I wish I could enter this one, but alas, I can't, but I didn't  mind having to make another one because it really is a fun technique and always lovely.

I chose Wholesale Supplies Plus, Black Amber Musk, because it smells divine and sells well as a uni-sex scent. It's hard to describe, but it's soft and sexy. For most scents, it's fairly easy to come up with a color scheme, but this one confused me. I've grappled with blues and greens, another time turquoise blue and navy. Well, amber is amber, but what color is musk? If you Google what is musk, you get this: "A strong-smelling reddish-brown substance that is secreted by the male musk deer for scent-marking and is an important ingredient in perfumery." Now, I  generally like to match my colors with my scents, but in some cases, a literal interpretation might not be the best. But, if you do a Google Image search for the "color of musk" you get this:  I like purple, so that's what it's going to be.

Black Amber Musk
All my colorants for this soap came from Nuture Soaps. I chose 5...dark purple, light purple, white, grey, and black which would appeal to my male buyers.
I poured every color down one side, then switched down the other, repeating till I was done. I tilted my mold using a "Better Homes & Garden Cookbook." which gave it a pretty good tilt--much more than the demo. My batter was a little thicker than anticipated. Black Amber Musk has never accelerated on me before. Frankly, I think I just over mixed a bit; however, it stayed pourable the whole time. I oven processed these in a 170 degree for about 30 minutes--just enough to get the gelling process going and then took it out to do it's thing.

I wanted the black to be minimal, but it ended up being black spots down the sides. Not bad, really, but not what I wanted. I liked the S curves though. I think this technique works best with 4 colors for this particular look. I am so stinking excited to see what everybody comes up with!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Helix Swirl Great Cakes Challenge

It's been ages since I've used my square mold, so I was pretty excited to break it out and try the helix swirl. As a soap maker, I'm drawn more to the mystery of soap designs made inside the soap. The agony and ecstasy of the anticipated unmolding and slicing appeals to me more for some reason, but it was nice, for once, to not have to wait. What you see is what you get. Not that there wasn't any agonizing preparing for this soap. First it was going to be a Black Amber Musk soap with blues and purples, but I had more than enough blue soap on the rack.

What I really needed to round out the stock was an Oat Milk and Honey soap. It sells well all year and with little flourish. This is one of my plain Jane soaps that people LOVE. I make with actual oat milk (yes, I milk my own oats), real honey, no color other than what the fragrance and oat milk impart. I wonder if it'll sell just the same with helix fancy top? For the challenge, I went with my super-stay fluid go to recipe for swirly designs...high percentage of olive oil and sunflower oil. For my colors, I thought Nuture Soap Mocha Brown, Morrocan Red Clay which is orangey-red, and white would look good together against the tannish base. I wasn't going to milk the oats for this one since I knew it would thicken up my recipe, but last minute, I said what the heck and milked the oats anyway. I had some leftover coconut milk, too, so I threw them both in, at trace, using only half the normal water called for. I think its called milk-in-oil method and it works great. you detect a theme of liking to frustrate myself? I knew the milks would thicken it up. Would it stay fluid enough with this recipe?

Full steam ahead, sure enough, just a few spins with the stick blender and it was thickening up, but behaving nonetheless.I put a few ounces of the three colors into three squirt bottles and went to town. This was the fun part, but I was sweating bullets trying to go fast before it really thickened up, but surprising stayed pretty good. Now for the "S" curves to create the helix. I am "S" curve challenged. I even printed out Amy's "S" curve cheat sheet and between sweating bullets  and being dazzled by those pretty colors, I  didn't know where one s started and the other quit. I think it looks pretty chaotic. You can see the drag lines made with the chopstick, but I really like how it gives extra texture to the soap.

I really wanted to make sure this soap gelled, so I put it into warm 170 degree oven for 15 minutes.
I usually don't do that with my milk soaps, but I didn't think 15 minutes would cause any cracking. It definitely would have if I added honey, but left it out of this one. In my experience, I think gelled soaps are much less prone to developing ash and there is nothing worse than ash on this type of design. It worked great! Here's the bars after about a week. I love it! Thanks Amy! As always, another fun technique/challenge. I can't wait to see all the pretty color schemes people come up with.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great Cakes Works Butterfly Swirl Challenge

Yeah!! Boy, was I excited to hear that January's soap challenge would be on the Butterfly Swirl, created, I think, by the infamous Zahilda of Handmade in Florida. Didn't she win, like, seven challenges in a row? I've stalked her you tube videos quite a bit. I've been trying the technique since last summer with inconsistent results. Every once in awhile, I get those perfect butterfly loops, but not often. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong! How exciting for Amy to show us, step-by-step each nugget of wisdom for coaxing the elusive butterfly out of its soapy cocoon. Thanks Amy--you're the best!

Since I'm re-stocking the soap shelves for spring, I did a practice batch with my Triple Butter Lavender soap in my new tall skinny mold from Nuture Soaps using their Purple Orchid Vibrance mica and Super White titanium dioxide. Each bar of my 11 bar batch was lovely, but only one mirror image set really looked like a butterfly when set side by side. Here it is:

For my actual challenge soap, I was decided on a Gingery Orange soap using Fandago Pink mica, Orange Vibrance mica, Turquoise Vibrance mica, and Super White Titanium Dioxide from Nuture Soaps for my swirl in a base of Cafe Latte Sparkle mica from Wholesale Supplies Plus. I used mostly White Tea Ginger from WSP and just a touch of Brambleberry's White Tea Ginger that I had leftover in a sample bottle which I had never actually used in cold process soap, but I figured it had to be similar. The two scents are so alike; however the devil on my shoulder said, "You know, you shouldn't use a new fragrance oil especially on a soap challenge, but it's just a tiny bit, it couldn't hurt a thing!" Wrong! I used a recipe I've used dozens of times and was surprised it was tracing pretty fast. The portions I had separated out for my colors were really thickening up. I plopped the colors in fast as I could and swirled using the exact motion Amy demonstrated in her video, but I knew this wasn't going to work--it was just too thick! Yikes!

I knew the swirls weren't going to work, but what surprised me the most about this batch was the colors! They totally morphed. Fandango Pink turned orange, Turquoise turned greenish, and Orange Vibrance turned yellow! I was stumped, until I pondered that tiny bit of Brambleberry White Tea Ginger I threw in. Don't get me wrong, Brambleberry has excellent products, but even on their website they warned this scent  could morph in cold-process and that it did. My bad for not checking! The soap, is still lovely and smells amazing--I think it'll sell very well this spring, but I was going to have to try one more time for the challenge.

For me, this technique is very hard to achieve consistently. I tried once again, and apparently, my soap was not thick enough and the swirls were thin, wispy and lovely, but not like my first attempt, so I'm going with my Triple Butter Lavender attempt for the contest. Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!