Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hanger Swirl Challenge: Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Soap

Oh boy, oh boy, oh I love this technique. I was so happy to hear Amy was going with this super simple technique, because once you get the right recipe down, it creates an infinite number of variations to keep the stick blender purring happily. I'd say probably 80% of my soaps use this technique in some capacity. Traditionally, it's done with a clothes hanger bent to conform with your mold, then stuff wrapped around the middle to make it a little thicker. I tried duct tape wrapped around 30 times, but near poked my eye out and felt the resulting swirl a little anemic, not to mention the unpleasantness of cleaning raw soap off the tool later. There had to be a better way. I knew there were swirling tools especially made to fit certain molds, but I wanted something cheap and flexible to use with different sized molds. I love reading soap maker's blogs and one day stumbled across a soap maker talking about how she swirls soaps. She uses a Gear Tie. It marketed more to dudes in the employment of organizing tools and rigging up stuff. You bend this baby any way you want and it's easy to clean! Unlike a thin coat wire, or even one pathetically wrapped with duct tape, this is just the right thickness to move thin to moderately traced soap. I bought mine on clearance at Target for around $3.00 and remains in active duty.

Another thing that's really important with the hanger swirl, is that your soap batter be Momma Bear just right. If the soap is too thick, the gear won't drag the soap in that fluid manner that gives your swirls life and motion. Too thin, and the colors meld and don't drag the soap. After tweaking recipes forever I came upon a good recipe that's approximately 43% saturated Oils to 57 % unsaturated. Include a little sunflower into your recipe and it works great! I incorporate my lye at 32%, which is just a slight discount, but enough to harden up my soap faster than otherwise. I change up the oils occasionally, but stick to this ratio. I'm really horrible about putting colors together, so I turn to Design Seeds a lot, or look to clothing, curtains, fabric...anything for ideas! My family just bought a hammock and the colors are fabulous..very summer-like and semi-patriotic without being exactly red, white and blue. When my husband and son were putting the hammock together, my son, goofing around, wrapped the hammock around him and said, "Look...I'm Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat!"
I headed to my soaping lab (my dining room table) to see if I could duplicate these colors into a Dream Soap!

To scent my soap, I went with my Love, Peace, and Happiness essential oil blend of sandalwood FO, patchouli, lavender, and a wee bit of orange. This is the most popular scent blend  I sell. Seems like young, old, male and female love it! Even self proclaimed patchouli haters like it once they smell it, and it sells year round. It's truly love, peace, and happiness consolidated down into a soapy little bundle of wonder.

The cool thing about the hangar swirl is you can swirl in any direction you like, up and down, side to side, or a combination, and as many times as you like. Since my hammock was my inspiration, I didn't want to do an aggressive swirl, but rather a simple rolling-type wave. I layered my colors near the center of the soap in a base of matte yellow, Dandelion-type style, against a flexible divider, then made a few brief passes with my hanger. That's it! So simple. I was very pleased that the actual soap matched the vision in my head. This hardly ever happens and makes me giggle like 5 year old as I cut my soap. Again, I have to thank Amy for putting on the challenges. I consider it my professional development, even if I never win, and going through the resulting soap, soap maker entertainment of the highest order!