Friday, 13 December 2013

Our First Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge - Column Swirl

We have been fans of Amy Warden for some time now and have really learned a lot from her videos and blog.  We thought that even though we are so new to soap making, it would be fun to take up this challenge.  We were encouraged to find out that many others who participated in this challenge were also new, this being their first soap challenge and first attempt at a column swirl.  All we have to say is that a column swirl is a lot harder than it looks!  The consistency of the batter, mold size, column arrangement, swirling abilities, etc. all come into play during the mere minutes you have to pour your soap.  It was a bit stressful to say the least, but overall we had a bit of fun planning our soap - colours, fragrance, swirl arrangement. 

This is our second attempt for the challenge, our first one was a bit better, but the colours just weren't 'us' - we'll write a post about that one soon.  In the end, we decided to go with natural colours, and actually forgot to add scent.  We poured three colours, tinted with activated charcoal, titanium dioxide, and the purple comes from Alkanet root infused olive oil.  It is quite fun to watch the purple change right before your eyes when you cut into it from a dull grey to the nice purple in our photos. 
As you can see, our lines of colour are not as clearly defined as other column swirl soaps, but not bad for our second try!  We are looking forward to the next challenge, and we certainly will enjoy visiting some new soap blogs, as 107 soapers entered this challenge!

Getting started

I was a bit more difficult lifting the column out than we thought it would be.  The lifting caused some mixing of the final pours, which were probably too little in volume and were muddied.
Our cut soaps placed on the side to see the swirl effect - we have to work on our free hand cutting skills!
Well, that's it for now - it was fun to try something new, knowing that others were challenging themselves too.  Can't wait for the next challenge.  Thanks to Amy Warden for organizing the challenges, and bringing this soaping community together for some fun!
Bye for now,
Michelle and Ruthie

Monday, 9 December 2013

Show and Tell

Well its been a while since we last posted what we've been up to, but that doesn't mean that we haven't been soaping!  In fact, we've been soaping quite a bit and having lots of fun learning and trying some new things.  We've found some new blogs to follow and learn from, acquired a couple new soaping books, and have been trying out some new essential oils and natural colourants. We even have a new soap mold which we kind of love.
From left to right are some of the natural colourants we've been trying.  Indigo blue, Red Brazilian Clay, Annatto, Nettle, and Purple Brazilian clay in the background.

In this soap, we incorporated some cut up bits of the Annatto and Nettle soaps and used a Lemon Essential Oil.  We call this soap Lemon Lime. 

This soap is our second try at a Tiger Stripe.  We used activated charcoal, titanium dioxide and Anise Essential Oil.

This is our first try at a Goat Milk soap.  We used Alkanet infused olive oil for the purple, and tried infusing Nettle for a green hue which did not give us the green hue we were hoping for.  We scented this soap with Peppermint and Lavender Essential Oils.

This is our first attempt using a round mold.  We quite liked the way it turned out.  We used a cardboard mailing tube lined with freezer paper.  It turned out quite well.  This is a Goat Milk soap with dried orange peel, and scented with 5X Orange Essential Oil.

This is Oatmeal and Honey Goat Milk soap.  No added scent, but the oatmeal and honey give this soap a warm muffin kind of smell.

Another Goat Milk soap.  This time we used the powdered Nettle right in the batter to get the green colour.  Purple is from the Alkanet infused oil, and we scented the batch with Peppermint and Lavender Essential Oils.  The white specks in this soap may be un-dissolved lye from the whole frozen goat milk and lye mixing routine which is new to us.  We won't use this soap until we do a Ph test!

The soap on the left is a Carrot Ginger soap from our new book, The Natural Soap Chef by Heidi Corley Barto.  On the right is her recipe for Pumpkin Spice soap.  The Carrot soap is unscented, and the Pumpkin Pie soap called for Pumpkin Pie fragrance oil, but we didn't have any, so we added Cinnamon Essential Oil which was nice, if not a bit strong in combination with the Pumpkin Pie spice mix which has turned out to be rather exfoliating!

Here is our Vanilla Oak soap.  We love this Fragrance oil from Voyageur.  We took a little trip there a month ago or so.  It was so much fun to be able to actually smell all the fragrance and essential oils.  There was a class going on at the time, and there were enthusiastic soapers to talk to - it was so much fun!  We now know what people mean when they say a fragrance can bleed - see how the vanilla swirl (darker colour) has spread out into the nice titanium dioxide whitened area?  When we first cut this soap, the lines between the two mixtures was very distinct.  We also added cranberry seeds to the darker swirl.  We like this soap and even like the changes with the swirl.

This is our attempt at Calendula Sunshine from the Soap Queen, our idol.  We forgot to add sodium lactate to the batter, and this soap is setting up a bit slowly; we think this is due to our soap formula which we love, but it is a bit heavy in the liquid oils such as: rice bran, avocado, grape seed, olive, and sweet almond oils. 

This was our first soap in our new mold which we bought when we went to Voyageur.  Up until then, we had been using a wider mold which made pouring much easier than in this long and narrow one.  We've used the new mold a few time now, in fact in all of the above soaps except for the round ones and we have to declare it a winner. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

First Post and Summary

We have been making soap for about one year now.  Our first batch was a Christmas themed soap with Rosemary, Clove, Mint and powdered chocolate.  It turned out fantastic, and gave most of it away as gifts.  We next tried to make a shampoo bar which failed miserably.  Then we decided to take a soaping course.  We signed up for Otion's two day cold process soap Boot Camp.  We learned a lot, and picked up some supplies from Brambleberry.Next we tried to make a two colour swirl soap in our new 9 bar birch wood mold from Brambleberry.  We used pink clay and zinc oxide, scenting with Garden of Eden fragrance oil.  The soap set up too quickly for a nice swirl, but we loved it anyway.

 Next we tried to do a Tiger Stripe soap using a tutorial from Great Cakes Soapworks.  We used activated charcoal for the black, zinc oxide for whitening, and for a small accent of pink, we used madder root powder.  This soap was also a miserable failure as we added too much water to the lye, and the soap was too thick to get a nice thin tiger stripe in the mold.

Next we moved on to a design of our own which we called Sweet Tart.  We made tubes of soap using several sweet tart inspired colours.  We used the cardboard tube from Saran Wrap as our mold (lined with freezer paper) and they turned out great.  We embedded these tubes in scented, whitened soap.  The scent we used was Tart Apple, and we used titanium dioxide for whitening, which was much more effective than the zinc oxide we were using before.  We topped the loaf with 'sweet tarts' cut from the soap tubes.  The soap turned out great, but we underestimated the amount of white soap we needed to cover up the tubes, and needed to make a small batch to top off the loaf mold and cover the tubes, with enough excess on top in order to embed the sweet tarts.  Adding this top layer was not too troublesome, but we whitened the top layer a bit more than the first addition, and after slicing the soap loaf, (in some of our slices) this top layer has actually fallen off!

We have been watching many soaping You Tube videos and became inspired by soap balls!  We then set out to design a soap to incorporate this fun embed.  We made a Blueberry Muffin soap scented with a combination of Blueberry and Snickerdoodle fragrance oils.  We made a batch of soap coloured with Ultramarine blue oxide, and before it set up too hard, we pinched off little pieces of the soap and rolled them into small blueberry sized balls.  We embedded these 'blueberries' into our loaf mold, with the surrounding soap batter whitened with titanium dioxide.  We were expecting some discolouration from the FO, and after two weeks of curing time, the soap has changed to a rather nice tan colour - muffin like we think. 

Finally, we just unmolded and cut our latest soap this evening.  We are calling it a Confetti Carnival Soap.  Basically, we took the shavings of our left over sweet tart tubes and embedded them into a basic soap batter scented with Peppermint EO.  We are happy with the result.

Overall, we have been experimenting a lot with this new found hobby, and we are learning so much just by trial and error.  We are working on perfecting a soap formula, experimenting with different oils, additions, fragrances and pigments.  There is so much to learn, and we are grateful to all of the soap blogs and videos out there from which we are learning so much.  We definitely have gift giving covered for the foreseeable future!

See ya.