Friday, May 9, 2014

Seaberry Handmade Soap

Well, I'm all finished making soap for my Summer Release.  I'll be sharing several of them here and, hopefully, will have a few tips and tricks to share along the way.  I always share a bit more about my techniques and "secrets" here on my Blog rather than on Youtube or Facebook.
To me, there is just an extra special something about people willing to dig and READ for information.  That's how I started and I have a deeper level of respect for those willing to do the same.
So, to start off, I'll share:
This design was an ITP swirl.  There are 3 shades of blue down in a white base. 
The goal was to mimic or create a sense of the movement of water.
To create a bit of interest, I decided to add some soap ball embeds.  These were pretty easy to do because they didn't really require too much prep work.  I simply shredded every piece of blue soap scraps and left overs from previous batches that I could find.  They look more like little planets than berries don't they? I like them though :0)
The shreds were pretty sticky therefore easy to mold together and roll into balls.
If your shreds are too dry and don't want to stick together, you can try spritzing them with a bit of water to soften them up.
I like how no two balls are the same and they're filled with so many different shades of blue.
"SEABERRY" is a light watery scent with ozonic marine notes enhanced by the aroma of tropical flowers, citrus and tart berries on a soft mellow base of white musk.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Preventing Soda Ash

Soda Ash is a harmless white powder that can form on top of cold process soap.  It's completely harmless, but just not very pretty.  The cause is believed to have something to do with soaping too hot or too cold and also from improper insulation.  I don't insulate so I suppose that would be considered very improper! 
 I believe the soap heats up for the gel phase (quickly if you're using milk - which I do!) and then the surface cools down too rapidly causing the ash if the top isn't covered to prevent air from
getting to it. 
This is a short video sharing my trick for preventing soda ash on the surface of my soap.
It may me very helpful for those who like me, don't like to insulate.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Faux Hanger Swirl

This is a swirl that I came up with several years ago.  Before soapers were really sharing the secrets to their techniques on Youtube.  Back when hours of searching online for how-to's on creating pretty swirls in cold process soap in a loaf mold produced the "wisk" swirl on, the ITP swirl or the "grid" pattern swirl for slab molds.  Does any one else remember those days?  All you could really do back then was stare at a picture with your head cocked to the side mumbling over and over, "how'd she do that?"
I'd spent months pondering over several soaps that had swirls with the colors being dragged into one another in a vertical pattern.  It never crossed my mind that this beautiful pattern was being created by putting a wire hanger down in the soap.
Around this time, I was experimenting with using a chopstick to create swirls on the face of my soap.  I'd pretty much mastered those swirl in the slab mold, but wanted the same look in a loaf.  After a LOT of experimenting and countless failed attempts, I finally figured that the key was the angle of the stick.  Imagine you're holding a pencil in your hand and "writing" on the face of you soap. 
It occurred to me that I could maybe do this to create, what I would later find is called, a hanger swirl pattern.
CranApple Rose
"Faux Hanger Swirl" done using my trusty chopstick.
This soap is going to be my entry for the Bramble Berry 2014 Winter Soap Swap.  The fragrance is a blend of Crisp Apple Rose and Cranberry Chutney. 
Blue Sugar
These swirls were done with an actual wire hanger.
"Nooo wire hangers!!!" Sorry, couldn't help myself.  I can't think of wire hangers without remembering that scene from Mommy Dearest, lol.
 Back to the soap:  I previously had two unsuccessful hanger swirl attempts before concluding that you really do have to untwist the hanger in order to have control of it in the soap batter . 
Sometimes I have to learn my lessons the hard way.   
Now that I've actually had a successful go at this, I'm going to play around with the technique a bit more in some future batches.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here are just  a few more soaps on curing the rack:
This is really a unique kind of scent.  It blends bakery types with fresh.  Which sounds very weird yet somehow works very well.
"A blend of Maple, sweet Spices, Coconut Pulp and creamy Vanilla accents on a crisp ozonic base of Clean Linen"
This wasn't exactly the swirl that I planned.  They were supposed to be coming in towards the center from the top corner and opposite bottom corner, but sometimes you just get what you get, lol.
Two of the bars formed this sort of butterfly pattern that I thought was pretty cool.
"A flirty heart of light florals  kissed with Purple Passion Fruit, sun-ripened Tuscan Grapes and Vanilla musk"
I'm not really a floral kind of girl, but I'm getting there!  They are growing on me.  This soap was a hit last Valentines Day, so I brought it back.  I actually don't mind doing these embeds. They're fun and who can resist sparkly hearts?
In the past, I've always created my own cigar bands, printed them, cut them out, wrapped all the soap bars then shrink wrapped them in plastic soap sleeves or more recently, smell through film.  But since I am, for the most part, a one woman show, it really is becoming a bit much in regards to time. 
So, I've switched to vellum paper and sticker labels.  It took me only a few days to do what normally takes almost 2 weeks.  Customer feedback will determine if I stick with this.  I like it though ;0)

Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Curing Rack...

There are just 4 more days to go until my shop is back up and running.  I always get so nervous and excited before releasing a new line-up.  Anywho, here are a few of the goodies coming soon:

I add a batch of BRV to every release.  Not many people can resist this delicious blend. The look changes every single time.  I've never designed this soap the same way twice.  I really like this look though.  Maybe I'll stick with it for a while...
Jolt is a "wake-me-up!" kind of scent.  Notice the exclamation point, lol.  I think citrus is always a great scent for the morning shower, but Jolt has a kick of Rosemary and Mint to really open your eyes.
This was sort of an attempt at a tiger stripe.  Sort of.  I changed the design at the last second and just started pouring.  It looks more like a faux funnel pour but either way, I'm happy with it.
Last for today, but certainly not least:

I'm a total sucker for fresh scents.  Sunday Afternoon reminds me of my younger years sitting in my Granny's backyard while she hung the clean sheets out to dry.  Sweet fresh air with juicy notes of clementine, nectarines, freesia and sparkling crystal clear water on a base of exotic woods and musk. It's like the perfect relaxing breeze. 
That's all for today.  I'll be back with some more.  Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Soap Crackling

*Please see Edit at the end of this post.
Crackling or Glycerin Rivers isn't an issue that I generally struggle with.  I believe that it is occurs when soap that contains Titanium Dioxide overheats.  Since I primarily soap in an HDPE mold at cool temps, this almost never happens. 
 This is my most recent batch of Achilles Bay.  It's a fresh and tropical aquatic blend.  See those clear veins?  That's crackling.  It doesn't affect the soaps performance in any way.  Cosmetically, it's just a bit of a nuisance.
Since I've been using my temporary wooden mold, almost every batch has a bit of it.  None like this one though.  So, I'm guessing that the  fragrance blend may have a role to play in this as well.
Here's a batch of Beguile made the same day in the same mold.  This is a coffee and marshmallow blend.  All of these soaps heated so much that most of them cracked on top.  Again, something I don't normally struggle with.  The wood must really hold heat!  If you look very closely, you may see that the swirls inside the bars have a bit of crackling.  The white portion on top of the bars doesn't have any though.  Go figure.

I thought maybe it had to do with my switching to water soluble TD.  But in this batch of Sundance, there's no crackling.  All citrus notes here with just a bit of clove.
Same with Geisha.  I used TD for the white base.  This has sweet florals and plum.  I'm not sure if it went through full gel but it did heat up so much that you could smell the scent around the corner, up the stairs and into the kitchen.  Yet the loaf was crackle free. 
I'm just really a confused soaper right now.  Any thoughts?  I'd love to hear them.

*EDIT:  I just wanted to highlight this response by Andee from The Sage.  I found it very helpful and wanted to make sure my fellow soapers benefit from it as well.
My experience is that Titanium Dioxide (and clays) show this off, but the "crackle" is actually is an underlying occurrence in a soap due to multiple possibilities. Titanium Dioxide doesn't cause the crackle, it just acts as a magnifying glass or microscope.

Crackle is (in my experience) caused by fatty acids in the oils that had not melted completely or started to solidify again. This is more common in soaps that have lower starting temperatures, techniques that are cool or use lye to melt the hard oils, or even oils that weren't melted completely. Excess heat hasn't been a culprit for me, but using oils that have a fractionation problem (or are prone to fractionation) as well as oils that have a high amount of unsaponifiable matter like lanolin or jojoba can also contribute to crackle.

This happens in more batches than we realize because only Titanium Dioxide and clays highlight this. When we have a dark soap colored with cocoa, pigments or micas, it won't show up as easily because they are different from Titanium Dioxide and clays (which behave similarly in soap).

I don't know the complete scientific reasoning behind this, but this is what I've had experience with and asked questions of the Technical Team here at TheSage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back in the Soap Shop

It's a new year, vacation is over and I'm back to work.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
I've been back in my soap room and have some goodies on the curing rack.  It's always a little weird for me, after a taking a break for one month or more.  You don't forget how to soap, but somehow, I feel a bit rusty.  Don't know if that happens to anyone else.

I decided to start with some simple, straight forward batches that I couldn't mess up too bad on.  The talented Rich at Soap Hutch, is making a new custom mold for me with more chambers but he's a bit backed up at the moment and soaping MUST go on.  So, for about $50, we made a crude 5 chamber mold to hold me over until the new one arrives. 
She's no beauty, but definitely get's the job done!
In the mold we have OMH (Oatmeal, Milk & Honey), Achilles Bay, Geisha, Flirt and Sundance.  I'll be back with some pictures of the cut bars and details on each batch.


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