Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Experimenting with different sizes in my tall skinny molds - Sugar Plum Fairy & Sleigh Ride

Last year, I made the switch from traditional shaped soap bars to the "tall skinny" bars.  I'd seen quite a few soapers with these bars but the it wasn't as popular as it is now and I was having a difficult time finding molds that 1. produced the right size bars  and 2. could allow me to make the quantity of bars that I need for each batch.  Finally, I just decided to have another mold custom made.
Sweet Sugared Plums with a heart of Citrus Zest on a base of warm Vanilla Musk
Making soap this way has its pros and cons for me.  One of the major cons, is that I have been having a difficult time creating my swirls in the narrow compartments.   So, my challenge has been coming up with other creative elements that aren't just about "the swirl".  
 Top notes of Orange Zest with a center of tart Granny Smith Apples on a warm and spicy base of Clove and fresh Mint.
I tried to create my own true red by blending merlot mica, hot pink and even a bit of purple.  Meh, I'm not overly impressed.  Not sure it was worth the extra effort.  Good news though, I saw that Nurture Soap Supplies is working on a new an improved "true red" mica for CPers.  Can't wait to try it out.

Anywho,  I decided to make them shorter and thicker.  I really like this size as it fits less awkwardly in my hand and they wear down more evenly in the shower.  Now I'm trying to experiment more with colored layers, embeds, etc.  It's still a work in progress ♥

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mayan Gold - ITP Swirling in Layers

I received a bar of soap made with BrambleBerry's Mayan Gold fragrance last year (or was it earlier this year?) in their soap swap.  My mom absolutely LOVED the scent and insisted that I include it in my Winter Release.
We designed and made this batch together.  I really enjoy soaping with my mom!  So, the design was suppose to be 3 layers of ITP swirls:  Black bottom with gold swirls (gold mica line) followed by a bronze type color with a black swirl (gold mica line) topped with a gold layer with a bronze swirl (dusting of gold mica).  It didn't quite work out like that!!

Everything was going fine until the dam in my mold slid out of place causing the layers to be disrupted.  This happened several times as we tried to find things to help reinforce the mold.  In the chaos,  I forgot half of the center layer still in the bowl and poured the top layer.  We spotted the bowl too late and made the decision to just go ahead and add it to the top.  Not quite what we were going for, but we were both quite happy with the outcome.

The scent is amazing: A warm spicy blend with notes of Sweet Orange, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Vanilla Bean and decadent Chocolate
It's a tad bit on the masculine side, but I totally think a chic could rock this scent as well ♥

Friday, November 7, 2014

Peppermint Bark Snowfake Wax Melts

One of my guilty indulgences during the holiday season is Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Chocolate Squares.  I've been thinking about making some from scratch this year with my boys.  While browsing the net for recipes, I came across pictures of peppermint bark but instead of the usual broken pieces, they were shaped like snowflakes!  Now, of course, that got my soapy wheels turning.  However, instead of making soap, I though these would be extra cute as wax tarts.
How delicious!  I'll have to remind myself that these are for smelling NOT for eating ;0)

Instead of blending the peppermint and chocolate fragrance oils together, I thought it would be cool to allow the chocolate to start filling the room, then have the mint slowly tip-toe in.

So, the base is a super yummy hot chocolate scent, with a white layer of peppermint topped with real crushed candy canes and glitter.  Now, all I have to do is tackle the edible version!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sultana's Dream - learning to create silver in cold process soap

I looooove the color purple (any shade) and I love taking advantage of any opportunity to use it in my soap.  This scent is a duplication of Lush's Sultana fragrance.  I've never smelled the original so I can't say how close this is to it, but it's a really lovely scent that behaved beautifully in this batch of soap.
A blend of Bergamot and Blackberry leading to soft floral notes of Egyptian Jasmine and Rose on a warm base of Indian Frankincense, Ginger and Musk

For the pour, I decided to do what I believe is called a "tiger stripe".  The colors here are purple, silver, lavender and white.  You can't really tell from the pictures but that really is silver between the purple and lavender layers.  Frustrating, yes, I know.  I really wish the camera could have picked up that color and shimmer.  It's so pretty in person.
To create the silver portion, I used activated charcoal (I'm sure black oxide would work just as well), titanium dioxide and diamond dust mica.  Lot's of diamond dust mica.  It added a very pretty shimmer to what would have been simply light gray.  I'm looking forward to playing with this color blend some more in the future.  I think it's possible to make it pop even more.  I'd really be interested in hearing if anyone else has tried something similar and what your results were.  Till next time...♥

Friday, August 22, 2014

More soap ball embeds...

I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I really start to feel like I'm running out of ideas for Soapmaking.  How many different types of swirls can I do before everything starts to look the same?  By the time I got to this soap, I was in one of such slumps.
Japanese Grapefruit and Citron leaf neatly crushed with Sparkling Mimosa with smoky note of Tobacco, Sugar Cane and Black Vanilla
I've been holding on to this oil for a while now unsure what to do with it.  It's "Dirty Mimosa" from the Sage.  I like using FO's from MMS when I'm looking for something very different from the popular scents that other soapers are carrying in their shops.  If only I had a nose for real scent blending...sigh. 
I play around a bit with it, but I'd LOVE to really, really understand how to create my own fragrance blends.  Sorry, back to this soap :0)
 As I was saying, I'm a bit in a design slump, so I decided to just go with an ITP swirls with more focus on the colors as opposed to the design.  The soap balls were  a last minute addition.  I saw my last bar of Seaberry on the rack and decided, why not add some soap scrap balls again. 
The orange soap shreds didn't have much "pop" to them, so I decided to dip them into some gold and orange mica.  I really thought the base would discolor due to the vanilla in the fragrance description, but these have been curing for 2 weeks now and so far so good.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Melt & Pour Soap from Scratch and more Color Mixing

A few days ago, I shared a video on Youtube chronicling my first attempt at making Melt & Pour Soap from scratch.  You can view my video making the MP base at the end of this post.  Also, you can view the original blog post and recipe from Cee here.
So, from my little project, I was able to make lots of cute embeds to use in my soap for this fall. 
 Fresh top notes of Orange, Pink Grapefruit and Tangerine with a heart of Strawberry, Apple, Pear and soft florals on a warm base of Sheer Musk
I've been using micas form Nurture Soap Supplies for most of my soaping.  There are still some favorites that I like to stick to though.  I love my 24K Gold from TKB and Crimson Red from Bramble Berry.  For the most part, I am very happy to say that the colors are quite stable in CP soap. 
However, I still prefer to mix my colors.  Adding a bit of oxides I find really helps ground some of these micas, particularly yellows & oranges.  Purple is my favorite color and I LOVE trying to fit  a bit of it in there whenever I can so, once again color blending really helps achieve different hues of the same color.  I have a not too stable purple neon from TKB that blended beautifully with my NSS mica.  I'll be posting that soap in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gearing up for Autumn...

I know summer is still here but for soap-makers, this is around the time that we usually start getting our fall line-ups together.  Before I jump into my fall soap batches, I wanted to share just a few summer soaps that I didn't blog about. 
Scented with Awapuhi Seaberry.  This is a calming, "by the sea" type of scent with ozonic marine notes with the aroma of tropical flowers, citrus and tart berries on a mellow base of white musk.
I used three different shades of blue swirled into a white base.  The soap balls were made with shredded soap from every soap scrap I could find in varying shades of blue.  I really like how the balls resemble little blue planets
 A fresh and uplifting blend of Orange Zest, Lemon Pulp and Kiwi with a center of Bamboo & Blackcurrant on a warm woodsy base

I really don't know what this technique is called, but for a point of reference, I refer to it as a "traveling faux funnel" pour.  It's just like the faux funnel pour put I choose a different spot to pour every few passes.
One more,  I have to show this one because I just really, really like the scent! 
 Fresh sliced Pineapple beautifully blended with the heady and intoxicating aroma of Jasmine

I honestly can't even talk about the swirling technique for this one, LOL.  For once, I didn't really plan the soap design.  I chose the colors and just sort of dropped them in.  What I have been doing though is playing around with color mixing.  I tend to use the same colors over and over again in my soaps, so I am trying to at least come up with different shades for those colors.  I though this combination was pretty, fun and tropical.
Now, I'm looking forward to fall.  I'll be back to share my creations as I finish them.  Thanks for reading :0)

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 About.com, 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

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Butterfly Swirls??), Flirt and New Soap Packagin...

Here are just  a few more soaps on curing the rack:

Butterfly Swirl Effect

This wasn't exactly the swirl that I planned.  The swirls were supposed to be coming in towards the center from the top corner and opposite bottom corner, but I guess I sort of stumbled onto a new technique.
When placed together, the bars formed a butterfly pattern that I thought was pretty cool.
I did the same circular swirl pattern with my skewer that I've always done.  I think that my new tall skinny mold played a HUGE role in this.  It sort of forced the colors to one side, where in the past with my normal size molds, the swirl stayed in the center of the loaf.  Two other batches done the same day, had this same effect. 

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"
"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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