Winter Wonderland – February Soap Challenge

So the Soap Challenge for February is Winter Wonderland.  There were two choice – make an all natural soap or use synthetic ingredients (colorant and fragrance) but the soap must have snow as a theme.  Frankly I truly dislike winter and was tempted to sit this out but encouraging words from my friend Betsy convinced me to give it a try.  My idea was to attempt a landscape type soap with snow covered mountains as the theme and since micas were the colorants of choice this will be in the synthetic category.

I thought it would be pretty simple – pour a layer of green with some brown with the mold tilted so the landscape would not be so level, then with a thicker soap pour white and shape into peaks to represent the mountains, and then the final layer would be blue sky with some clouds and possible snow flakes.

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green and brown layer as planned

 

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The white soap was definitely at trace when I started but…………

 

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The gray was to add shadows and give the mountains more definition. I waited and waited but the soap just would not get thick enough to hold any shape.

 

I had a commitment that evening that I could not cancel so I had no choice but to just leave the soap.  The next morning the soap had of course set up.  I tried to shape the soap while it was still in the mold but that didn’t work so out of the mold she came to be carved and sculpted.

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Not too pretty at this point.  The uneven texture was intentional.

 

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Back in the mold and ready for the sky to be poured.  Looks like I lost most of the gray.

 

The lighting in my workshop is pretty bad and I only had my cell phone so I apologize for the poor quality.  Also I always have good intentions of taking more pictures but it just doesn’t happen so I don’t have photos of the other steps.  On day 3 we are finally ready to cut it and see the results.

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It is very neat how the palm stearin makes it look like it is actually snowing.  Having to carve and mold the mountains was a good thing because it gave a more consistent result.  The fragrance, Polar Express from Soapalooza, is perfect.

Thanks Amy – as always it turned out to be fun (even though I wasn’t very excited about the theme to begin with).  I am pleased with the results and glad I gave it a shot.

Circling Taiwan Swirl Soap Challenge

January’s soap challenge is based on a relatively new technique dubbed the circling Taiwan swirl.  To accomplish the swirl you go through the steps to create a Taiwan swirl but then you move your swirling instrument to one corner of the mold and proceed to drag it in circles around the mold.  When you cut the soap on the horizontal plane and place the two pieces you get the appearance of a lotus flower.  Cutting soap is one of the most exciting parts of making soap – you never know what you are going to get – and this technique is really fun.

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Getting the soap into those small sections was a challenge in itself

 

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The white soap got very thick because of the titanium dioxide. The colored soap remained a thin consistency. The result was the white part did not move the way it should and looks clumpy

When I uncovered the soap the next day it was covered with soda ash (a white powdery substance that is harmless – it is just not attractive).  Because this soap was going to be cut on the horizontal it was not a problem as a thin layer of soap could easily be removed.

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Thank you Amy for another fun challenge.

Tall and skinny shimmy – soap challenge

This is going to be a very short post because well I don’t have time for a long one.

My first attempt:

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Colors mixed – this is the order I wanted to pour my soaps

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I got confused and all the teals ended up on one side and the tans on the other

The contrast in the bottom two teals was not enough in my opinion.  Plus the middle pieces did not look as good.  Although I was pleased my first attempt yielded several pieces with a good “shimmy”.

For the second attempt I decided to use seven entirely different colors.  I recently purchased the “pearl” collection from TKB and loved it.  The colors just make me happy so the choice in fragrance was Happy.

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Pearl colors (plus another green)

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cups bent and ready to go

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Half way through the pour

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The end result

I am very happy with this one – all the pieces turned out with a nice shimmy and as I said these colors make me happy.  Only problem is now that it is done, it reminds me of Easter and I feel like I need to put it away until then – perhaps I’ll name it Bunny Trail.

This was really fun.  I so appreciate the tutorial on how to do this by Tatiana Serko – I have been admiring her soaps for some time and could not quite figure out how it was done.  As always, thank you Amy for all your work in putting these challenges together.

Alternative Liquids in Soap – Cactus Juice

The theme of this month’s soap challenge is using an alternative liquid in making soap.  The guidelines: make a soap by replacing 100% of the liquid with something other than water and any colorants must be natural – no dyes, pigments, oxides or micas.  Additionally we were required to research the benefits of the replacement – does it have any or is it just label appeal?  Shortly after signing up for the challenge I happened to walk through the juice section of Fresh Market (my small town’s version of Whole Foods) and saw cactus juice.  Without hesitating I decided that was the one.

Finding information of the benefits proved to be more of a challenge.  A search of cactus juice benefits turned up quite a few claims ranging from curing or preventing cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and hangovers.  Not surprising that most of these sites were fronts for companies selling the juice but there were a few reputable sites that reported the health benefits as well:  Mayo Clinic, LiveStrong.com, WebMD to name a few.  All of these of course resulted from drinking the juice or eating the prickly pear fruit.  Most of the references to the benefits of cactus juice for the skin are found along with references to aloe vera.

The most extensive and scientific report  (Cactus: a medical food) contained the following statement:  “Prickly pear is widely used as folk medicine for burned wound, oedema and indigestion and it is found that the effect of fruit extract is better than those of stem extract (Choi et al. 2002). Cactus pear fruit contains vitamin C and the radical scavenging properties. ” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550841)  The paper goes on to say:  “Its other uses include preparations of mock-gherkins, jams and syrups, soap from its leaves, alcoholic drinks, seeds for honey and cheese production.  Unfortunately it does not give any more details.”

Something specific about skin care benefits was finally found in Allure magazine February 2015:   “But prickly pear—which contains amino acids, vitamin B, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and iron—is just as good slathered on your skin as it is ingested. That’s probably why it’s been making an appearance in so many skin-care products.”   In conclusion, I believe adding cactus juice to soap equivalent to using aloe vera.

Before making my soap, I had to try a little of the juice.  It is not to my taste – especially with its price ($5 for 1 liter).  I will not be buying it again for consumption.

My vision was to make a green soap with a rounded top and a sprinkling of hibiscus and rose pedals.  I researched what I could use as a natural green color and decided on comfrey powder because it was an ingredient that I had on hand.  Although the sugar content was not very high, I decided to start by freezing the juice.  I was so excited when I started mixing the lye the pink started to turn green.

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Pretty pink juice

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Could the pink actually turn to green? I wanted the soap to be green!

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Too bad it turned tan. But lets add the comfrey powder – maybe we can still get green.

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Oh no – its almost black. Was not expecting this

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No green soap but added the hibiscus and rose pedals anyway

Nothing to be done now except wait.  Well we didn’t get a miracle – the soap is still brown.  But I am starting to like it.   It smells great – scented with a blend of citrus essential oils.

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Thanks Amy for another fun challenge.

The Clyde Slide

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The Clyde Slide is named after a talented soap maker who has posted several YouTube videos on this technique.  It is basically an “In the Pot Swirl”,  but instead of pouring your colors in different areas of the base soap and then taking a spatula quickly around the pot to mix the colors,  the colors are alternated in the same spot in the pot (or several spots) and then poured without any further mixing.  Using this method often produces feathery looking swirls.  The objective of this months soap challenge club was to get a nice feathered swirl.

I am not sure why I found this rather difficult – I made four passes at it.  The first one may have a few feathers but boy you have to look hard to find them so that one was a reject immediately.

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First attempt at The Clyde Slide

My last attempt was also rejected.  I thought the colors were just too dark for my taste and many of the slices reminded me of an ultra sound to determine the gender of a baby.

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Fourth attempt

The second and third try are closer to what I was trying to achieve and a toss up as to which one to enter.

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Second attempt – scented with Midnight Path

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Third attempt – scented with Mango Madness

Since only one entry is allowed we will go with Mango Madness.

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Thank you Amy for another fun challenge.