Saturday, May 26, 2012

WEEK 10 SOAP CHALLENGE - landscape attempt #2

This soap attempt was a semi-fail I'm afraid.  I used a fragrance oil that caused my soap to accelerate almost immediately and I had to race to color and scoop, and by scoop I mean throw, the soap into a mold as quickly as possible. This is the first time this has happened to me, but I'm sure it won't be the last.  I've learned to read more about a fragrance before using it AND, if there's not much written, to know that I'm taking a chance because there are SO many variables.  I used a spoon technique with blue oxide, activated charcoal, sage mica and sunset mica.

Here's what I ended up with:

A bit rough around the edges and some air pockets - let's just call it "rustic"! 

 The cracking and pockets are more visible on this one. It's a shame because I like the terrain and mountain effect in this bar.

 Where'd the orange go?

Not a total flop, but not quite what I was shooting for either.  I'll cure these bars and try it again!

Friday, May 25, 2012


Moon over Minnesota

Okay, so it didn't turn out exactly as I'd imagined, but I knew going in that this challenge would be just that ....a challenge!  I spent hours looking at photographs on the internet and trying to figure out which ones would translate to soap. Then I actually sketched a design and printed out recipes, colors and thoughts for making the two layers and the moon embed.

This photo was my inspiration for this week's soap:

These palm trees just aren't Minnesotan, so I changed them to ...snow!  And I made the moon a full moon because I'd watched several videos on pvc piping and creating embeds, so wanted to give it a try.  It took me three trips to different hardware stores, but I finally found 1" diameter pvc piping and the clerk was nice enough to cut it to a 7" length for me.  I couldn't wait to get home and give it a try.  I lined the pipe with freezer paper because I'd read it's a pain to get the soap out. It worked like a charm-- the paper (and soap) slid right out of the piping. 

 My bottom layer had a LOT of titanium oxide. My attempt to make it look as much like white snow as possible.  My allergies went into high gear and I was out a day between making the layer and lost some time, so my first layer sat in the mold a lot longer than it should have. Those two things combined, the massive amount of TD and a lot wait time, turned my poor snowy bottom layer into a crumbly, brittle,  chalky mess.  I was able to salvage a few bars (at least on the sides I photographed,  you don't want to see the other sides!!).

I used organic palm, coconut, olive, cocoa butter and castor oils.  My fragrance is Cedar and Saffron from Brambleberry and for this two pound mold I used only half an ounce of fragrance because I wasn't sure how it would react. I needed as much time as possible.  My top layer was slow to trace and I was able to do an in-the-pot swirl using titanium dioxide, activated charcoal with a bit of blue/black mica and blue oxide (all Brambleberry) with no problems at all.

Be sure to check out all of the soap makers participating in Amy's Week 10 Challenge !!

Getting ready to far, so good!

Can you see how the bottom layer just crumbled? I had to try to pull it from the wires of the cutter and then attempt to cut it with a knife and level it. 

Photographed from their "good sides", these are the six bars I was able to get from the two pound loaf.  I'll try this again for sure, but know what not to do the next time.

 One of the better bars from the loaf sans beveled edges.   All that's missing is a snowman!
As a point of reference, I'd roll the embed in cocoa powder or nutmeg next time for some edge definition.  

I added some "snow" to the top of this bar in the spirit of it all!  


Thanks for visiting !!!    ~Suzy

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WEEK 9 SOAP CHALLENGE peaked soap attempt # 2

Okay, let's try this again.  Peaked soap attempt #2.   Really, how difficult can these peaks BE? 
 I just need to get my top layer thick enough to hold a peak, right?  I must have had too light a trace last time.  I'm going to get this right.

Here's a look at my first attempt: Attempt #1

For more soap maker's gorgeous peaked topped soaps, be sure to check out:
Soap Challenge Week 9 link up

Again, a big thanks to Amy Warden for this challenge series.  It's pushed me to try techniques and to think about why things are working or not working, search the internet and ask questions.  

No sodium lactate this time and double the recipe.  Here it is:

12 oz olive oil
10 oz organic palm oil
4 oz coconut oil
4 oz cocoa butter
2 oz castor oil

4.34 oz lye
9.56 oz water
1 oz frozen cream added to oils prior to lye water

Fragrance:  Brambleberry's Orange Spice ( good)
Colors:  Azure Blue lab color (high ph) from Brambleberry and enough titanium dioxide to lighten it just a bit - it was too blue/gray 

I've never tried a cocoa powder layer, but think they look so cool.  I decided to use nutmeg instead of cocoa powder.   We'll see how it turns out. I think the smell goes well with the Orange Spice.

Here's what we have so far:

Here's the color of blue I used for the base. Sort of a cornflower blue I guess. 

This is the cream color used on the top half. I thought about white, but I always seem to attempt white and decided cream would look better with the blue this time. 

First layer with nutmeg on top. I love the dark color and the smell is amazing !!

So, here it is !  I see a couple air bubbles....just can't pound this thing down hard enough to release them, no matter how hard I try.  They're small, so I hope they don't show too much.

Here's the top...I was trying for a swirl in the center, but when I put the lid on  my mold, there went my swirl !  Next time I won't fill it so full.

The colors in this photo are off - it's really a cream on top - but you get the idea anyway. Now the waiting begins. That's always the hard part for me because I am NOT a patient person.  This is only the second time I've used it, but I'm really liking this 1-1/2 - 2 lb acrylic mold from Soap Making Resource.  Their customer service is great, too !  Thanks, Steve !!

More pictures to follow ...................

I'm happy with the blue - it held up well and actually lightened a bit rather than darkening. I wish I'd made the blue layer taller and kept the ends higher - I think the nutmeg line would have looked better. I'm still not getting the peaks to look like meringue, so I'll keep practicing!! 
My OCD comes out big time with soap making,  but I'm learning to be happy with the results and use them as a learning platform for the next batch.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WEEK 9 SOAP CHALLENGE peaked tops attempt #1

I must have watched four or five videos on peaked soap tops before attempting this loaf.  How difficult could this be, right?
With my head hanging low, I post the photos of my soap batch from last night.  Oh, there are peaks all right....they're just EVERYWHERE and pointing in all directions. hahaha!  Nothing uniform about this look !  I could live with that, but I'm not happy with the sodium lactate I used in hopes of getting a harder bar of soap.  My loaf unmolded easily after about ten hours (should have been my first clue), but I thought, "Okay, it's a one pound loaf, so maybe it just sets up faster than what I'm used to with my five pound".  It was very crumbly along the edges and the inside texture is, odd. 
I'll try again tomorrow night, but wanted to post this as a reminder of what not to try again!!
There are no failures - just attempts that teach - but I admit I'm a bit disappointed.  I'm just thankful I made a half recipe for this smaller one pound mold.  I hate to waste product, don't you?

For more soap makers peaked top soaps check this out  Week 9 Soap Challenge link up

Whooooa !   That's one crazy peaked top !!!

See what I mean about the inside texture?  Grainy...athough it really didn't look like that when I poured it (?) too hot maybe? Maybe the sodium lactate?  

Cutting the loaf

They look like funky biscotti !

A bit blurry, but a close up of one of the bars

The look I was going for was peaks along the edges and a color swirl in the center.
My swirls are okay, but those peaks are crazy wrong !!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This has been the messiest soaping project I've done to date !!  I've learned a few things. One:  there's not much time for layering and not a lot of swirl-ability or  fancy technique with salt soap.  Correction: after viewing the work of others, I realize there ARE options for fancy techniques. I'm just not sure how to accomplish them yet.   Two:  buy an extra roll or two of paper towels and have them handy. Clumps of salty soap seemed to drop in the most unexpected places.  Three:  Have a firm spatula or knift to level the top of your mold.  I decided I didn't want to cut bars from a loaf mold as I hear it can be tricky, so I scooped the salt soap into an eight cavity oval silicone mold.

Again, a big thank you to Amy of Great Cakes Soapworks. I'm sure I'd never have tried this if it weren't for her challenge.  Honestly, I wasn't sure I'd care much for a salt bar and thought they'd be overly drying.  I superfatted at 10% and ended up with a gorgeous bar of soap. I really like the smooth texture and FAST unmolding time, so will make them again.

Check out the amazing soaps from other soap makers at Amy Warden's Soap Challenge Week 8 link up

Here are some photos of the process:   

80% coconut oil
15% olive oil
5% castor oil

2.44 oz lye
5.28 oz water

10% superfatted

11 oz salt - a mix of table and coarse gray sea salt (it's what I had on hand and I was too lazy to run to the grocery store!)

Brambleberry's Earl Grey Lemon Fragrance...I just love this one and it didn't seem to accelerate trace at all.

The three colors I used were Aztek Gold, Spring Green and Violet - all micas from Brambleberry

Here's a close up of the salt soap in the mold. Super messy...or is it just me?

A bit of variety in the colors.  I'm not sure  how they'll hold once it's dry, but will post pictures.

Here are the finished salt soaps. They have some air bubbles, which is to be expected I think.  They ARE nice and smooth though...maybe because I cut down the amount of salt to about 11 ounces rather than 16 oz. (the amount of oils used).  After looking at everyone's photos/posts, I'm anxious to try a few more salt bar recipes.  I may even brave a loaf mold !

Testing time!!  Will I get any lather or bubbles?  A bit of both actually!  I think this would be a great shaving bar in the  tub or for hubby.  First it created a super creamy lather, then with some added water I had bubbles. Not a TON of bubbles and they were smaller in size, but bubbles.  And 15 minutes later my hands don't feel like they're coated or sticky and they're not dry, but I don't really feel overly moisturized either - just clean and soft.  I'm a happy girl! My favorite aspect is how hard the bars are. I love that!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012


WEEK 7  Amy of Great Cakes Soapworks challenge

Gradient soap

Although the layers aren't distinct, overall I'm pretty happy with this loaf.  It's scented with white tea and ginger from Brambleberry at 1 oz for the entire 4 lb loaf, so it's a subtle fragrance that let's the clean smell of the ingredients shine through.  The color used was a coral mica, also from Brambleberry. I was going for a break of dawn look. I don't think I achieved that, but the final effect is still interesting to me.   I'm a beginning soaper, so my current "go-to" recipe is super slow to trace, giving me time to color and pour.  That works well for me  in most recipes, but was a little more difficult with this one. I thought the prior layers had set up, but obviously not. Live and learn !!  This is my first challenge week and I look forward to more.   Thanks, Amy!!  Your challenges give a newbie like me motivation and direction.    ~Suzy

To view more participant's work in this weeks challenge, please check out: 

Soap Challenge Week 7 link up