Saturday, March 19, 2016

Bursting my Soap Bubble

I love making soap! I used to make a lot of soap - and I miss that. The excitement of getting creative, looming over my micas, clays, fragrance oils, essential oils and various tools and wondering what type of design to create this time. I had dreams of opening my own little 'brick & mortar' handmade soap shop. How much fun would that be?!

But then another job opportunity came up and I took it - and I really love it!  BUT, I must remember the Simple Pleasures in life will keep everything in balance. There are some great new soap techniques to try. Then there's that new book I really want to read. And it's been a while since I've had all my kids home for dinner. And that cool idea on Pintrest - I could totally do that! I set out to to create one Simple Pleasure, just the way I used to, then get side-tracked planning the next one, then in frustration nothing happens.

My Bubble has been BURST! Soooo.....

My new mission in life is not to drop the things I once used to love doing often, but to scale back and learn to enjoy them in smaller doses.

After four months of no soaping at all, I did finally manage to get a few new bars made. My house is starting to smell really good again!

Guniess Beer Shea Butter Bar

Black Cherry Bomb Shea Butter Bar

Cherry Blossom Shea Butter Bar

Mango Tangerine Shea Butter Bar

Now that I think of it - I've really missed blogging too! Hopefully I can rectify that this year as well!

So now I'm wondering ... What are your Simple Pleasures in life?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spin, Spin, Spin....

It's Soap Challenge Club time! This time the challenge is to make a Spinning Swirl Soap.

I've been telling myself for a while now that I will NOT buy a slab mold - I like my logs just fine, thank you very much! But sometimes you just gotta have a slab mold. I found a lovely sturdy box that does the job. And I gotta admit - I like it.

For my first attempt I pulled out my white and pink kaolin clays, rose clay, dead sea mud powder and activated charcoal. Then I pulled out my essential oils and mixed up a batch of lavender, mint and rosemary.I was going for a spa type bar.


I guess I got a little aggressive with the spinning - what a mess! I was a little worried about the edges getting muddied and the center not really 'swirling' too well.

(Kudos to all you soap makers who can take pictures during the process! It just doesn't work for me!)

It swirled beautifully, despite my worries.

Spinning Swirl Soap
The difference between the pink kaolin and rose clay is very subtle
After the cut I was rather pleased! Pleased enough to give it another go. This time I used Nurture's purple and yellow vibrance micas and apple martini green from Two Blooms in Victoria for colourants. This bar is fragranced with Blackberry Sage fragrance oil. 
In the mold

This fragrance oil has typically behaved well for me. But it thickened up quicker than I thought it would. I didn't think the swirl moved very well. 

No need to worry - the swirls turned out great!



Again, I was pleasantly surprised when I cut it.
As always, thanks so much for the challenge, Amy! I really like this technique!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A New Challenge

Not having a slab mold I really didn't know how well this month's Soap Challenge Club project would go. The Helix/DNA swirl is a surface swirl that's best showcased in a slab mold.

But I chose to not let that hold me back. I've been wanting to make a rainbow soap for a long while now, so that's what I did. I topped it with layer of white and then added a line of soap in each rainbow colour down the length of the soap. Out came the chopstick and away I went!

Helix Swirl in the mold
Most of the colours were Nurture's Vibrance Micas with the exception of the yellow and blue - they were sample packs from Rustic Essential. For the red and orange I added a bit of oxide to the Vibrance Micas.
Out of the mold - I really like this!
No ash yet - here's hoping it will stay away!
Scented with orange, lemon and litsea cubeba essential oils. This soap makes me happy!!

Another great challenge - thanks Amy!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time for another Soap Challenge!

I love being part of the Soap Challenge Club hosted by Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks! Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time this past year to take part, but I hope to change that this year.

January's soap challenge is the Butterfly Swirl. What a great challenge for the first month of the year!

I knew that white and yellow wouldn't provide a huge contrast for a brilliant butterfly, but I was eager to make a lemon soap and I don't mind subtle. So that's where I was headed with this one.

Fresh Lemon in the mold.    

This soap is scented with Litsea Cubeba and 5-Fold Lemon Essential Oils and is coloured with Nurture's Yellow Vibrance Mica and Titanium Dioxide. I was so eager to make soap that I forgot to take pictures of the process!

"I think I see a butterfly!"
This Butterfly is a little bigger.
End to end instead of side by side
I love this swirl!

Gorgeous detail!

 I tried not to deviate from Amy's instructions while swirling with the hanger. The only thing I did differently was to use a regular plastic coated wire hanger, only because I was too impatient (or lazy) to rig up something thicker.

I love the results I got! So much so that I just had to do it again - this time with more colour.

Once again I became completely engrossed in the soap making and didn't take pictures of the process! This bar is scented with Nature's Garden Sweet Orange Chili Pepper Fragrance oil and is coloured with Nurtures Orange, Green and Red Vibrance Micas and Titanium Dioxide.

Now THAT'S a Butterfly!

This Butterfly is a little more exotic!

I LOVE the Butterfly swirl! And I'm off to make another one! Thanks for the great tutorial and challenge Amy!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colour Challenge - Mineral Autumn

I loved making my soap for the first Colour Challenge so much I just couldn't resist trying it again with the second palette that Amy from Greatcakes Soapworks had presented - mineral autumn.
Design Seeds Mineral Autumn Colour Palette

Originally I was going to create a soap with these colours using micas and oxides, like the last colour challenge, and then choose the soap I liked best to enter for the challenge. But then I remembered that I had some herb infused olive oil I started several months ago - paprika and annatto.
Paprika Infused Olive oil and Annatto Seed Infused Olive oil

So the decision was made - we're going All Natural with this soap. And yes, all 5 colours in the palette.

Weighing out the olive oil for colourants
My recipe for this soap included Olive, Coconut, Apricot Kernel, Palm Kernel and Castor oils, as well as a pinch of Tussah Silk. For the colours I used
  • Orange - Paprika infused olive oil
  • Red - Rose Clay
  • Black - Activated Charcoal
  • Yellow - Annatto infused olive oil
  • Natural - White Kaolin Clay & Dead Sea Mud Powder

Mixing the natural colourants
I made my soap as usual, but shorted the olive oil by 5 ounces. In each of 3 pouring containers I poured 1 ounce of olive oil. Then I added the Rose Clay to the first, Activated Charcoal to the second and White Kaolin Clay to the third. In each of the other 2 pouring containers I added 1 ounce Paprika infused olive oil and 1 ounce Annatto infused olive oil. Then I divided my soap batter equally in the five pouring containers, by weight for accuracy.

The white kaolin clay was a little too light, so I added about 1/4 tsp dead sea mud powder.

Now for the fun! I did a tiger stripe pour, and when that was done I swirled the soap with a spoon, but only one rotation with the spoon before moving down the soap mold. Then I swirled the top a bit.

I like it!
The cut bar

Mineral Autumn All Natural Handmade Soap scented with Spearmint & Anise essential oils

I had never used Rose Clay before. Brambleberry generously provided a package of it at the HSCG Soap Conference so I was happy to have a chance to test it.  I was surprised the colour came out as dark as it did. I was glad I added the Dead Sea Mud Powder; although it was only a tiny amount that was added, it was enough for the job. Somehow the yellow was completely lost.

Overall, I'm happy with this bar. Many Thanks to Amy again for the inspiration!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Colour Challenge - Summer Setting

Life can get really crazy at times, can't it? So far 2014 has proven to very eventful: college, university and high school graduations for my kids, several travel opportunities and an amazing new job that I wasn't even looking for! I feel extremely blessed. Throughout the chaos, however, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

That's a bit how I was feeling when I read the email announcing Amy's latest challenge - the Colour Challenge. I haven't been able to take part in many of Amy's challenges in the past year, but here was the perfect opportunity for me to truly engage in the Simple Pleasure of making handmade soap again- just for the fun of it. And the best part was that I finally had the chance to use my new soap mold, purchased for me by my wonderful siblings who wanted to help me celebrate my 'big' milestone birthday (another 2014 event) - Essential Depot's Silicone soap mold with stainless steal stackable basket. Oh how i love this mold!!

Anyway, the Challenge - to create a soap using at least 3 colours from a chosen palette from Design Seeds using either synthetic or all natural colourants.

I started with the 'summer setting' palette:


And this is what I came up with:

Summer Setting Colour Challenge using micas and oxides
My recipe included Olive, Coconut, Sunflower, Palm Kernel and Castor oils and Tussah Silk. I split the batch in half. The first half was whitened with titanium dioxide (a tip from Amy's video) and then split into 3 containers and coloured with Peacock Blue mica (for light blue), Purple Vibrance mica (for lilac), a little more purple vibrance mica + a bit of Titan Violet mica (for dark purple). The three colours were layered into the mold; then I used a large serving fork to 'fork swirl' the colours.
Fork Swirled first layer
Onto the second half of the soap batter. It was also split in three: a smaller portion was coloured with Red oxide and a bit of Ultramarine Blue oxide. It took a bit to get the maroon colour I was going for, and it still wasn't quite what I wanted, but the soap was getting thick so I had to just go with it. That was layered into the mold and peaked a bit. Next was the portion coloured with Tangerine WOW from Brambleberry. I poured that soap down each of the sides of the mold and let it flow together, making sure all of the maroon was covered. And finally the last little bit was coloured with Brambleberry's Fizzy Lemonade and poured down the center.
Ready to be sprayed and swaddled
After spraying the top with rubbing alcohol and covering with saran wrap, this lovely loaf was wrapped in a towel and put to bed. And not a speck of soda ash! Yeah!!! Ashless soap is so very rare for me. And the way this loaf just popped right out of the mold made me a happy soaper! Did I tell you I love this mold??
Freshly cut soap
I'm very happy with the way this soap turned out. The maroon is not exactly what I was going for, but that's okay. The rest of the colours are pretty close.

Summer Sunset
I scented this soap with equal portions of Black Raspberry Vanilla and Champagne Pear fragrance oils, both from Nature's Garden. The scent is very light and refreshing.

I'm totally ready for the next challenge! Thanks once again, Amy, for the inspiration!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Embed Soap Challenge

This month's challenge issued by Amy through her Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Club is to make a soap using cold process embeds. This is not a new technique for me, however I've shied away from embeds lately because of some frustrations I've had with them, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to work through those issues. Let me explain.

A few years ago I bought several embed molds from The detail is amazing and I love them, but using one of my regular soap recipes resulted in softer embeds that were easily damaged while popping them out of the mold, even when they were frozen. Then I learned that most people use melt & pour soap for these molds. I've never used melt & pour and really don't have a desire to begin. Not that I have anything against melt & pour; a lot of soap makers make beautiful soap using it. But for me, the thrill of soap making comes in the chemical reaction, that moment the lye water hits the soap pot and magically transforms the oils/butters into that gorgeous, creamy batter that will become soap! Also, in Canada, those of us who sell our soap must register our formulas with Health Canada and our soap must be labelled accordingly. Adding melt & pour embeds would mean that I need to register yet another Cosmetic Notification Form and re-do some of my labels - call me lazy, I just don't want to go there.

So what to do? I needed a hard soap recipe that would not obligate me to re-submit my CNFs. I remembered that the last time I made my castile soap my soap cutter could barely get through it after 24 hours. Also ALL of my soap recipes have a high olive oil content as well as coconut oil. So I mixed up a small batch of soap using the following recipe:
  • 75% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 5% SF
  • 25% water discount
  • no fragrance
Adding these embeds to any of my existing soap recipes would not change the ingredient ranges listed in my CNFs and would therefore be perfectly acceptable according to Health Canada guidelines.

For this challenge I decided to use the only flexible mold that I have not yet used - baby blocks. I made a small batch, coloured it, poured it into the mold, and let it sit for about 30 hours. Then it went into the freezer overnight. In the morning I took the mold out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes before unmolding. To my delight, the little baby blocks popped right out, no problem! Using the same formula I also made some pink heart. And this is what I came up with:
'Baby on the Way!' Soap in the mold

'Baby on the Way!' cut, trimmed & stamped; scented with lavender, orange, lemon & litsea essential oils
Now, just to be clear, I am NOT making an announcement here. But if I were, wouldn't this be a fun way to do it?? I've been blessed to have given birth to 4 of the most amazing people I know. Not once did I know if I was having a boy or a girl. But it seems these days expectant parents know long before baby's arrival and they seek out cleaver ways to reveal their child's gender. I had hoped to make another log with a blue heart stamped 'Its a boy', but I ran out of time.
I love these little soap blocks!

These were stamped with letters from a clay embossing set
And if I wanted to present these at a gathering to reveal my baby's gender, this is how I would present them:

Package created using instructions form Dorothy Martin'sYouTube video "How to make a Soap Gift bag"

I had so much fun with this challenge. I learned that the olive/coconut recipe is perfect for making embeds to place on top of the soap. But to embed into the soap a water discount is probably not a good idea. The hearts were rather solid, but the rest of the bar was a bit soft. I placed the log in the freezer for a few hours right after making it to prevent gel. I really tried to wait 24 hours after the soap had returned to room temperature, but patience is not a virtue I possess.

Thanks, Amy! Looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with!!