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Spinning Swirl Challenge Soap

Despite signing up for them at every opportunity, it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve managed to get round to make a soap for Amy Warden’s monthly Soap Challenge Club over at Great Cakes Soapworks.  This month’s challenge really piqued my interest though, and I was determined to give it a go.  The challenge was to create a soap using the Spinning Swirl technique (which I hadn’t come across before) and, after months of making nothing but restocks, I was keen to try something a bit different. This technique involves pouring very fluid soap batter into a slab mould and then spinning the mould itself. Amy provided a great video tutorial, and this one of the soaps that she made to illustrate the technique:

Amy's Spinning Swirl Soap
Amy’s Spinning Swirl Soap

One of the stipulations of the challenge was that the soap had to made in a slab mould, which I don’t own. So my first challenge was to improvise a slab mold. A shoe box did the trick:

Improvised Shoe Box Mould
Improvised Shoe Box Mould

I prepared my colourants. The fragrance oil is described as a creamy, powdery, honey fragrance, and I wanted warm colours to reflect that.  I used Radiant Gold mica, Sicilian Orange mica and Red iron oxide and mixed them with a little of the oils (to which I’d already added the fragrance).

Micas mixed with a little oil from the main batch
Colourants mixed with a little oil from the main batch

I added the lye to my usual oils and butters, and then poured the batter equally into the three jugs, stirred well then stick blended very VERY briefly (as I needed it to stay fluid for as long as possible):

Soap ready to pour
Soap ready to pour

I poured the soap into the mould, alternating colours in a faux-funnel type pour:

Soap mid-pour
Soap mid-pour

Once the soap was all poured, I gritted my teeth, gripped the mould with both hands, and started to rotate the mould as quickly and as firmly as I dared while praying that it wouldn’t all slosh out onto my table. After making probably about 20 full rotations, I swirled the top with a skewer and put it aside to firm up. A couple of days later I unmolded and found this left behind in the diy mould:

Leaked soap!
Leaked soap!

THAT is why I love my silicone moulds so much 😀 Anyway – the unmolded soap didn’t look too promising:

Unmoulded Spinning Swirl
Unmoulded Spinning Swirl

Not only do I not have a slab mould, I also don’t have a cutter that can cope with a big ole slab of soap, so I had to make the first cuts with a Very Big Knife. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly accurate:

First cuts - spinning swirl
First cuts – Spinning Swirl

And THAT is why I love my single wire Bud cutter 😀 Anyway, I was able to use my beloved cutter for the rest of the cuts:

Final cuts - Spinning Swirl
Final cuts – Spinning Swirl

And, after a little love and attention, I’m really happy with the result:

Spinning Swirl Soap
Spinning Swirl Soap

Many thanks Amy for organising the challenge! It was a real pleasure to try something new and I’m looking forward to seeing what the other entrants come up with.

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And the winner is….

Thank you so much to everyone who came up with wonderfully inventive names for my new soap, both here and on my Facebook page. It’s taken me a couple of hours of deliberation, but we have a winner. Now this is a little convoluted, so bear with me!

I was looking for a name that reflected both the fragrance (pink grapefruit, kumquat, orange and cranberry mingled with gardenia, jasmine, and freesia) AND the design, and I wasn’t entirely sure that any of the suggested names quite hit the mark.  However, three people made suggestions that led me to come up with the name I’ve finally gone with. Firstly, two people (Soap N’ StilettosEwenique) suggested names that included the word ‘Sunrise’ which I  think nicely reflects the design.  I also wanted to convey something of the fragrance, albeit indirectly, and Gunilla Stoll (who suggested Tuscan Summergarden) gave me the idea of including a place known the world over for growing citrus fruit (especially grapefruit and kumquat – happy days!) Florida.

I used Random.org to choose a winner from the three entrants above – numbering them 1 – 3 in the order in which they posted on the blog post, and the winner was… *drumroll* Soaps ‘N Stilettos!  Congratulations!! DM your postal address to my FB page here and I’ll send your soap out asap!

And finally, introducing: Florida Sunrise. Available now!

Florida Sunrise
Florida Sunrise

Thank you once again to everyone who took the time to enter – I really do appreciate it! Keep an eye out for more giveaways coming soon.

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Name that Soap! (Competition time)

In my last post (so much longer ago than I realised – life is busy :-D) I shared a picture of an as yet unnamed soap in the mould.  Well, here it is, cut, fully cured, and STILL nameless – please help me name it!

Citrussy unnamed soap
Name me – please!!

The fragrance is described as pink grapefruit, kumquat, orange and cranberry mingled with gardenia, jasmine, and freesia.  To me it’s mostly citrussy – there’s a hint of background florals but the citrus notes are definitely dominant.  It’s coloured with titanium dioxide and yellow and tangerine micas.

I’m offering a free bar to the person who comes up with the name that I eventually choose, and you can either enter below in the comments field or on the competition post on my facebook page here. It’s open to anyone, wherever you are in the world – I’ll cover postage costs too. So don’t be shy – I know you’re a creative lot!!

PS – the winning name will be chosen on Easter Monday, 6th April, after 9pm UK time.

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Soap in the Mould

Freshly made soap, in the mould, has such a vibrancy and gloss about it, I can’t help but take a photograph every. Single. Time.  Here are some of my recent favourites:

‘Delicious’ is fragranced with a dupe of a DKNY fragrance and is described as ‘A fresh, green floral fragrance of crisp green apple, watermelon, cassis and a hint of cucumber’ and underneath those green waves is an In The Pot swirl.

'Delicious' Handmade Soap in the Mould'Delicious' Handmade Soap in the Mould
‘Delicious’ Handmade Soap in the Mould

I wrote about the redesign of Tutti Frutti in my last post here. It’s scented with a very fruity Jellybeans fragrance oil, and this time I’ve kept the same design but have tried to intensify the colours somewhat so that they’re brighter in the finished bars. The soap batter was very slow to trace this time (not sure why – same recipe, same fragrance :-s) so rather than attempt to texture the top I just swirled the colours together, and I love the effect it gives.

'Tutti Frutti' handmade Soap in the Mould
‘Tutti Frutti’ Handmade Soap in the Mould

And last (for now!) is a batch made with a new-to-me fragrance – a zingy, citrussy scent with pink grapefruit, kumquat, orange, and cranberry –  I’ll soon be running a little competition to come up with a fitting name so get your thinking caps on…

Cold Process Soap in the Mould
Soap in the Mould – name yet to be decided!

Cut pictures to follow just as soon as I get round to taking them 😀

 

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Sneaky Peeks

Believe it or not I’m STILL restocking and wrapping at the moment.  The first craft fair of the year is coming up this Saturday, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to face to face selling again.

Here are a few in-the-mould teasers of what what I’ve been up to recently.

Clarity
Fragranced with Lemongrass & Clary Sage Essential Oils

Clarity Essential Oil Soap
Clarity Essential Oil Soap

Serenity
Fragranced with Bergamot, Patchouli, Orange & Ylang Ylang Essential Oils

Serenity Essential Oil Soap
Serenity Essential Oil Soap

Enigma
Fragranced with Rose Geranium, Rosewood and Palmarosa Essential Oils

Enigma Essential OIl Soap
Enigma Essential Oil Soap
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Parisian Flora

The last few weeks have been full-on soapmaking to restock the shelves depleted by the pre-Christmas rush. I only have two loaf moulds, and can only soap in the evenings once the little Miners are asleep, so it’s a fairly long drawn out process involving nightly soapmaking (what a shame :-D!) but I’m getting there.

This is Parisian Flora. A drop swirl fragranced with a blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang and Rose Geranium essential oils, and coloured with titanium dioxide and micas.

Parisian Flora in the mould
                 Parisian Flora in the mould
Parisian Fora
                    Parisian Flora
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Makeovers (1: Serenity)

Quite a few of my soaps have had a makeover recently. No matter that I have (more or less) a set range of fragrances & designs, there’s always room to improve and to flex those creative muscles.

One of the most popular essential oil soaps that I sell is Serenity. The fragrance is a blend of Bergamot, Patchouli, Orange and Ylang Ylang essential oils.  The very first time I made a full batch of this one I carefully weighed out the appropriate amount of essential oil blend for the amount of soaping oils used, then put it to one side.  I then split my batter into three, coloured one white and two different shades of blue, then poured the soap into the mold, creating what I fully expected to be an awesome drop swirl. Except I’d forgotten to the add the fragrance. Argghhhh! There was nothing to do but scoop it all out, thoroughly mix in the essential oils, and put the whole lot back into the mould. Of course I ended up with a very plain, pale blue bar of soap which smelled amazing but looked nothing like my original plan:

Serenity Take 1
First incarnation of Serenity

The next few times I made Serenity, I decided to go with a single colour drop in a paler background.  Most of my drop swirls up to this point had been a white soap with coloured drops, but I wanted to try something a little different.  Here I used Icelandic Blue mica for the base colour and Denim Blue mica for the drop:

The second incarnation of Serenity
Second incarnation of Serenity

I used that design for a while, and it sold well enough, but it didn’t wow me, and last year I decided it needed updating.  The current Serenity has a base of Icelandic Blue mica, and drops coloured with Titanium Dioxide and Blue Dragon mica. I think it’s rather pretty and goes well with the name, so this design will be staying (for now anyway :-D)

Third incarnation of Serenity
Third incarnation of Serenity

 

 

 

 

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A Daffodillian Disaster

Daffolidish? Daffodilesque? Daffolidic? I don’t know, answers on a postcard please 😀 What I DO know is that I won’t be soaping with Daffodil fragrance oil again any time soon!

It’s been a while since I participated in one of Amy’s challenges over at Great Cakes Soapworks so I decided to give the December challenge a shot. ‘Cos of course I’m not really really busy with Christmas Fairs at the moment, oh no, not me…

Having decided to sign up for the challenge (which, by the way, I have done for the last goodness knows how many months but not actually managed to make anything in time) I also signed up for a new idea Amy’s organised, a Soap Swap. I really love trying other soapers’ creations, but if I’m honest I think my main motivation for signing up was to make sure that I actually entered the challenge. Once I’d commited to swap my soap with another contestant, I knew I couldn’t just ‘not get round to it’.

The challenge this month was to make a soap using the spoon swirl method. This is something I’ve done many times before, and which I knew needed no fancy equipment other than the usual, plus a spoon. And Amy’s excellent tutorial video confirmed that yes, I did indeed already know how to do this one. So far so good.

I took a moment to decide on which fragrance to use. I didn’t want to use any of my regular range, as they have fixed designs, none of which is a spoon swirl. So something different, something that could, possibly, become part of the range if it turned out fantabulous. I opted for a delicious daffodil fragrance. First mistake. Using a new-to-me fragrance for a challenge / swap soap was not one of my greatest decisions.

I melted the oils and butters that needed it, then stirred in the liquid oils, and the fragrance oil. I chose three lovely micas which I thought represented daffodils perfectly, and combined them with a little of the melted fats. I know many soapers add the powdered mica directly into the soap and stick blend it in, and it works just fine. I keep meaning to try that but I guess I’m a little stuck in my ways!

Prepped Micas
Prepped Micas

I usually soap at room temperature, so I used some pre-prepared (water discounted) lye solution, and there you have my second mistake.  Knowing that floral fragrances have a tendency to accelerate, I really should have used the full recommended water amount.

Anyway, you can probably guess what’s coming. I slowly added the lye solution to the fats and immediately it started to thicken. There wasn’t a lot I could do but, knowing that I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to make a challenge soap by the deadline, I carried on, managed to get a bit of colour mixed in, and squished it into the mould.  I DID then spoon swirl it. I really did! If you look closely at the pic below you can see where the spoon moved within the mould, but it’s not really that clear 🙁

Daffodil Spoon Swirl (honest!)
Daffodil Spoon Swirl (honest!)

Oh dear. My poor swap partner.  Sam – if you’re reading this, I will send you a bar of this one (it does smell lovely!!) but I’ll also send you one of my more successful soaps!

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Soap Tops

I’m in full ‘Operation Christmas Fairs’ mode and have been for a good few weeks now. All my soapmaking has been restocks, and there is a LOT of time being spent packaging and labelling soap. Consequently there hasn’t been much opportunity for creativity so I’ve playing around with my soap tops and and trying out different styles and techniques. I mostly swirl the soap while it’s still fairly fluid, but I have tried letting the soap thicken up a bit and creating texture that way too.

I’ve tried mica in oil swirls:

Mica/Oil swirl
                       Mica/Oil swirl

Swirling the still very fluid soap with a chopstick/skewer (or similar):

Chopstick swirl
         ‘Chopstick’ swirl

Chopstick swirling at a slightly heavier trace:

Chopstick swirl
       Chopstick swirl

A more formal ‘mantra’ style chopstick swirl:

Mantra swirl
             Mantra swirl

Using a spoon to add texture to the top:

'Spoon' textured top
‘Spoon’ textured top

Adding grated soap to create some detail on the top:

Grated soap detail
Grated soap detail

A simple ‘splatter’ technique. This one looks really effective on the cut bars:

'Splatter' method
       ‘Splatter’ Method

Here’s one I made a few years back – Chocolate Cake – chocolate chocolate chunk embeds set amid piped ‘cream’ topping:

Piping  & Embeds
                      Piping & Embeds

There seems to be an infinite number of techniques and methods, and I’m looking forward to doing some more experimenting in the quieter post-holiday months ahead.

 

 

 

 

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I’m back…

…definitely, absolutely, for good this time!!

I’m so sorry – the last two months have had so much going that I’ve struggled to find time to get on here to post, and then, over the last couple of days, I realised that I’ve  been putting it off as I didn’t know where to start. This is just a quick post to ‘break the spell’ as it were – I have loads more posts in the pipeline.

We finally moved! We’ve been in our new home for about 6 weeks now. It’s a ‘doer-upper’ and there really is so much to do, but it’s ours, it’s warm, it’s dry and we love it! Our eldest (4y) started full time school last month and has settled really well, and our youngest (18m) becomes more of a little monkey every day. Literally – she will climb, or attempt to climb, ANYTHING!

The soap business continues to grow, though with the little one demanding so much of my time I’m wary of committing to too much too soon.  My soap is now in 5 retail outlets, and I’m in discussions about another project. I did my first custom order of party favours recently, and the last craft fair I did was really successful. I’ve also put together my first ‘multi-item’ gift sets, experimented with piping, and invested in a new piece of hardware for the business – an amazing soap cutter imported from the US.  All good stuff and I’ll fill in the gaps in future posts.

And finally (because I refuse to post a photo-free update), I created my first exfoliating soap:

Super Scrubby Peppermint Soap
            Super Scrubby Peppermint

Oatmeal and ground apricot stones make this soap wonderfully scrubby – great for gardeners’ or mechanics’ hands. It’s fragranced with nothing more than pure peppermint essential oil, and simply coloured with a green mica. They’re not the prettiest bars I’ve ever created, but oh they do feel good on tired feet 😀

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And The Winner Is…

A MASSIVE thank you to everyone who came up with suggestions for a name for my poor nameless orange & ylang ylang soap (as posted here) Facebook in particular turned out to be a particularly fertile creative arena and I do appreciate everyone who took the time to have a ponder and post something.

It wasn’t an easy decision – ‘Pheonix’ & ‘Desert Sands’ were serious contenders, but in the end I plumped for something a little more descriptive of the fragrance. And so, without further delay, I give you, ‘Orange Bliss’:

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs
Orange Bliss – fragranced with Orange & Ylang Ylang Essential Oils

Orange Bliss was the suggestion of Candice Bond, who posted on our Facebook page here. Thank you and congratulations Candice – please message the FB page with your address and a bar will be winging its way to you!

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Name That Soap…

Right folks, I need your help.

This recent addition to the range will be ready for sale in a very short while but remains nameless. It’s vegan friendly, palm free, is coloured with micas, fragranced with a blend of Ylang Ylang and x5 fold Orange Essential Oils and is made using the Drop Swirl technique.

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs
Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs

If you’d like to try a bar for free, simply suggest a great name for it, and I’ll post a bar out to the person who comes up with the name I decide to go with. (Oh and I’ll be really, really grateful too – totally mental block on this one :-D)

It’s open to anyone worldwide, so don’t be shy – get those ideas in (either here or on the Soap Mine FB page where I’ll post this as well) by 8pm GMT on Friday 8th August and I’ll announce the winner later on that evening.

Thanks – I’m excited to see what you creative lot come up with!

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My Soap Mountain is Growing

Well, I said I wouldn’t leave it so long next time and I’ve been as good as my word – only a month has passed since I last posted and I’ve awarded myself an end of term grade of C- for consistency. I think that’s usually considered a ‘Must Do Better’ grade 😀

I’ve not been idle though. The Soap Mine soaps are now being stocked in THREE retail outlets, and I’ve got my eye on another.  I’ve also been accepted to sell at a local monthly craft fair – the first of which is in just over 2 weeks time.  Soooo, I’ve been soaping like a demon. Originally it was to make sure I had enough for the launch of the website (and before you ask – nope!) but now I also need to make sure I’ve got enough for the three shops and the market – eeek!  I’m finding it quite hard to plan how many bars to make, given that I always work with a 6 week cure time, and I have no idea when, or how much, the retailers will reorder.  I suppose it’s not ‘Best Practice’ business-wise to work in such a way, but all three retailers are quite small concerns, and it would be difficult to get them to commit to taking, say, a set number of bars a month, until they’ve at least got some idea of how well (or otherwise!) they sell.

So, as the title says, my Soap Mountain is growing! My poor mum’s dining room (nope, we’ve not moved either!) has become a soapy storage area, and I’m constantly on the lookout for more storage crates, boxes and anything suitable I can get my hands on.

Anyway, these are some I made a few weeks back – I’ve got a lot more to share once I get round to photographing them!

Blackjack:

Blackjack CP Soap
Blackjack – Aniseed & Spearmint EOs

Chocolate:

Chocolate FO ITP Swirl
Chocolate FO ITP Swirl

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs:

(I’m struggling to come up with a name for the one so if anyone has any ideas I’d appreciate suggestions)

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs
Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs

Serenity:

Notice the similarity between this one and Blackjack above? My mistake – I didn’t expect the darker blue in this one to be quite so dark, so the two bars are more alike than I wanted them to be.

Bergamot, Patchouli, Red Mandarin and Ylang Ylang EOs
Bergamot, Patchouli, Red Mandarin and Ylang Ylang EOs

Finally, just because I love it – a mica swirl on the top of my last batch of Luscious Lavender. Cut pictures to follow – eventually 😀

In the mould Lavender Mica Swirl
Lavender Mica Swirl

Thanks for checking in – especially those of you whose blogs I’ve not had the chance to catch up on for what feels the longest time – I’ll get back to you soon I promise!

 

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A Quick Catch Up

So my poor blog has been sorely neglected again – six whole weeks since my last post!! I think that’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without posting, so I’ve had a word with myself, am suitably chastened, and will not be leaving it so long again 😀

Ok, lets get the inevitable out of the way.  No, we’ve still not moved into our new home, and no, the website isn’t ready yet. Both still trundling along though, so I should be able to share good news on both fronts at some point 😉

The great news is that two local retail outlets have now agreed to sell The Soap Mine soaps. Woop!  They’ve each taken a dozen soaps to display in their shops, and if they sell, they’ll take more. Fingers crossed!!

I’ve been busy building up stock levels again – sticking to the plan of ITP Swirls for FO soaps and Drop Swirls for EO soaps I wrote about last time:

Welsh Rose
Welsh Rose (ITP Swirl)

Welsh Rose is actually made with an FO called English Rose, but living in Wales, what else could I call it?!  Coloured with TD and pink mica.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey ITP Swirl
OMH (ITP Swirl)

OMH (or Oatmeal, Milk & Honey) FO is so popular in the soaping community, but this is the first time I’ve used it. To me it smells very sweet, almost like marzipan, and I LOVE it.  Coloured with TD and three different brown micas.

Wake Up! (Drop Swirl)
Wake Up! (Drop Swirl)

This is a restock of my very popular Wake Up! soap.  Fragranced with Rosemary and Peppermint EOs and coloured with TD and green / blue micas

Parisian Flora
Parisian Flora (Drop Swirl)

Another redesign / restock. Parisian Flora proved very popular in its last incarnation, so although the fragrance is exactly the same (a blend of Lavender, Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang EOs), as are the colours (TD and three pink micas), it’s now made using the drop swirl technique

Luscious Lavender
Luscious Lavender (Drop Swirl)

Luscious Lavender, simply fragranced wth Lavender EO, is by far my biggest seller. It really surprises me to be honest, but there’s no doubt about it, when I look back over my records, Lavender is definitely the one that I’ve made the most often over the years. This one thickened up on me a little quicker than normal, so the drops aren’t quite as delicate as I would have liked.

I also have a Marshmallow FO soap that was cut this morning, and isn’t yet ready to meet its public 😀 and tonight I made Black Jack – a blend of Aniseed and Spearmint EOs. That one’s still in the mould, so pics to follow sometime soon.

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…and two months later…

Wow, I realised on Monday that it was exactly two months since I last posted on here.  TWO MONTHS!! I knew I’d take a bit of time out while we packed up our home and made the move to Wales, but I didn’t realise I would neglect the blog so thoroughly – so sorry!

Anyway, we’ve left the big city and are now settling into a much more rural way of life. This is the amazing view from my bedroom window:

photo 1

Not bad eh? We’re still staying with my mum, who has kindly allowed her peaceful home to be invaded by our family of four (thanks mum!) but we’re in the process of buying our new home – in the same village – yippee!

Needless to say the majority of our belongings are still boxed up and in storage and I’ve not been able to make soap BUT I decided last night that enough was enough – I had to get back to it. Mainly because a) I miss it, hugely and b)The Soap Mine is getting seriously low on stock…

So, I dug out all my soaping gear, whisked up a simple 3 colour ITP (in the pot) swirl (and oh oh oh loved every minute of it :-D):

photo 2(1)

  Delicious is scented with a dupe of DKNY’s Be Delicious fragrance, and smells utterly gorgeous. Coloured with two shades of green mica and titanium dioxide. Cut pics to follow soon.

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I missed one…

I don’t know about you, but I go daft for reading Soapy blogs. I use bloglovin, which I love because even though I don’t always get to read posts as soon, and as often, as I would like, it keeps me up to date with all my fellow soapy bloggers and I never miss a thing. In fact, it was fellow soaper’s blog that reminded me last week that I had actually missed something – I’d forgotten to post about my most recent Lavender soap.

Ruth Esteves over at The Sirona Springs Blog posted a great tutorial on creating Mica Oil Swirls on the top of soaps, and invited readers to link their own attempts in the comments section. So I though I would. Only I didn’t have anything to link to, ‘cos I’ve not blogged about it. <Ahem…>

So here it is – a reincarnation of Luscious Lavender, but with a mica oil swirl.  The soap itself is coloured with violet ultramarine, but the closest mica I had was ‘Patagonian Purple’, and it’s not really a good match colour-wise (at all, lol). Never mind – I love the effect anyway (and I’ve just placed an order for ‘Grape’ mica which I’m hoping will be closer to the ultramarine colour and more ‘lavender-like’ for future soaps 🙂

Pure Lavender Essential Oil with a Mica SwirlI didn’t take any photos of the process, but all I did was mix about half a teaspoon of mica in a small container with about a teaspoonful of olive oil, and then used a disposable pipette to drop the mixture all over the soap once it was in the mould. I then used a wooden skewer to create the swirls. Easy peasy 😀

If you have a soapy blog please feel free to share it in the comments below. If I don’t already follow you – I will!

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Taiwan Swirl

I’ve been on a bit of a self imposed soaping break recently, in preparation for ‘The Big Move’, and it feels like ages since I last made soap.  When Amy of Great Cakes Soapworks posted this month’s soaping challenge – the beautiful Taiwan Swirl – I decided  to sign up just to watch the tutorial and see how it’s done.   Anyhow, watching the video got me itching to make soap again, so, at the eleventh hour, I unpacked all the soaping gear (to raised eyebrows from my other half :-D) and gave it a shot.

The Taiwan Swirl calls for a really really thin soap batter, which I knew would be my first challenge. My usual recipe traces fairly quickly and wouldn’t be any good for this design. Amy suggested 80% Olive oil to 20% Coconut oil, so I ran that through SoapCalc and decided I’d like the final soap to be a bit more bubbly. I plumped for 70% Olive oil, 20% Coconut oil and 10% Castor oil. Some of you will have spotted the obvious mistake already – guess who totally forgot that Castor oil can speed up trace?

I mixed up a blend of Lemon, Clary Sage and Ginger essential oils to fragrance the soap, and chose what I hoped would be complementary green and orange micas for the colours. I dispersed the micas in about 15ml of Olive oil:

photo 1(2)

I had already made up the lye solution and melted/mixed the oils earlier in the day, so I had both at room temperature. I added the lye to the oils and briefly mixed with the stick blender to the point of a very VERY light trace.  Amy, in her video, suggested stopping as soon as the batter was emulsified and just before it traced, but I missed that window and definitely hit trace  🙂  I poured a very small amount (just over 100ml from a 750g batch) of batter into each jug of mica and poured the remaining batter into the mould. I knew I was running out of time as the batter in the mould was thickening so I quickly poured the coloured mixes into the base (from high, to get the colour down through the batter to the base – one down one side, lengthways, and the other down the other side). Both were poured at the same time, which proved challenging!

Then I swirled, using a skewer. The swirling is a bit difficult to explain without a diagram but here goes: Put the skewer into the mould, right down to the base, in one corner of the mould then make tight ‘s’ shapes from one short end of the mould, side to side down the length of the mould to the other short end. Then, keeping the skewer in the mould, make long ‘s’ shapes along the length of the mould – at 90 degrees to the first ‘s’ shapes. I hope that makes sense but if not there are some great YouTube tutorials on my Pinterest board here.

Anyone spot the next obvious mistake? Yup, I forgot to add the essential oil blend. Ah well, too late to do anything about it :-s

photo 2(1)At this stage I was a little bit disappointed with what was in the mould – the swirls weren’t as fine as I’d hoped, and the green colour wasn’t very defined, but by the next morning it was looking better, and by the time I cut it I was pretty happy with the result….

Taiwan Swirl by The Soap Mine

It’s still pretty soft – I’ve never made a soap with such a high percentage of liquid oils before – and I think it’s going to need a good long cure time to get nice and hard. I really should have left it for at least 48 hours before cutting, rather than my normal 24 hours, but I was in a hurry to get this post finished, and a picture uploaded onto to Amy’s challenge web page before the deadline, so that’s what I’m off to do now 😀

Thanks Amy for another great challenge!

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Ooops…

I made this soap a couple of months ago and it’s been a surprisingly good seller, despite its rather ‘plain jane’ looks:

CP Soap - Serenity

Ordinarily I love my colours and swirls, and in my head this one was going to be a beautiful drop swirl design in shades of blue, a bit like this green one I made not so long ago…

Green drop

but it wasn’t to be…

I usually soap at room temperature. To that end I generally mix up my lye solution and melt my hard oils and butters during the baby’s midday nap, so that they’ve cooled down nicely by the time both kids are asleep in the evening. I also weigh out my liquid oils and add them to the melted oils as well – this starts the cooling process and also makes the ‘hard’ oils and butters less likely to re-solidify as they cool.

So on this occasion I prepped everything as normal, and once the bedtime routine was finished I eagerly set to work.  I combined the oils with the lye, added the essential oils (a blend of Bergamot, Patchouli, Orange and Ylang Ylang) then portioned out the batter and mixed in the colours (titanium dioxide, denim blue mica and ultramarine blue pigment). It was only after I’d poured all of the white portion into the mould that I realised that, even when I dropped in the two blues, I wouldn’t have anywhere near enough soap to fill the mould.

It only took a second or two for the penny to drop.   For some reason I had skipped a step at lunchtime, and hadn’t added the liquid oils to the melted oils.  My measured out liquid oils were still in a jug, put away safely to one side. Arrrgghhhhh! I couldn’t bear to waste a 3lb batch of soap, so did the only thing I could think of. All the mixed batter went back into a big bowl (oh the colours looked so pretty as I poured them in!) along with the liquid oils and I stick blended like crazy. The batter had originally behaved very well and traced beautifully (I’d had no indication that anything was amiss) so I had no idea whether it would work or not. I fully expected ricing, seizing or something equally frustrating but no, it all combined really well and I was able to pour my (by this stage) very plain, unicolour soap.

Despite everything, I’ve called it Serenity. The colour is very calming, and the fragrance blend is soothing and comforting. It’s funny how things turn out.