I love to take part in soap challenges as it allows me to really express my creativity and at the same time enhance my soapmaking skills. I don’t get much chance to do this within my business as I have to stick to my strictly regulated cosmetically certified recipes for the soap I sell via my website.
This month’s challenge required you to find a friend or family member to make soap with, who you don’t normally work with. I asked my friend Anna as she was really keen to make soap and had tried on her own previously but was unhappy with the resulting soap.
Anna is an artist; you can see her work here:
When I asked Anna what kind of soap she would like to make, she asked if it was possible to recreate one of her gannet drawings within the soap. Anna originally wanted to embed the design within the soap log, but we only had a single day to work together so I advised her that an ebru style soap would work better and allow her more freedom of design. I thought her painting skills would really work with this style.
We made a white soap base in the bottom of the mould and I suggested scenting it with a marine fragrance called sea spray as it went well with the overall soap theme. We allowed it to set, and then poured a thin layer of soap batter on top (about 50mm thick). As you’ll see in the video below, Anna then created her design in this top layer using plastic pipettes and wooden skewers. The design was coloured using yellow iron oxide, activated charcoal and blue mica.
The soap recipe was a mix of palm, coconut, olive and sunflower oils with a superfat of 5% using 40% lye concentration.
As the challenge was all about collaboration, I thought it would be great to show what we’d each done to make the final product. I’ve made sections of the video go quickly so you get the essence of our day together without having to sit through hours of video!
Here is the finished wet soap next to Anna’s original drawing
After Anna had created her gannet design, we both took the leftover soap batter and created some more little soaps in some silicone moulds.
Thanks to Amy for coming up with this challenge, I really enjoyed working with Anna as I usually have to work on my own, it was so much fun and I would love to do it again.
Here is my entry for this month’s soap challenge. We had to cut out templates and use them to sculpt the soap into a layered design.
I had a look around for some inspiration and I came up with the idea of a skyline silhouette. I wanted a design where the skyline reflection was mirrored as a reflection in the sea underneath.
I found a skyline which had a shape that I would be able to replicate. As I needed three sculpted layers for the challenge, I chose to make a layer for the reflection, a layer for the buildings in the foreground and the layer for the buildings in the background.
I had a first attempt at this and found that it was much easier to make indented sculptured layers than raised sections as they kept dropping and wouldn’t hold their shape very well which meant the tallest tower sank. I decided to make the soap in two halves and stick them together with black soap to get the most defined layers.
I used clear polypropylene sheets to trace out my design and glued matchsticks onto the back of sections that needed the most stability.
I made the top half first by pouring the red and orange sky, then creating the pale grey background buildings, then the foreground dark grey buildings.
I left this section to set overnight then poured the blue sea layer. I allowed the black to set up until it was just firm enough to hold the soap I had made the day before. Then I pasted the two together with some more wet black soap.
I allowed the block to set overnight and cut the following day.
I used a 40% lye concentration for these soaps as it makes nice hard bars that can be unmoulded and cut quickly and I used a fragrance that accelerates a little called cashmere. I don’t normally use it for cold process soap as it traces way too quickly. I dropped in a small amount bit by bit into the batter to prevent it accelerating too quickly on me and found that it didn’t trace as quickly as I had wanted or expected. I may try this another time when trying to work with fragrances that move really fast.
Here is my first attempt where the upright buildings weren’t as defined as I would have liked and my two shades of grey were too similar to each other.
I hope you like my entry. Another really interesting challenge and a technique that I will definitely use in the future!
This month’s challenge was incredibly challenging for me. I had so many goes at this trying to nail it, I think I will have enough soap to wash with for fifty years! I finally achieved a droplet that I am happy enough with to enter so here it is!
I only poured a small amount of batter into the bottom of the mould before pouring in my droplet colours as I like the droplets which have a long thin stem.
My bars are scented with a blend of spearmint, lavender and rosemary essential oils hence the mica colours that were chosen.
The mica was purchased from http://www.u-makeitup.com/ and the colours used were purple passion, lime, dreamy aquamarine and some titanium dioxide and activated charcoal for the black.
I thought I would also post some of my other attempts in order to show you how challenging I found this challenge to be. Getting a droplet shape was not easy for me!
I loved the colour of these and all the layers within the droplet, In real life they look much brighter and more vibrant. I was gutted that the outline turned out wobbly. I think it was because I poured the sides with a squeeze bottle rather than a jug so the pressure forced the batter into the mould unevenly.
There were also lots of other attempts, some with no droplet at all, others with triangular shaped patterns and one where I used an accelerating fragrance which set up on me so fast that all I got was tiger stripes across the middle of the bar.
And here as promised are my other six attempts!!!
Thank you for another great challenge Amy 🙂
Here is my entry for this month’s Great Cakes Soapworks challenge. This is my attempt at a Clyde Slide.
This was a hard technique for me. It took me several attempts to achieve the feathering which is the signature of this technique. I am pleased with my entry though in the end!
I wanted to do something a bit different with my pour for this challenge. My aim was to pour the white base colour in at the back of the bowl and simultaneously pour the brown and green so they met in the middle. The aim was to produce a soap that had a different colour on each side rather than a homogeneous mix of colours, which I feel I managed to achieve. I quite like the symmetrical look that it creates.
Here is a picture of the bowl as I poured. I used a washing up bowl to pour into as I found that using the regular jug that I make soap batter in didn’t seem to have a big enough surface area. I was trying to find something similar to the big round bowl Clyde uses in his videos. I waited until I had reached a medium trace before pouring.
I propped the left hand end of the log mould up slightly by about an inch and poured in one solid sweep from left to right, then laid the mould back down flat.
I chose a standard recipe with palm, olive, coconut and sunflower oils. I have been thinking about making Christmas soaps recently which is why I chose the colour scheme, it reminds me of peppermint creams so I scented with a peppermint fragrance oil. I used brown and green mica from White Ape Pigments and titanium dioxide.
Here is another attempt that I made that I was quite pleased with
I feel like I should write a separate blog post called ‘How not to do a Clyde slide’ as it took me quite a few attempts to get the technique to work how I wanted it to! Here is a run down of what I learnt the hard way if you are interested in reading it.
Amy’s tutorial said that pouring the batter too thick would prevent the feathers from developing. I think I took this too literally with my first attempts. I poured them so thin that the autumn coloured soap which started out as several lovely shades of red, orange and yellow, turned into an unpleasant homogeneous brown.
My second blue attempt was slightly thicker trace, but I still didn’t achieve any feathers. I think the soap still turned out fairly pretty though. I poured the grey base background, then poured pools of dark and light blue on alternative sides of the pot to try and achieve a soap which was half dark and half light, similar to my entry soap but in a jug. The soaps are really pretty and I like them a lot, but they don’t demonstrate the feathering at all. I think this was because the batter was too thin and the jug too cramped.
Here is my entry for this month’s Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge. This month’s theme was ‘Ebru Art’. This is a turkish style of water marbling where dyes are floated on the top of a water gel base and manipulated to create beautiful designs. The main guidelines were to make sure your design had some form of ebru inspiration and that you only used a single skewer or tool to create your design.
I had several attempts at this challenge and it was harder than I thought it would be. (I always seem to say that! My husband said ‘that’s why they are called challenges!’).
Most of the images of ebru art that I searched for were floral themed and I absolutely loved the roses that can be seen in the images below.
The roses below are by ebru artist Mukadder Kavas and can be purchased here
I didn’t just want to recreate an ebru design though. I wanted to put some of my own personality into the art so I chose to create ebru style roses with a ‘roses and castles’ twist.
I grew up in the Worcestershire countryside where there are many canals and I absolutely love the ‘roses and castles’ style of artwork that is traditionally used to decorate the boats. As the name suggests roses and castles are often depicted in the artwork and bright vibrant primary colours are always used to create the designs.
Below the example of ‘Roses and Castles’ art which I used to inspire my design.
|This went wrong so I just messed it all around with a skewer. I still think it looks kind of cool though!|
Thanks again Amy for another great challenge. I am really excited to find out what the next three months challenges will be.
This has been the hardest challenge for me yet. I have not made soap into dessert shapes, or used melt and pour before so it felt very daunting at the beginning. I was not short of ideas on what to make, but working out how to achieve them was the difficult part. I know the main purpose of this challenge was to make soap art, so functionality was not as important, but it is difficult for me to think about making something that would not be used so I tried to make all my desserts as functional as possible.
1. Mango Chia Pudding
Food ingredients – Chia seeds, coconut milk
Inspiration – http://www.ashleyneese.com/mango-chia-pudding/
The first desserts I made were mini mango chia puddings. I have been eating a lot of chia at the moment so I already had some to use. Chia has been becoming more popular at the moment in cosmetic products too. The texture of chia pudding on it’s own with surfactant added was not likely to hold it’s shape properly, so I decided to make it into a shower jelly. It has always been something I have wanted to try, but hadn’t got around to it yet so I thought this was the ideal opportunity.
I started by making the mango coloured part. I used the recipe for 1% agar soap jelly found here.
I used Sodium cocoyl isethionate as the surfactant as that is what I had available to me. I coloured it with red and yellow liquid colourant until I reached a mango colour and poured it into some plastic shot glasses and allowed it to set. I unmoulded some of the set jelly and cut it into chunks to be used as mango chunks to decorate the top of the soap. Then I made another batch of jelly using coconut milk as the liquid and added about 2tbsp chia seeds. I poured it on top of the mango layers and allowed it to set. Before it had completely set, I added the mango coloured chunks to the top.
I haven’t used these yet, but I am looking forward to it as I think the chia seeds will provide some gentle exfoliation.
2. Swedish Princess Cake
Food ingredients – Oats, Cows milk powder, honey, sugared butterflies
Inspiration – http://korenainthekitchen.com/2013/05/27/daring-bakers-prinsesstarta/
The second dessert is a Swedish Princess cake. I made some cold process soap with powdered oats, milk and honey. The sugar in the milk and honey made it easier to mould into dome shaped balls and the oats made it the colour of a baked cake. I then made some soap fondant using melt and pour, cornflour and glycerine, using the recipe given to us. I dyed it green with liquid soap colourant to represent the icing on the cakes. I rolled it out and used it to cover the soap balls. This was not an easy task as the soap fondant isn’t quite the same texture as actual cake fondant. I then wrapped the base of the cakes with ribbon and secured it with a pin. I decorated the top with some sugar butterflies.
3. Naked Coffee Layer Cake
Food ingredients – Espresso Coffee, Cocoa Powder.
Inspiration – http://www.belleaukitchen.com/2013/11/toffee-coffee-and-vanilla-naked-layer.html
The third dessert is a naked coffee layer cake. I made the soap layers from cold process soap. The brown layers are coffee soap with added coffee grounds and espresso added to the lye water. The white rounds are the same soap, but with the water content made up with water only and no coffee grounds added. I didn’t have a mould the correct size so I made the soap in a log mould and used a metal cookie cutter to cut out the circular cake layers to the size and shape I required. The icing is made from foaming bath butter and melt and pour whipped together with cocoa powder added to give it the brown colour. I used it to stick the cake layers together and pipe the top. I used some soap curls of the coffee cold process top to decorate the top.
4. Rose Apple Tart
Food Ingredients – Cocoa powder, beer.
Inspiration – http://hipfoodiemom.com/2013/10/30/guest-post-apple-walnut-tart-with-maple-custard-from-baking-a-moment/
I made some more soft cold process soap with beer and cocoa powder added which I allowed to cure for a few days then rolled into balls in my hands until it was warm enough to mould into the bottom of a muffin pan lined with cling film. Once it had reached room temperature again, it was hard enough to hold it’s shape and the same consistency as a pie crust. I then used melt and pour for the first time. I only had clear base so I coloured it with titanium dioxide and a bit of cocoa powder and yellow iron oxide to achieve a creamy apple colour, I also coloured some more base with red iron oxide to represent the apple skin. I poured the melted red soap into a silicone muffin mould and tilted it to coat the sides with the soap until it set. This meant there was a 3mm layer of soap on the inside of the muffin moulds. I then filled the insides with the cream melt and pour. Once it had set, I unmoulded it and used a cheese wire to cut it horizontally into slices. I cut each slice in half down the middle and was left with something that resembled apple slices with a small layer of red skin attached. I curled these up into a rose shape and inserted them into the brown cocoa pie crusts, setting them in place with more of the cream melt and pour to represent the custard.
Thanks again Amy and also thank you to Cee for showing us all these techniques. Another very challenging challenge, but I enjoyed being forced out of my cold process comfort zone for a change. I don’t think I will be using melt and pour again in the near future as I find it really fiddly and time consuming, and if I never have to see any soap fondant again it will be a day too soon! I now have an even greater admiration for those of you make these creations on a regular basis.
I am really, really excited about next month’s ebru challenge. I can’t wait to get started!
This was a hard one for me, I like to try to do something a bit different when it comes to the challenges and to think outside the box; but I was really short on ideas. I had three attempts, and have decided to enter my second attempt.
The challenge this month was to create a landscape in a log mould that didn’t contain any man made structures. This is quite difficult as many of the landscapes around me do contain man made structures. I decided to replicate this image of lavender fields as it is grown in Devon near to where I live. I also loved this photo as the vibrant purple from the lavender contrasts beautifully with the yellow and blue clouds in the skyline.
I recently discovered that Great Cakes Soapworks host a monthly soap challenge. There is a swirl technique that you are given instructions on how to achieve, then you are asked to take a photograph of your own personal attempt. All entrants are then asked to vote on which soap is their favourite.
Here is one of her images
Unfortunately, my soap didn’t look the way I wanted it to when I did it completely in greyscale so I added in a touch of pale blue/green mica to add a bit of extra interest.
I used a recipe that I have found to be really slow to trace. It takes days to set hard, and wouldn’t be my ideal choice for functional soap, but it allows you ages to work on swirls, and the bars are still useable.
30% Olive Oil
20% Sunflower Oil
I scented with 3% English Rain Fragrance as I thought it went well with the blue and grey theme.
I added titanium dioxide to the whole batch to create a white base. Then I poured about a 2cm layer of that base into the bottom of the mould. I poured the remainder into three squeeze bottles, and used two different concentrations of activated charcoal and blue/green mica to dye the batter.
I squeezed the pale grey and blue in vertical stripes down the middle of the mould, then outlined the multi-coloured strip with the dark charcoal. I then used a skewer to streak horizontal lines in between the dark lines all down the mould. I then used a fatter skewer to drag the dark lines into the helix shape. (unfortunately I have no pictures of this as I was too busy trying to get the swirl right!)
Here are some more close ups of my entry, a slightly different interpretation of the swirl, but I incorporated all the key elements so I hope it is acceptable and I hope you like it. I will add some more images of the cut bars when the soap is hard enough to unmould.