Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Soap Challenge Club - The Peacock Swirl

If you looked around my house you'd probably pick up on something quite quickly. Peacocks, I like them. Really, I love them. I've pictures hanging in my soap room of them. Plates, cups and platters dot my shelves. The colours of their plumage make up my home's colour scheme. You could call it an obsession.

Fitting that the first challenge of the club would be the peacock swirl. Interestingly, I hadn't tried this technique before this past week. Why? I honestly don't know. In any case, I made my first attempt last night. One of the really nice aspects of this technique is that you can use nasty, accelerating scents without issue. The trick is that you only scent the base layer and you squeeze out your many layers of stripes on top of that. You only swirl the stripes. Since you don't add the scent to the colours used for your stripes, it stays fluid. And if you don't mix your batter past a water thin emulsification, it's be very fluid for a very long time.

My first batch for this technique was made with a simple blend of sweet pea and cherry blossom. I've dubbed it Sweet Blossom; yes, I know, my creativity runneth over. For the purpose of my swirl, I didn't make a fancy comb or anything, I just used my trusty chopstick. It worked so I'll probably stick with this for now. The only real goof in making this soap is that I dropped my divider into the freshly swirled soap so a bit of the swirl got smudged. Oh well. I'm really quite happy with the soap.

Here we are:

The soap, while unmolded, is still a bit soft for manhandling so "cut" pictures will wait for now.

Now, the soap I am entering in the Challenge is as of yet unnamed and very fresh in the mold. I just poured it in fact: I haven't even cleaned up yet. The scent is coconut lemongrass with a twist, the addition of a creamy vanilla and sweet lemon blossoms. This is the soap that almost wasn't. After I'd put down the first few layers of colour I realized that there was a layer of oil floating above the soap. My reaction was literally: "SHIT! It's ricing!" Thankfully I was able to dump it back into my mold and stink blend it back together. Only the scented layer riced so my individual colours were fine. As a side note, my base is coloured a rich royal blue. Once the base was back together everything went perfectly. To say I am happy with the end results is an understatement.

It will take me some seriously meditation and mediation with the various aspects of my nature to choose the name for this soap. It can't just be any name; it has to be THE name. ::) That said, here it is. My perfectly peacock soap.

The quill in the picture is one of my most loved possessions. I am so happy with the colours of the soap matching so perfectly with the quill!

So that's it. I am fully in love with this technique. I'm sure no one is surprised.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

In Augural Batches - I'm Finally Home

Two things make a place home for me, my cats and my soap making supplies. For the bulk of the May, I had neither. Admittedly, I do tend to move a bit of a time but as of last week the cats are here and getting to know the new space. As of today I have all my supplies here and all of it put away, nice and organized. So I'm officially home.

I christened my new space with not one but two batches of soap and a quick batch of bubble bath. The bubble bath was more a whim. I'm out of it and I wanted a bubble bath so naturally I whipped up a bottle. The soaps are completely different beasts from one and the other. One is a castile, a column swirl, scented with amber, neroli, orange peel, chamomile and bergamot. Originally it was meant to simply be neroli and amber but I discovered I was nearly out of my neroli fo so I made a broader blend. The other soap is a shaving soap. This has been a project of mine for a while and I only just made the first batch. Yes. I've been researching the subject to death for months and I've finally made  a batch. The recipe includes black cocoa butter and kokum butters with avocado, olive and coconut oil. I made it with a combination of sodium and potassium hydroxides. Where most people seem to favour more potassium hydroxide than sodium hydroxide, I decided to go with more sodium hydroxide. So far the results are good. Really good actually. The bars are truly firm and can survive being lathered directly onto the skin. Naturally, I need to play around with the recipe and the method for a while yet but I'm gratified that my research seems to have had good results.

I've got to say. It's good to be home.