Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sometimes, It's the Simple Things

As a soap maker, I often find myself browsing Pinterest for ideas. There are some amazing soap makers out there... swirls, colours, techniques. Really, some of the soap they make would qualify as pieces of art. I'm serious! Check out this woman's soaps - From Grace to You. She even has a bar of soap that she sells for $300 (US) per bar! I wouldn't be able to decide whether to use it or hang it on the wall, to be honest.

I'll stick with the simple soaps I make. I don't want anyone to be so intimidated that they refuse to use my soap because "it's too pretty". It's meant to get you clean, with some enjoyment thrown in for good measure. Call it an affordable luxury, if you will.

This week, I did simple. We have a small challenge going on in the Ravelry soap makers group, making soap with natural colorants. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while but just haven't gotten around to, never had the push to just do it. This week, I did it.

A month or so ago, I infused two jars of oil with natural colorants, one with Annatto seed powder and one with Turmeric powder. The jars of oil have been waiting for me to put them to some kind of use. Incidentally, the oils can also be used in food making. Both herbs are also food herbs. Annatto is most commonly used in rice dishes, giving it a gorgeous yellow colour (from my reading) and I'm sure everyone is familiar with turmeric, widely used in Asian food.

Annatto on the left and turmeric on the right
I chose a low coconut oil recipe and made enough to fill my mold, plus a little extra. I haven't taken pictures of the main soap yet (that will happen later today) but here's a picture of the mini loaf, coloured with annatto and turmeric. Oh, I added a little bit of turmeric into the soap batter as well.




It's very lightly scented with sandalwood fragrance oil and there are calendula petals on the top. Calendula petals can also be used as a soap colorant and it's one of the very few botanicals that doesn't discolour in soap. This picture doesn't show the colour very well. It's much more obvious in the following picture. The scrap that the mini bar is resting on is the end cut of the loaf; some of the batter was left uncoloured to make the natural colours "pop".


I've already said that I'm always on the lookout for techniques I can implement in my soapmaking. I came across another, very simple, one that I will definitely be using. It was inspired by a pin that lead me to this website - Forest & Fauna - and a way of making your own chocolate chips. I had no intention of making my own chocolate chips but I could immediately see a way of implementing this in soap.


When I made another batch of "My Poop Don't Stink" this week, there was a little bit of batter remaining that wouldn't fit into the molds. Instead of letting it go to waste, I spread it on to one of my silicone trivets, one with a honeycomb mesh. This morning, I unmolded my little chocolate soap chips. Aren't they cute?


I intend to use them as confetti in a soap batter or as decorations on the tops of future soaps, once I have enough to do something with. They won't all be chocolate, as these are, but multi-coloured. And they're SO easy!



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Some Of These Things

Weekends are play time for me. It's my time for soap making. This weekend has been no exception. First up is a long planned Lemon & Poppyseed soap. Whenever I've made it in the past, it has gone over very well. It has just the right amount of "scrubby" and the scent of lemon, orange, and peppermint just smells so yummy!

This one was made yesterday and unmolded and cut this morning. The weather was actually nice enough, finally, to take pictures outside.

The only (very minor) critique I have about this soap is that the yellow could have been a little more... yellow. It's the first time I worked with Voyageur's concentrated neon colours so I was very light handed. I know for next time, I can use more.

Today, I made another batch of a soap that has become my most popular soap to date, Java Jumpstart. The scent is intoxicating - a blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger, patchouli, and sweet orange - and the addition of cocoa, ground coffee, and oatmeal gives it a scrubbiness that makes it perfect as a kitchen soap. I have a bar of this one in my bathroom at all times.

It's still in the mold (I just made it this morning) and should be ready for cutting by the time I get off work tomorrow.

After I took this picture, I decided to change the top up a little. We'll see how it works out when I cut it.

Remember the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other, some of these things are kind of the same..."? (Do they still sing it?) Well, in this next picture, some of these things are not like the others.

I came across a pin on Pinterest on how to make river rocks with soap shavings and odds and ends. This was a fun little distraction and something I'll do again. There are always bits and pieces that end up in the scrap basket. This is one way to use them up; that and the fact that they're the last piece in a future project idea.

So, which are real and which are soap?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Soap Gremlins

I'm not thrilled. It seems I've been tempting the soap gremlins and they've showed up. As pretty as the Ice Queen soap is, it isn't perfect.


Don't get me wrong. I'm happy with the soap itself. I love the concept of this soap. This particular batch, however, didn't play nice. Once hardened, it was nearly impossible to get out of the mold. Seriously, I had to lay the mold on the floor, put my foot on one edge, and tear the mold apart! Perhaps I should have waited another day or so. I ended up cutting about 1/4" off one edge. So much for not lining that particular mold. Why tempt the soap gremlins more than necessary, right?

Then there were the sugar pearls. I don't think they like the gelling process.


Do you see the orange-y halo around some of the pearls? They seem to have started melting and reacting with the soap batter. I think I'll try another batch, possibly this weekend, to see if not gelling them makes a difference.

I also need to remember that soap does NOT have to be unmolded within the first 24 hours. I was a little impatient with the poop soap. I really wanted to see how it looked so I unmolded one before it was fully saponified. Part of it was left in the mold. Oops.

Patience, grasshopper, patience. Now, how do I appease the soap gremlins and send them on their way?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Two More Made

It is not nice out today. It's been snowing on and off all day today and it isn't a day to be out and about. It is, however, the perfect day for making soap.

With a soaping supplies order having arrived this week, it was the perfect time to make my planned Poop Soap. Yes, Poop Soap. I'm going to call it "My Poop Don't Stink". And, this one doesn't stink. It smells like chocolate fudge! I know a few little, and not so little, boys who will love this one.


In the mold, it looks a lot like chocolate pudding, doesn't it? And that's kind of what it smells like, too. My daughter suggested I add a bit of ground coffee to the batter so I did, along with a bit of ground oatmeal. The coffee will make the soap a little "scrubby", making it a good hand soap.


Today, I decided to, once again, make the Ice Queen soap. This time, I used a non-morphing blue colorant. I used a luxurious blend of oils that includes cocoa butter and shea butter and is scented with Sensuous Sandalwood, one of my favourite scents right now.


I've topped it with dyed rock salt, sugar pearls, and ultrafine opalescent glitter. I'll be able to unmold and cut it tomorrow and, I'll be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing how the swirls turned out.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Play Time

The soap dough challenge on Soapmaking Forum is coming to an end this weekend. Over the past week or so, I've been mulling ideas around, trying to come up with.... something. I finally came across a photo that inspired me; it was similar to this one.

I know that these are fairly simple to mimic but they still take time and trying to figure out how best to put it all together was also a bit of a challenge. When I realized that the deadline was fast approaching (Feb. 25), I figured I'd best get my butt in gear.

Over the last few days, I'd been sketching out layout ideas and finally came up with one I liked. When I got home from work yesterday, I got to work. Unfortunately, my batter thickened up a little faster than I'd hoped and I had to hurry to get it all together but, all in all, I'm pretty happy with my soap.

Here are some of the pieces I used to put the soap together. On the left, the pink/white/black rod and the black and white rods will span the length of the mold. (I used the mini mold for this soap.) The rest are some of the "candies".



John was ready to try one of these before I told him they were soap. He was a little disappointed.


The soap in the mold. Sorry, the photo isn't the best but you get the idea.


And, the cut soap. I had envisioned the bar being another, larger, candy with green, black, and white stripes but my batter thickened up more than I expected. I'm not disappointed, though. It's a fun soap, a cheerful soap. The batter was lightly scented with Sweet Fennel essential oil, an oil that smells like licorice.

There was more batter than needed for the small mold, which I did on purpose because I knew I wouldn't be able to use all the "candies" on this loaf.


All in all, I'm pretty happy with this soap. It's fun, playful, colourful, smells yummy and the scent works with the theme of the bars. That said, I still want to make a soap with roses, scent it with something totally different and call it "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden."

Tomorrow? Poop!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lesson Learned

When it comes to almost any craft, there are times things don't go quite as planned. I had a vision of what I wanted my Flower Garden soap to be. I knew the scent I wanted and I knew how I wanted to pour.


This was my inspiration. I wanted to pour uncoloured batter on the impression mat. Then, I would colour the batter and add my scent. The first step went beautifully.

And then everything went south. When I added my colour (a mix of Moroccan Red Clay and Glitz and Glam Mica) and scent (a blend of English Rose and Sensual Amber.... smells amazing!), my batter accelerated, and fast!

I did manage to spoon it into the mold and managed to get most of the bubbles out but I was afraid I'd "smooshed" the uncoloured batter into an unrecognizable mess. I'd made a larger batch and what was left was pressed into heart shaped molds. Yes, pressed in. By the time I'd filled the flower mold, the batter had firmed up to a play dough consistency.

By the time I went to bed last night, the soap was completely firm and I could unmold it. However, some of the flowers on the top were so brittle I couldn't get them out of the mold properly. Plus, the batter had been squished under the impression mat and up the sides of the soap body.



These hearts look the worst. Today, I cut three of them into small cubes to make a confetti soap. It's in the oven, gelling, right now. My first reaction was to rebatch the entire batch but.... It IS a nice soap. Already it's hard, it lathers well, and it smells really nice, very feminine. I think I'll keep the bars (the hears will be used for rebatching) but offer them at a reduced price, just because they're not perfect.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Time for a Change

One of the first things you'll notice today is a name change. I've recently become serious about gearing up to sell some of my soap. To that end, Suds 'n Things is too nebulous a name, too difficult to come up with a "look", a logo, a theme; I needed something a little more concrete, something that reflects what I do and where I am. After a lot of thought, I've decided on Mission Meadows Soapery.

We live in an area of Kelowna called the Lower Mission, near Mission Creek, one of my favourite walking spots. Near us there's a farm called Old Meadows Farm, where we often buy vegetables in the summer, another favourite spot. This area has historically been an agricultural area, with orchards and, now, vineyards. When I combined the two, I came up with Mission Meadows... and because I make soap, the Soapery was rather obvious.

That out of the way, I still intend for this to be a place to catalog my soapy adventures, making it easy for me to see what I've done and when I did it.

Last week, I blogged about the Dead Sea Mud soap. I never did show the cut soap. It turned out even better than I'd anticipated. Apart from looking like blocks of concrete, the soap smells amazing and has an earthy, pure look about it.

The "shells" aren't part of the soap; they've just been laid on top for the photo.
I'm looking forward to trying this soap. It should be a good one. The soap base is a good one, one I've used in other soaps as well. When you have a good base recipe, you'll always have a decent soap.

Last weekend was a long weekend here in BC (Family Day). The grands were here for a few hours on Monday and I let Trinity play with the soap dough, mainly to see if she could inspire me. She enjoyed it and came up with a few things.

All that day (and all the previous week), I was mulling around an idea for a soap made in a column mold. I brought home a core from a roll of architectural paper, a 3" heavy cardboard tube. I'd previously purchased an impression mat, intended for cake decorating. My intention was to line the tube, first with freezer paper to make the unmolding easier, then with the silicon impression mat.

For colouring the soap, I wanted to use some of the green clay I'd purchased a few weeks earlier. I was envisioning a green and white In The Pot (ITP) swirl. Once the kids had gone home, it was time for me to play.


Here's what the soap looked like as it came out of the mold, with the silicon impression mat still in place. It's already looking good.


At this point, I was thrilled. The soap had partially gelled and it felt smooth and fairly hard. And it smelled amazing. I scented it with Petitgrain, Bergamot, and Lemon essential oils and coloured it with Chromium Oxide Green and Titanium Dioxide (white). I cut it the following day.

Introducing Green Goddess soap
To say I am happy is an understatement. I am thrilled with this one; it is everything I had envisioned. I had enough to make a few smaller bars as well and, on one of them, I used one of Trinity's creations. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll be getting this bar of soap once it has fully cured, in about a month.