Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soap Challenge Week #1 ~ In the Pot Swirl

Hello, my name is Natalie and I am a soap making addict.  Just so you know, soap making will NOT be on my list of culls!

Amy Warden with Great Cakes Soapworks proposed five weeks of soap making technique challenges.  The first week (last week) was a challenge to make a soap using the in the pot swirling technique.  For my non-soaper friends, that is when you take your raw soap that has reached trace and swirl a portion of it that has been tinted another color and add it back into your mixing pot.  You then lightly swirl them and pour this new lovely blend into your mold.  The next day is like Christmas morning!  You really have no idea what you will see when you unmold and cut your soap.  Surprise!

Well, I have done a few IPS (in pot swirls) so I decided to truly challenge myself and increase the number of colors in my swirl to six colors.  Yup, six!  The challenge increases with the number of colors, because your biggest enemy/competitor in soap making is time.  Time can be brutal.  When you are mixing a batch of soap, it seems like it takes FOREVER to reach trace, which is the point where your oils and lye water have truly emulsified.  To pour before 'trace' can lead to separation, which translates as big ol' hairy mess, which translates as NOT soap.  But once you reach trace, it's like you have lit a fire under your raw soap's bottom, because it starts taking off!  Some fragrances and other additives are like a rocket pack, starting the saponification process, and causing your soap to start to harden in the pot.  That makes it difficult to even pour your soap into the mold.  It makes getting fancy dancy pretty close to impossible! 

I made a batch of  'Happy Hippie' soap, and colored it using a variety of micas and oxides, and titanium dioxide.  The fragrance was a blend of 'Karma' fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus, and Sweet Orange Essential Oil.  The top was sprinkled with Gold Mica.  For the color scheme I tried to duplicate a shirt that I tie dyed the previous week.  This batch was fairly easy to work with.  It didn't seize up on me.  I did pour it a little heavy.  No biggie, but my colors would have had a little more separation, and not seem so compressed if I had poured more lightly, or over a spoon.  Next time!

After pouring your colors into the pot, you lightly swirl it.  
The whole mess (I mean beautiful work of art) gets poured into the mold.  At this point it isn't much to look at.  You can see from the picture that it did begin to thicken by the time it was poured.
I saved a bit of my various colors to make a pretty swirl on top.
After I lightly swirled the top of my soap, I sprinkled it with gold mica.  Covered it.  And waited......and waited....and waited.....and waited.  'Til Christmas morning!  Or at least that is what it feels like when you are waiting to open the package.

And here it is ~ Happy Hippie Soap!

 Hope you enjoyed it.  The next challenge is to make soap with milk.  Good!  I've been waiting for an excuse to make some more Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey Soap!   Have a great day!

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm Baaaaaccckkkk!

I'm back and anxious to resume sharing our journey.  So much has happened over the last year or so since I've been blogging, and I may share some of it in flashbacks.  For the most part, though, I'm hoping to just pick up from the present.

I have one thing I have to do in order to make this happen.  What, you ask, could that ONE thing be????  Cull!  For you non-farming folk, this is an old term used in livestock breeding.  You cull, or separate your animals into two groups; the ones that produce desirable traits, and the ones that don't.  The dos get kept, and the don'ts....well, don't. 

Of course I'm not talking about breeding livestock here.  I'm talking about my little (little is such a relative term) addiction.  Some people are hoarders.  Others are compulsive shoppers.  I'm a compulsive learner.  There, I've said it!  I feel compelled to learn things.  Now, that would be real beneficial if I was interested in merely gaining knowledge.  My problem is that when I see something (usually something crafty), I think, 'Hey, wouldn't it be a blast to learn to make those myself?'.  As a result, I have dabbled in painting, sewing, quilting, jewelry making, soap making, canning, woodworking, fabric dying, calligraphy, gardening, weaving, and all sorts of other fascinating little things.  And I love them all!  And I want to do them all!

But, alas, I have finally accepted the fact that God isn't going to give me any more hours in the day than other folks.  He's not going to send me a little helper fairy to do all the yucky 'responsible' things that just HAVE to be done.  I know!  It's terrible, isn't it?!

So....I'm going to have to set aside a few of my hobby babies.  Don't worry.  I'll be okay! 

Hopefully I'll keep my addictions enough in check that I'll be able to write a bit...and visit with you!  See you soon.