|My Cucumber Melon gradient layer soap|
I had seen the technique many times, but never tried it. The first time I saw it was on Anne-Marie's Soap Queen blog. When Anne-Marie posted this tutorial, I had just started my journey into cold-process soapmaking and didn't feel up to the task. I vowed to try gradient layers someday when I had more experience, though.
Sometime later I saw this very helpful YouTube video about making an Ombre layer soap (which is yet another name for this technique) that one of my forum friends, Emily from Shieh Design Studio, created. (I like her method very much and borrowed from it to make my own soap.)
When Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks recently coordinated a weekly soap challenge that included a gradient layer challenge, I decided to finally give it a try. I didn't get my soap done in time to participate, but I followed the weekly challenges closely and was inspired by all of the beautiful soaps created by such talented soapmakers.
For my gradient soap, I decided to use a Cucumber Melon fragrance oil from Elements Bath and Body. (I would link to the fragrance oil, but as of this writing it appears that Elements is no longer carrying Cucumber Melon, which is a shame because it behaves beautifully in CP soap and it smells wonderful.) This fragrance is one of my dad's favorites, so I wanted to make a batch to share with him. (Father's Day is right around the corner!) For my colorants, I chose Bramble Berry's green chrome oxide and gold sparkle mica.
I made my main batch of soap and added the fragrance oil to my base oils before adding the lye solution. Then I portioned the soap off after I brought the main batch to trace. I wanted mostly green layers with a little bit of gold on the top. For my batch size (which was 2 pounds of oils), I started with 2 cups of green soap. I poured one cup of the green soap into my mold and then added another cup of uncolored soap to the remaining green soap, lightening it. I repeated this process two more times, each time getting the soap a lighter shade of green.
For the gold layers, I wanted the opposite effect - I wanted my layers to start out lighter and gradually get darker. So, I poured off a half-cup of soap and colored it white with some titanium dioxide, and then colored the rest of my main batch gold. Then I added a half-cup of gold soap to the white and poured a half-cup from that portion into my mold. Using that process, I made two more gold layers, each one a bit darker than the last.
Here is a video I made of the process:
Overall, I was very pleased with how my soap turned out. I was hoping that my layers would be more distinct and the lines a little straighter. Perhaps my early layers should have been at a thicker trace, and maybe I should have poured with a bit more care. I did pour over the back of a spoon to prevent the soap from breaking through the layer below it, but I still may have been a bit sloppy. I still think it looks cool even if the layers are dipping into each other a bit, though.
I am looking forward to trying this technique again. Next time, I think it might be neat to do a gradient that goes from blue to green to yellow, or red to orange to yellow. And, of course, the single-color layers are gorgeous, too.
What do you think of gradient layers? Do you like the look? Have you made gradient layer soaps? What are your favorite color schemes?