Monday, June 4, 2012

Cucumber Melon Gradient Soap

My Cucumber Melon gradient layer soap
One soapmaking technique that I've really been wanting to try is making gradient layers. I've also heard them called gradated and graduated layers - I don't know which one is correct. Perhaps they all are. Anyway, the idea is to have a color gradually change from dark to light with each progressive layer. Of course, you can use more than one color for gradient layers, too.

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?

20 comments:

  1. Pretty soap, Jer! I like the wavy look in the layers and the green to yellow gradient. Also think a red to orange to yellow sounds intriguing!

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    1. Thanks! I was happy with how it turned out. Even the bars with the more uneven layers look neat. I like the idea of going from red to orange to yellow, too - I think that would be a very striking look.

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  2. Beautiful job. Jenny I am going to post something about your soap on my blog...

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    1. Thank you, Soap Crafter! And thank you for the shout-out! I enjoy your blog, too. :)

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  3. Turned out beautifully for a first try! I've been wanting to try it too. Thanks for the inspiration/push :)

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    1. Thank you, Summerfield Soaps! I was pleased with how it turned out, too, especially for my first try. It was a fun technique, and I plan to give it another go someday. Do give it a try - I can't wait to see how your soap turns out!

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  4. What a beautiful soap, Jenny!

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  5. I have been wanting to do this too...yours came out great!!

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! It's a fun technique - you should give it a go! Can't wait to see yours!

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  6. Beautiful Jenny! You made it look so easy! You are tempting me to try this too!

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    1. Thank you, Gladly! You should give it a try - it's fun!

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  7. Beautiful! Love the colors and I really love cucumber melon fragrance. Awesome soap :)

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Cucumber Melon is one of my favorite fragrances, too.

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  8. Fantantico tutorial!! y muy lindos los colores.
    Felicidades.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ali! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post! :)

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  9. Thank you for sharing, I am impressed with the way you used your supplies and time-adding more plain batter to the colored batch to lighten it saved time and containers. Good choice of colors too. The uneven spikes in some bars just adds to the interest of the pattern. They are perfect! I am sure it smells divine! I loved the music-perfect for the speedy hands!

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    1. Thank you, Moonwater! Using the plain batter to lighten the colors does save time soaping and cleaning up. I borrowed the technique from Emily of Shieh Design Studio - she does something similar and I love how efficient her method is. I am happy with the way the bars turned out, too. Each one is unique, and they do smell gorgeous. Thanks so much for checking out my video, and thanks for reading my blog! :)

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  10. I think it is absolutely wonderful! I tried a version of your spoon swirl earlier, and its not ready to cut yet but it should be interesting to say the least lol. I kinda didn't get my separate colors in equal proportions, so there's more plain batter than the color lol but I think it will turn out pretty interesting. This (the gradient technique) will be a project for later I believe lol. Yours is amazing! I can only hope to get mine even slightly close to yours lol

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    1. Thank you, Amber! I'm planning to give the gradient layer technique another try soon for a holiday soap. And I absolutely love the spoon swirl method, too. It creates such neat effects. I can't wait to see how yours turns out!

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