Snow can be magnificent when it first falls - powdery flakes floating all around, covering everything with a blanket of shimmering white. Colors pop like never before all around you, and the air feels crisp and clean. Those first few hours of snowfall make you grab your camera and brave the cold. Over the next couple of days, though, the snow turns gray and slushy. Walking becomes difficult as you trudge through dirty snow puddles, and driving becomes dangerous. That's when you start thinking that maybe the snow isn't so great.
|Downtown Boise, ID after a snowfall, Dec. 2010|
The gradient layer technique is also known as the gradated, graduated, or Ombre layer technique. The goal is to create layers that become progressively lighter in color as you move from the bottom to the top of the soap. Gradient layers can be made using a single color or several colors.
If you've been following this blog for a while, you may remember my first attempt at creating gradient layers - a green-to-gold Cucumber Melon soap. Overall, I was pleased with the soap, although I wished that my layers were a bit more uniform. I had poured my layers over the back of a spoon to prevent the soap from breaking through the previous layer, but I had some break through anyway. I decided that the next time I did a gradient layer soap, I would spoon the soap batter instead of pouring it.
That's what I did for my Fresh Snow soap, and the layers did turn out much more distinct. For this soap, I used olive oil, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, castor oil, and shea butter.
|Fresh Snow soap, sprinkled with sparkly glitter|
I added some ultramarine blue oxide (again, mixed with a bit of liquid glycerin) to the 12-ounce portion and then poured half of the blue soap into my mold. Then I mixed 6 ounces of the white soap into the remaining blue soap, and spooned half of that portion for my second layer. Because I added some white soap to the blue, the second layer was a shade lighter. I repeated this pattern for the first five layers, making each layer progressively lighter.
For the sixth blue layer, I added a bit of the reserved titanium dioxide to lighten the soap instead of adding more white soap. I spooned the remaining blue soap (which was very light blue by this point) into the mold and then spooned the remaining white soap on top of it. A mini whisk helped me create some texture on top of my loaf, and I finished the soap off with a sprinkling of shredded iridescent glitter to mimic freshly-fallen snow glinting in the sunlight.
Here is a video I made of the process:
When making gradient layers, it is important that the previous layer is set up enough to support the next layer. It helps to bring your soap to a medium trace and to test the previous layer by drizzling a bit of soap on top of it to make sure it doesn't sink.
One more thing - last call for Bramble Berry's "Givember" event, which continues through the end of November! A few weeks ago, the lovely folks at Bramble Berry sent me some supplies to try (you can read more about that here) and offered a very special treat to my blog readers. Here's how it works: Any Bramble Berry order placed during the month of November that includes the code GIVEMBER50 will get you entered into a drawing for a $50 Bramble Berry gift certificate. This code only applies to orders placed during November - don't forget to include the code during checkout! Happy shopping, and best of luck to you all in the drawing!