Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Snow Day Soap

Goodness, where does the time go? Is October really almost over?

I meant to have a blog post up a bit sooner, but it's been a busy month. My family came to visit last week and we had a great time hanging out! And I've been making holiday soaps so that they will have plenty of time to cure before Christmas.

Since September, I've made four batches of holiday soaps. My Pumpkin Gingersnap soap was the first of the four.

And I am proud to present holiday soap batch number two - Snow Day!

To create the ribbons of blue and gold through the middle of the bars, I used the tilted tiger stripe technique. It is similar to the tiger stripe - which I used to make this Bacon soap - except that the mold is tilted instead of flat when the soap is poured.

I hadn't heard about the tilted tiger stripe until recently. Milla, a fellow soap blogger, posted a few weeks ago about practicing some soaping techniques, and her gorgeous tilted tiger stripe soap near the bottom of her post caught my eye. I did a little more research on the world wide interwebs and found this YouTube video by Soaping101, demonstrating how to do the tilted tiger stripe.

For the scent, I chose a combination of Bramble Berry's Fresh Snow and Nature's Garden's Winter Garden fragrance oils. I had a little less than an ounce-and-a-half of Fresh Snow, and I used about a third of an ounce of Winter Garden to make up the difference. With this method, it's important to choose fragrances that do not accelerate trace, and it is also necessary to use a slow-moving recipe. 

To do the tilted tiger stripe, prop up your mold so that it is tilted at an angle. (I tied two packs of playing cards together and used them as a block, which I slid under the edge of my mold.) Pour some of your base soap into the mold, and then alternate different colors of soap, pouring a line of each along the side of the mold that is tilted toward you. I chose a white base with blue and gold stripes. Once most of the blue and gold soap was used up, I poured the remaining white soap over the top, being careful not to break through the layers below. Then I used the remaining blue and gold soap to create a faux mantra swirl on the tops, pouring a thick line of each and then moving a skewer back and forth just below the surface of the soap.

Here is a video I made of the process:

The tilted tiger stripe is a fun technique, and it creates a stunning design in the soap! I pretty much followed Soaping101's video, but I may try some variations in the future. I think it would be neat to tilt the mold one way, do some stripes, and then tilt the mold the other way to make contrasting stripes.

While I was looking up the tilted tiger stripe, I found a similar technique called the Dandelion Zebra Swirl, which was created by Vinvela Ebony of Dandelion SeiFee. (You may have also seen the Dandelion Zebra Swirl on Amy's Great Cakes Soapworks blog - it was chosen as October's soap challenge technique.) Instead of tilting the mold, a flexible plastic divider is inserted into the base soap and then alternating colors are poured or spooned down the side of the divider, creating ribbons of color. I will have to give the Dandelion Zebra a try someday, too!

Have you tried any new techniques lately? Which are your favorites? And how are your holiday soaps coming along? (Say, that reminds me - have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Gingersnap Soap

It is officially autumn now! Which means that we survived summer. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it this year. But then, I think that every summer. And every year, summer comes and goes and I am still alive. So far, anyway.

When autumn rolls around, I start thinking about cooler weather and how maybe soon I will actually want to go outside again. And I think about the upcoming holidays, and how I need to make some soaps for gifts. But what kind of soaps? What scents? What colors? Which techniques have I been wanting to try out?

Last year, I made a Pumpkin soap and a Gingersnap soap. This year I thought, "Why not combine the two and make a Pumpkin Gingersnap soap?"

And I have been wanting to try the Celine Swirl for a while and decided to give it a go. The Celine Swirl is named for its inventor - the talented and inspiring Celine Blacow of i am handmade, a Dublin-based artisan bath and body product company.

To do the Celine Swirl, you basically layer two or more colors in the mold and then use a spoon to scoop the soap from the bottom to the top, twisting your wrist as you go.

To make my 3-pound batch, I brought the soap to trace and then portioned off about 12 ounces of soap. For the colors, I chose Cappuccino Mica and Gold Sparkle Mica, both mixed with a bit of liquid glycerin to work out any clumps.  I added the gold mica to the 12-ounce portion of soap, and the cappuccino mica to the remaining soap.

Because both the Sweet Pumpkin and the Gingersnap fragrance oils discolor soap brown, I left the12-ounce gold portion unscented. I added the fragrance oils only to the cappuccino-colored soap.

Once the soap was at a medium thick trace, I poured about half of the brown soap into the mold. Then I spooned most of the gold soap on top of it, being careful not to break through the layer below. I layered the rest of the brown soap over the gold and banged the mold on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Then I grabbed a spoon, pushed it into the bottom of the mold, and scooped the soap up toward the surface, twisting my wrist as I scooped. I did this along both sides of the mold and once down the center. Be careful not to swirl too much!

I had reserved a bit of gold soap and drizzled it over the surface once I was done swirling. After the soap set up some, I used my spoon to push the soap around on top, giving it some texture.

Here is a video of the process:

The Celine Swirl turned out pretty cool! And it definitely smells like the holidays! Gingersnap and pumpkin scents are always a hit at Christmastime, and this soap combines both beautifully. Just need to make sure that no one tries to eat it!

What scents are you all using in your holiday soaps this year? What are some of your favorite autumn and winter fragrances?