Saturday, November 30, 2013

Candy Cane Impressionist Swirl Soap

I'm a big fan of anything minty. And at Christmastime, mint shows up everywhere. It's fitting for the season - it's tingly and invigorating, but it also warms you on a cold day. Mint is not just for the winter holidays, though. It's a perennial favorite anytime of year. A bar of peppermint soap on a hot summer day is perfectly refreshing. (Crafty one, that mint. Like a Thermos. How does it know when to be cool and when to be warm?)

And if you pair mint with chocolate, it's even better. But then, chocolate always makes things better.

And so every Christmas, I must have not only minty foodstuffs, but also minty soap. And that means candy cane soap.

Christmas + Mint = Candy Canes

Candy canes are The Christmas Candy. When I was a kid, I'd go to the mall to see Santa Claus and tell him what I wanted for Christmas. I wasn't sure that I believed in the whole Santa thing - how's one guy going to deliver all of those presents to all of those kids in one night? - but I figured that it couldn't hurt to hedge my bets. And after I gave Santa my list of demands, he'd give me a candy cane.

Also, when I was little, my grandma would hang candy canes on the Christmas tree and my cousin and I would eat them on Christmas Eve as we not-so-patiently waited until it was time to open presents. The adults would play spades while we consumed an obscene amount of pepperminty sugar and inspected our gifts over and over again. The spades game was over once a team scored 500,000 bazillion points and only then were we allowed to open presents.

I don't visit Santa Claus anymore (I guess he just refers to my Amazon wish list these days), and my cousin and I no longer gorge on candy canes on Christmas Eve. But we still need a candy cane theme for the holidays, and soap is the perfect medium.

For this project, I decided to give the Impressionist Swirl a try. This technique uses squeeze bottles to squirt the soap into the mold in alternating colors, creating a swirl that resembles the short brushstrokes of the Impressionist artists from the 19th century.

Candy Cane Impressionist Swirl Soap
It's important to choose a well-behaved recipe and fragrance oil when using this technique. You want a thin trace, and it is necessary for the soap to remain liquid throughout the process.

For the scent, I chose Nature's Garden's Peppermint fragrance oil, which soaped like a dream. I mixed the FO into my cooled oils and then added the lye solution. Once I reached a light trace, I divided the soap batter into three equal portions and colored one with titanium dioxide, another with Bramble Berry's brick red oxide, and another with BB's green chrome oxide. (I mixed each colorant with a bit of liquid glycerin to work out the clumps and help minimize streaking.)

I transferred the colored soaps into three separate squeeze bottles and then squirted the colors into the mold horizontally in a S-shaped pattern, alternating between the white, green, and red. I repeated that process until the soap was gone. (I turned the mold every so often to keep the sides even, as the Soap Queen tutorial above recommends.) Once the soap was all used up, I used a skewer to swirl just the very top layer.

Here's a video I made of the process:


These soaps turned out really cool! I really enjoyed this technique, and I will have to revisit it in the future. I love how each bar is unique, and how you don't know what you're getting until you cut into the soap loaf.

Are you a big mint fan? Which scents and flavors do you associate with the holidays?

35 comments:

  1. That's awesome , could you do the same thing with melt and pour soap ?

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    1. Thank you, Hazel! I haven't tried this technique with melt-and-pour soap, but I'm not sure how well this would work with M&P. I would worry about the soap solidifying in the bottle and constantly gumming up the spout. It's an interesting idea, though!

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  2. Ah, yes...Jer is making candy cane soap -- it must be Christmas time! I do love that minty fragrance. A nice balsam scent is also good this time of year. :)

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    1. Peppermint and candy canes mean that it's almost Christmas! I like balsam, too. The Christmas tree-scented soap that I made this year has a nice balsam scent. And I had a Citrus & Balsam FO once that smelled really nice. Thanks for the kind words!

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  3. Now that's cool! Got me thinking what other ways the soap could be squeezed into the mold to give other impressionistic views. Very pretty, love it!

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    1. Thanks, Denise! It would be fun to experiment with other variations on this technique. I like how unique every batch looks!

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  4. That is such a pretty, happy, Christmassy (if there is such a word) soap, Jenny! I love minty soaps too. One of the holiday soaps I made is with sweet vanilla and peppermint and it smells just like the red and white peppermint candies. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Silvia! Sweet vanilla and peppermint sound great together! I'll bet your soap smells fantastic.

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  5. Very, very pretty! I've never seen an impressionist swirl before, but I love your version! I think I love it all when it comes to Christmas scents: mint, pine, spice, cider, eggnog--it's all the best!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! Christmas scents are wonderful - I can't think of one that I don't like! I like the green scents like pine and spruce, the spicy scents like cinnamon pumpkin, and the sweet bakery fragrances. Gingerbread is another one of my favorites. It makes me think of the ginger cookies that I have to bake every year for Christmas. Yum!

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  6. Wow Jenny, you did it again :) Just perfect Xmas soap with beautiful colors. The pattern looks like tiny drop swirls. I have to try this to. And peppermint, it has been my favorite since I was a kid. I was very surpised last year when I found out that some people don´t like peppermint! Now as an adult I don´t want to eat too many candy canes, but I have been using both lip balm and lipstick that is scented with vanilla and peppermint. It smells just like candy canes!

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    1. Thank you, Marika! The pattern does look like tiny droplet swirls. This is a really fun technique! My husband isn't big on mint, but I love it. I'm using lip balm and lotion scented with peppermint right now. I love that candy cane scent, especially this time of the year. Can't wait to see your Impressionist swirl if you give it a try!

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  7. Jenny, this is very very beautiful! Perfect for Christmas! I made a soap (named Rudi) with same color combo, but I like your swirls more :)

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    1. Thanks, Renata! I remember "Rudi" - that was a gorgeous soap! I remarked on how it looked similar to my Candy Cane soap. Your swirls were so pretty, and I liked the mantra-type swirl on the tops!

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  8. I am impressed how this soap turned out Jenny! Really effective and beautiful. The mint perfectly suits this design. Additionally, you took gorgeous pictures! I really like how you always choose matching background which highlights the beauty of the soaps.

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I really enjoyed this technique. And thanks for the compliments about the photos! I made an easel out of corrugated cardboard and I clip scrapbooking paper to it for a background. :)

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  9. Hmmm, how could I miss this post? I just saw the link on FB!
    Jenny, this is awesome! Soooo beautiful and festive and cheerful and I only miss bigger pictures to feast my eyes properly, :-) ! You should show it at all its beauty! And I love seeing a soap porn!
    I almost can smell it, I like this combo, especially in winter!
    Congrats, great job!

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    1. Thanks, Maja! I really like the tidy look of the photo collages, but I wish that I could make them bigger, too. I set them to "Large" because if I go to "X-Large," they spill over into the blog's sidebar. I do post the photos individually in the video, though, if you want a closer look. :) Thanks for the compliments! I am really happy with how this soap turned out. The colors are so festive, and it smells like candy canes!

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    2. I know,I watched the video and was thinking: "Why didn't she put all these on the blog?' It's such a pretty soap and it really deserves its space! :-)

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    3. Oh, one more thing! Try resizing your photos at 600px (width, lenght doesvn't matter), I think you'll be able to set them either 'Extra Large' or 'Original Size, which both will be big.

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    4. Thanks for the tip, Maja! I will give that a try next time.

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  10. I did one of these last year and I keep thinking I should do another, it's such a fun technique. Yours is absolutely perfect..yes, like little droplets. I love peppermint combined with citrus like grapefruit or blood orange.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! This is a fun technique. I plan on revisiting it! Your scent combos sound wonderful! I'll bet peppermint is heavenly combined with citrus.

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  11. Jenny, this is one of the most beautiful Xmas soaps!
    Love everything about it, great done and love your videos, as always!
    Let the Xmas come! :)

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! This soap definitely looks like Christmas! Thank you for the compliments. :)

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  12. Well, these turned out ridiculously good! Nice one! I'm with you on the peppermint, one of my all time favorites and always sells out super quick all year round.
    I am having tons of trouble with my recipes staying at a light trace. I'm trying all sorts of things to get the batter to stay thin, but it just goes hard on me.
    What is your definition of a "well behaved" recipe? More soft oils? Lower temp?
    I would love to pick your brain on this!
    Come over to my blog and shoot me a holler...

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    1. Hi, Lindsey! Thanks for the compliments. Using a recipe with softer oils should help, as well as soaping at lower temps. The recipe I used here was 48% olive oil, 29% coconut oil, 17% palm oil, and 6% shea butter. Using the full water amount (a lye concentration of about 27%) should help with a slower trace, too. For temps, I usually soap around 100-110 degrees F. If I'm using milks, honey, beer, etc., I drop the temps to around 80-90 degrees. And be careful not to overmix your soap batter. You want to hit that sweet spot where it's emulsified and just starting to trace so it won't separate on you. I hope that helps!

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  13. How lovely! Perfectly Christmassy :-) I LOVE mint as well. Most recently I've made Peppermint & Rosemary (perfect wake up soap for the shower), Peppermint & Lemon (another 'zingy' one) and Spearmint and Lime (for all the Mojito lovers). Customers seem to either love minty soaps or really don't like them (like the customer at my last craft fair who wrinkled her nose and said 'Urgh - toothpaste' hahahahahaha!
    Vicki

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    1. Thanks, Vicki! I love the sound of all of those mint combinations! Peppermint and rosemary are so refreshing together. I'm a big lemon fan, too, and one of my favorite combos is peppermint and lemongrass. I'll bet spearmint and lime make a great mojito scent!

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  14. Wow, this turned out so pretty Jenny! Love this swirl, and it works perfectly for your Candy Cane bar!

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    1. Thank you, Cee! I love how the swirl turned out, too.

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  15. Love the story about your childhood Jenny, you're hilarious :) Peppermint is definitely reminiscent of Christmas time and it'd be hard for people to resist licking your soap with a name like that and a great smell to it.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! I hope nobody tries to eat the soap!

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  16. Pretty winter soaps and swirls Jenny, great.

    I will stay at work on christmas eve - i´m a nurse for elderly people, and i must also work to holidays, that´s a pitty ...

    but NewYear will begin my freetime :)

    Krissi

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    1. Thank you, Krissi! I'm sorry that you have to work Christmas, but I hope that you enjoy your time off during the New Year!

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