Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Grapefruit Geranium Hanger Swirl

Well, Bramble Berry's S.O.A.P. panel mystery FOs are on their way! They've been shipped and now I just have to wait for them to get here.

In the meantime, I'm finally getting around to trying the hanger swirl! This technique has been around for a while, but I never gave it a try. Honestly, I think what held me back was the idea of having to get out the pliers and alter a coat hanger to fit my mold. I can make soap, but I'm otherwise not very crafty or handy.

 Then I found this hanger swirl tool from Great Soap Shop on Etsy. It fits Essential Depot's RED silicone mold - I have the natural-colored RED mold with the stainless steel basket - and it looks like Michelle offers a hanger swirl tool and straight dividers that fit the RED mold, the Crafter's Choice 1501 or Bramble Berry's 10" silicone molds. (She sells lots of great soaping tools - do check out her shop!)

Celine, the lovely and talented soapmaker behind iamhandmade.com, created a tutorial to demonstrate how to do the hanger swirl and I followed her tips.

For the soap, I used a palm-free recipe from Amanda at Lovin' Soap that includes olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, and rice bran oil. (It's Recipe 1.)

To color the soap and to add a touch a luxury, I used activated charcoal and red Moroccan clay. The scent is a combination of grapefruit and geranium rose essential oils at a 4:1 ratio. I added the EOs to the cooled oils before adding the lye, and then split the batch in two after reaching trace. One half was colored with the charcoal (1 tsp per pound of oils) and the other with the clay (1 Tbsp per pound of oils). I mixed each with a little glycerin to avoid clumping. Be careful not to overdo it with the charcoal - too much can make your lather gray and possibly stain your washcloths.


I wanted the soap at about a medium trace so I could layer it. Starting with the black soap, I poured a thin layer maybe a half-inch thick. Then I spooned a pink layer on top of it, being careful not to let it break through the layer beneath. I repeated that process, alternating the colors, until I had built up six layers.

Next came the fun part! I took my very special hanger swirl tool and carefully pushed it into the soap and onto the bottom of the mold along the side farthest away from me. With the tool on the bottom of the mold, I moved it just a tiny bit toward myself. Then I lifted it straight up, moved it a tiny bit toward myself again, and then pushed it straight down to the bottom again. I repeated the movement until I had traveled all the way across the mold. Then I reversed course and did the same, only pushing the tool away from me this time. I also tried to lift and sink my tool in between the lines I had already created, hitting different spots to maximize the effect.

When I had moved all the way to the other side again, I was done. I had reserved some soap, and I drizzled it over the top of the loaf. Using a spoon, I texturized the tops, being careful not to disturb the swirled layers beneath.

Here is a video I made of the process:


I really like the hanger swirl technique! It's a fun, easy way to create a gorgeous and unique soap bar. I'll be revisiting this method, methinks.

And the lather on these bars feels so nice! Activated charcoal and red Moroccan clay are supposed to be wonderful for the skin. These bars should be quite luxurious!

Have you tried the hanger swirl technique? Do you like it?

28 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Jenny! Love the colors. It almost looks like a checkerboard pattern. I've only tried the hanger swirl once and I don't know why I haven't done it since, because I really like the technique.

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    1. Thanks, Amy! It does look like a checkerboard pattern. The hanger swirl technique is fun!

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  2. So this is your new soap! I just love the red color from the clay and envy you, because you can´t buy it in Finland. I´ve tried the hanger swirl a couple of times, but it is a long time ago. I still like the pattern I got.

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    1. Thanks, Marika! Yep, this is my activated charcoal soap. It is very nice, especially paired with the clay. The hanger swirl makes some very interesting patterns.

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  3. Gorgeous soap, Jenny, and perfectly done! Love your use of natural colorants and essential oils in this soap! Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Natalia! I thought it would be fun to use natural colorants and scents, making it more of a spa bar. I'm happy with how it turned out, too!

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  4. My first hanger swirl was a disaster! These are gorgeous Jenny. I just tried it again last night, fingers crossed that there was better luck this time :0)

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    1. Thanks, Kia! Sorry to hear that your first hanger swirl didn't work out - I hope it goes better for you this time. Can't wait to see what your new soap looks like - you always do such beautiful work!

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  5. That's gorgeous Jenny! It took me a while to try a hanger swirl as well, mainly because I didn't have any of those wire hangers, just plastic ones, and in the end I got my husband to fashion me a tool out of 'something' - not sure what - I didn't ask questions lol!! The essential oil blend sounds lovely too.

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    1. Thanks, Vicki! How nice of your husband to fashion you a hanger swirl tool! Having to make my own is what kept me putting it off for so long, too. I was glad to finally find a tool that fit my mold and was ready to go! The EO blend is nice. I wanted to use my grapefruit EO, and thought that a touch of geranium would compliment it nicely.

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  6. Congrats on your first hanger swirl, Jenny! The pattern came through clearly and the natural colors really pop. I love the smell of grapefruit but have never smelled geranium. I bet the combo smells great! I bought wire hangers last year but have not gotten around to doing this technique yet.

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    1. Thanks, Silvia! I am happy with how this one turned out, too. Geranium is a lovely scent - it smells like roses. The geranium rose EO I have is not pure-grade, but it is still very nice. It pairs well with lots of other scents. It's nice with the grapefruit, and I especially love it blended with patchouli. The hanger swirl is a fun technique. I hope that you give it a try!

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  7. So a tremendous amount of work went into this post and video and I so appreciate it - I'm going to try this technique very soon. I've got to think of two very pretty contrasting colors that I can get naturally - madder root and saffron maybe.
    You just kickstarted my thinking about mixing the dry things (like charcoal or whatever) into glycerin instead of reserved oil from the recipe. I might try that. I have this bottle of liquid glycerin hanging out that is never gonna get used. I see you just use enough to get the dry colorants dispersed and easy to incorporate into the final recipe. Good idea!
    This soap is so pretty - I gotta go try this now!
    Thanks, lady!

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    1. You're welcome, Lindsey! And thank you for the kind words. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post and the video. Madder root and saffron would be beautiful together! Using glycerin to mix my colorants and clays and whatnot seems to work out great. You're right, it doesn't take too much - just enough to moisten the colorants and work out the clumps. I can't wait to see your hanger swirl!

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  8. What a great looking soap Jenny! The hanger tool looks like it's doing a slo-mo butterfly stroke through very thick water. ;) 6 layers, wow, that's certainly a labour of love but obviously well worth the effort.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! The tutorial suggested six layers, but you could do it with as little as two or anywhere in between, or more! I think having several layers makes things interesting, but I wonder if two layers would be pretty, too, in its simplicity. I may have to give that a try someday!

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  9. Gorgeous! This is really amazing how beautiful colors you achieved and swirls also turned out effective and precisely defined! I still did not try this technique yet, hopefully this year :)

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I am happy with how these turned out, too. I can't wait to see your hanger swirl!

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  10. What a cool effect Jenny, l love this soap! That's very cool that you found a tool especially for the job too. Thanks so much for sharing the video, it's make it so much easier to understand when you can see the process :)

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    1. Thanks, Cee! I'm glad that you liked the video. It does always help to see something done. I love the hanger swirl tool. I was so excited to find it!

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  11. Nice orange, I love the colour, nice swirl :-))))

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  12. I love this swirl! I think the contrast is lovely and a perfect match for the scent blend. I'm going to have to try this soon!

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    1. Thank you, Andee! I like the pink and black together, too, and the scent combo is very nice. The hanger swirl is a fun technique!

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  13. I think the colors are awesome. It reminds me of a monarch butterfly!

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    1. Thanks, Taylor! You're right, it does kinda look like a monarch butterfly!

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