Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Honeysuckle Modified Mantra Swirl Soap


You may remember a technique called the Mantra Swirl that was popular a while back. There was even some mantra swirl soapmaking challenges on the interwebs. I thought all of that happened just a few months ago, but it was LAST SUMMER, you guys. A whole year. Time is moving faster than a batch of clove soap.

Anyways, I figured it was high time that I gave the mantra swirl a whirl, especially since I got some cool tools to help make things easier.

One of the reasons I put off attempting the mantra swirl is that I'm lazy. And not very handy. And also lazy.

You see, back when the mantra swirl first caught on, most people made themselves dividers out of cardboard. Those cardboard pieces had to be cut just so. And then they had to be held upright in the mold, usually with more cardboard pieces that were cut into brackets. And I suppose that the brackets had to be anchored to the mold somehow, too. I was like, "Pfft! I'm not doing all that! What am I, an engineer?"

But then I heard somewhere about Great Soap Shop on Etsy. Michelle sells lots of nifty soapmaking tools, including HDPE plastic dividers for the Mantra/Taiwan swirl. So now I have no excuse not to try it.

The dividers I bought were specifically designed to fit Essential Depot's RED silicone soap mold. (Great Soap Shop offers tools for other molds, too, so do check it out.)

I decided to try a modified mantra swirl from Anne-Marie Faiola's Soap Crafting book. I did a simple side-by-side two-color batch and then used a squeeze bottle to pour a line of soap down the center. Then I took the stick end of a meat thermometer, put it all the way down to the bottom of the mold, and did a figure-eight pattern all the way across the length of the mold to swirl the tops. (Of course, you don't have to use a meat thermometer. Skewers or chopsticks or any stick-like thing will do.)

Here is my poorly-drawn example of the Mantra Swirl figure-8 pattern.

For the fragrance, I chose Bramble Berry's new Heavenly Honeysuckle scent. I got to try this one out when I was on their S.O.A.P. Panel this past spring and it was my second-favorite scent of the eight samples I received. The colors that came to mind for this scent were orange, yellow, and green. So I decided to do Tangerine Wow and Fizzy Lemonade side-by-side with a line of Hydrated Chrome Green along the top.

I concocted my own recipe of 30% rice bran oil, 25% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 12% mango butter, 5% sweet almond oil, and 3% castor oil.


After I brought the soap to trace, I colored about a half cup of the batter with the Hydrated Chrome Green and poured it into a plastic squeeze bottle. (It's good to snip the tips of the squeeze bottles so that the soap flows more easily.) Then I split what remained of the batch into two portions and colored one with the Tangerine Wow and the other with the Fizzy Lemonade.

I poured the orange and yellow soap into my mold at the same time so that none of the soap would slip under the divider and onto the other side. Once the two halves were poured, I took out the divider and squirted the green soap along the center line. Then I used my stick to do the mantra swirl on the tops.

My soap did get pretty thick on me and I worried that it would affect my final soap. Everything turned out just fine, though. Bramble Berry notes that the Heavenly Honeysuckle does accelerate a bit, but I didn't have any trouble with it when I tested it for the S.O.A.P. Panel. But then, I wasn't trying to do anything fancy then, either. When I was on the Panel, I added the FO after trace, whisked it in, watched it for a couple of minutes, and then poured it into the mold. I also suspect that my actions may have caused the soap to accelerate. Looking back, I continued to mix it for too long. When I watch the video (hey, there's a video!), I can pinpoint the moment when I should have stopped mixing. And then I watch myself grab a stickblender for one more go. Aargh. Also, this is a new recipe that I just sorta came up with and hadn't yet tested. (As a side note, it seems to make really nice soap!) I need to try this recipe a few more times before I can truly know how it behaves. I did use full water, though, and I soaped fairly cool, right around 100 degrees F. But I do think the soap may have turned out more swirly if I had poured my soap at a thinner trace.

Here's a video I made of the process. I tried something new this time, you guys. I talked my way through this video instead of relying on captions. I was shy about talking before - and I still am - because I tend to babble like a crazy person when I feel pressure to talk. Plus I don't really like my voice. But I thought I'd give this new format a shot. Whaddaya think? Do you like the talky stuff? (Oh, and make sure you stick around for the blooper at the end!)


Overall, I'm pleased with this soap. The colors are pretty and the bars smell uhmazing. I think next time I would like to try the mantra swirl with three colors side-by-side (which I can also do with my plastic dividers!) so that the middle of the bars are more interesting. That way, too, I could cut the soap horizontally and have a nice big swirl on each bar, since the swirl will be on the top and the bottom of the loaf that way. This time, since the mantra swirl was only on the top, I cut the bars in the traditional way so that each one would have a bit of the swirl on it.

I'm already thinking about a mantra swirl for the holidays ...

Have you tried the Mantra Swirl technique? What about the Taiwan Swirl? That one is on my list, too!

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for putting together the video. You look and sound good, Jenny. :) I didn't notice any babbling. I thought you were calm and clear. :)

    I have not tried the mantra swirl for the same reason you had before you got your nifty tools, but I love the way it looks! I never knew what honeysuckle smelled like until recently. It's now one of my favorite floral scents. It does smell heavenly!

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    1. Thanks, Silvia! I'm glad that you liked the video and that I wasn't babbly. :D The plastic dividers make things a lot easier, and I like that I can use them to create two, three, or four sections. And I love honeysuckle - it's one of my favorite floral scents, too!

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  2. I´am back from my Holidays - i see your beautiful swirl :) there are very nice strong colours, i like green and yellow very much :)

    I only used the normal Taiwan swirl technique, your Soap is great.

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    1. Hi, Krissi! Thanks for your kind words. I want to try the Taiwan swirl soon, too. I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

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  3. You are hilarious! I don't think you babble at all, I enjoy how your writing is exactly like the way you talk.

    The mantra swirl is really cool! Fabulous looking soap (as always). The blooper reel made me laugh, great way to end the video.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! I appreciate the feedback. I'm glad that you enjoyed the video and the blooper!

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  4. Your voice is great,Jeny, but no wonder you don't like to hear it, no one likes to hear their own voices, I guess!
    The soap is so fresh looking and the colours so pop! I wish I could smell honeysuckle, it's obviously very nice. I'm one of those who improvised with cardboard dividers and they pretty suck, cos you have to work quickly due to leaking underneath. Now,that you equipped properly, I'm expecting to see your Taiwan swirl.

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    1. Thanks, Maja! That's true, I guess most people don't like how their own voices sound when they hear themselves on a recording. The Heavenly Honeysuckle is a very nice FO, and I love the neon colorants. Cardboard dividers seem like a pain to use, so I'm glad I've got the plastic ones. I'll have to give the Taiwan swirl a try soon!

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  5. You didn't babble, Jer -- very informative video and you sound great. Love the Mantra Swirl and honeysuckle is one of my favorite fragrances. The colors in this soap are absolutely beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I'm glad that I didn't babble on the video. The honeysuckle scent is gorgeous - I'll have to save you a bar!

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  6. Jenny, I thought the video was great, but all your videos are. The subtitled ones are more "clinical", while the talking one was more folksy. So I guess you should decide which image you want to project! You make both styles very helpful and informative, so it is just up to you. Your voice is just fine! I love the soap! I admire other people's soap that is so lovely, but somehow I just can't find the energy to do anything other than to just make plain looking soap. I recently made some rice bran oil soap, so I would love to hear how you like it when it is cured. Great post!

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    1. Hi, beckster! Thanks for your feedback on the video. Everyone seems to like the talking so far, so I think I'll stick with that. And thank you for the kind words! I've made other batches with rice bran oil and I have really enjoyed them. I tried a sliver of the honeysuckle soap and it was really nice. I think it will be even better after it has cured for a bit longer! I hope that you enjoy your batch - I'm a fan of rice bran oil so far! :)

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  7. Jenny, the video is perfect and not al all babbly! I wish I could make videos, maybe I'll learn someday. Your tutorials are very useful and interesting, thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Iulia! I appreciate the feedback. It takes a little while to figure out how to make videos, but once you get the hang of it the process gets easier. I'm glad that you enjoyed the tutorial!

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  8. The soap turned out grate, really nice color combination! I recently tried mantra swirl myself but I was not so successful. You inspired me to try it again!

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    1. Thanks, Gordana! I want to try the mantra swirl again soon, too, maybe with more colors. I can't wait to see yours!

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  9. You always make perfect videos and your posts are great tutorials, Jenny! And you really look/sound good!

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    1. Thank you, Natalia! I'm glad that you enjoyed them!

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