Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Tree Feather Swirl

Seasons greetings, everyone!

I hope that you all are gearing up for a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. And I also hope that you've got your holiday soaps ready for gifting!

This year, I made only two holiday soaps: Peppermint Wonderland and this Christmas Tree soap. I usually make more, but hubby and I have been anticipating a move, which has kept us both distracted, and I still have plenty of other soaps that I can gift.

But when I saw this Christmas Tree Swirl tutorial on the Soap Queen blog, I just had to make it. It is inspired by the Secret Feather Swirl technique created by Zahida of Handmade in Florida. (Check Zahida out - her soaps are absolutely amazing!)

This soap features a sort of reverse feather swirl. Instead of pushing a hanger swirl tool into the soap after pouring, I poured the soap over the hanger swirl tool and then pulled the tool out to create the Christmas Tree look.

I used my Essential Depot RED silicone mold along with my hanger swirl tool from Great Soap Shop for this project.

For the oils, I used olive oil, vegetable shortening (soybean/cottonseed blend), coconut oil, and rice bran oil. I had some coconut milk in the freezer, so I used it for part of the liquid along with some distilled water to make up the difference.

The scent is "Eucalyptus Cedar" from Elements Bath and Body, and it is a woodsy, outdoorsy scent
that is perfect for a Christmas Tree-themed soap. It appears that Elements no longer carries this scent, which brings a tear to my eye because it is fabulous. Oh, well, life is full of disappointments.

So, here's what I did. After scenting and bringing the soap to light trace, I split off two 8-ounce portions. One portion I colored with hydrated chrome green pigment and the other with gold sparkle mica.

The rest I colored with super pearly white mica, and also some titanium dioxide just to make sure that the soap turned out a vivid white.

The green and gold soap were then poured into squeeze bottles. (Remember to snip the tips!)

My hanger swirl tool fits snugly into my mold, so I placed it at the bottom and then poured a layer of white soap on top to cover it. Then I squeezed a thick line of green on top of the white soap right above where the hanger swirl tool rested beneath. Then another layer of white, followed by a thick line of gold, more white, more green, and so on and so forth, alternating the colors. I ended up making three green lines and two gold with a layer of white in between each.

Tip: It's good to bang the mold on the countertop and give it a gentle shake every now and then to get rid of air bubbles.

Once I had poured the final layer of white, I pulled the hanger swirl tool straight up and out of the mold to create the Christmas trees inside the cut bars. Then I finished the tops off with the remaining green and gold and texturized the soap just below the surface with a spoon, being careful not to disturb the feather pattern underneath. Actually, I think I held back a bit too much green and gold soap and could have gotten by with less.

I wanted my soap to be at a thin trace, but once again I had trouble with the batter thickening up. Fortunately, the soap was still manageable and everything worked out okay.

At any rate, it definitely looks like there are little Christmas trees inside the soap (although some look more like Christmas trees than others), and the fragrance fits the soaps perfectly.

Here's a video I made showing the process:


I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday! As I mentioned earlier, hubby and I are moving to California at the end of December, but we are going to work in a trip home to Florida for Christmas before we go. After Christmas, we'll take a few days to make the cross-country drive. I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to make another batch of soap since we'll be spending a good chunk of January getting settled. But I will make some as soon as I can!

Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

20 comments:

  1. Pretty Christmas tree swirl, Jer!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I'll bring you some for Christmas. :)

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  2. I wish you a wonderful christmas and all the best for the New year. Enjoy your trip and also the best for your move.

    We will move in February as we ca and the house is finshed.

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    1. Thank you, Krissi! Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year, too. Best wishes to you with your upcoming move!

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  3. Placing the hanger at the bottom of the mold to create swirls that look like a Christmas tree is ingenious, and you got it perfectly!

    Have a happy and magical holiday season, and all the best for the new year and your move to California! ( for some reason, I thought you had already moved :)

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    1. Thanks, Silvia! I thought putting the hanger swirl tool on the bottom of the mold before pouring was a pretty cool idea, too. We were supposed to move in early November, but our orders kept getting delayed. We finally have all of our paperwork sorted out now. Happy holidays to you, too!

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  4. I love how these came out! Simple and beautiful.

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    1. Thank you! I am very happy with how these turned out, too. They're so cute for the holidays!

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  5. What a wonderful idea, and it does make a fantastic tree shape in the soap.

    Hope you have a wonderful time visiting with family and good luck with the move.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! I'm so happy that the little trees turned out so nicely. I wish you a happy holiday season, too, and thanks for the well wishes on the move!

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  6. It really looks like a tree, so that hanger, stuck in the middle of the mould, was actually worth of battling with, lol! You really are patient, I think I'd took it out from the very beginning!
    Have a great holidays and happy settling into your new home!

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    1. Haha, thanks, Maja! I think it would have been easier to pour around the hanger if the soap hadn't been so thick. I was determined to try to get those trees, though! Happy holidays to you as well, and thank you for the well wishes on the move!

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  7. Thank you for the video, a perfect tutorial for this lovely christmas tree soap!
    It looks very real the little tree!
    I wish you a wonderful christmas and a happy new year too!!!

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    1. Thank you, Vivien! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. I love those little trees, too. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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  8. Beautiful and perfect soap for december, Jenny!
    And how good you are to manage this tree! Congatulations, Jenny!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! I am really happy with how these soaps turned out. They'll make great Christmas gifts!

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  9. Happy New Year Jenny! Hope your move went smoothly and you get back to soaping asap :-D The christmas tree is VERY nicely done - an ingenious idea! Definitely a method I'd like to try at some point. Love the sound of the fragrance too.

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    1. Thanks, Vicki, and happy New Year to you, too! We're still working on getting settled in California, but we're getting there. Still have a lot of stuff to put away and other things to work out. I hope I can get back to soaping soon! Thanks for the kind words about the Christmas Tree soap. I am really pleased with how it turned out, too, and the scent matches it perfectly!

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  10. Hi Jenny, I'm super new to soap making. I'm trying to decide if I want to use the cold process or the hot process to do my first batch. Any thoughts?

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    1. Hi, destiney! I've never made hot process soap so I don't have a lot of advice about that particular method. From what I've read, it sounds like cold process and hot process soapmaking are similar except that in HP soapmaking external heat is applied to actually cook the soap, usually in a crockpot, oven, or on the stovetop. With CP, the soap generates its own heat to reach gel phase. I personally started with CP and loved it so much that I've just stuck with it. HP soap tends to be more rustic-looking than CP and certain effects - like intricate swirls, for example - can be difficult to achieve with HP. An advantage to HP is that the soap is ready for use sooner than CP soap, which needs to cure for at least 4-6 weeks. In theory, HP soap can be used right after unmolding since the pH has been cooked down, although it's still best to let it cure for a couple of weeks or so to let the water fully evaporate, creating harder, longer-lasting bars. (I'd check for zap or test the pH just to be safe.) And the HP method can be used to salvage a batch of CP soap that goes wrong, or for times when you are using a tricky fragrance oil. I guess it comes down to personal preference. Some soapmakers prefer the HP method and others like CP. I enjoy the look and ease of CP soapmaking, but I should try HP someday. There are some great online tutorials about both methods if you want to learn more about each. Check out the sidebar on my blog for some of my favorite soapy links. I hope that helps. Thanks for reading, and have fun soaping!

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