Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lemon-Lime Spinning Swirl Fail

So, it's been forever since I've blogged. And it's been forever since I've made any soap. I made this batch in May and that's been it. Part of it is because I've still got soap bars that are a year or two old that I need to use up before I make more. Although if I'm going to make any soaps for the holidays it's about time to get going.

Truth is, I just haven't been interested in blogging lately.

For the past few months I have been distracted by other things, other interests. I just haven't been able to get myself in gear to write a blog post. I would sit down at the computer to do it and then be all like BLURGH. It has taken me months of doing a little here and a little there to get this post done.

My lack of enthusiasm isn't helped when projects go wrong. I'm still struggling with soap batter that is chronically thick. I think I am overmixing, even when I try not to. I see it when I play back the videos. The soap is emulsified and loose and then I watch in horror as I pick up the stickblender one more time and buzz away. In my head I scream, "PUT THAT THING DOWN YOU CRAZY PERSON!" I think I'm afraid of not mixing enough, of getting a false trace, and so I hit it one more time just to be sure. When I feel that urge to stickblend one more time, I need to recognize it and stop myself.

So, as a result of my hyper-diligence, my soap got too thick. Again.

The plan was to create a spinning swirl (or spin swirl, I've heard both and I'm not sure which is correct), a technique that has been very popular lately among soapmakers. I don't know where the spinning swirl originated, but here is a short and beautiful video showing how the spinning swirl is supposed to work. (If anyone knows who came up with the spinning swirl technique, please let me know in the comments so I can credit the creator!)

Here is a video of my spinning swirl fail. Of course, it's not a useful tool for properly illustrating the technique, but it will give you an idea of how this project went for me:


To do the spinning swirl, you basically do a faux funnel pour in each corner of your mold (a slab mold works best for this). In the demonstrations I've seen, the soapmaker alternates colors in two diagonal corners and, after several passes, pours from the other two corners as well. Then the mold is spun on the countertop to make the swirls.

You need to have a very fluid, thinly-traced soap for this to work. I have used this recipe before and it behaved beautifully for me in the past. A while back, I made an Orange Basil Swirled Hearts Soap using the same recipe from The Nova Studio Blog that I used here. (It's the second recipe: 41% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 25% mango butter, 6% avocado oil, and 3% shea butter.) This recipe traced slowly when I made my Orange Basil soap and I was hoping for a repeat performance this time, but my soap was too thick and I was unable to achieve the spinning effect. So, instead of spinning the mold, I used a skewer to draw a circular pattern through my soap. It's still pretty, but not what I was going for.

And I don't think my fragrance oils (Lemon Sugar and Lime Crystal Kisses, both by Elements Bath and Body) were to blame for the acceleration. The vendor notes and reviews don't mention any problems with acceleration. Most likely I just overmixed my soap. And it probably would have helped to soap a bit cooler, maybe around 90 degrees F instead of 100-105 F.

On the bright side, for a fail this soap turned out pretty well! Looking at the photos, I thought, "That's a nice-looking soap. Not too shabby there, Captain Stickblender." I love how the swirls are throughout the entire bar. These should be really pretty to use, revealing new swirls with each wash.

So things could have gone worse. The soap is still beautiful and it smells nice. The lather feels very luxurious, too.

Yay for happy endings! Now if I could just get my mojo back.


20 comments:

  1. You have been missed!!! This soap is truly lovely. Isn't is wonderful when a soapy fail has a happy ending!!

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    1. Thank you, Janelle! Yes, I wish all of my fails would turn out this well. :D Thanks for reading!

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  2. I'm genuinely happy to see you blog again, Jenny! It's not easy to keep at it when you've been doing it for a while. I can totally relate! 😄

    Your soap may not have come out as planned, but it came out gorgeous nonetheless. 👍😀

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    1. Thank you, Silvia! I am pleased with how this batch turned out, although I wish I could have given the spinning swirl a whirl! I'll have to try it again and hopefully I'll get it right next time.

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  3. Welcome back! It's great to see you blogging again.

    These are beautiful! Some of them reminded me of meteorological maps when they talk about fronts or the looks of hurricanes. I think they're fantastic.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! You're right, they do kinda look like meterological maps! :D

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  4. Such a nice post. I love plan B soaps! May I ask you this have you ever had a batch of soap that didn't saponify, a batch you left too loose? Really have you ever had false trace? Heavy butter recipes trace fast for me.

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    1. Hi, Pam! I haven't ever experienced false trace, but I am paranoid about it, which is probably why I sometimes overmix my soap batter. I used this recipe on a previous batch and was concerned that the high percentage of mango butter might accelerate trace, but it behaved surprisingly well. I didn't have the same luck this time, though. I suspect I may have overmixed this time, or maybe something else was different. Thanks for reading!

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  5. I wish my fails would turn out this beautifully, Jenny !

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    1. Thanks, Suzy! I wish all of my fails would turn out so well, too! :D

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  6. Even with the problems you faced making the soaps, your soap turned out beautiful! I love the color combo, and the swirls are great. It can be hard to get back your mojo, but I wish you the best of luck, and am sending inspirational vibes your way! =)

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    1. Thanks, Anne-Marie! I wish I could have made the spinning swirl happen, but I'm still happy with how these soaps turned out. And thank you for the inspirational vibes!

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  7. It turned out grate! I would never guess that you had any issue while making it :) I completely understand you about blogging. I also can not make myself write anything nowadays... So frequent travels and many other commitments just moved my focus from soaping... I decided to let it go and wait until I really feel the need to blog again. Otherwise it will be another task on my "to do" list and not the pleasure at all.

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I think it turned out well, too, especially considering the problems I had. I know what you mean about your blogging. When a want-to becomes a have-to, it may be time for a break. Sometimes a break can rekindle old interests or spark new ones. I hope the time away brings you new inspiration!

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  8. How beautiful this soap is, Jenny! The swirls are perfect!

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  9. I think it is very very pretty! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. well what a sweet fail!!! My fails never turn out looking that gorgeous! If there is one thing I have learned with soaping is that you always have to have a plan B! Just discovered your blog...enjoying your entries :)

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