This was only the second time I had the chance to participate in the Soap Challenge Club. The first time was when we did the rimmed round soaps and, boy, that was some challenge. I can still vividly remember me and Mr. Tinker trying to cut thin layers out of a thick block of semi-hardened soap . Me holding the block, him pulling the wire through - ahhh, fun times 🙂
After Amy Warden announced that the challenge club was going to be back after a long hiatus, I was sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to know what the first challenge would be.
This month's Soap Challenge Club assignment was to come up with a mini drop swirl design that had to have at least three freely suspended drops. Amy made this technique look pretty easy in her video tutorial and I have to admit I was a little too confident the first time around.
I wanted this soap to look like a stormy scene with wind gusts, raindrops and low hanging clouds. And then on top above the clouds I wanted it to look like bright happy blue skies again. I named this soap "stormy skies" and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.
Overall it took me two attempts which isn't terrible. And I learned quite a lot during this challenge. After all what good is it to make mistakes, if you don't learn from them, right?
Here are my three biggest takeaways from this challenge:
- Hold off on the stickblender: "Blend your oils and lye to emulsion or until you see no more oil streaks floating on top".I'm sure you've heard these instructions before. I have discovered that for me what works much better is to stickblend until there is ALMOST no more oil on top and then continue stirring by hand. Even if this takes another 5 minutes, it's much better than ending up with a ruined design.
- Use a slow to trace recipe: For some reason I thought I could get away with my usual recipe - I was wrong. I will share the recipe I used for the second batch below.
- Too much olive oil will mess with your colors - especially if you're planing on using cool colors and/or white. I learned this the hard way: the recipe for my first attempt called for a whopping 35% olive oil. I had to use sooo much titanium dioxide to get the base even look remotely white that it gave me tons of glycerin rivers.
Here's a little more about my soap:
- coconut oil 35%
- canola oil 30%
- shea butter 20%
- avocado oil 15%
6% superfat and 35% lye concentration (I know, 33% would have given me even more time to work, but I opted to keep soda ash at bay instead. There's always a trade off...)
- super pearly white mica (Brambleberry)
- titanium dioxide
- activated charcoal
- ariel blue mica (stardustmicas)
- blue lagoon mica (stardustmicas)
Fragrance: stormy nights fragrance oil (Nature's Garden)
This was a fun and, well, challenging challenge - I hope I'll find the time to participate many more times. I can't wait to see what all the other contestants came up with. I'm always in awe at how many talented soapmakers are out there.
Until next time. Happy Tinkering!