Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Ebru 

Howdy fellow soapers and others who might be reading! This month’s soap challenge was to create soap using the Ebru technique. To be honest, the hardest part was choosing a design that could be done with soap and trying not to make it overly complex. You don’t have too long to make intricate designs before soap batter starts to thicken. 

I wish I had a couple more tries to make other designs I had in mind but ugh! Need more time and energy! I’m less than a month a way from my due date (yes pregnant!). But, as always, had loads of fun exploring the new technique and giving it a shot!

So here it is in the mold:  

Kitties and flowers using a single skewer.

I started with a plain blue/green background and did a little swirl (with a single skewer) on half for the background. 

   
 

Then I added the kitties and flowers.

  
  
I wanted the flowers and kitties to pop out a bit to add something special to the soap. So at a little thicker trace I poured in the flowers (using ketchup/squirt bottles).

I took my inspiration from many photos but this one gave me the biggest idea for the background:

 

Thanks for reading and big thanks to Amy Warden for hosting another wonderful challenge! Sorry I was short and didn’t take too many pictures! I’m trying to make the deadline 🙂 and this pregnant lady needs some sleep (it’s almost 1am!). Hehe.
 

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Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Spinning Swirl

This month, the Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club was asked to make cold process soap using the spinning swirl technique! As always, the wonderful host, Amy Warden, guided us through the challenge!

This technique was first seen here:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=wiF_udFPvcA

PREP

For this particular technique, a slow-moving recipe and a fragrance that wouldn’t accelerate was key. Usually, I’d make a recipe over 50% olive oil (not pomace) to play it safe. However, I decided to try a new recipe that included :

40% olive oil with avocado oil, apricot oil, palm kernel flakes, a little coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter and castor oil.

I was a bit nervous about the percentage of hard oils but figured if I stopped blending at emulsification using full water everything would be fine! 🙂 

I also decided to test out some new colorants- WSP’s neons! And then, for black and white, I used the usual- activated charcoal and titanium dioxide. 

 Since summer is coming up, a nice light citrus essential oil blend seemed appropriate :). The blend included:

Orange 15x, grapefruit, lavender and peppermint!

Special tools

-Slab mold (rectangle or square shape). My slab mold is an acrylic mold from an online shop in Japan, Cafe de Savon

STEPS

1. Weighed my oils, lye solution (I have a masterbatch solution that contains 50 water/ 50 lye), and extra water.

2. Melted hard oils and mixed with the soft oils.

3. Premixed my colorants using my mixed oils.

4. Mixed my oils, lye solution, and extra water at room temperature.

5. Stick-blended in short bursts until emulsified.

6. Stirred in fragrance.

7. Divided soap batter into the premixed colorants and stirred well.

8. At this point, I imitated the YouTube video above. I poured soap batter, alternating colors, in each corner of the mold. (I literally poured the batter, not just near, but into each corner).

9. After all the soap batter was poured, I spun the mold clockwise about 90 degrees at a time, just like the YouTube video. I made this spinning movement a bit strong like the force of a ticking of a clock to get the soap moving properly.

I usually take more pictures during the process but I was too focused and needed all the time I could get! I had no idea if the new blend of essential oils or recipe would cause acceleration.

Luckily, everything went smoothly! And here are the results:         AFTER THOUGHTS

When planning for this, I wasn’t quite sure how much and how hard to spin the mold. And at what thickness should the batter be? I knew it had to be at very light trace but not so light or else you run the risk of colors getting muddy. But, imitating Amy Warden and the YouTube video above worked! I’m really happy with the blend of thick and thin lines! 

Thanks to Amy Warden for another exciting challenge! And thanks, all, for reading!

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Landscape

With cherry blossom season coming up here in Tokyo/Yokohama, I decided my landscape soap challenge submission should include some cherry blossoms! Here is my inspiration photo:
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I chose this particular photo because it looks like the trees are shedding their blossoms and the green leaves are starting to show. This is one of my favorite times to go see the cherry blossoms! It rains pink petals! And everything turns pink. It’s magical :).

I had no idea how I was going to make these cherry blossoms!! I actually have a small half-inch cookie cutter of a cherry blossom but thought it’d be fun to come up with another way to make them without embeds.
So here’s what I did!

PREP

Slow-moving recipe:
50% olive oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, shea butter, castor oil

Cherry blossom fragrance from WSP

Special tools:
Five squeeze bottles
Skewer (to swirl top)

STEPS

MP
1. Made tree trunk/branch embeds using MP soap & cocoa powder. Set aside.
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CP
1. Stick-blended melted oils until emulsified (not to trace!).
2. Divided soap into five squeeze bottles added a pre-made colorant (colorants mixed with a bit of oil) to each (cocoa powder, neon pink, rose clay, green pigment chromium oxide, TD).
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3. Filled log mold half way full with neon pink, rose clay and TD using dots and lines.
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4. Placed MP embeds in mold. These were long enough to be suspended in place by the pressure of ends of the acrylic mold. In other words, the soap was too soft to hold these in place. It definitely needed to be sort-of lodged in place :). The other option would be to wait until the CP thickened.
5. Filled the rest of the mold in the same manner while adding in the brown and green.
6. Swirl top with skewer.

IMG_3723And here we are!IMG_3771-0
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This one has the sunlight coming from the back. You can see that the branches are actually lighter brown.

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Thanks once again to Amy Warden for
hosting the challenges every month. And thanks to readers and soapers for inspiration!

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- DNA Helix Swirl

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This month, as part of the Soap Club Challenge, Amy Warden (Great Cakes Soapworks) definitely challenged us with the DNA Helix Swirl technique. Let me tell you, this technique was much harder than it seemed!

PREP
1. Mixed oils together. Olive oil made up 60% of my recipe. The rest included rice bran, macadamia oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and castor oil.

2. Using a mini-mixer, I blended colorants with a bit of oil from my combined oils. Decided to go with the following colorants: TD, green liquid pigment/ chromium oxide, rose clay, purple ultramarine powder, and activated charcoal. I wanted my base/bottom layer to be black (activated charcoal).
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Special tools: Ketch-up or squeeze bottles and chopstick or skewer.

STEPS
2. At thin trace, I divided the soap to color. More than half was colored with activated charcoal for the base. And the rest was divided, colored and transferred into squeeze bottles.
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3. Next, I poured the black colored soap into the mold.
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2. Then, I used the squeeze bottles to lay the rest of the colored soap on top of the base in horizontal lines.
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3. Then, with a skewer, I followed this pattern:
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The results should look something like this:
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4. Finally, the hardest part, in my opinion- the vertical s-like pattern:
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One line at a time, like this (only neater 🙂 ):
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And TADA!IMG_3148-1IMG_3147-2
Well, it’s not perfect! Hehe. I could’ve made my the s-pattern lines more uniform. But, I do like the colors! And using the green on half of mold turned out pretty interesting.
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Next time, I’ll probably play with that idea. Maybe bring in-and-out colors?

Thanks for reading! And a big” thank you” to Amy Warden for hosting a wonderful club challenge every month!!

Can’t wait until the next challenge! 🙂 Until then, I started some dessert soap! Made some pie crust and about to top these donuts off with some icing and sprinkles! 🙂
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Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Butterfly Swirl

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This month’s soap club challenge was a tough one- the butterfly swirl! And with the family being sick, I knew I was going to have one shot at this!

Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks demonstrated this technique for us. She also gave us Zahida’s (Handmade in Florida and master of the butterfly swirl) YouTube links. First, we were to lay our soap in the mold by doing a drop swirl. Then, use a hanger or gear tie to swirl.

PREP
So, here’s what I used-
Colorants: Activated charcoal, purple ultramarine powder, titanium dioxide, green liquid pigment/chromium oxide, gold mica
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Essential oils: Lavender, lemongrass
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Base oils:
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Special tools: Hanger with thick straw that fits the length of your mold
(It was advised that we use something thicker than a hanger”)
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STEPS
1. At medium-thick trace, I drop-swirled the soap into the mold. Actually, at that point, the soap was pretty thick! It was hard to drop-swirl smaller/thinner amounts. I was nervous about that!
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2. Next, I swirled the soap using the hanger tool.
From a side view of the mold, here’s the motion I used:
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Hmm, maybe the loops were deeper and ran into each other, more like this:
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Hope that made sense! And sorry it’s a little scribble-ly! I used my iPhone to draw that hah!
3. Then, I topped it off with a layer of soap including a swirl of gold mica.
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RESULTS
I had a hard time deciding which was the best butterfly to enter into the challenge. I liked little things about each. But, my brother begged me to submit this one (so I did):
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Here’s the rest of them:
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AFTER THOUGHTS
I was really amazed at how different each bar or “butterfly” looked! Also, earlier I mentioned being nervous about the soap batter getting too thick. But, I think I’m realizing now that thick trace is good! Really wish I had more time to give it another go to try new techniques, colors, ideas, and so on. Oh what fun :)!

Thanks for reading! And thanks, Amy, for giving us this forum to learn and share!

❤
Caroline

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Chopstick Swirl

This is my second time participating in Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club. I managed to squeeze in some soap-making despite family visiting from overseas!

This month we were required to use the spoon/chopstick swirl technique. I’ve never done this before but was excited to try!

I decided to test out some new natural colorants- cocoa powder and azuki beans powder! With limited time, I didn’t document the process with photos. But here’s how it went:
1. Chose colorants- TD, azuki beans powder, cocoa, yellow pigment, red pigment.
2. At medium-thick trace I layered the soap.
3. Then, swirled a chopstick in mostly a vertical/up-down motion.
4. Topped it with some gold mica.

Here we are!
Azuki Bean Cocoa Soap
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Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge- Soap Comb

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This is my first time participating in Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge. Woohoo! I’m excited!

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The only requirement was to use a soap comb while making soap! After reading and watching Amy Warden’s tutorial, I decided that I was going to, with squeeze bottles, make a freeform design with lines and dots. Then, my plan was to use the soap comb to bring it all together. I wanted each bar to have a unique design.

 

PREP

First, I made a soap recipe that included 60% olive oil to be sure I had plenty of time to swirl/design. The rest included coconut oil, palm oil (sustainable), avocado oil, apricot oil, and a tiny bit of castor oil. This is by far the slowest recipe I’ve ever made! Well, guess it’s not saying much since I’m very new to cold process (although I’ve been making melt and pour for years).

 

Bastille recipe

Then I gathered some squeeze bottles. Check-out the 3-hole bottles I found!

squeezebottles

Next, I made my soap combs- one with the skewers a few millimeters apart and the other about an inch apart.soap comb
(However, I ended up using only the small comb.)

Finally, I decided on the following colorants:
Pink (rose clay)
Black (activated charcoal)
White (titanium dioxide)
Blue (liquid pigment)

 

SOAP-MAKING

So here’s how I started off!
1. I used the 3-hole squeeze bottles to make the black and white lines.Soap swirl step 1

2. Then, with the regular, one-hole bottle, I added some abstract flowers with some splatter/dots along with pink lines.soap swirl step 2

3. This is where the soap comb was incorporated (pictures below). Most of the time, I combed in a downward motion. But also, I went sideways and made a few turning strokes. Then, used a single skewer to touch-up and give certain areas more shape…especially the flowers.
Soap swirl close-upSoap swirl step 3

I absolutely loved every second of this project! Thanks to Amy for hosting such a wonderful, exciting challenge. This really gives us soapers a chance to connect with others as well as be creative within the boundaries. And boundaries, I feel, make us even more creative. 🙂