Thursday, July 17, 2014

Color Challenge

I participated in another of Amy Warden's soap design challenges and this month, we were given two paint swatches with a theme of colors and we were to match those colors with either natural colorants only or synthetic colorants only. The design was up to the artisan.

I chose the autumn colors and natural colorants. Here is what I used to accomplish each color:

White: Australian Ivory Clay
Yellow: Annatto seeds infused in a smidgeon of oil
Red: Australian Red Clay
Grayish-Brown: A combination of charcoal and walnut powder

The yellow in the soap turned out a little brighter than I would have liked and the brown in the soap is only a tad off from the swatch which was a challenge to achieve. The white and the red I'm very happy with as they match well.

This was an interesting challenge and I think that the next time I'm in the paint section of the hardware store, I just may pick up some paint swatches.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mantra Swirl

I participated in another of Amy Warden's fun swirl challenges. This month's challenge is the mantra swirl. There were two techniques and I decided to do the modified mantra because I wanted to cut my soap the way I usually do. This technique took two tries to get it right.

Here's my first attempt.

I wasn't horribly disappointed with the first attempt but I wanted to achieve more movement and the soap started setting up faster than I expected.  To keep this post shorter, I will detail the technique with my 2nd attempt.

First off, I'm partial to whiter soaps. Amy's instructions was a 3-color I decided to do two colors in the middle instead of one. I planned on using a fresh raspberry fragrance and thought a red and black would work nice.

So I divided my mold like so. I then mixed up the soap. I stopped blending and started separating the soap when I had the soap emulsified. Enough to have the lye, water and oils mixed but not enough to trace.

Then I separated out my soap and blended them to a light trace. One of the problems I had with the first batch was that I didn't measure out the soap so I would have equal parts in each section. So this time, I weighed out each color so I didn't have more of one than the other.

 This is a pic after the soap was poured but before the dividers were pulled:

Then I GENTLY removed the dividers. A few drips but not too bad.

Now we're going to begin the swirl. I wish I had someone to take pics while I was working but I only have two hands.  This is the implement I made to swirl. 

I used a square dowel because I thought it would move a little more soap. Now what I did was place this dowel down the side (where the white is) and pulled the dowel back and forth through the colors while also lifting it up. The goal is to make a sort of zig zag where the colors will zig and zag into the white.  Then I did figure 8's with a skewer, like this:

I was very pleased with the top but as usual, I'm dying to see what the inside looks like but I have to wait. After unmolding 24hours later, I decided to wait another 24 because the soap was very soft. So 24 hours later, I cut. Still a bit too soft BUT I wasn't going to wait any longer :).

Here is the final product. I was very happy with the surprise inside! Lots of movement and the two center colors played very well together.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Making of a Peacock Swirl Soap

Recently I entered an Artisan Soap Swirling Challenge hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks. This was such a fun challenge that I look forward to entering more in the future.

The Peacock Swirl is a swirling technique that needs to be done in a slab mold. With a slab mold, the swirling is done on the top of the soap instead of imbedded throughout the soap. We took several pictures so you could follow along to see how it was done.

First, I'd like to say that prep work prior to mixing the soap is key in many of these more complex soap swirls. The more you can visualize the steps you'll take, the tools you'll need to accomplish those steps and having it all out and ready to go is a big part of being successful. Here you'll see we have all of our supplies organized and ready to go.

I needed to make a seasonal soap for one of our accounts so I thought I'd do something special for the guys for a change. I chose a clary sage essential oil and earth tone micas of orange, sage, yellow, and brown.

First step was of course to mix the soap.  I then filled each squeeze bottle and added one color to each of them. The remaining soap was poured into the mold. the fun (or the stress) begins!  Mixing up the colors took a bit of time but we used a recipe that doesn't thicken quickly so we still have plenty of time, so long as we move quickly that is.  First step is to squeeze one color in a zig zag motion all the way across the slab. Then repeat with each color, in order, over and over until you run out.  It should look something like this:

Then we'll take our home made soap comb and comb through the swirls from top to bottom. See how neat that looks? That's really nice enough to stop right there:

Here's what the comb looks like:

So now we need to finish the technique by taking a pick and running squiggly lines down the soap to form the peacock fan. Believe it or not, that was the most difficult part of the swirl.

This is the finished swirl. Admittedly this is a technique that needs some practice to get perfect but for my first try, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out!  I have not yet cut the soap into bars but I'll post a follow up when I do.

A great big thank you to Amy Warden for hosting this challenge, it was a lot of fun!

Friday, May 18, 2012

On the Curing Rack!

We have several soaps on the curing rack but I can't wait for this one to be ready to use! Our Hawaiian Ginger beer soap was resurrected by customer request. She found a bar she didn't know she had and said it was the first time she smiled in the shower in along time.  We couldn't refuse that request and since our Hawaiian Ginger fragrance is almost gone for good, we thought this soap would be a perfect way to say goodbye. 

We used a rich spiced chai ale in this soap which is a dark ale that was brewed with actual chai tea. When I was mixing the soap together it was a beautiful honey brown so I topped it with a little bit of bronze sparkle and calendula petals.  It has lightened a bit but oh does it smell so good!  This soap will be ready for sale on May 29th and we'll announce when it's on our website.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lip Service

Did you know that your lips do not have oil glands?  Because of this, it’s very important to make sure they are properly protected when you plan on being outdoors in harsh weather or wind.  As you probably know already not all lip products are created equal.

When looking for a lip protectant you want a product to have emollients with rich oils and butters such as shea butter, lanolin, or cocoa butter. There will usually be a wax but avoid products that are mostly wax as they do very little to provide emollient to the lips.

I use waxes in my lip butters because I like using specialty oils that are known to moisturize the skin such as tamanu, pumpkin seed, and cranberry seed oil. The oils, when combined with butters will not form a balm so wax is needed to thicken the product. Also waxes help with the duration the product stays on the lips and with moisture retention.  I like using just enough to firm up the product but it leaves a nice creamy buttery feeling on the lips. 

An important item to take note of is what flavoring ingredient the lip product contains.  If it has camphor, menthol, or peppermint avoid it.  Many of the medicated type lip products contain some or all of them and those ingredients in a lip product cause skin irritation which will keep lips from healing and keep them feeling chapped. I don’t make peppermint type lip products for that reason. There’s nothing worse than reaching for a product you believe to be helping your skin and it does the exact opposite.

If you have chronic irritated lips due to over use of medicated lip products, I highly recommend talking to your doctor.  Several years back, my doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory ointment that I applied to my lips a couple times per day and after a week or so, my lips were healed and back to normal.  On advice of my doctor, stay away from medicated lip products! Now I use lip balm only when they feel dry or I plan on being outdoors for more than a few hours and I have happy healthy lips that don’t need constant slathering to feel good.