Friday, November 14, 2014

Soap Challenge!

Hi!  I'm back, after a long break from blogging.  Guess what?  I have a new hobby!  You're shocked, I can hear the collective gasp from here.

I have made quite a few batches of soap so far, and was inspired to join in on the Soap Challenge Club fun over at Great Cakes Soapworks.  This month's challenge was combed soap.  As I said, I'm new to soaping, and I'm especially new to colorants in my soap.  I've had a few, *ahem* learning experiments, shall we say.  My first try at coloring soap ended with a soap with three variations on the same tan.  My second attempt was OK. But the third, oh, the third was supposed to be a nice Christmasy Red and Green. It ended up orange and purple!! Lessons learned, research completed, new colorants ordered for the challenge!

J (and S) so nicely documented the process for me.  Excuse the ridiculously messy counters in the background.  I decided soaping was more important than cleaning (which I did do after the soaping fun was completed!)  Plus, I ended up using the end of a couple of bottles of oils, so those somehow ended up in the pics too. Also, excuse the messy hair.  (That's a story for a different blog, that has nothing to do with crafting and everything to do with the fact that I was not allowed to get my head wet for 12 days!) J seems to think every pic of something I'm doing needs to include the actual person doing said thing.

I started with a basic, slow moving soap batter.  I used the recipe provided by the Amy Warden, the club hostess.  It was my first soap with lard, but I'm glad I finally tried one!  Then I divided out a few small portions for colorants (but no fragrance.) In her example, Amy used five colors.  But I hate pink, so I just went with a little more red and called it good.

I scented and colored the majority of the batter, then poured it into my makeshift mold (I chopped up a box that some supplies came in! Feeling pretty thrifty about that one) as a base for the pretty swirls. 

Then the fun began!  I just layered the colors on, in squiggly lines, until I was out of colored soap batter.

Next comes the combing.  With my "fancy" comb.

More lessons learned:  Moving the soap to a safe place where it could sit for the chemical reaction to complete, some of the prettily swirled lines got less pretty. Next time (and there will be a next time, this soap is seriously fun, and just "wow"!) I'll plan to leave it in place for a few hours before moving it.

Then the soap had to sit for a day.  Once the soap had set up a bit, I could pull it out of the mold and cut it.  Here's the result:

The top of the soap has a different texture than I expected.  I'm not entirely sure whether this is due to the recipe, or if it's due to the measures I took to avoid soda ash (a white coating on the top of the soap, which I thought would take away from the effect of the combing) I guess more experimentation is in order!  I am quickly going to be overrun with soap at this rate!