Saturday, February 17, 2018

Time for a Change

One of the first things you'll notice today is a name change. I've recently become serious about gearing up to sell some of my soap. To that end, Suds 'n Things is too nebulous a name, too difficult to come up with a "look", a logo, a theme; I needed something a little more concrete, something that reflects what I do and where I am. After a lot of thought, I've decided on Mission Meadows Soapery.

We live in an area of Kelowna called the Lower Mission, near Mission Creek, one of my favourite walking spots. Near us there's a farm called Old Meadows Farm, where we often buy vegetables in the summer, another favourite spot. This area has historically been an agricultural area, with orchards and, now, vineyards. When I combined the two, I came up with Mission Meadows... and because I make soap, the Soapery was rather obvious.

That out of the way, I still intend for this to be a place to catalog my soapy adventures, making it easy for me to see what I've done and when I did it.

Last week, I blogged about the Dead Sea Mud soap. I never did show the cut soap. It turned out even better than I'd anticipated. Apart from looking like blocks of concrete, the soap smells amazing and has an earthy, pure look about it.

The "shells" aren't part of the soap; they've just been laid on top for the photo.
I'm looking forward to trying this soap. It should be a good one. The soap base is a good one, one I've used in other soaps as well. When you have a good base recipe, you'll always have a decent soap.

Last weekend was a long weekend here in BC (Family Day). The grands were here for a few hours on Monday and I let Trinity play with the soap dough, mainly to see if she could inspire me. She enjoyed it and came up with a few things.

All that day (and all the previous week), I was mulling around an idea for a soap made in a column mold. I brought home a core from a roll of architectural paper, a 3" heavy cardboard tube. I'd previously purchased an impression mat, intended for cake decorating. My intention was to line the tube, first with freezer paper to make the unmolding easier, then with the silicon impression mat.

For colouring the soap, I wanted to use some of the green clay I'd purchased a few weeks earlier. I was envisioning a green and white In The Pot (ITP) swirl. Once the kids had gone home, it was time for me to play.

Here's what the soap looked like as it came out of the mold, with the silicon impression mat still in place. It's already looking good.

At this point, I was thrilled. The soap had partially gelled and it felt smooth and fairly hard. And it smelled amazing. I scented it with Petitgrain, Bergamot, and Lemon essential oils and coloured it with Chromium Oxide Green and Titanium Dioxide (white). I cut it the following day.

Introducing Green Goddess soap
To say I am happy is an understatement. I am thrilled with this one; it is everything I had envisioned. I had enough to make a few smaller bars as well and, on one of them, I used one of Trinity's creations. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll be getting this bar of soap once it has fully cured, in about a month.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mud Soap

I'm a Pinterest addict. I freely admit it. Don't judge me too harshly, though. I do come across some good stuff occasionally and I have pinned some good stuff, too, as I've come across it. In researching soap and techniques,  I came across a "Humblebee and me" post about Dead Sea Mud soap. Then, while I was doing a bit of shopping on the Voyageur website, a tub of Dead Sea mud managed to make its way into my cart.

Today, I made her recipe, more or less as written. Marie uses tallow in her recipe; I think I still have a tub of tallow, buried deep in my freezer. I think. I know I have lard so I reformulated the recipe to use lard instead of tallow. (Both make great soap, by the way.) Apart from that minor change, I followed her recipe.

The batter took a while to come to trace but, I have to say, it looked so silky I just wanted to dip my fingers in to feel it. That is never a good idea when it comes to fresh batter so I didn't but.... I wanted to. The soap is in the spare room now, saponifying, doing its thing.

It's scented with Petitgrain and Mandarin Orange. It smells lovely, almost old fashioned and, as she notes in her post, it's a heavy soap. I've never used Dead Sea Mud before; it has a distinctive odor. John says it smells like the bottom of a pond and, I suppose, when you really think about it, this IS mud from the bottom of a lake. It's very earthy, salty, vegetal, deep.

This morning, I unmolded and cut the Salt & Pepper Soap. I was kind of surprised at  how hard the soap was already. Other soaps, after 24 hours, aren't nearly as firm as this one was. It's probably because I gelled it, while most of my soaps are not gelled. Cutting it revealed the glycerin rivers I was hoping for, as well as the salt halos I was looking for. Interestingly, a lot of soapers see glycerin rivers as a flaw; I want them in this soap. I could have used more Activated Charcoal and have made a note to that effect in the soap recipe. All in all, though, I'm happy with it.

Last week, I received an Amazon order that had a couple of mini shell molds. I wanted them so I could make some embeds, especially for a soap I'm planning out. It will have a seaside/beach/ocean theme and shells will, of course, fit right in. Using a bit of the batter from the Salt & Pepper soap (and I do mean a bit... no more than a couple of tablespoons), I made these...

The largest of them is no bigger than an inch across. The stripes (pale brown) are painted on with a mica in glycerin. It soaks into the fresh soap, leaving the colour as more of a stain than anything else. I'm looking forward to using these in an upcoming soap and will be making more with little bits of whatever soap I'm making in the interim. I already have a few in the mold using the S&P batter.

I'm also looking forward to incorporating more of the melt & pour soap into future products. Suddenly, soap making is so much fun again!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Salt & Pepper Soap

A couple of years back, we had a black & white soap challenge on the Soapmaking Forum. I made what I called Salt & Pepper Soap. One half was coloured white and had poppy seeds in it; the other side was black and had salt in it.

That was then. I decided to reprise that soap because I did receive a lot of favourable comments on it. It went into the mold today and I've had it in the oven for the last couple of hours, gelling.

It looks like it's lightened up a bit in the oven but we'll wait and see how it looks once it's cooled and I can cut it. If I remember correctly, I didn't scent the challenge soap because I wanted maximum time to do what I had envisioned. This time, I scented it with a combination of Sweet Amber fragrance oil and Peppermint essential oil. It smells pretty good, to be honest.

Every once in a while, you come across something that kind of blows your mind. Today was one of those days. I've seen a pin on Pinterest on how to make a soap mold from corrugated plastic (Coroplast) numerous times and was intrigued but when I clicked on the pin, it took me to a website that was clearly translated from another language... badly. It was very difficult to follow, let alone understand. Then, this morning, one of the ladies (artemis) on SMF posted a YouTube link to a video explaining and demonstrating the technique very clearly.

I've watched it and it suddenly went CLICK in my mind. Once I saw it, it just made sense. A piece of Coroplast and four binder clips. That's it. I can now make any size of mold I might want or need!

You know I had to try it, right? This is a 6 x 4 x 3" mold, enough to make about 4 bars of soap of about 3" x 2" x 1.5"

It comes together very quickly with the binder clips. The videographer recommends lining it with plastic wrap and, from some of my reading, the Coroplast does begin to disintegrate with repeated uses (because of the lye). However, I can get the Coroplast for very little and it makes for a very inexpensive mold.

Four binder clips and... ta da... a mini test mold that cost me absolutely nothing! I was given a piece of black Coroplast that measured about 3' x 4' by my neighbour, who was going to throw it into the garbage. I have enough to make as many molds as I want.

A tall & skinny mold? No problem! An extra long mold for a large batch? No problem!

I am VERY happy!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Honeycomb Soap

We have a winner! The suggestion of putting the soap in the oven for CPOP (Cold Process Oven Process) was definitely the key.

I let the soap sit overnight before trying to unmold it then held my breath as I pushed the bottom of the mold to reveal....

It came out beautifully, just as I had imagined! I waited a couple of hours before cutting it and deliberating on how best to cut it. I love my little wire cheese cutter but I'd been told that M&P soap has been known to break the wires. On the one hand, I do have a couple extra wires for my cutter but, on the other hand, I didn't want to unnecessarily break on in trying it. 

I tried it anyway. I turned the soap upside down, cutting through the cold process part first, then slowly and carefully pushing through the M&P soap. It worked beautifully! 

Then, last night, after my first round of colonoscopy prep was finished (shudder), I melted some of the clear M&P, coloured it to mimic honey as best I could, and drizzled the "honey" over the soap and left it to set overnight.

I am beyond happy. To envision something in my mind is one thing; to successfully take it to completion is quite another. Now that I know it's possible to work with both kinds of soap in one bar, a whole new world has opened up and my mind is spinning with possibilities.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Ugh and Ugh!

Well, my soapmaking has hit a bump. The lavender, patchouli, and jasmine soap is out of the mold and cut and..... it stinks! It really stinks. Even though there is only 1/2 teaspoon of jasmine in the entire loaf, it dominates dramatically. On the bright side, the soap end I tried lathers beautifully and smells better than the soap itself.

I'm a little torn as to whether or not I should scrap the entire loaf and write it off, or offer it for sale at a reduced rate. Some people might like it and it is, after all, a decent soap. Decisions, decisions.

Here's the bottom of the loaf, which I had wanted to be the top originally. It was definitely an experiment. I'll try using the mat again but I'm not sure it's something that will be a regular feature.

Then, earlier this week, I wanted to do an experiment. Something I saw on Pinterest piqued my interest.

The one in the picture is made from melt & pour soap, something I don't work with. However, it did get me thinking. What if I combined melt & pour with cold process soap. After all, cp soap, made with oatmeal, milk, and honey, is a lovely soap. Using the melt & pour would make the honeycomb layer more realistic that it would look with CP soap. Then, add in the fact that my Voyageur order arrived and it contained a bottle of Oatmeal Milk & Honey fragrance oil, and my decision was made. I stopped in at Michael's and purchased a 2 lb. block of melt & pour base.

Once home, I finalized my recipe to fit in my new mini mold and got to work. First, I lined the bottom of the mold with bubble wrap to emulate the honey comb. Then I melted some of the m&p soap and coloured it with a bit of yellow/gold colorant meant for m&p soap, and poured it into my lined mold to a depth of about 1/2 inch.

Then I made my cp soap. keeping everything as cool as possible. I have read that, when making a combo soap, it's a good idea to spritz the m&p soap with alcohol before pouring the cp soap so I did that, spritzing generously. I know that any soap made with milk and honey can overheat so, to be on the safe side, I put the mold outside for a while. Our temperatures right now are hovering around the freezing mark and I thought that should help keep it on the cool side.

The following day, I unmolded the soap.

It smells amazing! So soft and, dare I say, comforting? That's the upside. The downside? Well, it came apart. There's also a lot of soda ash on the cp part. 

This morning, I'm trying it again. I'll be following some recommendations from fellow soap makers on SoapMaking Forum. The first suggestion was to encourage the soap to gel. Allowing it to gel should bring the heat up just high enough to soften the m&p soap and allow the two soaps to meld together. The other suggestion was, once again, spritz generously with alcohol.

Right now, it's in the oven, which was brought up to about 150°F, then turned off with the light left on. I'll leave it in there for a few hours. We shall see. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Dancing In The Rain

This morning, I unmolded and cut the Dancing in the Rain soap. I probably should have waited until later in the day (the soap was on the soft side) but I was eager to see how it had turned out. It wasn't how I was hoping it would be but it's definitely acceptable.

I'm thinking now that it might have been better in a slab mold and cut horizontally rather than in a loaf mold and cut vertically. I'll try that another time. As an aside, I've made a list of techniques I'd like to try. The dancing funnel pour is back on that list.

I also trimmed the rimmed soap; I used some of the soap dough to make the rim, got that fitted into two cavities of a silicone mold and filled them with leftover soap from the Rain soap. I'm pleased with the result. I have a feeling some of the colour (especially the red) may bleed. It's pretty intense. We shall see.

This afternoon, I planned out and made another batch of soap. It didn't go exactly as planned, to say the least. 

I bought a texture mat at the Bulk Barn today and cut it up to use in my soap mold. The intention was to colour a bit of the soap batter and coat the mat before pouring in the rest of the soap batter. My batter went from fluid to thick trace in, literally, seconds! It went so fast I almost didn't have time to get the scent into it. 

It's definitely not the prettiest soap I've ever made but it does smell good. It's scented with lavender, patchouli, and jasmine. 

The soap should be a good one; it's made with tallow and lard, along with palm kernel oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and castor oil. Any soap made with lard and tallow is bound to be a nice soap so, even though it isn't pretty, I'm still content. Besides any day with time spent making soap is a good day.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In My Happy Place

I am having so much fun! I've been researching techniques, watching soap making videos, reading about soap and, today, making soap. One technique that has me intrigued is the Dancing Funnel Swirl. It isn't really a swirl but it is, definitely a technique. It, also, doesn't use a funnel; it uses squeeze bottles.

To make it, you pour your soap batter into separate squeeze bottles for each colour. Soap batter is dropped into your mold, first drops of one colour then, on the drops of the first colour, the second colour is dropped. (Gee, that sentence sounds awkward, doesn't it?) If you Google it, you'll see some amazing examples. Go, Google it!

Ok, just to be nice, here's a video I watched a few times before even thinking about trying this technique. She made hers in a slab mold; mine is in a loaf mold but the technique is the same. It's simple but, oh. so cool looking!

I tried it today using two colours, white and ultramarine pink, using the same recipe I used for the Ice Queen (so not blue)/Rose Quartz soap. At the moment it's in the oven, gelling. I don't normally gel my cold process soaps but, in this case, I want the colour to pop as much as possible. As well, I purposely made a larger batch than I knew I'd need so I would have a little extra for experimentation.

Speaking of the Rose Quartz soap, I need to come up with another name for it. The pink has completely disappeared and the soap is now a beautiful pale lavender. When I told Kristen I was thinking of calling it Lavender (or Mauve) Quartz, she immediately replied, "Oh, you mean Amethyst?" Um, yeah. I'm hesitant to call it anything but pretty right now. Who knows whether the colour will morph even more? We shall wait and see.

A few weeks ago, I made soap dough in preparation for February's challenge on the Soapmaking Forum. Last weekend, I put together a cane of soap with the intention of using it to "wrap" soap, also called Rimmed Soap.

This was just an experiment so there are only two bars; I'll unmold them tomorrow. The center (pink) soap, which was also used in the dancing funnel soap, is scented with Rain from Voyageur Soap & Candle. I wasn't too sure about this scent; it's very strong in the bottle and the one time I did use it in soap, I didn't like it. Again, it was too strong. This time, I only used one teaspoon in a one kilo (oil weight) batch of soap. I'm liking it much better now. Obviously, with this fragrance oil, less is more.

Because it's a little slow at work right now (finally), I was able to take Thursday afternoon off to make my Salt Soap, something I've been wanting to do for a couple of weeks. After giving Kristen an entire batch of these bars for her birthday, I was left with only one bar in reserve. That is NOT enough!

This should see me through the year nicely, once it's fully cured. The only downside to this soap is that the longer it cures, the better it is. The upside to this soap is that the longer it cures, the better it is. Ideally, I should put it away for the next six months to a year. Truly, this is a wonderful soap; it smells amazing (equal parts lavender, peppermint, and rosemary) and the lather is thick, creamy and gentle. I even use it for shaving my legs because the lather is that thick. And, it doesn't dry out my skin. 

Tomorrow, I'll post pictures of the Dancing Funnel soap. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turned out. Stay tuned!