Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Soap Challenge : Column Pour

Hi there!  Well it's the silly season, and I wasn't sure I would have time to do this month's challenge from Great Cakes Soapworks, but I made time!!  I had tried the column pour on one occasion before this challenge, and it was a total disaster!  So I was pretty excited to see this as the challenge soap for this month.  I will admit, my first attempt was not so great, mixture got really thick by the end, and it got really bad glycerin rivers......I had to try again.

This is where I tell you that I totally forgot to take during photos of the process!  I chose an Essential Oil blend of Lavender, Lime and Lemon.  With this blend I was able to choose the colors of purple, yellow and green.  I chose a recipe with Coconut, Palm, Olive and Sunflower Oils, and it stayed a nice fluid consistency the whole pour!  For my colors I used micas, Cosmo Martini, Lemon and Shamrock Green.  Covered one of the kid's blocks in plastic and placed it it the mold.  Here it is after the skewer pull through....

I was pretty pleased with how it looked at this stage, crossed my fingers, and put it to bed for a few days while we went away for the weekend!  Then came the unmolding and the cutting, and I was pleasantly surprised!  The bars look really quite good, all different, and the colors look good together!  Here are a few photos of the cut bars.....

I had so much fun doing this technique, and I think I would do it again, now I have a proper slab mold.  Thanks Amy for putting on the challenge.....had a ball!  Can't wait to see everyone else's creations, and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS everybody!  Catch you all in 2014.
Bye for now
Dianne  :)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Dandelion Zebra Swirl Soap Challenge

Hi there......another soap challenge is over and done with!  This month for the Greatcakes Soapworks Challenge, we had to create a soap with what is called the dandelion zebra swirl, which is named after the very talented soaper Vinvela Ebony and explained on her blog Dandelion SeiFee.

I used a slow moving recipe, but an unknown fragrance (silly, I know!), a fragrance called Kismet.  The colours I chose were a pale yellow for the base colour, with black (activated charcoal), white (titanium dioxide), purple (cosmo martini mica) and orange (orange heaven mica).

With the colours all mixed, and the flexible cutting mat in the mold it was going pretty well, but I did notice that my soap batter did get quite thick by the end.  But I kept going, and the end result is not too bad.  Did a pretty swirl on top, and put it to bed.

So the end result of the dandelion zebra swirl......quite enjoyed doing it, and quite like the effect.  

I did do another one....this time with Black Raspberry Vanilla Fragrance, and all micas as the colours, so I didn't have to stick blend any of the colours in.  this time it was almost too fluid!  But the end result was quite nice as well...I just like the colours of my first one better!

So....that is it for another challenge.  Thanks once again to Amy Warden for organizing these challenges, and for everyone who participates....I just love seeing the amazing talent of all of you.

Until next time
Dianne  :)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Soap Challenge #4 : Multi-coloured Gradient Soap

Hi everyone.  It's that time of the month again, where we get to show everyone how we have done in the soap challenge from Greatcakes Soapworks and Amy Warden.

This month the challenge was to create a Multi-coloured gradient soap. The easiest way to describe this technique, is taking three colours and creating seven layers of soap, mixing them in between, so that the colours blend into each other. Now this might seem easier then it is!  I can't tell you how many times I watched the video, and read and re-read the notes, trying to get my head around the quantities for each colour!  In the end I winged it!  And I had also decided, that no matter what this soap turned out like, that I was not going to attempt another one!  This was it!!

The first step of this challenge was to pick three colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel....or you could choose the primary colours of yellow, red and blue.

After much deliberation....and trying to decide what colours would go with the fragrances I had in the cupboard, I decided to go with the primary colours.  I also chose a fragrance oil from Bramble Berry called Coconut Citrus Sorbet.  I have previously used this FO to make a soap called "Island Sunset" .  This soap is a white base with blue, yellow and pink swirls in it.  But I thought I could create a "sunset" look with the gradient, soap.....so for a limited number of soaps, "Island Sunset" now has a new look!!

So I got all my equipment together and mixed my soap batter, and divided it into the required quantities needed for the different colours.

Here are my colours....blue, yellow and red.

Then came the confusing layering bit.  Needless to say there are no photos of this stage of the process, as i needed to concentrate too much on what I was doing.  At the end, I thought the top looked a little plain, so I decided to do a gold mica swirl on top!

And after about 24 hours I was able to cut my soap.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It looked OK, a little wonky in places, and the layers are uneven and curved, but all in all I am quite pleased with how it turned out.  So here it is ......"Island Sunset".....the water, the sand and the sunset sky  :)

Until next time......

Monday, 9 September 2013

Soap Crafting - My prize

Hi there.  I am a bit excited!  I received my prize for winning the Greatcakes Soapworks Soap Challenge last month.  I would like to thank Amy Warden for putting these challenges on for all of us Soap makers.  For me it is about trying new techniques, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  I would also like to thank Anne - Marie Faiola from Bramble Berry for providing the prize.

There are quite a few techniques in the book that I can't wait to try.....and to help me do this I have finally bought myself a slab mold, with dividers!  Can't wait for it to turn up!
Until next time
Bye Bye
Dianne  :)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Soap Challenge #3.......The "HollySwirl"

Well, it's that time of the month again!  Soap Challenge time courtesy of Amy Warden and Greatcakes Soapworks.

This month the challenge was to recreate the "Holly Swirl", so named after a swirl that Holly from Missouri River Soaps did in one of her You-tube videos.

I will admit I tried this 3 times!  The first one was not too bad, but suffered badly from glycerin rivers.  the second one was not too bad either, it's just that the colours did not pop enough to see the inner swirl.

My last try, I used Black Raspberry Vanilla Fragrance from Bramble berry.  I decided to use a red base colour and black and white for the inner swirl.  I chose a new recipe that I have been working on, that is slow to trace, and it worked a treat!  I used Ruby Red Mica  for the red colour and Activated Charcoal for the black and Titanium Dioxide for the White.  I poured the white and the black soap mix into another jug and did a bit of a swirl.  then I poured the red base mix into the mould.  From a height I poured the black/white soap into the mould, and then changed heights until all of it was in the mould. I forgot to take photos of this process!!  Ooooops!  I then did a bit of a swirl on top, sprayed with alcohol, and put it to bed.

Next day I cut it and got the best surprise!  It looked good!! So here is the final photos of my "Holly Swirl", scented with BRV (love that smell!).

Thanks for looking!  Until next time....
Bye Bye
Dianne  :)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Josh's Rainbow.......Dexter's Rainbow.....the story behind my latest soap...

Hi there!  Been a while between posts!  I would just like to tell you all about a little project I have begun working on.
 In my extended family we have 2 children who have Autism.  I have watched these two families cope with this for a number of years, and often wondered how I would have coped had it of been me.  About a month ago I got to thinking....what if I make a soap specifically to try and raise a bit of money for Autism Awareness.   I had decided while I was lying in bed thinking about it that it had to be a Rainbow Soap.  My next step was to contact both families and find out if  they thought it was a good idea, and also if I could use their sons' names in the name of the soap.  Luckily enough for me they both thought it was a fantastic idea!
My next step was to try and formulate a recipe that would be slow moving enough for me to work with the 6 colours for the rainbow.  As my normal soap recipe can sometimes move a bit quickly on me, I had to think of something else!  I devised a good one that is working so far for me!  I also had to find fragrances that would not discolour or accelerate trace on me.....Energy and Kumquat from Brambleberry were perfect...and can I just say they smell divine!
My plan is to sell the soap and donate $1 from every bar sold to an Autism Charity.....so far the response has been awesome, and I had to make another bigger batch today!  Hopefully I can make a reasonable amount of money for Autism Awareness.....I guess it comes down to how much rainbow soap I can make!!
So here is the first batch of Josh's Rainbow  and Dexter's Rainbow (I will alternate the names, if you know what I mean)!

The top of the first batch, scented with Kumquat Fragrance Oil.

This is how it turned out....used micas for all of the colours.

And the top of the second batch I just made.....this one is scented with Energy Fragrance Oil.

So that's it for now.....hopefully I will be able to donate heaps of money to this worthy cause.

See you all later  :)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Mantra Swirl - Soap Making Challenge Club

Well it's that time of the month again....time for another of Amy Warden's Soap Making Challenge Club challenges!  This month we had to try the Mantra Swirl.  We could choose to do either the Original Mantra, or the Modified Mantra.  I chose the Modified Mantra, so I wouldn't have to try and cut my soap differently!!  Yes, that is pretty much the only reason!

I chose Lavender and Spearmint Essential Oils to scent my soap.  I have wanted to do this combination for a while, and this seemed the perfect time to try it out, as I thought the colour combination of Purple, White and Green would look nice in the Mantra Swirl.

So on the day, I made some dividers for my mould, and some nifty divider holders, as I would not have any help with the pouring of the soap. I also taped a chopstick to my hanger to make it a bit "wider".  It all went pretty smoothly, I got to the emulsion stage and divided out my colours, then started to pour them into the mould.......this part was quite tricky, even with the nifty divider holders!!

See my divider holders!  I kept them in place with rubber bands....worked fairly well.

This was after the pour....it is quite messy, I had soap everywhere, as well as in the mould!  Luckily enough, most of it ended up where it was meant to be!

This is how it looked after I did the internal Hanger Swirl, and the the Mantra Swirl with the chopstick on the surface.  At this stage I was extremely pleased with my effort!  Then I put it to bed and left it for the night.  During that time I think it may have overheated a bit, because when I cut the bars the next day, inside looked a bit weird!, but it still looks fairly cool and I am still pleased with my effort!

So that is my Lavender Mint Mantra Swirl.  This was another awesome experience.  I would like to thank Amy for doing these challenges.  They have made me try new techniques, that I would probably not have tried, as I would have put them in the "too hard basket".  So THANK YOU Amy, and I hope you like it!!  Hopefully I can participate in the next one!

Have a nice day...
Dianne   :)

Friday, 14 June 2013

Peacock Swirl.....First try and third try!! These are the ones that didn't make the cut!

Hi there...as promised....here is an overview of the two other peacock swirls I did when I was trying to get one to enter in the competition.

My first attempt was a total bust.  A combination of skewers too close together in the tool I made, and the soap batter being a bit thick.....this is the end result....

And here are the cut bars after I steamed the ash off.....

I guess...after all that they don't look too bad!  They smell yummy...Black Raspberry Vanilla Fragrance Oil.

The whole peacock thing was doing my head in, and I decided to try once more to see if I could do it any better.  This time I just did 3 colors, and chose a different fragrance, Eden's Garden from Bramble Berry.
Everything went amazingly well...still used my single skewer!  And the end result looked fantastic.....until the next day when it was covered in popped air bubbles!  So here it is...peacock #3....

Here it is after the initial skewer pass through....

Here it is after the S - Curves.....was really really pleased with how it looked....it was much neater then my original one!

And here it is with the air bubbles the next day...total disappointment....

And finally...cut...they smell pretty good, and if I can work out how to get the top layer off without a planer, they will look excellent!!

So that's the peacock for a while.....don't know if I will ever do it again, as cleanup was total hell...but for limited editions, it might be OK.  See you all later  :)

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Peacock Swirl - Soap Challenge Club

Hi everyone.....the time has come to tell you all how my peacock swirl experience went!  I used the recipe off the website, which was:
35% Olive Oil
30% Palm Oil
25% Coconut Oil
10% Rice Bran Oil
5% superfat
I used a fragrance I had not used yet Black Raspberry Vanilla from BB.  All I can say is YUM!!

Anyway, back to it.  My first attempt was a total bust.  Soap thickened too much, and I had my skewers too close together in the tool I made to do the pass through.....long story short...all my pretty colours got mixed together!

But it got the better of me and I tried again that afternoon.  I used the colours: Red, Yellow, White and Black.  Put my fragrance in the rest of the soap batter and into the mold.  I squeezed the colours alternately into the mold in stripes.  Then I got my SINGLE SKEWER!!  Wasn't game enough to use the tool again, so I used a single skewer to do the initial pull through:

Then came the confusing S curves!  Got the skewer again and drew the s curves through the soap batter....wasn't that neat, but it turned out OK in the end:

And here are the cut bars.  I think for a first attempt it turned out OK.... I was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I am so glad I did this challenge....can't wait for the next one  :)

Oh I should add that I had to spend about 2 hours steaming ash off the cut bars....silly ash!!

Well that's it...will do a post later about my failed attempt and my third attempt, that was really good until the next day when I looked at it and it had tine popped air bubbles along the s curve lines!  :(
Oh well....
Bye for now...

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Creative side of Soaping

As a soap maker, I guess being creative is part and parcel of the job.  But occasionally, you are made to think even more creatively when a challenge is set.  I am a member of The Soap Making Forum on the internet, and for a few months running we had a monthly soap challenge with a specific theme.  I was pretty keen to take part in these challenges, as it made me think outside the box a bit, and made me steer away from my normal swirls and patterns.

The first one I took part in was "A soap depicting a song from the year you were born".  When I saw the theme for this one, i couldn't even begin to get my head around how to depict a song!  So I hit GOOGLE, and finally came up with "Moondance" by Van Morrison.  ( The year by the way is 1970.)  So then my next mission was to figure out what to do.  I made a white embed in an old gladwrap tube.  Then I mixed some different shades of blue, in what I hoped would end up looking like a night sky.....then I put it all together, and the end result was the following soap.  I scented it with Love Spell, as I thought it kind of went with the mood of the song!

The next challenge I participated in, was the theme of "Mythology".  Now this one had me stumped!  So once again I hit GOOGLE, and almost instantly I found a Greek Myth that I thought I could work with.  It was the myth of PERSEPHONE - Queen of the Underworld.  She was the goddess of Spring Growth alongside her mother Demeter.  One day she was seized by Haides and taken to the Underworld to be his bride.  Her frantic mother searched everywhere for her, and finally discovered that her husband Zeus had conspired in her abduction.  She was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Persephone was released.  They relented, but because Persephone had already tasted the fruit of Haides, Pomegranate Seeds, she was forced forever to spend a part of the year in the Underworld.  Her annual return to earth in Spring is marked by flowering of meadows and new growth, and her return to the Underworld in Winter sees the dying down of plants and the halting of growth.

This I thought I could work with....so I planned my soap......predominantly black for the Underworld, with bright colours representing the colours of Spring Growth, and scented with Pomegranate Fragrance Oil.  So here is "Persephone - Queen of the Underworld"

The last one I participated in was create a soap depicting your LOCALE.  Well I had thousands of ideas running through my head for this one....it was just a matter of getting them all into one soap!!  As I have mentioned, I live in Central Queensland in Australia.  In our region we have Coal Mining, Cattle Grazing, Crop Farming and Dairy Farming.  I wanted to put all of these into my soap.  So I added a little bit of Cow's Milk to my recipe for a start!  I scented the soap with Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil ( because I figured that Eucalyptus is a good Australian scent)  and the I put a black layer on the bottom, depicting the Coal Mining, then a layer of green, depicting Cattle Grazing, but I also put a pinch of ground oats in this layer for the Crop Farming part as well!  Lastly I did a white layer with some black blobs, which were meant to look like the Dairy Cow.....and here it is....."Callide Valley"

The main reason for this post is that I have entered Amy Warden's Soap Making Challenge Club, and this Month it is the "Peacock Swirl".  I will update you all on how that went soon.  These previous challenges helped me get the confidence I needed to be able to say....Hell yes, I can do this!  I'll let you know how I go!
Bye  :)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Hello....and welcome

Hi everyone, my name is Dianne and I am a soap maker from Queensland in Australia.  Have decided to start this blog as an extension of my facebook page, I guess like a diary of sorts, to let you all know what I have been up to, and what is planned for the future.

So, a little bit about myself.  I have a loving partner, who I have been with now for 10 years,and two beautiful children, Chloe who is 5 and Lachlan who is 2.  I have been making soap now for over 10 years, originally making it for myself and family, and giving it away to friends.  Last year I decided that I needed something to do, as I am a stay-at-home mum.  Then it hit me!  Maybe people might actually pay money for my soaps!  So I set about making my first lot of soaps for a local market.  I didn't have any pretty colours or anything yet, just the basics from the kitchen cupboard, but I did OK! Here are a few of my first soaps that I  made......
L to R:  Tea tree and Green Clay, Citrus Spice, Invigorating, Zebra  an Chamomile Tea

L to R :  Country Garden, Zebra, Man Up (beer soap), Tropical Paradise, Tea Tree and Green Clay.

With the money I made from my first market I invested in some pretty colours, and some fragrance oils as well (all of the first soaps I made were Essential Oils).  I had never had to try and make my soaps look pretty before as they were made only for personal use and for gifts...this was a new challenge for me!  So I watched dozens of youtube videos on different swirling techniques and tried my hand at a few of them for my next lot of soaps, and the results were pretty good!

This is Candy Cane....done with hanger swirl

This is Island Sunset.....done using the "Celine Swirl"

This is Camo...done using the "Spoon Swirl" 

So that was my first couple of months of soaping and trying to sell it!  Will post more photos later of some of my new works of art!!