So since we all have a lot more time available to us at home right now I figured it was the perfect time to get my soaping head on again. I last posted an entry into a soap challenge last May (see previous blog post) for the Pour/Pull Through Challenge. I actually did pay for the March challenge which was the Clam Shell Challenge but after 3 attempts and nothing worth entering I had to give up. Here’s two of the tries that simply got too thick to create the clam shells we needed to produce. The pink & white is scented with cherry bakewell which is beautiful so I will still enjoy using it. The yellow & white is scented with coconut & lime verbena which is also gorgeous so all is not lost.
I then had one last attempt after the challenge had ended just to prove to myself I’d not lost my soap mojo but I feel this one was maybe a little too runny and my clam shells got a little squashed but it was definitely my best attempt to date. I also tried out my new light box for the first time to take a couple of pictures.
Now for the Tall & Skinny Shimmy! I’ve seen this technique before but had never tried it; so when Amy ran the poll for the April challenge I immediately voted for this and was happy when it won. The technique involves 7 wall pours using something underneath to prop up the side of your tall skinny mould. So you have 4 pours on one side and 3 on the other. For the regular category each of the 7 pours was to be one colour but for the advanced they needed to be at least 3 colours each pour; actually meaning you have at least 21 individual pours to perform. Since my previous challenge attempts hadn’t gone well I decided to stick with the regular category for this challenge.
For attempt one I decided I wanted to do a pastels ombré colour scheme, going from pale pink to pale blue with pale purple in-between. This was my inspiration for the colours I chose.
I mistakenly decided to try the cherry bakewell FO again that I’d used in the Clam Shell Challenge on the basis that I’d be using a slow moving recipe and also wouldn’t be using my stick blender as per the hints and tips from the challenge. I had my beautiful colours mixed in advance and used 3oz paper cups so that I could create a pouring spout by pinching the lip of the cup. I hand mixed my soap to emulsion which didn’t take long (should have been a clue that it wasn’t going to plan!). Unfortunately as soon as I stated separating out my soap into the waiting cups it was already well on it’s way to being thick trace. I got all the colours mixed but there was absolutely no chance this soap was pouring out of those cups! I had to spoon the soap into my mould and bang that mould on the worktop multiple times to try close the gaps I knew would be there. You can see from the pictures I was unsuccessful in my attempts to get rid of the gaps! I do love the colours though (even though my pastel purple didn’t really work).
So onto attempt number two! For this one I decided to use a different slow moving recipe that didn’t include castor oil as I’d read in the hints and tips it could speed trace. I also used EOs instead of a FO this time, I used lime and peppermint. Turns out you can have too slow a recipe! I got too impatient and poured way too soon; even as I was pouring I knew I should have waited. Quickly shoved in it the warm oven to CPOP and kept everything crossed for soap and not an oily puddle. Thankfully it was soap, just not the soap I’d imagined it would be even though I do like it still.
Now onto attempt number three and my entry for the challenge. I went back to my previous slow moving recipe but added back in the castor oil this time and used a tried and tested FO called Sweet Dip which is just a lovely, fruity scent that lasts really well. I mixed my colours in advance with a little olive oil and numbered my cups so I didn’t mess up the order I needed to pour. I also decided that a pencil was too thin to prop up my mould so I used one of the legs from my mini camera tripod which is probably 3/4 of an inch – I’m glad I decided this as I think it’s really helped to give me a shimmy 🙂
I’d tried to do ombré colour schemes for the previous two attempts so decided on an ombré with a twist in the form of an out of place colour that compliments the main colour. Here’s my colours mixed ready for the soap.
I combined my oils and lye water and stirred with my spatula for what felt like forever and kept studying pictures of what emulsion should look like but I was nowhere near! I left it for 5 minutes, came back and stirred again. I repeated this pattern of stirring and leaving to stand for maybe 45 minutes but I was determined I wasn’t going to pour too soon this time! I’d measured my jug whilst it was empty then again once the soap was mixed so I knew exactly how much the soap weighed. This meant I was able to split my batch into 7 exactly equal portions.
It’s ridiculous really but I actually felt nervous when pouring and was so worried I would mess up the order of my pours but thankfully I didn’t and my soap stayed lovely and fluid throughout. Here’s the top of the soap after pouring.
Off it went into the oven to CPOP so that I could hopefully unmould the following day. Fingers crossed for a successful shimmy!
I was able to unmould the following day but I left it another 24 hours before cutting it as I didn’t want to ruin it by cutting too soon. When the time came I was excited to see how it turned out as I felt sure I’d gotten a good shimmy. I was super happy when I cut and saw the result – a lovely, wavy shimmy right down all of the layers. YES, finally, a soap worthy of entering after all the drama of the previous challenge and the first two attempts at this challenge.
Here it is!
I love how the blue pops out against the purples and the shimmy is definitely more pronounced for using something slightly thicker than a pencil I feel.
The middle bars of the mould have the curvy shimmy I was looking for whilst the two end bars have more of a point to them shimmy than a curve but still pretty and nice even layers.
So there it is guys, my first entry to the Soap Challenge in almost a year (again!). Hopefully it won’t be my last one this year. I was trying to come up with a name for it so sent some pictures in my friends group chat and few of them said it had a 70s lava lamp vibe so I’ve named it ‘Groovy Baby!’ Here’s a selection of my favourite pictures of it (and I took a lot!).
Thanks for the monthly challenge Amy, looking forward to the next one.