Soap Challenge Club April 2020 – Tall & Skinny Shimmy

Soap Challenge Club April 2020 – Tall & Skinny Shimmy

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!).

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Thanks for the monthly challenge Amy, looking forward to the next one.

 

 

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge May 2019 – Pull/Pour Through

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge May 2019 – Pull/Pour Through

So, it’s been a very long time since I last made soap; November 2017 to be precise (see here in my old blog). The reason for the extra long gap is due to needing to concentrate on completing my accountancy qualification. I’m pleased to say I am now finished with it and am now a fully qualified Certified Chartered Accountant #livingthedream 🙂

Anyway back to the challenge. The challenge this time round is to create a unique pattern by either pulling an item with a pattern through your soap or by pouring your soap batter through said item. There are two categories: regular which allows you to use an item already in existence such as a colander, cooling racks etc or the advanced category which requires you to create the item you pull/pour through. Obviously since it’s been over a year and half since I made soap it made sense to go with the regular but that would make it too easy!

I had an idea that I would love to see spirals in my soap so set about making my item to pull through my soap out of lolly sticks and garden wire bent into spirals – unfortunately no 3D printer access for me so rustic and handmade had to do! Here’s the finished item:

So with my item ready to use I set about making my usual slow tracing soap recipe, added my fragrance, split into 4 portions and coloured them. I decided on purple, blue, turquoise and pale pink. I poured along one wall of my soap mould using one colour at a time in the hope I would get clear, defined lines in the soap. Part of the issue with this was the stalks of the spirals meant the soap lines got broken up as it passed over the stalks so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Fast forward two days when it was time to unmould and cut the soap. Whilst I did have spirals and lines I felt there were too many empty spaces between the spirals and my vibrant colours somehow looked dull to me.

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So a couple of things needed to be improved; firstly my colour palette needed rethinking and my spirals needed to fill the bottom of my mould completely so that there would be no dead space between the spirals.

I cut my existing spirals off of their stalks, made lots more and glued them all together to make a kind of spiral mat that sat in the bottom of my mould attached to thin strips of wire so that I could pull it out of my soap once I’d finished pouring. This, I hoped would solve the issue of the stalks getting in the way when pouring and also ensure no dead space in the soap. Here’s the upgraded spiral mat:

Next I needed to change my colour palette so decided to keep it simple with black, white and a ‘pop’ of hot pink. I used the same soap recipe as last time. This time I decided to use squeeze bottles and pour in opposite corners (just two not all four). My soap was at pretty light trace so pouring was easy and it stayed really fluid throughout. I was super happy with how it looked on top once I pulled my spiral mat out of the soap. I do wish I’d taken a photo before I pulled the mat out though as the lines were so clear and defined.

So after two long days of waiting for it to be ready to unmould and cut it was finally ready and I was super excited to see what it looked like on the inside since I was so happy with how the top looked. In order to show the pattern on the inside the soap needs to be cut on the horizontal rather than vertical.

It didn’t disappoint! I don’t know if it’s because I’ve not made soap for so long or that it turned out way better than I expected it to but I was so excited to see it once cut. Here are a few (just a few) pictures of the finished soap. I love how defined the lines are, how you can clearly see the spirals in some sections and how the pink really ‘pops’ next to the black and white.

I also tried to take some ‘arty’ shots from different angles and with the soap arranged in different patterns:

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first step back into soap making and can say for certain it will not be another 18 months until I make soap again!

Thank you to Amy for hosting the soap challenges once again 🙂

 

About me

About me

Hi! I’m Sonya and I’m a self confessed soapaholic!!

I did have another blog but I was studying so haven’t used it since November 2017 and now I can’t remember the login details to use it again (oops!) but here’s the link in case you want to see my previous soaps: Previous blog

I’m an accountant so soaping is my escape – as you can imagine my day job is not very exciting or creative.

I started soaping in November 2014. I’d been wanting to give it a try for a number of years after watching a programme on TV.

I’m from the UK where soaping isn’t huge but seems to be picking up.