For a while now, I have been meaning to do a tutorial on how I make vertical mica lines, and this month’s soap challenge really lent itself to this technique.
It all started about a year ago. I had purchased a round mold, because I wanted to have more than one shape of soap. I did faux funnel pours, real funnel pours, in the pot swirls and then I was basically out of ideas for unique looking round soaps.
The challenge with a vertical mold is that it’s pretty hard to get an interesting (and uniform) technique that runs through all the bars. Unlike a loaf mold, where you have access to the whole top of the soap for creating texture or color effects, with a vertical mold, all the sides just look the same.
I had seen an inventive technique on Soaping 101 where she takes a flexible plastic cutting mat and sort of rolls it up inside the mold to create a yen/yang soap. That was genius, but there are only so many variations I could think of for that one. (How many versions of Yen/Yang soap do I really need??)
Then I tried coating the insides of my mold with mica–similar to flouring a pan you’re about to bake a cake in. I just dumped in about 1/2 teaspoon of mica, put on both ends of the mold and shook away. That produced a really cool effect on the edges of the bars (so, one problem solved!), but I still felt pretty limited on my design choices for the inside of the bar.
After tossing this around in my brain for a week or two, I had the idea of combining the two ideas. I made a paste of olive oil and mica and kind of smeared it all over a flexible cutting mat, which I then rolled up and placed into my mold. It turned out really well. Since then, I have done quite a bit of experimenting with this idea. I have made vertical soap in milk cartons (produces square soap) with vertical mica lines, and I have tried various ways of folding the plastic mat inside to achieve different results. I even made a spiral divider using aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
In case anyone is interested in a tutorial, below the description of my soap for this month’s challenge, I will include links to a bunch of videos (some cool ones, some fails) showing various ways to apply this technique, as well as some photos.
- Now for the Challenge
For this challenge, we had to use an alternative liquid (in lieu of water) and only natural colorants. I have been wanting to try carrot juice in soap for ages. Ever since seeing the “Say Yes to Carrots” line in stores, I have been intrigued by the beta carotene and other goodies they contain, and the possible skin care benefits.
I also had some fresh goat milk in the fridge from a lotion-making project, and decided to use half goat milk and half carrot juice. I decided to use both liquids together mainly because of the amazingly orange colored juice the carrots produced. I love vibrant colors, but having my whole base neon orange would not be conducive to a color palette that appealed to me. So, I used half goat milk in an attempt to minimize the orange color and give me room to let the other natural colorants shine.
I discovered in my research that carrots are pretty amazing. The substance that makes carrots orange is beta-carotene. According to this site, “Beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A, which is used to repair the skin, eyes, and immune system.” And on this site I discovered that “Carrot soap provides many health benefits. It is abundantly rich in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that enhances cell renewal or cell turnover, helps to clear and clean sweat glands and reduce acne, safeguards the skin against sunburn and damage, and evens out mottled skin tones. This soap is also a strong moisturizer, augmenting the skin’s capacity to hold moisture, which helps prevent dry skin and psoriasis.” Armed with this information, I forged ahead to gather more knowledge on my other liquid, goat milk.
Goat milk has long been accepted as a beneficial ingredient for skin. It contains lactic acid, a mild exfoliant, as well as several vitamins. I did a quick search and found this site, which expounds a bit more on the qualities of goat milk in soap.
Convinced that these two powerhouse ingredients would make an excellent addition to a facial bar, I planned the rest of my ingredients. I decided to add an essential oil blend containing cedar, lavender, and spearmint, each of which will enhance the skin benefits of this soap. For colorants, I used indigo powder, rose clay, kaolin clay, and sea clay. The clays are also known for their skin nourishing benefits.
To make the soap: First, I juiced a couple of pounds of organic carrots. Then I froze the carrot juice and goat milk in ice cube trays. The next day I carefully poured my lye a little at a time into the carrot/milk cubes. I added this mixture to my oils and blended to thin trace, adding a bit of kaolin clay and an essential oil blend to the entire batch.
Next came the fun part! I separated it out into three containers. To one (about 1/4 of the batter) I added indigo powder and rose clay, to the second, (about 1/4) I added sea clay. To the rest (about 1/2) I added acai berry powder. I poured it into the prepared mold, with my vertical mica liner in place. (The liner was coated with indigo powder and clay, since mica is not allowed on this challenge.) Then, I basically did a faux funnel pour with the light color and one of the dark colors in each side of the mold. To get a better idea of how this worked, please take a look at the video:
And here is a random gallery of vertical mica line soaps:
And the extra videos I mentioned:
As usual, this challenge has been fun, exciting, and, well, challenging. 🙂 Thanks, Amy!