My Ebru Soap Challenge Journey

IMG_4683_TSM1573sq_TSM1400-2_TSM1543

These are the four soaps I made for this months Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge. Looking at the photos, I find it really difficult to choose a favorite. It’s almost like choosing a favorite child (impossible) 🙂

Anyway, to get started, I watched Amy Warden’s tutorial. The challenge was to make a Turkish Ebru Marbling inspired soap. Then I spent literally hours looking at images of ebru art. It is amazing what can be done with paint and water. Soap, even very slow moving recipes, is still more viscous than water, which inhibits the free movement and spreading out of the colors. That is a very important design consideration for soap.

  • Lav/Pep/Pat

I decided to start out with what is probably my all time favorite essential oil combination: lavender/peppermint/patchouli. I used my favorite slow moving cold process soap recipe, and this photo as the inspiration:

To see this amazing Ebru artist's work, please visit: http://molempire.com/2011/08/01/painting-on-water-the-art-of-ebru/
To see this amazing Ebru artist’s work, please visit: http://molempire.com/2011/08/01/painting-on-water-the-art-of-ebru/

I decided to use blues and greens, with black and white for accents. Yes, that is pretty much my go-to color palette. 🙂 Here are some photos of how it turned out:

_TSM1376 _TSM1381  _TSM1382IMG_4683

And here is the video showing me making it:

  • Fusion Ebru

Next, I wanted to try a different technique. I saw this amazing waterfall design online:

Visit this page at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/113153009364516718/
Visit this page at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/113153009364516718/

I thought that I might be able to get soap to look something like this. Again, I used my favorite recipe, and this time a beautiful summery color palette of oranges and pinks. I used a bright, citrusy scent that is very well behaved, and I also added some red jojoba beads to spice things up. Here is how that one turned out:

_TSM1404 _TSM1406    _TSM1396 _TSM1393

And here is the video of me making it:

  • Mint and Cedar

I still wasn’t satisfied. Yes, those soaps had turned out beautifully, but I wanted to push myself even more and try to make something . . . I don’t know . . . more turkish-y?? Anyway, with that in mind, I found a couple more inspiration photos:

To view this image on its original page, please visit: http://www.arkofcrafts.com/en/tulip-marbling-art-on-paper
To view this image on its original page, please visit: http://www.arkofcrafts.com/en/tulip-marbling-art-on-paper
To view more of this artist's work, please visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StudioRobertWu?ref=s2-header-shopname
To view more of this artist’s work, please visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StudioRobertWu?ref=s2-header-shopname

I see a lot of tan/beige swirly backgrounds like the tulip image above in ebru art. I wanted to combine that look with the feel of the second image. I love the dreamy, wavelike feel of that one. I also like its simplicity. So, for this batch, I used Amy’s recommended slow-moving recipe, and a blend of lavender, cedar, and spearmint essential oils. Here’s how it turned out:

_TSM1577 _TSM1578 _TSM1574 _TSM1568

And here’s the video of me making it:

While I do like how this one turned out, I don’t think I captured the simplicity I was going for. I think the problem is that I made too much of each color, and was reluctant to waste it, so I just went ahead and piled it all on.

  • Minty Fresh

Determined to get it right, I decided to try one more batch, this time using much less of the accent colors. So, I decided to use my favorite recipe again, and this time I did another EO combo, this time mostly spearmint, with a hint of cedar and lavender. (I must be on a mint kick.)

Here’s how this one turned out:

_TSM1652 _TSM1650 _TSM1643 _TSM1631

And here’s the video of me making the soap:

So . . . how to choose. I love the last one. It looks very “ebru-ish” to me. But, I’m torn, because I also LOVE the blues/greens/black of the very first one. And then that bright orange and pink one just makes me happy. ARGH. I can’t decide. My husband and my mom both like the first one the best. My kids like various different ones the best. Hmmmmm. I guess I will decide when I join the link up. 🙂

One last pic, because I had to show off my new soaping goggles. :)
One last pic, because I had to show off my new soaping goggles. 🙂
Advertisements

Making Earl Gray Soap

Earl Gray Soap

Earl Gray is my favorite tea. I drink it every morning. I used to love coffee, but after the birth of baby #4, I just lost my taste for it. I was in denial for a year or two, and like a lemming, kept trying coffee every few months, but, alas, I just don’t like the stuff any more. So, then I tried a few other morning beverages. When I found Earl Gray, I was home 🙂

So, anyhow, I wanted to make a soap that was Earl Gray (ish). I found a scent with that name and bought a small bottle online. It doesn’t really smell very much like the tea. It is, however, a very pleasant smell, and I added some orange and black pepper essential oils to get the scent a little closer to the tea.

Choosing colors was challenging. I typically don’t like orange and brown together, but I wanted to put actual ground up tea leaves in the soap, which would definitely be brown, and then I wanted to highlight the orange/bergamot scent with an orange swirl. Finally I decided to add some white to break up the colors a bit. I did a hanger swirl with the white and orange in the brown base. I really like the brownish/gray color the tea leaves turned, and the color palette worked out!

The final result is a nice, hard bar that is scrubby from the tea leaves and smells great. Here’s the video showing how I made it:

Making Herbal Sore Throat Tea

Herbs before mixing
Herbs before mixing

My sweet little one is not feeling her best today! (She might object to being called a little one – she’s 11 🙂 ). Our family has been struggling with a cold/cough/congestion thing for a few days. We have been taking our silver, eating real food, and trying to get plenty of rest~and I think it has been helping, but now it’s time to attack this bug in another way. I decided to whip up a batch of tea, with herbs that help with health in general and also specifically this cold thing we’re dealing with.

I have made sore throat tea many times before, and I usually vary the ingredients, depending on what I have on hand. One time I used horehound. UGH! Never again. It is so bitter. No one could stand to drink it. I usually use a lot of peppermint, because it tastes good and helps to camouflage the not so delicious ingredients.

Here’s what’s in this batch:

Organic Peppermint Leaves – 3/4 cup

1 tablespoon each of the following:

  • organic yarrow – fights bacteria, expectorant, decongestant Reference.
  • organic mullein – used for congestion, and to sooth sore throats Reference.
  • slippery elm bark powder – used to sooth sore throats Reference.
  • chamomile – calming, immune booster Reference.
  • organic st john’s wort – used for sore throats, sinus infections Reference.
  • organic catnip – used for cough and congestion Reference.
  • organic rose hips – lots of vitamin C, used to treat colds and flu Reference.
  • organic elder flowers – used for colds and respiratory issues, among other things Reference.

To make the tea, I bring about a quart of water to boil, turn off heat, and add 2 heaping tablespoons of the herb mixture. Then I let it steep for about 20 minutes and strain into cups. To serve, I add local raw honey to taste.

Straining the tea
Straining the tea

As you can see, I use organic herbs whenever possible. I think it’s especially important to avoid pesticides in uses where the food is soaked or steeped in water, which allows the chemical compounds in the food to be released.

I will offer this tea to all the sickies in my house about every hour or so. Some of these herbs are not recommended for continual use, so we will use this treatment only for a few days. Hopefully these powerhouse herbs will help somewhat with the illness, but even if their effects are not overwhelming, just having a soothing delicious beverage every hour will help with the morale. 🙂

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE.  Always consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.

Making Infused Oil

IMG_4609

I just used up my herb infused olive oil this morning, and it’s time to make some more! I originally made this infusion for a friend of mine who suffers from excema. I did a bunch of research and found as many herbs as I could which were known to treat excema. The infusion lasted me a long time, as it was made with olive oil (long shelf life) and kept in the refrigerator between uses.

Today I am using organic extra virgin olive oil again, and added a whole bunch of herbs that are good for skin care. In today’s infusion are:

  • organic calendula –  antibacterial and immunostimulant, helps heal broken skin
  • organic yarrow – helps heal rashes and broken skin
  • organic rose hips – helps regenerate skin, hydrates, contains vitamin C
  • chamomile – soothes skin, helps heal  broken skin
  • comfrey – helps heal rashes
  • organic cape aloe – helps heal rashes, soothes sunburns
  • organic nettle leaf – anti inflammatory, soothes burns, treats acne
  • organic plantain leaf – antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, helps with itchy skin
  • chickweed – helps heal broken skin, helps with itchy skin

So, after about six weeks in a sunny window, this oil will be ready to be strained and used in lotions and balms. The lotion will be available here in July.. I can’t wait!! 🙂

Making Mini Dessert Soaps!

_TSM1030contest entry _TSM1052

For this month’s Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Club, Amy Chose mini dessert soaps! (Just for reference, that is a dinner plate the soaps were photographed on.) The challenge included an excellent tutorial by guest teacher Cee Gorden. Since I got second place last month for my Forest Bark soap, my admission to the club this month was FREE! (Gotta love free!)

So, I talked to my husband and kiddos about what their favorite desserts were, just to get some ideas. They really like dessert! So, then I had to combine all the ideas with my mental images and then crunch the ideas into something I could actually achieve using soap. I loved the idea of making a tiny wedding cake, so I knew that would be one. Then I knew I needed a tart of some kind. The contest requires four mini desserts, so I was halfway there, and I figured the other ideas would come as I started on the first two.

_TSM1049 _TSM1045

Wedding Cake Soap

This soap uses little CP soaps that I made in measuring cups. The soap is a creamy white and smells tropical/fruity (Butt Naked from Nature’s Garden). Then I used Cee Gordon’s recipe for making fondant from melt and pour soap and started working on the fondant stripes to go around the cakes. This was very tricky!! If you watch my video, you will see me rolling that stuff out over and over again. Every time it stuck to something-either the mat, or the rolling pin, or my fondant mat. I kept adding more and more corn starch, and finally, it started behaving. Getting the pretty little pattern from my fondant mat onto the cake was definitely the hardest part of this challenge for me. The brown fondant is colored with cocoa powder, and the CP soap has coconut oil in it. (We needed to use at lease one food item in this challenge). Finally, I sculpted a little flower and leaves out of the fondant, and then added sugar pearls to decorate the middle layer. The little “cake mat” underneath is a coaster that I found at the dollar store. 🙂

_TSM1036 _TSM1037

Blueberry Tart

I finally settled on using blueberries for this tart, because I thought I would be able to do a good job on the color and shape of these. It took FOREVER to make these berries! The tart is tiny, and it doesn’t look like it would hold that many blueberries, but I felt like I was rolling out those little balls for a really long time. (Maybe it was the fact that my family was clamoring for dinner at the time?? “Mommy’s almost done, honey. Just a few more minutes . . .”). Then I started working on the crust. I added turmeric, cocoa powder, and mica to get the tannish color. Then I used my finger to rub some mica over the edges to give it the look of being cooked. Finally, I added some blue mica to clear M&P soap to get the saucy look that the blueberries needed. It looks so real!! I have had to explain that it is soap and therefore not edible to my 4 year old three times now.

_TSM1042 _TSM1043

White Chocolate Truffles

Every year, when my mom and I go Christmas shopping, we always seem to stop by a chocolate store and get truffles. I have always loved white chocolate, and that’s where the inspiration for these truffles came from. I used mini ice cube trays as my mold for these, and these are from the same CP soap batch as the wedding cakes. These were so much simpler than the first two desserts! I just melted some MP soap and added cocoa powder and brown sparkly mica and drizzled it over the top. Ta Dah!!

_TSM1038 _TSM1040

Creme Brulee Soap

Last, but not least is this decadent delight! It just so happened that one of the little CP soap cakes that I made in a measuring cup fit perfectly into a ramekin that I had in my kitchen. Immediately, I knew this was going to be creme brulee. I took one of the mini ice mold CP soap pieces and dipped it into red decorating sugar, then I made ONE MORE blueberry (I know!!!) and then took a leaf from my favorite tree in the back yard. Then I mixed some cocoa powder and mica with some organic sugar and sprinkled it on top of the cake and spritzed with water to make it look carmelized.

So, that is my dessert soap making journey! It was fun, but I rebelled the whole time because it was soap for art’s sake and not for actual body washing. My thrifty spirit was fighting me every step of the way! Eventually, I satisifed both my practical side and my artistic side by telling myself this: The wedding cake can be taken apart, and each layer used as soap. The creme brulee can be taken out of the ramekin and used. The truffles actually make fantastic travel soaps (no more public restroom soap for me, thank you!). And the blueberry tart? Well, that one is just for looks. Three outta four ain’t bad. 🙂

_TSM1031 _TSM1034

Spinning Swirl Soap Challenge – Forest Bark Soap

bark soap 004 bark soap 003 bark soap 002 bark soap 001

Whew! I have been busy making soap again! Once I heard about the spinning soap swirl, I had to give it a try. It is such a cool way to swirl soap, and so uncomplicated. And it just happens to be this month’s Great Cakes Soapwork Challenge. I made three batches for this challenge~because there are so many variables to explore with this technique.

For my first batch, I used an essential oil blend, and several shades of pink/mauve. I colored it with Brazilian red clay, and I also added bentonite clay because clays are such good detoxifyers, and I just like the silky feel of soap with clay in it. I blended my mixture to thin trace, mixed the colors, and started pouring away. Here is the video showing the making of this soap:

and, a couple of pictures of the finished soap:

1_TSM0834 1_TSM0833

I liked this one, and the smell is fantastic, but I was really hoping for skinnier stripes. So then, I decided to go for batch number 2 🙂

My son had been asking me to make a soap for him. He wanted some “manly” essential oils like fir, pine, cypress, and cedar. As I was looking at various online examples of spinning swirl soap, it occurred to that the unique way the colors swirl together resembles the bark pattern on trees. Well, then I looked at a bunch of photos of tree bark, (I bet you can see where this is going) and then I decided to create Forest Bark soap. I chose a color palette using the shades that kept popping up in the bark photos, and then I made sure to barely mix the soap at all (just to emulsification), so my batter would be very thin and my stripes would end up super skinny. I really can’t believe how much like tree bark it turned out!! (Maybe I should have done this for the landscape challenge last month, LOL).

So, without further ado, here is the video showing how I made Forest Bark Soap:

And then, because I happened to fall in love with the spinning swirl, I had to make just one more batch. This one is scented with lavender and lemongrass essential oils. I am loving the way lemongrass smells lately! I wanted to do some bright colors with the skinny swirls, just to see how it would look. I also decided to pour in six spots, instead of just four. Here are a few photos of how it turned out:

1_TSM0852 1_TSM0857 1_TSM0860 1_TSM0864

and here is the video:

It was really hard to decide which soap to enter into the contest. I am pretty happy with all of them. I finally decided that the uniqueness of the Forest Bark makes it my overall favorite. I would say this is one of my all time favorite ways to swirl soap. The possibilities are endless!

Getting Loopy!

I ordered a sample size of Fruity Rings scent from Nature’s Garden, and I could not believe how much it smells like that famous cereal! I don’t eat it (WAY too much sugar and processing for me), but I have fond memories of it. So, I decided I should make a soap that would let people indulge in that lovely scent without adding anything nasty to their bodies! I had seen a beautiful soap on one of my favorite soap blogs, Mignonnes, venez-voir si. She has lovely soaps, and she speaks French (like me), so I instantly liked her! Her soap has beautiful circles from all sides. I decided this was the way to go for my loopy soap!

First, I Googled “fruit loops’ to find a good pic and study the colors; then I chose 6 micas:

Preparing to mix my micas with olive oil.
Preparing to mix my micas with olive oil.
I just think these colors look so pretty on the mixing spoons. (I know I'm a nerd.)
I just think these colors look so pretty on the mixing spoons. (I know I’m a nerd. 🙂
_TSM0342
Micas, mixed and ready for making circles.

Then, I mixed up my soap batter. I used my signature recipe, because I knew it would give me plenty of time to mess with it and still stay very thin. Next, I started pouring. I put white batter in the bottom, and then started making small circles with each of my mica/oil mixtures, then poured white batter right into the center of the circles.

The first little mica/oil circle.
The first little mica/oil circle.
After pouring a few more colors, alternating with the soap batter.
After pouring a few more colors, alternating with the soap batter.

Finally, once all the colors were in the mold, I made little lines with the remaining mica/oil mixtures so I could do some swirling on the top.

Little stripes on the top.
Little stripes on the top.
After a bit of swirling.
After a bit of swirling.
And, a bit more swirling, because, honestly, that is the FUN part!
And, a bit more swirling, because, honestly, that is the FUN part! And it didn’t look “loopy” enough before.

Then came the awful part. WAITING. I know soap making is a hobby fraught with waiting, so maybe I should have chosen something that requires a bit less patience. But, I can’t seem to help myself. Finally, after nearly 24 hours, I unmolded the soap . . .

It came out very nicely!
It came out very nicely!

I cut this soap sideways, to make the most out of the circle effect. Here it is, right after cutting, and before any primping. (Before it’s ready to sell, I will take the edges off, and clean the soaps up a bit.)

Cut and ready for the curing shelf!
Cut and ready for the curing shelf!
Pretty and loopy
Pretty and loopy

I love it! I keep opening up the cupboard where it’s curing just to take another whiff! Now for some more waiting . . . It’ll be ready to use in about a month.