Need I say anything more??
I teach soap classes (beginner, intermediate, advance, CP, MP, Milk Soap…just about everything). I’ve been teaching now through local community ed programs and doing private lessons for over two years. I used to teach a bath and body class where I taught the students how to make a scrub, balm, and body spray. I was never really happy with the class. I wanted it to be so much more. I eventually stopped offering it.
Recently I started doing research for my own new line of scrubs. I wanted to go beyond the basics. I was compiling all this information for myself and I thought I should create a whole new set of handouts on bath products and teach a class again. After two years my knowledge has grown significantly. I’ve introduced a wide range of bath products to my line over this time and I’ve experimented constantly on tweaking recipes and trying out new ones to even creating my own products.
I started to create the handouts and they very quickly morphed into this massive project. I didn’t just want to give students a handful of recipes. I wanted to teach them how to formulate their own products! Of course to do this you have not only understand what the product does and why we make it, but the ingredients that make up those products. And by understanding the ingredients you use, their properties, why they’re good for you, why you’d use some over others, they’d be equipped to make anything they wanted.
To teach that though is much more of an undertaking than to give students a handful of recipes and say ok here now you can make some new products. Sure, they could, but they weren’t really going to learn anything that would help them tweak and alter and eventually create their own products.
Almost 80 hours later I’ve finished a first draft of my (25+ page) handouts. That’s just part 1. There is a part 2. There is also a detailed step by step instruction section I want to complete. I’m a long ways from done, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. My 20 pages of notes are now coherent organized ramblings! And it’s super exciting to see it taking shape. I can’t wait to teach and offer this class in the future. I’ve found a joy in making these products through understanding what I was doing and not just following someone else’s recipe and I hope I can pass that on to others.
I always have have an idea in mind for my finished soap when I start a batch. Most of the time it doesn’t quite come out as I pictured it, but it’s close enough and it looks good. This time I had this idea in my head and I was really, really skeptical that it would work, but I gave it a shot.
It worked. I was so surprised that the soap came out just like I envisioned!
Field of Flowers
Step 1: Pipe the grass.
Step 2: Pipe the flowers.
Step 3: Add the white center, because the flowers just needed a little something more.
Trying to decide what tag to go with the the new cupcake soap tags. What’s your pick?
PS: I don’t know if this is my computer or WordPress or what but the colors are showing up more bold and slightly morphed. Hopefully they look normal for you all. WordPress is definitely showing them slightly “off” but you can get the idea of the design at least.
A while ago I saw a post with a soap that had created a brushed embroidery look top. It was designed like a flower. I thought it was cool and wanted to try it. Did some research online to see how it was done for cookie/cake decorating. Gathered some pictures for inspiration and set about attempting to make my own.
I decided to make a black and white soap. I knew I wanted something that contrasted so black and white seemed like the best choices.
I didn’t put any fragrance in the white as I wanted to make sure it didn’t get too hard that I couldn’t brush it. It ended up being too soft/liquid-y on me in the end ha.
What I learned: 1) I definitely need to work with the consistency on the next attempt. You don’t want the soap too hard that a paint brush can’t spread it, but if it’s too soft you can’t get any definition.
2) Doing an intricate/small design on a batch that will be cut into bars is hard. I was trying to make the designs (flowers and hearts) small so that you see them or part of them on each bar. It didn’t work.
3) You need very little soap to make it spread. I ended up have to remove a lot of soap build up from my brushes. I kept creating dots that were too wide to spread.
4) Create little dots to spread out rather than one long line of soap. It creates a prettier effect.
What I turned it into: You can see in the above picture the small designs weren’t working. At that point I decided to just start covering the edges to see how it looked. I found it was creating a REALLY cook textured top! I decided to just cover over what I’d done and cover the whole top with brush strokes.
You can see that the bottom left hand corner has the nicest dot/brush strokes. I need to work on that. It’s really quite pretty and if the whole top had looked like it it would have been neat.
Final top: Here’s what it ended up like once I covered it all.
And then I decided to try adding a hint of mica dusting. I had a couple spots that got a little too much mica (oops). Not the end of the world. It’s kind of pretty. I want to see how it all looks when it’s cut.
The results: It’s actually quite pretty. I like it enough that I’m going to continue to play with the technique.
Attempt 2: I won’t even bother with pictures because it really doesn’t have anything that even looks like brush strokes. I couldn’t get the soap batter to thicken and I got impatient so I thought I’d try it as it was. Bad idea. You need your batter to be thick (the portion you’re going to “paint” on top of the soap.) That revelation led to attempt 3.
Attempt 3: Here I was bored with one color so I tried to gradient the top (as I had did a gradient for the actually soap). I let the soap I was going to brush get harder, but still not hard enough. I also realized that the past two batches my tops had still been rather soft and that was causing problems. I couldn’t get that brush definition (even with a thicker batter) because my paint brush kept poking through and pulling up the base soap’s batter.
As you can see, it’s a pretty soap, but lacks the clear brush strokes that my first attempt had.
Attempt 4: I let the batch set up so that it had the thickness of my very first attempt (which just happened to be luck as I used a fragrance that moved quickly). I also waited (and waited and waited) until the soap I needed to pipe was pretty darn thick. It’s hard to be patient! I had to go off and do something else and come back to this soap almost an hour later before I could do the top. It was worth waiting for everything to set up though! I was finally able to brush it.
One thing I realized is that if I go around the edge of the mold and work my way in I will end up having trouble getting the middle to have any sort of definition. It’s definitely better and the bar look pretty overall. After I finished this batch I thought about trying a cross stroke pattern. I thought it might be easier and give me more of that brush look. So, yup you guessed it that was attempt #5.
Attempt 5: This is the last one. I’ve played around enough that I have a good idea what to do in any future attempts and at this point it’s just going to take practice to get it “perfect” (or at least to the point where I’m happy). With that in mind I tried cross hatching this one to see how that turned out.
There are a lot of different options obviously. It took me some time to figure things out. I think from time to time using this as a change from my typical tops could be fun. Now it’s time to move on to playing with a different technique!
My mom got me a medallion for Christmas. I opened it and looked at it and went ok…who’s St. Florian?She saw the medallion at a fundraiser auction my church was having. She asked others and no one knew. Finally someone pulled out their phone to do a search (gotta love modern technology). This is what they read:
Saint Florian is a Christian saint, and the patron saint of Linz, Austria; chimney sweeps; soapmakers, and firefighters.
My mom laughed and said I have to have it for my daughter. Who knew there was a patron saint of soap makers! I love it. I think about it and it seems a weight lifts off my shoulder. It might be silly or seem superstitious, but the idea that there’s a saint of soap makers makes me smile and know that I’ll be ok. I will succeed with my business and that just maybe there’s someone watching over me.
A search of Catholic Online produced this background on St. Florian:
The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on May 4th, was an officer of the Roman army, who occupied a high administrative post in Noricum, now part of Austria, and who suffered death for the Faith in the days of Diocletian. His legendary “Acts” state that he gave himself up at Lorch to the soldiers of Aquilinus, the governor, when they were rounding up the Christians, and after making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His body, recovered and buried by a pious woman, was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz. It is said to have been at a later date translated to Rome, and Pope Lucius III, in 1138, gave some of the saint’s relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Cracow. Since that time, St. Florian has been regarded as a patron of Poland as well as of Linz, Upper Austria and of firemen. There has been popular devotion to St. Florian in many parts of central Europe, and the tradition as to his martyrdom, not far from the spot where the Enns flows into the Danube, is ancient and reliable. Many miracles of healing are attributed to his intercession and he is invoked as a powerful protector in danger from fire or water. His feast day is May 4th.
Reading about him there’s much more on him being the Patron Saint of Firefighters (and why). I’d love to learn more about where and how he became associated with soap makers. It’s fitting anyway you look at it though. My grandfather (who I never knew as he died when I was just three) was a firefighter. There’s just something about all of it that makes me smile.