Bridal Shower Favors

June 6, 2015

I’ve been creating wedding and shower favors for a few years now (as you probably read in one of my previous posts).  It’s lots of fun, but occasionally very frustrating…like when I decided to create a new favor for my sister’s bridal shower.

I don’t know how I got the sunflower theme in my head, but it popped in there.  I think I was so fed up with snow and the fact that it was the end of March and we’d gotten yet another couple inches that I was in a “spring” mood when I started planning.  I saw a picture of a sunflower and went man I wish some of those were around right now.  And there it was I was going to do a sunflower themed shower.

I’d JUST finished making my Field of Sunflower soaps.  It took me THREE days to make the connection that I could make sunflower soaps for the shower.  When it finally dawned on me I got super excited.  I changed the soap up a bit for favors.  Instead of doing loafs I made individual cupcake soaps and piped the sunflowers on top.  Then I had custom tags made.

It seems simple right?  Let me tell you the process was anything but!  Oh my word.  I was trying to make the favors at times when I was short on time. That was my first mistake.  Then I had to deal with soap hardening to fast to pipe or not hardening enough.  It took me FOUR batches to finally get pretty tops.  When I got that last batch looking amazing I looked at all the ones I’d done previously and groaned.

I’m a perfectionist.  I had 15 lovely soaps from the last batch.  I looked at the other 40 I’d made and they just didn’t compare.  I thought I’d have to make them all over again. (Have I mention I’m a perfectionist?)

Decapitation to save the day! (What you ask?)  The bases where perfectly fine it was just the sunflowers that weren’t great.  I took out an exacto knife to see if I could pry off the sunflowers and reuse the bases.  Worked like a charm. Decapitation was a success!!

Decapitated Flower Heads:

heads

Perfectly Good Bases:

bases

Redone PERFECT Sunflower Soaps:

sunflower2

 


Brush Embroidery Technique: Painting your Soap Top

February 16, 2015

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.

tools

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.

brush top designs

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.

brush top1

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.

brush top

The results: It’s actually quite pretty.  I like it enough that I’m going to continue to play with the technique.

brush top2

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.

brushtop1

gradient3

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.

gingertea5

gingertea2

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.

berrypunch3

berrypunch5

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!

 


Soap Challenge #3: Mica Tops

April 13, 2013

I’ve never done this method before…though I’d been hearing a lot about it and would probably have been tempted to try it sooner or later.  Amy’s challenge just made it sooner!  I tried it on two soaps this week.  I had to make a soap for Bramble Berry’s soap swap.  I already knew what I wanted to do for that soap design and it just happened that it actually worked out perfectly with experimenting with a mica top.

I was just going to use one colors but decided it needed to be two (two match the inside).  I’m glad I went with two! (Who needs to play it safe first attempt???).  Ha, luckily I knew the fragrance I was working with wouldn’t set up too quickly so it all worked out.  Lesson learned: A little bit goes a long way!  I used a bit too much.  The oil does “spread” out as it starts to settled and I ended up losing some of the swirls I had because of it.

Batch 1: Blackberry-Sage Fragrance / Teal-White-Gray Color Scheme

Wet Top:

micatop1

micatop2

micatop4

Here you can see the oils moving and messing up the nice swirl (too much oil).  I also learned don’t spritz with alcohol.  It also affected the swirl making it kind of shift the oils together.

toomuchoil2

Dry Top:

dried-teal

You can see where the spritzing it with alcohol ruined the swirls…kind of made it all blur together.

notquite perfect

Cut Bars:

blackberry-sage

IMG_3485

teal

tops

This soap is going to be submitted to Bramble Berry as part of the Soap Swap…but don’t worry!  I made a 10lb batch!  So I’ll have plenty of bars left over. They’ll be listed on my webpage in about 6 weeks time!

Attempt #2

Then I made a pineapple-mango batch…this was supposed to be a kids soap…but the initial embeds I was making were NOT working so I ended up just dumping it into some of my individual rectangular silicon molds.  The color them was black and pink (not exactly “pineapple-mango” colors, but like I said it was supposed to be a kids soap that I ended up turning into a normal batch).  Love the fragrance.  And I love the design/colors even if they don’t make me thing “fruit.”

One thing I learned is that this fragrance ACCELERATES! (It’s why I had to abandoned the first project).  I set aside a small amount that I didn’t add any fragrance to so I could pour it on top and still do a nice mica swirl.  Thank goodness I did!  It’d have never worked otherwise.  It was was too thick.  I had some left over and I poured it into a smaller 2lb batch. I tried the mica swirl just to see and it didn’t work!

Batch 2: Pineapple-Mango Fragrance / Pink-Black-White Color Theme

Wet Top:

pinkblack1

pinkblack2

Dry Top:

top3

top2

This is what happens when you try it on soap that’s super thick…not really very pretty!  These bars will be going to family member anyway as they’re less than perfect.  The main batch came out lovely though so I’m happy.

toothick

Here’s one cut with the top.

cutbartop

Cut Bars:

IMG_3516

IMG_3506

IMG_3509

Okay…that’s enough pictures.  I just couldn’t narrow down my choices this week!  I really like this technique.  You can fancy up a soap pretty easily!  You’ll be seeing more of it in the future from me!


Felted Soaps

October 25, 2011

I decided I wanted to try felting some soaps.  I had a bunch of rejects that were perfect for this.  Plus I like the idea of a soap that had it’s own washcloth and was a gentle exfoliant :D

So off I went doing reserach.  Came across a couple  blogs that described the process and an article in Saponifier (those helped).  Asked questions.  Bought wool roving.  Then set to work.

My first attempt didn’t go so great.

I think the wool was too thick.  Once it dried I thinned out the thicker portions and then stretched it over the soap and refelted.  It worked better.

This worked a little better but I still think it was too thick.  Going to also try using a nylon to start with as I’ve seen suggested in a couple places…I hope that will help me get started better.  So with those lessons in mind it’s off to try my next felted bar of soap!


Lessons I learned while making bath fizzies…

August 29, 2011

I’ve learned a lot over the past 2 weeks as I delved into attempting to make bath fizzies.  I’ve gotten some great feedback from some awesome soap makers and I’ve figured out a few things to make my life easier when making fizzies.  I want to share that experience with you.

My first piece of advice to you is do not attempt to make your first bath fizzies on the most humid day of the year.  This is not conducive to successful fizzies :)

My first problem as I was making fizzies was I was filling the whole mold (each cavity) and then going back and trying to get them out and of course they wouldn’t come out or they came out broken.  What I didn’t realize was you needed to make one fizzy and then remove it from the mold right away.  The longer you wait the harder it is to get it out of the mold.

First piece of advice: Make one fizzy and remove from mold immediately after.

The next problem I was having was the bath fizzies would start to bubble and expand on me as they picked up the moisture in the air.  It seemed that by the time they were hard enough to pick up it was too late because they’d already picked up the moisture in the air (again humid days, not the best time to experiment with bath fizzies!)

My solution: I cut strips of the plastic knitting/sewing sheets and removed my fizzie on it.  Then I was able to pick up the fizzy without ruining it.  I slid it and plastic sheet into the bag and tied it tight.

After 24 hours I reopened the bag and removed the plastic then retied.  This creates some extra work, but I get nice fizzies now!  I’m hoping with the change of weather I can remove this step, but for now it works.


Tea Tree Soap Failure and Lesson Learned

June 4, 2011

I was so excited to make my soap with silk and almond milk in it only to have it fail!  Four pounds of soap!  My soap was extremely brittle.  So hard I couldn’t even slice it it just split into pieces.  I wasn’t sure what I’d done wrong.  So I did some research and discovered that brittle soap means too much lye.  This is a first for me.  I’ve had grainy soap, liquid goop soap that never turned into anything (I had too much water in it) and all other variations of failed soap.

These pieces are big enough that they can probably be used for something...not sure what. They're lye heavy so you can't use them on the skin and I'd wear gloves when using them for whatever else.

I think I’ve just about had experienced it all now.  Anyway I went back to my recipe and reran it through the lye calculator and realized that somehow my lye calculations were off.  By over 2 oz!!!! No idea how I messed that up, but I did.  I will probably give the soap another go cause I was so excited about this facial soap!

The soap just flaked whenever I tried to cut it.


Lessons Learned: Vanilla Stabilizer is IMPORTANT!

April 21, 2011

I’m constantly learning new things when it comes to soap making.  The most recent lesson I’ve learned: Vanilla Color Stabilizer is VERY IMPORTANT when you’re using any fragrance oil that has vanilla in it.

Vanilla is by nature a dark oil.  It’s a pain because colors the soap in wonky ways, typically making your colors go darker than you intended.  That brown comes through and eventually shifts the colors of your soap.

So what is “vanilla color stabilizer” (hence forth referred to as VCS)? VCS is a liquid that is designed to keep soap a nice white or ivory color (or any color used to color soap). It can be used with any brown coloring fragrance, not just vanilla.

VCS is really meant for Melt & Pour soaps.  It works marginally well in CP soap for up to 4 to 9 months before the fragrance eventually turns the soap brown.

Most fragrance oil (FO) that have a “baking” fragrance of some kind (and I have a bunch of those FO) have vanilla in them. So from now on when I do my MP cupcakes VCS will be my new best friend!  There’s nothing wrong with “brown” soap, it’s just not as pretty.

Here’s an example of a MP Cupcake I made with “Buttercream” Fragrance oil where I didn’t use VCS.  The first two weeks is was super pretty…then the color started to shift and this is what I ended up with!!


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