Re-formulating My Cold-Process Soap Recipe, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it HERE.

After hearing back from my readers, my thoughts about lard and tallow are definitely being challenged! I have been learning about the benefits of both from Katrina Kimball of Sego Lily Soap and Erin Burke of Modern Girl Beauty. Anita Faulkner from Sadie’s Mission Soaps said the majority of her customers have no issues with (beef) tallow, and suggested that I substitute tallow for lard in my previous recipe. So, after the input from these fine ladies, I decided to decided to go ahead and try beef tallow for my next test recipe!

The recipe is nearly the same as the last one, but I went ahead and increased the tallow to 30%, decreasing the shea butter and castor oil. This is the recipe I used for Bergamot Mandarin:

30% tallow
25% olive
25% coconut
10% shea butter
5% castor
5% avocado
(0.8 oz. fragrance per pound of oils)

6.5% superfat
33% lye solution
(meant to add sodium lactate, but forgot!)

Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Observations:
1. The soap took awhile to trace, but once it did, it set fast! At first I thought maybe it was the fragrance that I had never used before, but then I tried a similar recipe with essential oils that I knew wouldn’t speed trace and the same thing happened again. I think I just overblended – both times.
2. The texture of the soap batter was a little weird, for lack of a better word. It was almost as if it was coated in oil. I don’t know how else to describe it. By the time I was getting the colors mixed and poured into the mold, the soap was setting up pretty quickly and I was spooning most of it – especially on top. The batter would just slide right off the spoon. Like I said, a bit WEIRD.
3. After six days, the lather is amazingly dense and creamy:

Bergamot Mandarin - 6 day lather test

Bergamot Mandarin – 6 day lather test

Soap Qualities:

Hardness: 47 (recommended range 29-54)
Cleansing: 19 (range 12-22)
Conditioning: 49 (range 44-69)
Bubbly: 24 (range 14-46)
Creamy: 32 (range 16-48)
Iodine: 52 (range 41-70) – lower = harder bar
INS: 156 (range 136-165) – higher = harder bar

So how does it compare to Formal Affair (recipe #1)?
According to SoapCalc, the tallow recipe should be a harder bar. But I used sodium lactate in Formal Affair that won’t reflect the hardness in SoapCalc. The lather in Formal Affair is getting more dense and creamy as time passes. Here is an updated lather test, showing the improvement:

Formal Affair - lather test comparison

Formal Affair – lather test comparison

I still have more work to do! I’m open to suggestions, and I will keep you posted on my results.

Butterfly Swirl Winners Announced!

The butterfly swirl challenge was pretty incredible! We had 154 members from all over the world this month, and many of them created several batches of soap to get the best possible butterfly swirl. Everyone’s hard work paid off, because I’ve never seen so many beautiful butterflies!! Even though not everyone chose to enter their soap, it was still a difficult task to choose who to vote for, as there were 90 total entries! I say that, but I never actually do the voting, so in an attempt to make it a little easier on everyone, I gave all the members five votes instead of the usual three.

I am so grateful to Nurture Soap Supplies for sponsoring the challenge this month! They are providing 65 different mica samples (or $100 gift certificate) to our grand prize winner, as well as their basic 2.5 lb. soap mold with silicone liner to the Sponsor’s Choice winner. I am also grateful to Zahida of Handmade in Florida for sharing this incredible technique with all of us!

And now, for the announcements you’ve been waiting for!

The grand prize winner created this absolutely stunning butterfly swirl soap:

Butterfly Swirl soap

Butterfly Swirl soap

It’s so unique with the black lines and almost watercolor-like effect; nothing like any of the other entries! Also unique to this soap is the creator who wishes to remain anonymous. So congratulations, and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful soap!

In second place, we have Maria from Sabun Market in Guatemala who entered this amazing butterfly swirl soap:

Midnight Pomegranate butterfly swirl by Sabun Market

Midnight Pomegranate butterfly swirl by Sabun Market

The black background really sets off the swirls beautifully and you can see the micas really sparkle. The butterfly seems to “pop” out of the soap!

Third place goes to Melinda in Joshua, Texas with her spectacular four-bar butterfly swirl soap:

Spearmint & Eucalyptus Butterfly swirl by Melinda

Spearmint & Eucalyptus Butterfly swirl by Melinda

You can click on her photo to read a lovely description of how she came up with her design and her personal thoughts behind the Challenge Club and why she chooses to participate. My favorite part about her soap is how the colors all marble together so beautifully!

Huge congrats to the second and third place winners!! They will both receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! (More info about that below.)

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Claudia in Los Altos, California with her Butterfly Flambe soap:

Butterfly Flambe by Claudia

Butterfly Flambe by Claudia

Claudia was inspired by a t-shirt design with a wolf and flames on it. The colors pretty well capture the colors in the t-shirt as well as the flames! You can click the photo to read more about her inspiration and see more photos of her soaps. Congratulations, Claudia! You did an incredible job with this one!

If you would like to see the other 86 entries, please visit THIS LINK.

For next month, we are doing the DNA/helix swirl! I first saw this technique demonstrated in a log mold by Sabine of Soap Star, and recently one of our Challenge Club members re-created the technique in a slab mold. For the video tutorial, I will demonstrate the technique in the slab mold, but will leave each member to come up with their own take on this design. Here is the soap I made for the tutorial:

DNA/helix swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

DNA/helix swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Nature’s Garden will be our sponsor for February. Grand prize is a $50 gift certificate, and the sponsor’s choice prize is a $25 gift certificate.

Many of the current members purchased the three-month registration that will be good through March. For those who didn’t, registration for this technique will open on Monday. If you’d like to be notified, just click the button below:

notify-me

Formulating New Shampoo Bars

Before I started thinking about reformulating my regular cold-process soap recipe, I was playing with a new formula for a shampoo bar. The Beer & Seaweed shampoo bars that I currently offer are already my second best selling soap. They work really great for normal hair and balancing the oils in the scalp. The scent is what I call Deep Patchouli – an amazing blend of patchouli, cedarwood and lemongrass that clings to the hair. Not everyone is enamored with the earthy scents though, and I figured I might as well branch out a bit and try something a little different.

For my first test batch, I used the same basic recipe as the Beer & Seaweed, but this one is Coconut Honey. I used coconut milk for the lye solution and just a bit of honey instead of seaweed. It was scented with a synthetic honey fragrance that’s quite yummy!

Coconut Honey shampoo bars - first test batch

Coconut Honey shampoo bars – first test batch

I asked 12 of my customers who were either currently using or had used the Beer & Seaweed shampoo bar to try this new formula and give me their feedback.

Since it can take up to two weeks for someone’s hair to adjust to a shampoo bar after using commercial shampoos, I wanted to find out what state each person’s hair was in when they started the trial. The majority were already using a shampoo bar so their hair was adjusted to it.

CH-shampoo1

I also wanted to make sure I had people with a variety of different hair types testing the bar and see how each one responded.

CH-shampoo2

I was happy with the representation – pretty much everything except for straight hair!

Now it’s time to see how the Coconut Honey shampoo bar performs compared to the Beer & Seaweed one:

CH-shampoo3

This actually surprised me! I didn’t expect the coconut milk to lather as well or better than beer! I’m just guessing the added sugars from the milk and honey are what boosted the lather to compete with the Beer & Seaweed bar.

Next, I wanted to find out what differences the Coconut Honey bar made in each person’s hair or scalp.

CH-shampoo5

The results are somewhat inconclusive, but it would seem that it is a more moisturizing bar than the Beer & Seaweed. Of those who said it made their hair feel “heavy” or even greasy, two out of three had not been using a shampoo bar when they started the trial which could contribute to that feeling as the hair was transitioning from commercial shampoo.

Finally, I wanted to know how the testers would rate the Coconut Honey bar and whether they thought it was ready for market or if it needed any changes.

CH-shampoo4

Half of the testers gave the Coconut Honey bar a “10” which was pretty impressive! Of the ones who rated it lower, scent was the main thing they would change. One requested that it be reformulated to make the “residue lighter”.

CH-shampoo6

I believe a natural scent is the one thing that I would like to change about the Coconut Honey shampoo bar before I’m ready to sell it. One of my testers wasn’t even able to use the shampoo bar past the second day because of the synthetic scent. I received some great tips from my friend Michele about how much honey you need to add for the natural honey scent to come through in the soap. I’d like to attempt to increase the honey to that rate in this shampoo bar and have it re-tested. My only fear is that the honey is a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture to itself, and since this shampoo bar is already more moisturizing to the point of being too heavy for some, I’m worried that the added honey will make it even more so.

I’m certainly open to suggestions for a natural scent that would go with the Coconut Honey. I think it needs to be more on the sweet side, not herbal or earthy, which is a pretty tall order for natural essential oils. There aren’t many essential oil scents that actually cling to the hair, which was another request from the testers, but may not be possible.

Re-formulating My Cold-Process Soap Recipe, Part 1

I’ve been using the same basic recipe for four years now. I added some stearic acid after a review from a highly respected soapmaker felt that my fully cured soap melted away too quickly. It helped some, but I think I could do better. Here are the qualities of my current soap recipe, according to SoapCalc:

Hardness: 47 (recommended range 29-54)
Cleansing: 27 (range 12-22)
Conditioning: 48 (range 44-69)
Bubbly: 31 (range 14-46)
Creamy: 25 (range 16-48)
Iodine: 53 (range 41-70)
INS: 162 (range 136-165)

(You can read more about what these qualities and ranges mean HERE.)

I honestly didn’t even realize that my cleansing number was above the recommended range! I figure it’s time to re-visit my formula at the very least, and I am contemplating whether it’s time to go palm free now as well. The question is whether or not I want to use lard instead. I have no issues with it, but a lot of people do. I realize you can’t please everyone all the time, but if it’s in my ability to make a nice, hard bar of soap with all the conditioning qualities and avoid using palm or lard, I will attempt to do so.

But first, I wanted to experiment with replacing palm with lard and see how the soap performs. This is the recipe I used for Formal Affair:

25% olive
25% coconut
20% lard
15% shea butter
10% castor
5% avocado
(0.8 oz. fragrance per pound of oils)

6.5% superfat
33% lye solution
1 tsp. sodium lactate per pound of oils in the lye solution

Formal Affair soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Formal Affair soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Observations:
1. The soap took a long time to trace. I had plenty of time to work with the soap as I was creating it.
2. After 24 hours, the soap was still a bit soft.
3. Discoloration issues: after unmolding the soap, the white parts had turned pinkish tan on the outside. The fragrance I used was non-discoloring, so something in my formula caused a strange reaction. Several days after cutting the soap, the white parts seem slightly grayish, but no more pinkish tan.
4. After just one week, the lather is pretty great! Very foamy, but also very stable.

Formal Affair - one week lather test

Formal Affair – one week lather test

5. Feels very conditioning on the skin, not drying at all.

Soap Qualities:

Hardness: 41 (range 29-54)
Cleansing: 17 (range 12-22)
Conditioning: 54 (range 44-69)
Bubbly: 21 (range 14-46)
Creamy: 29 (range 16-48)
Iodine: 57 (range 41-70)
INS: 151 (range 136-165)

I’ve lost some hardness, but this formula doesn’t take into account the added sodium lactate which should add some hardness back into the bar. The cleansing number is down within the recommended range. I will have to see how this one performs when it is fully cured. I found that changing the superfat doesn’t seem to change the soap quality numbers, but it sure does change the hardness and feel of the soap in reality. Bottom line: there are factors other than the numbers derived from your soap formula in SoapCalc that will affect your recipe so don’t get too caught up in the those numbers!

My next experiment will be a recipe without palm or lard. Stay tuned!

How I Saved This Soap

I had a near disaster a couple days ago when I was attempting to re-make the butterfly swirl soap I created for the January Soap Challenge Club. I decided it turned out so beautifully that I would need to have more on hand. Never mind that I thought I’d nearly ruined the first beautiful batch with the portion that I had mixed in titanium dioxide. The added water in such a small amount of soap nearly caused it to separate. You can see a few glycerin rivers in the white parts, but everything managed to hold together:

Original Exotic Pear soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Original Exotic Pear soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I remembered that I was going to use super white pearly mica instead of titanium dioxide in the re-make, but I forgot why. I had some raspberry red mica mixed with olive oil left over from the first batch that I wanted to use – which was great! Then I started prepping the rest of the micas and decided I would mix them with WATER. Let me tell you why I like mixing micas with water. Easy clean-up!! So with this in mind, I proceeded to mix the blue, yellow, white and black micas with water. The blue, yellow and white were going to be mixed with just half a cup of soap, and the black was going to be mixed with just a quarter cup of soap. It really wasn’t a lot of water mixed with the mica, but because I was mixing it with such a small amount of soap, it started interfering with saponification almost immediately. I realized my mistake, but it was too late!

I could just barely immerse my stick blender in the half cup of soap. As it started ricing (majorly separating!!), I had to stick blend each one for at least 5-10 minutes before it would hold together. I had already added my fragrance to the entire batch up front, so I was worried that it would start setting up – especially the main soap base that didn’t have any extra water added to it. Fortunately, the fragrance behaved beautifully and I was able to continue to stir the base soap periodically as I was beating the small cups of soap into submission.

The black soap was a lost cause, however. A quarter cup of soap was just too little to be mixed with a blender:

Separated black soap

Separated black soap

So I mixed up a little bit of black mica with some oil and decided to create a little bit of veining instead. I was really worried by now that I wouldn’t be able to do any drop swirling with the main soap base since it was setting up faster than the smaller cups of soap which were at a light trace. Boy was I surprised!! The difference in texture did affect the way the swirls turned out, but I was just happy I got the soap into the mold at this point!

Top of the second Exotic Pear soap

Top of the second Exotic Pear soap

Today I was able to take the soap out of the mold and cut it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out! You can see the freezer paper I used to line the mold is damp from the extra water:

Damp freezer paper

Damp freezer paper

But the soap actually held together quite nicely!!

Exotic Pear soap remake by Great Cakes Soapworks

Exotic Pear soap remake by Great Cakes Soapworks

It’s not quite as fancy as the first batch, but it’s definitely a close second:

Exotic Pear comparison

Exotic Pear comparison

These soaps will be available at Greatcakessoapworks.com on February 4, 2015.

Check Out These Spoon Swirls!!

We had 116 soapmakers from all over the world come together for the December Challenge Club! Our technique was the simple spoon swirl which involves pouring various layers of soap, then using a spoon (or chopstick) to fold the soap from bottom to top, creating beautiful swirls! Our sponsor this month was Majestic Mountain Sage. Tina’s favorite holiday is Christmas, so she created some generous prizes for our winners!! Grand prize is a $100 gift certificate! Normally second and third place just receive free registration to the next month’s Challenge Club, but this time they will also receive the Amazing Dozen sampler kit from The Sage – 12 different one-ounce bottles of the winner’s choice of fragrance, essential oil, extract, or flavor oil. The Sponsor’s Choice winner will also receive an Amazing Dozen sampler kit! Thanks so much, Majestic Mountain Sage!!

And now, for our winners:

Congratulations to Milla from Bend, Oregon!! She is a hobby soapmaker, and has entered nearly all of the Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Clubs, yet this is the first time she has made a top 3 spot. Milla has really created a masterpiece with her pink, black and white spoon swirl soap:

Blackberry Sage spoon swirl soap by Milla

Blackberry Sage spoon swirl soap by Milla

In second place we have Jelena in Quebec, Canada with her beautiful wispy swirled Cherry Blossom soap. Isn’t it gorgeous??

Cherry Blossom spoon swirl soap by Jelena

Cherry Blossom spoon swirl soap by Jelena

Congrats to Claudia in Los Altos, California for her third place finish with this amazing outer space spoon swirl soap! She combined the spoon swirl with in-the-pot swirls and tiny little soap embeds:

Outer space spoon swirl soap by Claudia

Outer space spoon swirl soap by Claudia

And finally, I get to announce our Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Katy in Neoga, Illinois!! Katy is yet another hobby soapmaker and soon-to-be mother of six girls! She has been a member of the Challenge Club nearly every month, and I am excited to show you her Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap made with real champagne:

Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap by Katy

Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap by Katy

I know you’ll want to see the rest of the entries, so I’ve made the link available HERE.

For the January Challenge Club, I will attempt to de-mystify the Butterfly Swirl, originally created by Zahida of Handmade in Florida. Here are the results of my first practice batch:

Butterfly Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Butterfly Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Our sponsor for the January Challenge Club is Nurture Soap Supplies! The grand prize winner will receive 65 different mica samples (enough to color 2 pounds of soap each!), and the sponsor’s choice winner will each receive a basic 2.5 pound soap mold with silicone liner.

Once again I will open up the January Challenge Club so that you can register just for that month, or you can register for the next three months. Check out what we have lined up for February and March as well:

The February Challenge will feature the DNA/helix swirl, and the sponsor is Nature’s Garden. They will provide a $50 gift certificate to the grand prize winner, and a $25 gift certificate to the sponsor’s choice winner!

For March, we will revisit landscape soaps, something we haven’t done in quite a long time and always turn out so amazing! We have a new sponsor for March: TKB Trading! Their prize packages will be announced soon.

Registration opens after the holidays – on Monday, January 5th. Sign up now get a notification via email as soon as registration is available, and the tutorial for the spoon swirl as well:

notify-me

Challenge Club Combing Swirl Winners!

For the November Challenge Club, the theme was combing techniques. Basically any design you could think of that involved pulling a comb through soap was fair game! The most common design of this type is the peacock swirl which became quite popular in the last couple years. It was the first technique we did as a Challenge Club in May 2013. This time, I introduced a new technique called the serpentine swirl, and you will see that one of our finalists did a fine job on that one!

Huge thanks to Brambleberry and Custom Soap Stamps for sponsoring the Challenge Club this month! Brambleberry is providing a fabulous soap combing tool set that includes two combs, two wide-mouth squeeze bottles, and their silicone tool set for our grand prize winner, PLUS the Sponsor’s Choice prize that I will show you in just a bit. Custom Soap Stamps is providing a standard 3″ x 2″ custom soap stamp! And now, for our winners:

Congratulations to Jodi of Lakehurst Farms!! She is our grand prize winner with her completely gorgeous French curl swirled soap:

French curl swirl, scented with Energy, by Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

French curl swirl, scented with Energy, by Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

Second place goes to Amy B. of Middleton, Wisconsin with her unique DNA helix swirl. This is actually just one layer of a four-layered soap where each layer was swirled separately! Click on the photo to see the rest of the swirls:

Four-layer soap, scented with Lavender Forest, by Amy B.

Four-layer soap, scented with Lavender Forest, by Amy B.

In third place we have Veronica of Sweet Vivi’s Bath and Body Products in Port St Lucie, Florida with a beautiful serpentine swirled soap in red, white, pink and green:

Serpentine Swirl soap, scented with Cranberry Chutney by Sweet Vivi's Bath and Body Products

Serpentine Swirl soap, scented with Cranberry Chutney by Sweet Vivi’s Bath and Body Products

Second and third place winners will receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club!

And finally, I get to announce our Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Tanya of Stonesfield Soaps in the United Kingdom! Tanya created a beautiful peacock swirl, a technique she has definitely mastered, and ironically she was our grand prize winner when we had the first Peacock Swirl Challenge in May 2013! Here’s her “Bergander” soap:

Peacock Swirl soap, scented with lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood by Stonesfield Soap

Peacock Swirl soap, scented with lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood by Stonesfield Soap

Since Tanya is outside the U.S., she will receive a gift certificate from Brambleberry for the amount of the prize package shown below:

Sponsor's Choice prize package from Brambleberry

Sponsor’s Choice prize package from Brambleberry

I love that each of the winners used a different combing technique! Just shows how versatile this technique can be! Want to see even more combing technque soaps? Check out the rest of the entries for the challenge HERE. The tutorial for the combing techniques will be available soon for all who receive notifications about the Soap Challenge Club. (You can sign up at the end of this post.)

The December Challenge Club will feature spoon swirls! This is a super simple technique where you can layer or drop swirl the soap in the mold, then use a spoon to stir up the soap to create unique swirls.

Our sponsor for the December Challenge Club is Majestic Mountain Sage! They sponsored last December as well, and since Christmas is Tina’s favorite holiday, she likes to be generous with her prize packages. The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate, second and third place AND the sponsor’s choice winner will each receive an Amazing Dozen set.

Registration opens Monday, November 24th, and the link-up to enter your soap in the challenge will open on December 10th. Sign up now get a notification via email as soon as registration is available, and the tutorial for the combing techniques as well:

”notify-me”

Announcing the Petal Soap Challenge Winners

The technique for the October Challenge Club was to make petal designs inspired by a cake decorating technique. Kenna from Modern Soapmaking recently did a video tutorial, and I knew it would be a fun challenge!

We had a new sponsor this month: Mad Oils! They are a new supplier out of Florida, but they are definitely not new to soapmaking! Products include scents and colors (both natural and synthetic), plus botanicals, containers, and other fun surprises! They are providing a $50 gift certificate for our grand prize winner, PLUS a brand new Sponsor’s Choice prize this month that I will show you in just a bit. Are you ready to see our winners??

The grand prize goes to….Lara of Lara Celia’s Soaps in Sparta, New Jersey!! Lara is a first-time Challenge Club member, and she created this beautiful Victorian Rose soap with an ombre effect:

Victorian Rose soap by Lara Celia's Soaps

Victorian Rose soap by Lara Celia’s Soaps

In second place, we have Lisa of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in New South Wales, Australia. Lisa is no stranger to the Soap Challenge Club, and she has placed several times in the top 3. She went all out with her rainbow petal soap cake:

Rainbow Petal Soap Cake by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Rainbow Petal Soap Cake by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Third place goes to Amy of Whipped Upp in Marysville, Washington with her super cool monarch butterfly soap art. Pretty amazing, huh?

Monarch Butterfly Soap by Whipped Upp

Monarch Butterfly Soap by Whipped Upp

Second and third place winners will receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club!

And finally, I am pleased to announce our Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Janet of Just My Family’s in Bristol, Wisconsin! Janet has been a faithful supporter of the Soap Challenge Club from the very beginning, and I’m so glad her soap was picked! She made a sparkling rainbow petal soap that is so cute and fun:

Rainbows & Sprinkles Petal soap by Just My Family's

Rainbows & Sprinkles Petal soap by Just My Family’s

Janet will receive the “golden rule” prize package from Mad Oils including 4 oz. Golden Embargo fragrance with new 1/4 oz jars of Pot O’ Gold, Matte Gold, Hot Man on a Tin Roof and Nancy Sinatra’s Gold Boots glitter:

Sponsor's Choice prize package

Sponsor’s Choice prize package

Congratulations to all our winners!! If you’d like to see the rest of the entries for the challenge, they are located HERE. You will find all sorts of soapy inspiration!

The November Challenge Club will feature Combing Techniques! Any design that you can make with a soap comb is fair game. I will show you how to make your own soap comb with cardboard and bamboo skewers. Have you ever seen the Serpentine Swirl? This is one of the techniques I will be demonstrating. It looks like this:

Serpentine Swirl soaps by Great Cakes Soapworks

Serpentine Swirl soaps by Great Cakes Soapworks

I will also do a quick Peacock Swirl tutorial, and offer several other design ideas!

Our sponsors for the November Challenge Club are Brambleberry and Custom Soap Stamps. Custom Soap Stamps will give the grand prize winner a 3″x 2″ custom soap stamp!! Brambleberry has put together a sweet prize package that includes their swirl tool kit, plus 2 wide-mouth squeeze bottles, and their silicone tool set!

Grand Prize Package from Brambleberry

Grand Prize Package from Brambleberry

They will also provide the Sponsor’s Choice prize as well.

Registration opens Monday, October 27th, and we will be finished up well before Thanksgiving, so be sure to sign up! You can get a notification via email as soon as registration is available:

notify-me

Stunning In-the-Pot Swirl Winners!

This month’s Challenge Club featured the classic in-the-pot swirl. This was the first swirl I ever learned back in the day, and it remains one of my favorites. A lot of soapmakers prefer a swirl that they have more control over, but if you enjoy having completely unique soaps, no two bars of soap will turn out alike with this technique!

The guidelines for this challenge were to use in-the-pot swirls only. No stirring, swirling or otherwise messing with the soap once poured in the mold. The only variation allowed was for straight layers. Anything else could potentially detract from the star of the show: the in-the-pot swirl.

Our grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden as well as a $25 coupon code from the makermolds etsy store by Nicci Yeo. Please go check out both of their websites – Nature’s Garden has recently rolled out some big changes in their site, and Nicci has some really fun and unique soap molds!

Here is the stunning soap that takes home the grand prize. Congratulations to Zahida of Handmade in Florida who created this lovely coffee soap with several layers of soap:

Coffee Soap by Handmade in Florida

Coffee Soap by Handmade in Florida

In second place is Claudia’s fabulous “Nebula Swirl” soap, created with some help from her daughter. You’ll want to read her blog post about her process, as she has several great tips for achieving this effect:

Nebula Soap by Claudia and daughter

Nebula Soap by Claudia and daughter

Third place goes to Lisa of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Australia. She spent hours and hours creating this gorgeous rainbow layered soap:

Rainbow Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Rainbow Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Huge congrats to Claudia and Lisa! They win free registration to next month’s Challenge Club!

I know you will want to see the rest of the entries as well! They are located HERE.

Do you love the new watermarks for the winning entries? One of our Challenge Club members, Claudia Carpenter, created these logos and a super simple tool to watermark the photos just for fun! From now on, when you join the club and submit an entry, you’ll be able to use the tool to watermark your own photos with this:

entry

Now for some more fun! We will be doing petal soaps for the October Challenge Club. Here is the test batch I created yesterday. I will be making another one for the video, now that I have a feel for the technique:

Petal Soap Test Batch by Great Cakes Soapworks

Petal Soap Test Batch by Great Cakes Soapworks

You can do lots of fun things with this technique – even make flowers instead of rows of petals! (Novel idea, I know.) We have a new sponsor for October – have you heard of Mad Oils yet? They are a new company out of Florida with some fantastic fragrances, essential oils, micas, glitters, botanicals and so much more! They are providing a $50 gift certificate to the grand prize winner. (International winner will need to pay shipping only as they do not normally ship abroad.)

Registration will open Monday, September 29th.

NEW: I am also announcing the techniques and sponsors for November and December at this time. You will have the option to sign up for all three months on September 29th for just $15 (saves you a few bucks and you won’t miss the sign-up deadlines for November and December – yippee!!)

November – We are doing combing techniques! You’ve probably seen some of these techniques before – in fact if you’ve been with us since the beginning of the Challenge Club, we started with the peacock swirl. You can do a peacock swirl again, or something different! I will be demonstrating a technique that I have so far not seen in the soaping world. Now you’re curious, aren’t you?
Brambleberry will sponsor and provide the grand prize winner with their swirl tool kit to make all kinds of soaps with combing techniques!

Registration will open on October 27th. If you are pre-registered you will have access to the tutorial on that day. Soap will need to be made by November 12th, voting opens on the 15th and winners announced on the 19th.

December – The Spoon Swirl. Another classic with plenty of applications. Easy to do right before the holidays as well. Majestic Mountain Sage is sponsoring with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize winner.

Registration will open on November 24th. If you are pre-registered you will have access to the tutorial on that day. Soap will need to be made by December 10th, voting opens on the 13th and winners announced on the 17th.

If you haven’t signed up for the Challenge Club newsletter yet, this is how you can get notified when registration opens:

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Negative Space Embedding – Whaaat?

I coined a new term for this month’s Soap Challenge Club! The technique is called Negative Space Embedding – the opposite of regular embedding. With this technique, participants were asked to pour a soap base, then cut holes (any shape or size) in it and fill those holes with fresh soap. I also gave the option of filling the holes with melt & pour soap. Let me tell you, this technique opened up a beautiful display of soap art which I’m sure you are all dying to see!

But before I announce the winners, I must thank our sponsors. Brambleberry has provided a $50 gift certificate, and Alex Kelly is providing a Custom Soap Stamp to our grand prize winner!!

Now we may proceed with the announcements! Congratulations goes to Zahida of Handmade in Florida for her beautiful negative “space” (literally!) embed soap. She created a beautiful soapy canvas of planets, sun, moon and stars:

Negative "Space" Embed soap by Handmade in Florida

Negative “Space” Embed soap by Handmade in Florida

The honor of second and third place were such a tight race!! Second place goes to the talented Maya of Infusions blog from Tokyo, Japan. She created this beautiful interpretation of sea glass with her cold process soap base and transparent melt & pour “embeds”:

Seaglass soap by Maya

Seaglass soap by Maya

In third place we have Claudia from Los Altos, California! Her 3D rainbow soap really stands out as a piece of soap art, don’t you think?

Rainbow soap by Claudia

Rainbow soap by Claudia

Congratulations to Maya and Claudia! They win free registration to the September Challenge Club!

You can see the rest of the entries for this challenge HERE. It is worth taking a look!!

For September, we are doing in-the-pot swirls!! I was challenged to do NINE colors, so this is the soap I will be demonstrating in the video tutorial:

Black Cherry soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Black Cherry soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

The official challenge will be to swirl in at least THREE colors. There’s no limit to the number of colors you can do, but sometimes less is more with this technique! Our sponsors this month are Nature’s Garden who will be providing a $50 gift certificate, as well as a NEW sponsor, Nicci Yeo, who is providing a $25 coupon code toward anything in her silicone soap mold shop, makermolds. So many different whimsical molds to choose from!

Registration for the September Challenge Club opens Monday, August 25th. You can sign up to be notified here:

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