Soap Challenge 2013 – Final Week

This is it! The final soap challenge! So many of you mentioned that you were looking forward to learning this technique when you signed up – probably because it was something new and different! Leopard spotted soap is created by piping contrasting lines of soap in a particular pattern so that when the soap is cut, it will look like leopard spots! At the very least you will need one color for the base of the soap (could be white or uncolored), one color for the center of the “spot” and another color for the outside of the “spot”.

I don’t know if you follow the Oil & Butter blog, but this is where I discovered this technique. Cee is a very talented cake decorator as well as a soapmaker, so she gets inspired by cake designs. Her leopard spotted soap was inspired by this video:

Now, it took me a couple tries to get this one right. Not because it’s all that difficult, but because I had watched the video so many months ago that I had forgotten how to do it! So, just yesterday I finally made it “correctly”.

I just cut the soap, and the bottom layer of stripes really doesn’t look like leopard spots – more like purple clouds. I think the dark purple soap was just a bit too thick. Also, I think it would have turned out better if I had done the stripes more long-wise diagonal, like corner to corner with a couple more stripes on either side of the long diagonal.

Tips:
1. The only “special equipment” needed is some ziplock bags. I prefer the freezer quart-size.
2. Definitely and for sure you will need a slow-moving fragrance or essential oil!!
3. Soap thickness is key. It has to be thick enough to support layers, and thin enough to remain workable for a fairly long period of time. Having the soap base just a bit thinner than the soap for the “spots” worked really well for me.
4. Color choices are infinite! Just be sure you use some high-contrast colors for the best effect.
5. When using a log mold, you can make your lines diagonal like I did or long-wise down the mold.
6. Have fun!!!

The link-up will open this Saturday at 6am CST and remain open until Saturday May 4th at CST.

Soap Challenge 2013 – Mica Swirled Tops Link-Up

I really am embarrassed to show you the inside of the Coconut Lime soap I made this week for the mica swirled tops challenge! Not one of my better efforts, but I will chalk it up to another experience to add to my “what not to do” list. At least the mica swirls are decent. I will definitely have to try this technique again some time with a better behaving soap batter!

Now it’s your turn! Each participant may add ONE link to their creation. Here are the instructions to add your link:

Bloggers: Create a post about your mica swirled top soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with.

Facebook business page photos: Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used and any other information you care to share. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers: You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! UPDATE! If you upload a photo of your soap as your YouTube profile photo, it will show up in the link-up! If you don’t have a profile photo, I believe you can still upload a photo from your computer and use your video as the link. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. If you have a photo in your profile, you should be able to select it. If not, you can either ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button OR click “upload from computer” and select a photo from your hard drive.

Uploading a photo from your computer: If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. UPDATE: Put YOUR NAME in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

Please note: I will not be available most of the weekend. Hopefully by the third week you’ve all figured out the link-up anyway!

(This week’s link-up will remain open until Saturday, April 27. The final challenge will be posted on Sunday, April 21st!)


Soap Challenge 2013 – Week Three

Wow! That elemental swirl was a huge challenge and a huge success for a lot of people this week! You can check out the link-up here.

We are now ready for our Week Three soap challenge: Mica Swirled Tops. The basic technique is to create a mica & oil mixture and drizzle it over the top of your soap, and then swirl it like you would with a contrasting colored soap. The oil will be absorbed into the soap leaving a beautiful mica swirl on top.

The first place I saw this was on the Shieh Studio Blog. Emily has several photos of her soaps with mica swirls on this post. She also posted a video recently, so if you need to see how she did it, you can check that out!

Still need more? Pipestone Soaps also has some fabulous photos of mica swirled tops on their Facebook page! I asked Sacha for some tips before making my soap, and she recommended starting with just one metallic color to begin with, so I went with gold.

Here are the results of my first attempt at this technique:

Tips:
1. It takes very little mica & oil to create the effect. Even using 1/2 tsp. oil with 1/4 tsp. of mica I still had about half of my mixture left. Of course, it depends on how big your soap is, but just know that a little goes a LONG way!
2. You can use any color mica, but metallic micas will be the most shiny.
3. Stick to one color for your first batch! Because the oil is so fluid, it’s a lot more difficult to maintain separate colors if you do more than one.
4. Kenna of Amathia Soapworks says she textures the soap first, then drizzles the mica & swirls it with a chopstick.
5. I would highly recommend having a little more fluid soap to begin with – medium trace at most! (Feel free to use any technique you like for the inside of the soap.)
6. As always – have fun!!!

Please note: You will actually have TWO WEEKS to complete your soap for this challenge since there will be a break next week. The link-up will still open up this Saturday at 6am CST, but it will remain open for two weeks.

Soap Challenge 2013 – Elemental Swirl Link-Up

So, are we loving the soap challenges so far? I hope those of you who participated in the Tiger Stripe challenge took advantage of the free colorant offer from Brambleberry!

And now it is time to show off our beautiful elemental swirls! Here’s my Apple Berry Picnic soap:

apple berry picnic soap2 Soap Challenge 2013   Elemental Swirl Link Up

Apple Berry Picnic Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Now it’s your turn! Each participant may add ONE link to their creation. Here are the instructions to add your link (I’ve added two new updates since last week – one for YouTube, and one for uploading a photo from your computer to work around some issues):

Bloggers:
Create a post about your elemental swirl soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with.

Facebook business page photos:
Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used and any other information you care to share. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers:
You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! UPDATE! If you upload a photo of your soap as your YouTube profile photo, it will show up in the link-up! If you don’t have a profile photo, I believe you can still upload a photo from your computer and use your video as the link. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. If you have a photo in your profile, you should be able to select it. If not, you can either ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button OR click “upload from computer” and select a photo from your hard drive.

Uploading a photo from your computer:
If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. UPDATE: Put YOUR NAME in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

Please note: I will not be available until late Saturday afternoon to comment or help with any issues! I will be anxious to see all your soaps then!!

(This week’s link-up will remain open until next Saturday.)


Soap Challenge 2013 – Tiger Stripe Link-Up

It’s finally time to share our work from this week’s Soap Challenge! Tiger Stripes seem like a fairly easy technique, but I did hear from several of you (perfectionists!) that you took several batches to get it up to your standards. Ok, some of it was due to finicky fragrances, so we can blame it on that!

Here is my cutting video:

Now it’s your turn! This is the fun part, of course, because we all get to oooooo and aaaahhh over everyone else’s soaps. Everyone loves comments, so if you can leave an encouraging word for someone, do it! And here’s some exciting news: Once you post your work, you can take advantage of an offer from Brambleberry* for a free soap colorant sampler! The kit includes Titanium Dioxide, Electric Bubble Gum, Activated Charcoal, and Fizzy Lemonade Neon Pigment. Use coupon code TIGERKIT and it will be added to your order, or you can call them up and arrange for them to send it to you for the cost of shipping (estimated at a couple dollars).

So, let’s do this!! Each participant may add ONE link to their creation. Here are the instructions to add your link (this is how it worked last year – please let me know if anything has changed or you have problems!):

Bloggers: Create a post about your tiger stripe soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). UPDATE: When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with. I’ve already edited several of the links so they point to the post itself.

Facebook business page photos: Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers: You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! There will be a little frog icon instead of a thumbnail photo of the soap, but anyone who clicks on your link will be able to see your video. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. Then in the next step, ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button.

Uploading a photo from your computer: If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. Just put n/a in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

This week’s link-up will remain open until next Saturday!


*affiliate link

Soap Challenge 2013 – Week One

It’s finally time!! Welcome to the first Soap Challenge for 2013!! We have at least 72 official sign-ups from all over the world, including Australia, England, Macedonia, South Africa, and Canada, not to mention all over the US!

For our first challenge, we will be making soap using the tiger stripe method. Simply divide your soap into two different colors and pour a stripe of soap down the center of your mold, alternating colors each time until you have used up all the soap! I’m giving credit to Kenna of Amathia Soapworks for creating this technique. Here is her tutorial:

You can use the traditional tiger colors, or deviate with any other high contrasting colors. I chose to create a black & white soap with one pink stripe:

Tips:
1. Make sure your fragrance or essential oil is easy to work with! No florals or spices.
2. Color ideas: light and dark version of the same color, colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, or whatever your heart desires!
3. You can decide how much soap you want to pour with each stripe – less for thinner lines, more for thicker lines.
4. You can pour your soap off-center as well!
5. Have fun with it!

You will have until Saturday to make your soap and document it with photos, blog post, youtube video, or Facebook album. I will be posting the link-up on Saturday, March 30 at 6am CST and you will be able to share your creation with everyone at that time. The link-up will remain open until the following Saturday when the new one opens up.

Just One More Day…

…until the Soap Challenge will be finished up and one lucky participant will win this:

soap mold Just One More Day...

Five-pound wooden soap mold with silicone liner from Brambleberry

Do you like the custom box I just made with my utility knife to ship it out? Nice and sturdy so if it has to travel across the pond somewhere, it ought to arrive intact! I also just checked Brambleberry’s website and it doesn’t look like these are currently available for purchase, so now whoever wins it could potentially have a collector’s item! Just sayin.

There are 16 participants so far, and tomorrow is the last day to enter! Be sure to add the link to your blog post or youtube video to the comments on THIS POST for your entry to count by end of day (that would be November 15th at 10pm CST when I will close comments and go to bed).

Winner will be contacted on Friday, and hopefully announced then as well! Best wishes, everyone!!

Soap Swap Link-Up

This post is for those who participated in the Soap Challenge Soap Swap to show off what they received and for the rest of us to admire all the lovely soaps! The deadline for sending out soap for the swap was June 2nd, but since this was an international swap, I wanted to allow plenty of time for delivery before opening up the link-up.

I ended up with two swap partners because after I had assigned everyone, there was one person left over, so I became their partner. Then after I assigned partners, there were several people who told me they had signed up with the google docs but didn’t end up with partners, so I opened it back up again and had an odd number AGAIN. Not that I’m complaining – at all!

My first partner is Alejandra of Productos Capra in Chile! Alejandra’s specialty is goat’s milk soaps. I received one simple goat’s milk soap, and one beautifully felted goat’s milk soap, along with the cute little muslin tote bag you see in the background:

Alejandras soaps1 Soap Swap Link Up

Goat’s milk soaps by Productos Capra

Alejandras soaps2 Soap Swap Link Up

There, now you can see how beautiful that felted soap is!

I am definitely a fan of goat’s milk soap – especially the kind that comes from goats you raise yourself! What I loved most about the felted soap was how it took the “black” off the bottom of my feet! My favorite pair of flip flops have black soles that turn my feet black, and the felted soap was just the right texture to clean them up. The wool is a very mild, yet effective exfoliant, and the soap leaves my skin completely moisturized.

Alejandra’s entire lifestyle has become self-sustaining. I copied the following information from her Facebook page and translated it from Spanish:

After living years in Santiago, we opted for a life change and moved to the Elqui Valley in Chile’s Region IV to carry out a project of self-sustaining life. In our home we have solar, wind, bio-digester methane gas, furnace and solar dryer. We built our house on the principles of permaculture eco-building, using local materials such as adobe, mud, straw bales, timber, and recycling materials collected. We have our garden where we grow vegetables and herbs used in our products, and we raise goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, donkeys and horses.

I find this so fascinating! Thank you, Alejandra, for sharing your wonderful soaps with me!

My other partner is Mariah of squeakMYclean. She is just starting up her soap business, and I believe she is well on her way to greatness! Check out her cute packaging and names for her soaps:

mariahs soaps Soap Swap Link Up

Three soaps by squeakMYclean

scrapeMYscurvy is her really cool salt soap – and it really does scrape! It’s made with Atlantic Ocean water from Cape May, New Jersey where Mariah lives! In addition to the usual oils and salts, it also contains sea clay and kelp powder and a wonderful oceanic fragrance.

milkMYgoat was my personal favorite – made with goat’s milk and scented with lemon verbena. Not only does it smell absolutely fabulous, but it leaves my skin super soft and moisturized!

Then she also included her in-the-pot swirl soap scented with Stormy Seas as a cute little thank-you soap. The colors really do look like a stormy sea! Hubby snatched that one up and it is long gone!

Thank you, Mariah, for sharing your lovely soaps with me as well! I have definitely been spoiled! Best wishes to you in your business endeavors!

And now it’s finally sharing time!!

Here are the instructions to add your link:

Bloggers:
Create a post about the soap you received in the Soap Challenge swap – with photos of course! Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!).

Facebook business page photos: Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including who your swap partner was and what kind of soap(s) you received. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers:
You can create a link to a YouTube video of the soaps you received! There will be a little frog icon instead of a thumbnail photo of the soap, but anyone who clicks on your link will be able to see your video. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. Then in the next step, ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button.

I’m not recommending that anyone simply upload a photo from their computer this time. There’s no way for us to know who the soap came from or what kind of soap it is!

The link-up will remain open until next Saturday…

 Soap Swap Link Up


Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

As most of you know, I have been hosting 11 weeks of Soap Challenges on this blog, highlighting a different technique to try each week. The last Soap Challenge link-up just closed this morning, so I thought it would be fun to recognize the participants who made through at least 10 out of the 11 weeks of challenges – and posted their work!

Here are some highlights from the participants who posted their work in 10 out of 11 challenges:

Ishbel and Shelley – PURO soaps

the+collection Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Ishbel's Peaked Soap - Queens Crown and the Jubilee

Jennifer – Jennifer’s Handmade Soap

 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Jennifer's Piped Soap - Ice Cream Sundae

Eileen – Simple Pleasures Handmade Soaps

Landscape4 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Eileen's Landscape Soap - Land of the Setting Sun

Kim – Honeydew Soap Shop

 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Kim's Gradient Soap - China Rain

Natalia

dsc00117 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Natalia's Salt Soap - White Rose with Spirulina & Pink Himalayan Salt

Congratulations to these soapmakers who actually posted their work in all 11 challenges:

Traci – Savon Arts

Choco and Strawberry1 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Traci's Milk Soap - Chocolate and Strawberry

Carol – Soaplicity

Linda – The Scented Dove

 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Linda's Salt Bars - Lavender and Lemon

Sharon – Soaps by Sharon

Swanee

 Kudos to the Soap Challenge Survivors!

Swanee's ITP swirl

There were so many more who participated – even those who were quietly making their soaps at home, or joined in late, or have gone back to the beginning after the link-ups closed. I’ve received so many lovely comments about the challenges, and am now compiling ideas for more challenges, so if you have some ideas, please comment below! I won’t be able to do any more until after the first of the year, but will work on planning them out as I have time before then. I look forward to hearing your suggestions for future challenges!

Soap Challenge – Week 11 (Last One!)

Oh my word. If you have not checked out the landscape soaps from last week’s challenge, please do yourself a favor and go check out the masterpieces in the link-up. There are some seriously amazing works of art!

I also want to remind the Soap Swap participants that the deadline for sending out your soaps is June 2nd – that is this Saturday! If you haven’t heard from your swap partner at all, please send me a quick note.

Now for the last challenge…we are creating a soap with all natural ingredients (except for the lye, of course!). Many soapmakers are very adept at this, and some will ONLY make soap with natural ingredients. This means no synthetic fragrances or colors can be added. You could use plant-based essential oils for scent or no scent added at all.

The challenge will be to use some natural ingredients that you have never used before. There are several great resources on how to color your soap naturally. I have been using the list from Muller’s Lane Farm for many years. There is also a series of posts on the Lovin Soap blog on how to color soap naturally. This series includes some great photos and information on how to infuse oils.

Other fun ingredients you might try: clays, fruit or vegetable puree, milks, waxes, herbs or botanicals, seaweed, silk, honey, seeds, grains, coffee, loofah, aloe vera, vanilla specks…and so much more!!

For my soap, I chose to use rhassoul clay with several different fruit purees, plus three different kinds of milk – and I’m calling it Fruit Smoothie. I think it will make an excellent facial soap!

Here is how it all came together:

I think it’s going to be amazing!! Hope you have fun planning out your soap – and that my American friends have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!