Inspiration Soap Challenge

When I saw Kenna’s Facebook post about her Inspiration Soap Challenge, I pounced quickly, knowing her 15 challenge kits would be snapped up by eager soapmakers. I was lucky enough to be in the first 15 claimants, and I received my kit and challenge in the mail.

Challenge KitHere is what I received:

One ounce each of three fragrances—Save on Scents’ Apricot Honey, Candle Science’s Coconut, and Candle Science’s Black Currant Tea. All three of them smell great.

FragrancesAdditives: kiwi seeds from Lotioncrafter, bentonite clay from Monterey Bay Spice, calendula petals from Monterey Bay Spice, Blaze Orange Day-Glo color from Majestic Mountain Sage, Corona Magenta Day-Glo color from Majestic Mountain Sage, 24-Karat Gold mica from Rustic Escentuals, Caribbean Kiss mica from Rustic Escentuals, and Clementine Pop mica from Rustic Escentuals.

AdditivesMy mission? To craft a soap inspired by Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” using at least four of these ingredients.

Here is Kenna’s note:

LetterThinking of this song, the three Rustic Escentuals micas, the Apricot Honey fragrance, and the calendula petals immediately jumped out at me. The song reminds me of summertime, and those colors and fragrance screamed summer. I decided not to wait and set to work immediately.

I used my one-pound shea butter recipe, which has 40% olive oil, 25% coconut oil, 25% sustainable palm oil, 5% shea butter, and 5% castor oil. I also added cream, kaolin clay, and tussah silk.

Soap BatterI decided I would leave part of the batter uncolored. I would pour the uncolored batter into the mold first. I would use the three mica colors and do an ITP swirl, then pour those into the uncolored batter to do a Holly swirl. It didn’t quite work according to plan.

Part of working with an unknown fragrance is the surprise it might offer—will it discolor? Will it accelerate trace? I had no way of knowing, really, as the reviews on the site didn’t say. I plunged ahead. I suspected it would accelerate mostly because of the fruity (almost floral) nature of the scent, which I LOVE, by the way. I don’t smell the honey as much as the sweet apricot fragrance.

It did accelerate a bit, as it turns out. I was still able to swirl my soap, but I had to move quickly. Everything was going smoothly as I poured the uncolored batter into the mold.

Uncolored BatterI had already prepared my three micas and decided to pour the soap directly into these cups.

Prepared MicasAren’t they beautiful?

The soap was thickening up by the time I was done mixing the colors.

ITP swirlSo, my ITP swirl was not as fluid as I envisioned it. I knew it wouldn’t drop swirl easily into the uncolored batter, either. What to do?

I poured it from high so that it would penetrate, then I spoon-swirled it.

Soap in MoldAnd the pièce de résistance? The calendula petals.

Calendula Petals on TopI put the soap to bed to gel. I checked on it a few times, and I can tell you that it moved fast and became quite hot pretty quickly. It was over 140°F one time when I checked it, and keep in mind this was probably within the first hour after I made it. Just a warning about that fragrance! I hoped that the fragrance would stick OK, but the flashpoint is 200°F, so I crossed my fingers.

As it turned out, the fragrance made it through saponification just fine. After I cut it, I could smell the honey notes much more than I could out-of-the-bottle. It really smells delicious. I’m telling you, you couldn’t worry when you smelled it—it would make you happy! I just hope it’s going to remain strong through the cure.

Don't Worry, Be Happy SoapHere is a close-up of one of the bars so you can really see how the colors came out. The Caribbean Kiss mica is a perfect Caribbean water shade, and the Clementine Pop mica really matches the apricot notes in the fragrance, while the 24-Karat Gold mica ties in the element of honey in the scent. As it turns out, the swirl looks great—perhaps better than it would have looked if I had just done a drop swirl with the swirled colors.

Close UPAs you can see, the natural soap did not discolor either, so while this fragrance accelerates, it does not discolor, which means it is great for whatever colors and design you want to try (given you can work with the acceleration).

I’m really pleased with how the micas turned out as well. I didn’t know if the 24-Karat Gold mica would look like much in CP soap, but it honestly pops pretty nicely—you can see the sparkles throughout. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the sparkles really do catch your eye if you can see the soap in person.

A couple of interesting notes about this challenge:

  1. It was fun trying to use the kit to make something based on the challenge idea, and I found the idea came to me immediately. Kudos to Kenna for the great idea.
  2. I really fell in love with the Clementine Pop mica, and I’m going to have to order some more of that. I liked the other two a lot as well. I do not have as much experience with micas, and so I feel shy ordering them (for some reason) because I’m not sure what I’m going to get. I was so happy when I checked Rustic Escentuals’ site and found they were all CP stable.
  3. I really liked all three fragrances. Coconut does scream summer, but even without checking, I figured it would discolor more than the Apricot Honey, so I went with my gut on that one.
  4. Almost all the materials I received were new to me. I have used calendula petals and bentonite clay in soap before, but I had not used anything else. I had never even purchased from any of the companies except Rustic Escentuals and Majestic Mountain Sage. It was fun to learn about some potential vendors and try their products before I buy them.
  5. After watching the music video for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” again, I discovered the colors I used (or at least similar ones) appeared in the video! I see them mostly in the background. Isn’t that wild? I wonder if my subconscious somehow dredged that up (as many times as I saw that video in the 1980s!), but… nah.

This soap will be ready to use on August 2, 2014. I decided to give one bar away. Here’s the catch: no fair entering the contest from multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts. You can certainly enter more than once using one of each kind of social media account, but if you try to game the system, I will disqualify all your entries. I was disappointed to learn someone tried to do that with my last giveaway. I want someone who really wants this soap to win it, not someone who just enters freebie contests, so please—your social media accounts should contain tweets besides giveaway announcements. Aside from those caveats, go for it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Related posts:

Soap Challenge 2012: Week Three—Mica Swirl

The challenge for week three of Great Cakes Soapworks‘ 2013 Soap Challenge was to create a soap with a mica swirl. Just as with the elemental swirl, I had never done this type of swirl before, mainly because I hadn’t tried micas. I had sold a few bars of my Angel soap, so I decided to remake it with a mica swirl instead of pink soap on the top.

Angel Soap

Wow, what a difference it made in the look of this soap! You can’t really see the detail properly, even in this photograph. The swirls have a beautiful iridescent sheen. I love it! Here is what my first batch of Angel soap looks like, for comparison:

Angel SoapI think the mica swirl is here to stay on this soap! I do not know when or if I would have attempted a mica swirl if not for this challenge, so I have this challenge to thank for both my Hobbit’s Garden soap, which I just LOOOOOVE, and now a change for better in my Angel soap.

Related posts:

Soap Challenge 2013: Week Two—Elemental Swirl

The challenge for week two of Great Cakes Soapworks‘ 2013 Soap Challenge was to create a soap with an elemental swirl. I had never done this type of swirl before, and I think the general idea is to create a soap with contrasting elements, such as reds, oranges, and yellows to represent fire, and blues and greens to represent water. I didn’t exactly follow the “rules” because I had an idea for a soap I’ve been thinking about for some time, but for which I didn’t have a design idea: Hobbit’s Garden. I had already picked out scents of apples, oak, and English ivy, as well as a rainy/earthy scent, so I decided I would divide my scents as I was not doing as many colors as some of the other challenge participants.

Hobbit's GardenAs you can see, the bottom layer has a green, white, and black swirl, and I scented that layer with apples and oak and English ivy. The thin gold mica line in the middle represents the One Ring. My inspiration for the colors is the cover of the first edition of The Hobbit as drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien. The top layer was interesting because I was originally shooting for the bluer cover of The Hobbit.

Hobbit CoverBut the soap knew what it was doing and decided I needed to be a purist and go with darker blue of the original first edition:

Hobbit CoverIn fact, the blue came out exactly the slate blue of the cover above, as you can see.

I am so, so happy with this soap, and I can’t say I would have thought to try to make it like this if I had not been participating in the challenge, so thank you, thank you Amy Warden!

 

Related posts:

Soap Challenge 2013: Week One—Tiger Stripe Swirl

I am excited to be participating in Great Cakes Soapworks‘ 2013 Soap Challenge. Each week offers soapers the opportunity to try a different challenge. The challenge for the first week was to create a soap with a tiger stripe swirl. Of the various challenges planned, this particular technique is the only one I’ve tried. I think it is nice to get my feet wet with the familiar.

Spearmint Stripe

I made spearmint-scented soap I am calling Spearmint Stripe. The soap may have been a bit too thin to do a true tiger stripe swirl. Some of the layers broke through a bit, and others seemed a bit wider than I was looking for. However, I am happy with the way it looks, which is exactly like it smells. My inspiration for the colors was the green and white  spearmint candies similar in appearance to peppermints. The colors came out exactly as I wanted, and the soaps smell delicious.

The soap is chock full of goodies for your skin: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, and castor oil and a kiss of buttermilk and kaolin clay with a whisper of pure silk.

I just love the way it smells. The spearmint fragrance blends well with other fragrances, but it smells delicious on its own, too. I have noticed, as I said in one of the videos, that this fragrance seems to fade, but it pops back in wet soap, so when you shower with it, you may notice the spearmint scent more than in the dry bar. I am not sure why that is, but as smelling it in the shower is the whole point, I am happy.

Related posts:

Challenge Soap: Avalon

I love challenges, a fact to which my poor neglected book blog can attest. I was thrilled when the Soap Making Forum started monthly challenges. I was eager to participate last month. The theme was Mardi Gras, and I even had an idea, but I didn’t get it off the ground. This month, I was determined. The chosen theme is Mythology, and I mined my favorite myths—the Matter of Britain—for my new soap Avalon. I realize King Arthur is technically more legend than myth, but I wrote what I think was a fairly convincing final exam in Medieval Literature in college about the notion that Arthurian legend was a British attempt at creating a mythology for themselves, especially later as writers like Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Malory wrote down the stories of Arthur.

Avalon

Avalon

Avalon was inspired by the resting place of King Arthur, the Isle of Avalon, or Isle of Apples. Back in the time when King Arthur would possibly have lived, Glastonbury Tor was surrounded by water, becoming a peninsula at low tide, and many believe it is the Isle of Avalon.

The scent I used in this soap evokes apples and roses, and it was described by Shannon of Smellicious Soaps (one of my fellow Soap Making Forum friends) as smelling like “walking through a rose garden while eating a crisp apple.” It truly is divine. The apples evoke the Isle of Apples, Avalon, while I see the roses as symbolic of the Wars of the Roses, during which Sir Thomas Malory wrote perhaps the most famous version of the Arthurian legend, Le Morte D’Arthur. Some scholars believe his treatment of the Matter of Britain was as much a comment on political events during his own times as it was a faithful recounting of the Arthur legend.

The soap is made with cocoa butter and olive, coconut, palm, sweet almond, and castor oils with a kiss of kaolin clay and silk.

 

I hope you like it! It will be available in my Etsy store toward the end of April.

Related posts: