Monthly Archives: April 2013

Keeping up the Challenges

The challenges from Great Cakes Soapworks were such a lot of fun, and I learned so much about new techniques, that I decided to set myself some more challenge goals to meet, with techniques I haven’t tried before or which I haven’t successfully pulled off.

I’ll start it off easy; first I’ll take another swing at the Leopard Spot pattern that defeated me at the end of Amy’s challenges. I have a good idea what I did wrong last time, so I think I’ll be able to achieve it, even it it takes me a couple of goes.

Next, I’ll try the peacock swirl. I’ve seen this all over the place, but I haven’t ever given it a shot myself – until recently, I’ve shied away from flat-mold swirl patterns, for no reason I can readily articulate. It’s a really pretty effect, though, and should be fun.

Also in the probable lineup but not in any particular order yet: Mantra swirl (tried this a couple of times with no success yet), drop swirl, and a Very Secret Project that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet – in fact, that one I probably won’t bring up unless and until I manage to pull it off successfully.

There’ll be more, too, but I figure that’ll be enough to keep me busy for a while – I’m hoping to do one a month. Stay tuned!

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge – Leopard Spots

Well, sort of. I pretty much struck out on this one, as it happens. Most of my “spots” look like “kinda blurry lines”. But I did get a few close-ish ones:

Blotchy spots.

Blotchy spots.

The thing is, since I was (inadvisedly) using a floral, I was so paranoid about it accelerating and seizing up on me, that instead the colored soap was WAY too runny. I’ll try this technique again soon, but won’t get it done before the end of the challenge period, so this is it for now. In the mean time, my Pink Peony soap is . . . not what I was aiming for! But it looks sort of nifty, in a “pink cirrus clouds” kind of way, so I guess that’s something.

Go here to take a look at what it was SUPPOSED to look like!

I’ve really enjoyed doing these challenges, and actually I’ve decided to round up some more techniques I want to coax myself to try, as a sort of do-it-yourself challenge set over the next few months. I’ll put a redo of this one in that list – which in the interest of accountability I’ll be posting soon! It looks like Amy Warden is going to do some more public challenges, too, which is also awesome. This “learn new stuff” gig turns out to be pretty fun – and even more fun when there are others doing the same thing.

Busy Times!

Hey, all – I know it’s been quiet around here for a few days! It’s been busy times, with show prep, store deliveries . . .

. . . and SOAP testing!

Initial testing in progress (with the control soap (no fragrance) already poured))

Initial testing in progress (with the control soap (no fragrance) already poured))

It’s been so much fun to play with these mystery scents, but possibly even more fun to drag out all the old science-y skills. I’ve been testing these scents at different concentrations, different temperatures, with and without gel – it’s a grand time!

Two-day-old soap - waiting to see if they discolor!

Two-day-old soap – waiting to see if they discolor!


I’m about to wrap up the testing phase – just a few non-bar-soap products to test in – and then I’ll tinker with them a little in some other products just for fun, and get the feedback sent back to Bramble Berry!

…writing up the reports was always my least favorite part of science. But that’s OK, because this has been by far the most fun science ever, and I imagine I’ll enjoy the write-up more than I used to like writing papers, too.

Right. Back to work!

Fun with Rebatching

I’ve talked about rebatching soap before, but honestly, I don’t really do it very often – for the most part, my batches either come out as something I’m happy with or something completely unsalvageable; not a whole lot in between. This past week, though, I made one that came out in the rebatch-worthy middle ground.


Lye-Heavy – yuck!

Fortunately, I realized what had gone wrong and about how wrong it had gone, so I had a pretty good feeling about being able to fix it. Into the pot it went, with some additional avocado oil to suck up the extra lye, and just the tiniest bit of water – didn’t need much; it was only day-old soap and still had quite a bit of water in it. And then, in the oven. I wasn’t in a hurry, and it was actually fairly late in the day, so I just put it in on “warm” and left it overnight.

All Melty

All Melty

The next morning, it was ready to go! I glopped it around for a while to be sure it was mixed up, and then wham, into the mold.

…with a little purple mica for good measure!

All finished!

All finished!

And here we are, rustic-looking Rose Garden soap, all ready to join the Limited Edition lineup in a week or so – just in time for Mother’s Day! A pretty nice save, all things considered.

And the Winner Is . . .

. . . Lindsey Nickell! Check your e-mail for details!

Ceramic Bottles

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge: Mica Oil Swirl Tops

Until quite recently – last month, in fact – I had never even heard of this technique. I’m rapidly becoming a fan of it, however. Essentially, mica colorants are suspended in oil and drizzled/swirled over the surface of the soap, which creates fascinating patterns. The oil then soaks into the soap, leaving the mica patterns behind! Here’s a video and a collection of links to others.

I actually made several soaps with this technique during this time, but I’m going to show off the one I made last night, because I’m really quite proud of it.

Top of the uncut log

Top of the uncut log


I did a freeform-esque gradient on the inside, too.

Cut soap

Cut soap

The fragrance is Plumeria, but alas, this whole batch is destined for the shelves of a client of mine, so it won’t be appearing in the Etsy store. I expect I’ll repeat the process, though, because it was a lot of fun!

No challenge for next week, but then it’ll be leopard spots – looking forward to that, too!  Go take a look at all the sparklies that everyone else is making, though, in the mean time!


Need a lot of soap? We can help with that! Whether you need lots of bars for gifts, want to sell wholesale, or just go through a lot of soap (ideal for B&Bs!), soap logs might be the solution.

Saffron & Honey Log

Saffron & Honey Log

Why buy soap by the log? In addition to the wholesale-level discount (you pay about 50% off the per-bar cost for this quantity of soap), you can slice bars in whatever size you like – or even let customers slice their own, if you’re buying it to resell.

Eucalyptus Spearmint Log

These logs are available in our entire fragrance lineup upon request. Only a couple are listed so far, but more are coming – and if you’re interested in one I haven’t got listed for sale yet, just drop me a line. They are made to order, so allow up to four weeks for curing, to allow the soap to harden enough to ship intact.