Monday, January 30, 2012

Do You See Dragon?!

To celebrate Chinese New Year (ok, I normally don't in the US except eating like a pig for the Eve) I decided to make a theme soap.  I'm only doing this because I was also born in the dragon year, except, I was a fire dragon baby and this year it's water dragon.  Apparently the lucky colors for water dragon are teal (no kidding! LOL) and silver, and lucky gems are sapphire and amber.  This is take #2 as the fragrance oil I chose for the first one traced too fast, couldn't do the heart swirls on the top.  Next time I will remember not to use new fragrance oil when I plan complicated projects!  LOL

Friday, January 27, 2012

Soaps All The Way From Ireland - Mianra

I make soap, sell soap, love to try other soap makers creation, but I don't like the idea of buying each other's soap.  Instead, I like to swap, you know, like friends giving each other gift kind of thing?!  Anyway, Hajni from Mianra Artisan Soaps and I found each other through a soap forum, then we started chatting online.  It is only natural that we decided to swap our soap babies!  I've been waiting and waiting, finally tonight I received the package I've been looking for.  Seems like all I do these days is waiting for my packages (soaping supply purchase bad luck)... LOL
Last time I did my virgin video take when I swapped my soap with another Irish soaper, see my previous post: Soaperstar Soap in Action.  This time I want to do it a little differently.  I'm going to conduct an interview and reveal the real Hajni (as up close and personal) behind the creation of Mianra Artisan Soaps.  But today, I'm just going to show you photos of what she sent me.

Look at the beautiful efforless packaging!  I love colors and so does she!

She sent me Sandalwood Soap on the left, and Rose Clay on the right.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Strugling With Frosting

Oh where do I begin...  I wrote up this post on Sunday night, tried to publish it on Monday morning only to found that it's a BLANK!  All that I wrote and photos are all gone, like they never existed!  But I swear I wrote it!  Not a good start on the first day of Dragon year... sigh.  Alright, I seriously don't remember what I wrote exactly, so I'm going to make this long story short.
My 8 year old nephew from New Jersey asked for chocolate cupcake soap with white frosting for his birthday which is coming up on February 3rd.  Normally I would do cold process soap and I've done it many times it's relatively easy for me.  But with the time constrain (min. 4 weeks to cure the soap) I was not able to soap cold process.  Oh boy I have not done M&P frosting and I heard it's very tricky if you don't get the timing right when you are piping.  After a couple failed experiments I proceeded to make cupcake soap!
  Don't they look real enough to eat?!  I'm so proud of myself.  Then the longer I starred at them the more my hands got itchy and wanted to add some more to them.  So I did...  I was going for that chocolate dipped strawberry look but I just didn't seem to be able to get the right consistency.  I like the simple version before I ruined them!  :((

Well, no time for a re do, so here they go, total 14 of these over drizzled berry chocolate cupcake soap, out the door across the country all the way to Jersey!  I hope Julius likes the drizzle!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Berry Pomegranate Soap

If you have not seen my video making soap with Berry Pomegranate juice yet you might want to watch it first before reading further, click here Left Over Holiday Juice - Berry Pomegranate
I was anticipating the oxidation of the juice that would turn my soap final color to some sort of tan.  Tan undertone can be challenging when you try to do a nice color swirl because it just put everything in a muted tone.  When I first cut the soap it was a nice butter beige base color and my pink/red swirl looked so nice and in harmony.  I thought the titanium dioxide I put actually worked.  But no I spoke too soon!  Now that it's few days later after it's cut, the nice soft buttery beige had turned to toffee.  I used neon hot pink hoping to compensate the oxidation effect failed also.  It has turned my pink into some kind of orange.  The only color pulled through is the merlot red mica... sigh.  Oh well, time for me to accept the outcome!  At least I tried!

See, this was the first cut right out the mold.  Look how nice that buttery beige looked!   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sausage Casing Soap Log

A soaper friend of mine sent me some plastic tube sleeves (thanks Pam!), those were originally used to protect tube shipping, now used for soaping!  I have to say, it is a great inexpensive alternative to using PVC pipe for mold!  Except it takes more effort to plan how to pour it standing right side up.
I also combined this experiment with my shaving soap retry.  I said retry because I made shaving soap before (long ago) and it didn't work out so great.  It seems like my soaping experiments are like fashion trending, always recirculate back to the old time and then reinvent.
Here's the before formula:
Lots of Olive oil (lemongrass mint infused)
Coconut oil
Almond oil
Castor oil
Bee's wax

And here's the reinvented version:
Coconut oil
Castor oil
Olive oil (lemongrass chamomile infused)
Palm oil
Cocoa butter
Almond oil
Stearic acid
Bentonite clay
Silk fiber
Look at all that air bubbles I trapped!  It's caused by thick trace and pouring high into a narrow tube!

This is how is looks like right after pour hanging in my kitchen like a tube of sausage!
Now you ask, what's my secrete of pouring into this flimzy tube?  It's actually not my idea, the credit goes to a soap maker friend of mine, Pam from By the Sea Soap!  She sent me a few cut sections of these plastic tubes to try, together with a cut can (the ones for concentrated juice, made out of cardboard material and metal rim).  She slipped the tube through the can and used the metal rim to hold tube open.  What a genius!  This kind of cheap instant solution found in the kitchen is totally up my alley!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Left Over Holiday Juice: Berry Pomegranate

It's funny how I always can find something left over to make soap with.  Or, maybe I unconsciously 'create' left over so I have excuses to make it into soap!  You can tell Soap is in my mind every second, LOL.
For those who can't watch the video, here's a quick shot.  Sorry it's not good lighting, formal photos will follow when it's ready!
Here's the video, enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's Talk Suds

Recently I made 2 simple soap each with an interesting additive that would affect the way a soap lathers.  These 2 are made with the exact formula and superfat percentage, one loaf made with one added organic egg (see blog post What Does Egg Contribute to Soap?), the other made with 3/4 tsb bentonite clay (Plain White Soap, Really?!).  Now I'm going to talk about the different kind of lather these 2 produce.

The egg soap produces suds texture very close to what you get when you beat an egg white with high speed electrical beater like you are making whipped cream.  The bubbles are very uniform in size.  It starts big and fluffy, then slowly turns into denser foam.  It feels really airy and weightless, like washing with cloud (I would imagine that's how it feels like if cloud is actually reachable!)  Now that I think about it, it's almost like the same feeling I get when I use the bottle foamer to pump my liquid soap, uniform airy and weightless!

Then I tried the bentonite clay soap.  It starts slow, then bubbles up consistently, but surprisingly not uniform in size.  See the photos yourself!  It creams up and produces slippery foam that feels dense and with weight. 

I let the foam sit for few hours, in both cases.  When I came back from dinner, the foam from egg soap already disappeared to nothing which is expected, but the foam from bentonite clay soap still there in tact! Except, it's all dried out, interesting isn't it?!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Left Over Holiday Alcohol: Pinot Noir

We opened a new Pinot Noir for the holiday party and didn't like it, got half bottle of left over.  Since I've never soap red wine before, it's a good chance to do it without feeling bad wasting a good bottle of wine.  This one exercised my creative brain quit a lot, for I have a hard time planning for color scheme and scent.   The red wine turned lye solution into dark red brown!  I have no idea if it will cure with that color or not, I didn't want to take the chance.  I colored majority of the pot with merlot red mica and small portions in purple and black (activated charcoal).  Gosh it's hard to get purple with such a dark colored batter to start with!  And the soap stink for a few days, hard to describe the scent.  I guess that's how 'burned' fermented grape juice smells like... LOL
I used my new cube silicone mold I bought from Bramble Berry for this Pinot batch.  And even with the heavy trace, it still took 3 days before I can unmold those cubes out.  And that's with more than 12 hours of refrigeration.  I have never had this kind of difficulty with a silicone mold before, this one pushed me to the edge.  I don't know if I'll ever try to use that mold again!
By the way, these Pinot Cubes are scented with Black Raspberry Vanilla!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Left Over Holiday Alcohol: Champagne

This is my first post of the year 2012, it's Dragon year!  I was born in Dragon year and so was my husband. Hopefully this means we will have a fantastic year!

What do I do with the left over alcohol from all that holiday parties?  Sure I can save it for cooking but how many bottles do I need for cooking, especially champagne?!  By now you probably already guessed what I'm about to show you.  Yes, of course, if not soap then what?
I called this Champagne Pear.  It is made with left over Brut and scented with my own mix of pear fragrance oil.  I boiled the brut the night before to flatten the 'gas' then used that as my whole water amount to dissolve the lye.  Oh you should see the bubbling action when it hit the lye beads, it's like champagne all over again!  And, it stinks!  The lye champagne turned into red-ish color.  That made me worried, I had all my colors planned out!  My quick save is adding titanium dioxide and it worked.
Let's start the year with new do from last year's left over!
DO you see the 'frosting' on the pear slice?  That's caused by insulating the soap after pour, and the melt & pour soap pear slice absorbed some moisture in the insulated space.  Actually, I love that accidental effect! 

Can you believe a day ago the purple icing actually looked latte brown?