In celebration of one year of soapy happiness, I have entered the March 2016 Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge. The technique of this challenge is a rimmed soap where the outer layer is created first, rolled, then filled with a soap that forms the core. The technique for this challenge was taught by the uber talented Tatsiana Serko in a series of very clear videos, followed by Amy Warden's helpful hints and encouragement.
The DesignFor my soap, I wanted a design that was somewhat original yet not too complicated. I also wanted to be able to use what supplies I had on hand (meaning I didn't want to have to order more colors or whatnot to complete the challenge). Discovering I had some leftover Watermelon Lemonade fragrance oil (Wholesale Supplies Plus), I decided to try to make my soap look like watermelon. Or...something resembling a watermelon. Given the difficulty of the technique I was honestly just hoping for something watermelon-ish.
Making the RimFor the rim I used the following recipe:
40% Olive oil
20% Coconut oil
10% Castor oil
I have found this recipe to produce a batter that stays fluid for a decent amount of time - perfect for swirls and designs. Plus, its easy to remember (4-3-2-1) and easy on the budget. I used three different colors of green to produce what I hoped would be a good representation of the colors of a watermelon rind. The colors, all from Nurture Soap Supplies, were Kombu Green, Alpine Green, and Mantis Green.
Try #1 of the rim ended up being an oily, gloppy mess. I tried so hard to not mix beyond emulsion that I didn't mix enough. Try #1 got rebatched.
Try #2 went perfectly. I poured the colors of soap in consecutive lines - like the lines on a sheet of paper. Once all the soap was poured, I used a bamboo skewer and made little zig-zags between the colors so the color differences wouldn't be so defined. I honestly didn't think this did much good, but the result on the cut was very nice.
I placed the soap in the oven at 170 F. After 45 minutes I checked and saw that the soap was overheated and ready to crawl out of the mold! The top did have an alien brain appearance, but it would be trimmed away so I wasn't too worried.
Cutting the rim was a challenge. The cardboard I placed under the soap was a little springy. If I tried to cut thin I risked not being able to cut a whole layer. Cutting too thick would make the layer hard to roll and prone to cracking. I was able to get three rims from my slab. One rim was rather messy looking. One was a bit thick, but OK. The third, unplanned, leftover thin layer from the bottom ended up being the best one of them all. Thinner was definitely better.
Making the CoreI used a different recipe for the core of the soap because...why not?
28% Olive oil
10% Rice Bran oil
7% Apricot Kernel oil
5% Castor Oil
I also added sugar and salt to the soap. For the liquid I used half distilled water and half milk kefir.
For the core I used the mica color Raspberry Red from Nurture Soap Supply and added poppy seeds to mimic watermelon seeds. I have used the Watermelon Lemonade fragrance oil before and found it to be temperamental - prone to ricing and separating. This time around I didn't have any issues. I didn't have enough fragrance or supplies to fill all three rims so I chose the two best, filled them, and then put the remaining batter in the third rim.
Completely unexpected was the color of the core morphing with gel. While this would normally disappoint me, in this instance it produced a really cool, realistic shaded effect.
I think I had a lot of luck on my side on this one. I noticed that with gel, once the core cooled there was left a pretty deep crater and it appeared to be pulling away from the rim. I wish I could have gotten a good picture of it. Thankfully, once the ends were trimmed off, there was no more signs of separation.
ConclusionsI am so glad I had the opportunity to participate in this month's Soap Challenge. The rimmed soap technique is one that I had seen but was too chicken to try. The tutorial was very well done and helped me conquer my fear of more complicated soap designs.
To continue to make this type of soap, I would like to find a more efficient and consistent way of trimming the layers from the slab. I am a bit uncomfortable with the amount of waste I produced. I have plenty of soap for future embeds! That said, I really would like to work with this technique more. I like the round shape of the soap and the sky's the limit as far as creativity is concerned.