Friday, May 13, 2016

Soap Challenge May 2016 - Teardrop

I am excited to see the entries to this month's Soap Challenge. Honestly, I am in awe of those who have already posted who can do so well with this technique. It is such a simple, yet elegant design. Its mastery eludes me.

This was a tricky challenge for me. I watched a few different YouTube videos on this technique along with the tutorial. They all made creating a teardrop in soap batter look effortless. This one was my best result.

This soap was created using a variation of the recipe Amy provided and scented with Winter Gardenia, a personal favorite of mine. While the color choices were perhaps not ideal, it was the best example of a drop I could do.

Good luck to everyone in the challenge!

The Rest of the Story...

That was my short description for the Soap Challenge. Here's what else happened...

This was my first try. In my mind this soap was going to be impressive. In real life, what's most impressive are the glycerine rivers big enough for a steamboat cruise! And, after a week's cure, I noticed the color toward the middle morphed to a yellow hue. Honestly...I have used and gelled these colors before and never had a problem. These soaps just turned out strange.

Then, there was the matter of the teardrop. They look like something plucked from a Dr. Seuss book. I pondered what I did wrong and then prepared for my next try.

This batch turned out quite interesting. The colors were supposed to be dark blue, pink and turquoise. The dark blue morphed into purple. Then, there was the matter of the "teardrops." I found smoldering rainbow volcanoes.

And a pregnant dolphin.

And at least one sail fish.

But not a teardrop.

This was my third attempt. I scented it with "Blueberry Jam" which smells just like blueberry pie filling. Yummy! Notice that there is no hint of a teardrop.

I knew before I even finished pouring that the teardrop wouldn't turn out. Instead of ending up with another soap that featured a steaming pile of unicorn poo smoldering volcano, I just took a spoon and swirled it all together. Now I have 3 pie scented soaps; one features a creepy smiley face, another has dancing stick figure, and the third shows a caterpillar ready to spin its cocoon.

At least they smell yummy.

My fourth attempt is the soap you see at the top. By this time I had decided that I was doing a couple things wrong:  my batter was too thick and I wasn't letting the first teardrop layer penetrate the top layer. I think that was what was giving me the flat bottoms on the teardrops.

I ended up changing a couple things in the recipe I was using. It seemed to work well as I ended up with the design I entered into the Challenge. But, the true test is if you can duplicate what you did. So, excited to make one even better, I ventured forth to accomplish an even better teardrop.

Yeah...that didn't happen.

This one was a crazy disaster. My mind wasn't on what I was doing and there was no way this was going to turn out well. A spoon, skewer, and even a drinking straw all contributed to this mess. I like the scent. Even the ending look isn't bad. Those clumps of titanium dioxide spread throughout the soap sure didn't improve anything, though.

I like to scent my soaps. But, I was running out of scents that didn't discolor or accelerate. Yet, I had a drive to get another teardrop right.

Seriously?! Gaaaaaa!!!
This accelerated to the point where I was plopping the batter into the mold. I'm not unhappy with it, its just not what I planned darnit! I'm not loving the air pockets. But, its soap. It'll clean. Moving on.

I will say that I did love the tops on these. I guess there's one good thing about thick batter!

 I was just so done with this challenge by this time. But, stubborn as I am, I thought I'd give it one last try.

This was it. This one was going to go down in the hall of soapy fame as the most wonderful teardrop soap EVER!! I changed up the recipe, again, and this time it really was very looooong to trace. I used only activated charcoal and titanium dioxide (strained of any clumps), and no scent.

This was going to be fabulous. I could feel it in my bones...


I laughed. My beautiful, symmetrical, smooth teardrops look more like sad deflated balloons. Oh well. I did like the tops.

I can honestly say I gave it a shot. I think at the end I came close and a try or two more and I may have it. It just won't be now.

The good thing about soap making is that the design "flops" are still usable as fabulous hand crafted soap. These will bless my friends and church family once they are done curing.

With my stick blender in hand and a respectful awe, I salute those of you who came away with soaps that clearly show a teardrop (and not just something a well-meaning husband will humm and say, "Yeah...I guess I can see it.")

Thank you again, Amy Warden, for the fun of a challenge!


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why I Don't Sell My Soaps

I think with any hobby, part of the fun is creating something wonderful. And, when that happens, sharing it with others. There have been a few times that I have shared pictures of my soaps on Face Book or with the Soap Challenge and then been contacted afterward asking if I would sell my soaps. I am flattered and honored that anyone would think what I created would be worth purchasing.

I truly and honestly hope I don't offend anyone with my answer, but I do not sell my soaps at this time.
Here's why.

1. I'm too busy. This was the year I just couldn't say no to requests for volunteers and help. I have been overwhelmed with keeping up with my oldest child's extra curricular schedule, homeschooling my two younger children, taking care of a home that is determined to fall apart, being a loving and supportive wife and family member, and taking on leadership positions in two different organizations. Starting a soap business just isn't in me. It likely won't be for a while. For now, I am quite content making my small batches of soap and experimenting on my own time without making commitments of production or marketing or trying to manage a business and keep it afloat. 

2. I'm cautious. There's a long background story here. I'll just say I have my reasons for not wanting to sell without keeping everything above board, following all the rules, and possessing insurance. Friends and family have enjoyed my soapy creations. But, I'm leery of giving or selling soaps to strangers. What can I say? I'm a rule-follower.

3. I have a lot to learn. Who doesn't dream of being a successful soap peddler when they first learn the craft? After all, its a consumable product that everyone uses (or should, anyway). But, I once read that if this was a dream of yours, to wait a year. After all, you want to put forth your best product and rarely are beginners creating the best products to represent their craft. I tend to agree. I am still working on creating a signature recipe and learning lots about what makes great soap. Plus, selling soap requires knowledge about laws and regulations, etc. Did I mention I'm busy?

4. I want to enjoy my hobby. I gladly give away soaps to friends and family - soaps I know they will enjoy. Its the whole pleasure -of -giving- a- handcrafted- item- to- someone -you- love thing. Trying to produce a product that will please a stranger? Stressful. At least that's my mindset right now. I would rather just play with soap making right now and not worry about producing something sell-able. There's just something about having to do something that takes some of the joy out of it. Remember how busy I am? I really need my hobby to be my escape, not my prison.

Please understand that whenever I am asked about selling my soaps, it brings me joy! Just think - someone would actually pay money for something I made! I find that to be a great complement. So, it pains me to say no. Its just the answer I feel is right.

Perhaps in the future I will say yes. It just won't be anytime soon.