by Emmy Gabriel of The Natural Beauty Workshop
I was inspired to try something different while making a batch of soap for an autumn swap last year. I wanted to incorporate the beauty of autumn leaves into each bar, but I still wanted to create soap "from scratch" as opposed to using a full melt & pour recipe. I noodled over the puzzle for a while, but eventually inspiration struck.
Armed with clear Melt & Pour Soap Base, 3 cookie sheets, and a butter knife, I got to work. I split the Melt & Pour Soap into three batches after it was melted, scented each batch with Autumn Woods Fragrance Oil, and colored each with a different shade of Pearlescent Mica. I poured each batch of soap onto a cookie sheet, allowing them to cool into thin, solid layers. While I was waiting for them to cool, I quickly sketched out 3 leaf shapes onto card stock and cut them out. I used these cutouts as stencils, and carefully traced leaf shapes out of the Melt & pour soap with my butter knife. This would have been a LOT easier if I'd had the foresight to buy some mini cookie cutters, but "C'est la vie". My little leaves were well worth the extra work.
Once my leaves were finished, I whipped up a batch of hot process soap, also scenting it with Autumn Woods Fragrance Oil. I gave the soap a few minutes to cool after I had popped it into its mold, and then began to carefully insert my MP leaves into the top of the log. The soap was just hot enough to melt each leaf slightly as it entered the top of the soap. This helped adhere the leaves more permanently, but if the soap had been any hotter, it may have melted my leaves completely. Thankfully, I seemed to have caught it at just the right temperature. Should I repeat this procedure, I would definitely record the temperature of my HP soap log for future reference.
After covering the log in a forest of tiny leaves, I allowed the log to continue cooling. I spent the next morning excitedly slicing bars for my swap. The soap was so pretty that I almost hated to use my test bar, but I did! Autumn Woods lost a bit of its top note during soap making, but it rounded out into a very delicious, nutty scent. The Melt & Pour topping helped to boost the overall aroma by showcasing the untouched aroma of the Fragrance Oil, making the whole soap very enjoyable to sniff.
This technique offers just about as many combinations as you can imagine. Some things made of MP that I would love to see topping an HP log would be plant shapes, fruit shapes, or maybe some funky geometrics. I would be very curious to see what other folks come up with when they combine such different soap making techniques!
Thank you so much, Emmy! You are a true inspiration with all of the work you do, the beautiful photographs you take, and excellent ideas and recipes that you share at The Natural Beauty Workshop Blog. It's an honor to have you be here with me.