Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coat Hanger Swirl Tutorial

I received an email last night from Gabbie of The Soap Dish in Australia offering to share her coat hanger swirl tutorial. Her soap came out so beautifully, I just had to share! Check out her blog after you've had a chance to peek at this post.

Yesterday l tried coat hanger swirling for the first time. I've used a chopstick, a skewer and a wooden spoon to swirl my soap, but never a coat hanger. l think the beauty of it is that you can get to the bottom of the soap easily while it's in the log mould, and pull it upwards & downwards; and because you're swirling 'side on' instead of the normal way, you get some really interesting patterns. Having said that though, there are so many people who do it better than me! I was a bit chuffed though with my first attempt, it turned out much better than l had dared to hope.

(basic instructions on the coat hanger swirl were first found here, what follows is merely my interpretation.)

l'm not usually very good at swirling because l always soap too warm, and use the stick blender for too long. This makes for a quite thick 'trace' that doesn't lend itself to swirling, but rather being 'heavily poured' into the mould, and spread around. Sometimes l halfheartedly poke around in it with a chopstick or skewer, but there's never really been much point, and l much prefer the 'in the pot' swirl where you blend the two colours by hand and then pour the lot into the mould and hope for the best. Patience is a virtue, especially in soapmaking, and mine is still developing, what can l say LOL.

But yesterday l was VERY patient, and l let the oils and lye go almost stone cold before making the soap. l didn't want to give it any excuse to thicken up too quickly.

l diluted my colour beforehand, and set it to one side.

I'd already altered my coat hanger with a pair of pliers, the straight sides are so it would fit into a smaller log mould:

I then mixed the lye and oils and got out the stick blender. As soon as the soap emulsified or got to that beautiful glossy 'almost trace' like stage, l put the stick blender down and didn't touch it again. The batter was still quite thin, there was a very faint pour line if you lifted the spoon above the soap & drizzled, but nothing like what l normally experience. l guess you could say it was like very thin cream.

l added my fragrance (lavender essential oil) and stirred with the spatula. It was still thin, thankfully.

I then split the batch in half and coloured one half purple - this was using purple ultramarine from Heirloom Bodycare - l premixed it with water in a bottle and had it ready to go. Stirred it in with the spatula, and things were still thin. (l was a little amazed, because normally by now l am at the 'slamming it in the mould and cursing loudly' stage LOL.)

l then started pouring the purple and white soap into the mould. l used my wooden log mould, and had it lined and ready to go. First up was a thin layer of white soap along the bottom, about a centimetre's worth. Because the soap was still very runny, when l started the purple layer, l poured it over the back of a spatula, as if l'd poured straight into the mould l think it would have sunk completely to the bottom instead of forming 'stripes'. I continued pouring, alternating colours and always over the back of a spatula so that the stripes stayed roughly 'on top' of each other. (apologies for not having photos for this stage, l didn't have an extra set of hands but l will try and get more photos next time.) I just kept layering the two colours until l ran out of soap mix. They weren't neat stripes by any means, more just rough layering of one colour on top of the other.

It was still quite thin, but l could tell it was starting to thicken slightly at this point, so l grabbed the coat hanger.

(here's a pic of how it goes in, just pretend there is soap in the mould!)

Because it was only my first time, l wasn't sure which way to swirl with the hanger, should it be from side to side, or up and down? l decided on mostly up and down, and zig zagged in a /\/\/\/\ pattern from one edge of the mould to the other. l then added in ONE 'side to side' 'Z' movement just in case, and pulled the coat hanger out. Overall l didn't swirl too much at all, l'm no expert, but l figured the more l fiddled around with it, the more l would be blending the two colours, and l wanted them to be quite distinct, not a muddy third colour.

Then l put the soap to bed as per usual, and cut it this morning. The anticipation!

Overall l was really happy with how it turned out. My favourite bar is in the second row on the right hand side ;-)

Next time l think l will do the layers a little thinner, and maybe try a few more of the up and down zig zags, it would also be fun to introduce a third colour, but l will need to work on keeping my soap mix thin consistently first!

On a different soap note: Here are Gabbie's other soaps:

So so pretty!


Thank you for sharing your tutorial, Gabbie. We always appreciate the time it takes for you to put it together and the knowledge you share with us all.


Peace Thyme said...

Did that turn out beautiful or what? Just wonderful. I never thought of doing a swirl when the soap mix was so thin. I will have to try that in green for some Christmas soaps with apple peel scent. Thanks for those pictures! Lovely!

Cibaria Soap Supply said...

Your Soaps are Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your techniques with us!

Ruth said...

I've always wondered about this technique. Thanks for the very clear explanation. I'm going to have to try this out!

Ellia C. Naturals said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I am still a swirl newbie and often get frustrated because, I too, tend to get a very thick trace. I will definitely give this a whirl!

Anonymous said...

It was fun watching Gabbie swirl beautifully via your blog, Jo!

Erin Napier said...

Gorgeous swirls! I've tried swirling with a coathanger, but my swirls didn't look as pretty as these. Thanks for sharing. x

Катерина said...

very interesting! thanks!
I'll try ... may finally get to make a beautiful swirl 8))

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I have to try that out. The soaps look great!

Michelle said...

Very cool! I like the fancy affect it creates. Your so turned out pretty.

Amy W said...

You've just unlocked the mystery of Sharon's beautiful soaps at Platypus Dreams. I've been wracking my brain to figure out how she does it. That's it! :)

Anonymous said...

Well worth tutorial, very informative.

Erin said...

Your soap turned out absolutely beautiful!!! What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing! I know what I'll be doing tomorrow... :)

Maru said...

Very original. If I were you would begin to think about a company or Hanger factory. Greetings and congratulations.

Unknown said...

coat hanger had a different idea and it would not budge. I would have really messed up the dry wall if I tried to take it down.