Friday, July 27, 2012

Gradient Soap Tutorial - Emily Shieh

This post was written by Emily Shieh, of Shieh Design Studio.  Thanks, Emily!!

There are many ways to do gradient layering style in cold process soap.  Some soapers are more into the exact measurements and step by step instruction.  Some soapers, like me, are the spontaneous ones, we soap by feeling and everything is approximated, well, except recipe calculation of course, that's what soap calculator is for.  Once you know the trick to gradient (or ombre) soap there are endless possibilities.  But today I'm only going to write about the basic one color gradient, I'll write the more advanced gradient- multiple colors and mixing layering- later, maybe, if you are interested.

There are two types of gradient you can achieve in cold process soap, one using non-bleeding colorants and the other using bleeding colorants.  Non-bleeding colorants are typically ultramarines, mica, oxide or FD&C lake dye.  Bleeding colorants are FD&C dye and lab colors.  You should choose your colorants depending on what visual effect you want to achieve.  Non-bleeding colorants will give you more of a landscape or rock formation layering.  Bleeding colorants will give you smoother definition between layering like they are blending together over time.
 There's no better choice, just different choices.  I'm going to show you both in this tutorial.

Step 1:
Chose a recipe that is not slow tracing, I found it easier to layer when the soap batter is not watery.  When soap is slow to trace you run into situation as upper layer penetrating into lower layer.  We want medium to heavy trace batter.  If your recipe is slow to trace, consider water discount or choose a fragrance that speeds up trace.  We don't want soap on a stick either!
Step 2:

I only need one more bucket other than the one I use to mix lye and oil/butter in.  I don't like cleaning, so the least amount of tools I can use, the better.  In one color gradient, I only need 2 containers and 2 spatulas.  Mix in your fragrance choice for the whole batch.  Now eyeball how many layers you want your soap to come out.  I usually do between 7 or 8 for one color gradient, the most I have gone is 11 layers.  Pour 1/7 of the batter into the free container, then pour 1/2 of what you just poured again.  Again, I do approximation, and don't worry, you won't mess it up in anyhow.  Think about it this way, let's say you are doing 7 layers in total including the top white layer, if your first layer is 1/7, you will need 1.5 times that to mix in your darkest color.  If you are confused, don't be, you will understand why later.
Step 3:

Add the heaviest amount of colorant you want your bottom most layer to be in the batter portion you just poured out.  In my case, I chose activated charcoal to show you the non-bleeding gradient soap.  Now pour 1/2 of the colored soap batter into the mold.  You might want to smack your mold on your tabletop to 'burp' your soap to avoid trapping air in the soap.  I didn't do it because I was lazy.  Now you should only have 1/2 of the colored batter left in your container #2.  Eyeball what you have left in container #2, now pour about the same amount of container #1 (the uncolored one) into container #2 and mix well.  You should now see the color in container #2 is much lighter than layer #1.  Pour 1/2 of container #2 into the mold for layer #2.
Step 4:
Now repeat that process of adding uncolored batter into colored batter to 'thin' down the color and pour 1/2 into the mold to layer up.
Tip: if your batter is too watery, by all means, use a spoon to scoop or pour on the back of your spatula down low to avoid penetrating into the layers you already finished.

Step 5:

Do this until you see only 1/7 of total batter left, pour that layer down and proceed to do the fancy peak top you want, the batter should be pretty heavy traced by now.  Or if you prefer, make a smooth top by running your spatula side edge across your mold cavity from one end to the other to level it out.

This is the other batch I did at the same time, but using lab color.  You can tell the layers are not as defined as the activated charcoal above.

Here are the cut photos:

In time, this blue soap should have the layer edges blend smooth together creating a less defined seam.

Here's a photo of the Mango Lava I made 3 weeks ago using lab color.  You can the bottom layers are not having defined edges anymore.  You can see the top 2 layers are still holding the defined layer line because I added titanium dioxide to achieve a whiter soap.

After you master the trick of my one bucket gradient soap, you can start thinking outside the box and apply it to more advanced projects like these:

Please visit Emily at her shop!
Thank you, Emily, for a fantastic tutorial!!  


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gradient Soap Tutorial Coming Next!

Emily, of Shieh Design Studio, has created a gradient soap tutorial for us and I am thrilled.  She makes beautiful soap and her clear soap molds make it easy for us to peek at her lovely layers.  I am waiting for one  photo and then it will be posted.

Here is one lil' picture to make you drool.  :P

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Black Magic

I just love the look of black soap.  Charcoal is so good for the skin and we love it in my household.  Here is some black magic for you.  Hope you enjoy....

 Product Body | Absolute Soap.  photo courtesy of Cocobong Soap.

Elegant Rose Boutique

Scum Soaps

Batty's Bath

Bathing In Luxury (soap)

The Original Soap Stand

Mojo Spa

  Enjoy your day, folks!!  xo Jo

Friday, July 6, 2012

Santa Barbara Soaps : A Soap Review

I had decided not to do soap reviews anymore. Since then, Julia, of Cocobong Soap, ended her soap review duties, I thought I should get back into it. I'm glad I did, because I am going back to what I love to do on my spare time. See, touch and use other handcrafted soaps. There is an deep-seeded pleasure I get from holding a bar made with care and thought from another person in this world. I am going back to the beginning when I was eager to begin my soap blog and got an overwhelming response with soaps from around the world...I loved giving back to the handmade community with reviews, which at the time, didn't exist on the internet.

Tracy Wells, of Santa Barbara Soaps, sent me bamboo charcoal when I was clean out of it for my Detox soap.  WOW...she sent it for no other reason than she had some and I didn’t.  What a generous gesture -- I was so impressed by the offering, I can't even tell you.  Two weeks later I received a soapy package from her, including Salted Lavender Salt Soap.  Now, as many of you know, I am not a huge lavender fan.  I mostly like lavender blends…yes, it has grown on me, just like patchouli has (in a blend, mind you).  But Tracy's soap was so pleasant smelling.

Tracy’s soap popped into the shower with me when I received the package from California.  The smell was mellow, not medicinal, and the color, a calming light lilac with a swirled top.  The soap was shaped like a cake instead of a straight up bar and the edges were smoothed when it arrived.  Because salt soap is typically hard and rigid, I found the smoothed edges to be much more gentle as the bar slid over my wet skin.  A stroke of genius, I say.

Bubbles, big and lovely, came to fruition quickly in the shower and then went to the tight, creamy bubbles that soothed my skin.  Washing with Salted Lavender was a delight and my skin felt so nice afterwards.  Sometimes with salt bars there is a slight tightening of the skin, which I did get with her bar, but I didn’t feel dry necessarily, just more firm, I guess, is the way to describe it.

I've tried a few others of Tracy's and they are quite nice.  Check out how pretty her Frisky Kitten Soap is.  So cute and feminine!

Photo of Frisky on my dining room table.....

At the moment, and perhaps even forever, Tracy is only doing wholesale, so this post may be a bit of a tease, but I leave you with photos and maybe in the future, she will sell to the public.  Her wholesale clients are currently in the Santa Barbara area, so if you live there you can find them.  Go to Tracy’s FB page for info or to browse some of the photos she has posted….
One of Tracy's Salt you get the idea. Photo: courtesy of Tracy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tippy Tops

I just love the look of soap toppings....the way people design their soap has always intrigued me and I am loving some of these raw soap tops.  Mianra.... well, wow...what can I say??

Come see!

Shieh Design Studio

Kendra Cote - Amathia Soapworks

Trish Broedner of  Sugar Monster Soaps

Mianra Soap - cake