Soap Challenge Club – Dandelion Zebra Swirl

This months’s challenge, hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks, is the Dandelion Zebra swirl.  And the prize, generously provided by Bramble Berry® Soap Making Supplies, is a 5-quart glass mixing bowl with lid, plus 4-piece silicone tool set!

The Dandelion Zebra Swirl is a variation of the tiger stripe swirl, which I’ve done before and liked.  Instead of stripes throughout the soap, though, they appear only in one part of the soap.  Since December is fast approaching, creating a holiday-themed soap seemed a natural choice for the challenge.  So I chose to make a two-tone green soap with red and white stripes, and to scent it with pine needle, black spruce, and eucalyptus essential oils, with a titch of floral lavandin.  Smells so fresh and clean, like being in an evergreen forest on a snowy winter’s day!

ChristmasCandyET

Overall, I’m pleased with the soap.  It would have been better if the two shades of green were a little more distinct, but the stripes show up really well.  And there’s a little bit of a red and white swirl on top of the soap, too, just to tie it all together.

As for names, it’s a tossup between Christmas Candy, Santa’s Stockings, or Stocking Stuffer.  Or…??

This challenge was a lot of fun, and this swirl will definitely find its way into future soaps. Thanks, Amy, for hosting the challenge. 🙂

Til next post, stay clean my friends!

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I’ll Take It!

Rainbow Sherbet WMThe Mantra Swirl soap challenge is over — and I came in third!  Considering that I expected to win nothing at all, this is a very pleasant surprise.  This means my entry in the next challenge is free.  Like I said, I’ll take it!

My congrats to the winner, Noa Swanee Bonny (from France) and to Mariella Belknap, who took second place.  Both soaps were gorgeous.

And to those of you who voted for me, thank you so much!  Glad you liked my Rainbow Sherbet mantra swirl.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Give up!  No, not really.  Well, maybe sometimes.  But not on this.

You see, I’ve been participating in Amy Warden’s soap challenges (she’s the soapmaker at Great Cakes Soapworks).  A few months ago, she challenged us with several new techniques.  They were so popular she’s launched a new series of challenges, this time with a significant prize for the winner of each challenge.  But that’s another story.

Anyway, one of the earlier challenges was to create a soap using the Leopard Spot technique.  If it was done correctly, the cut bars would reveal colorful spots with smaller spots of a contrasting color at their centers.  You know, like the spots on a leopard’s fur (naturally).  And some truly amazing soaps were submitted for the challenge.  Alas, mine was not one of them.  In fact, it was such an epic fail I didn’t even submit it!

My idea was to create a soap inspired by poppy flowers:  a beautiful red-orange “spot” with a black center.  I planned that soap so carefully, even experimenting with combinations of micas and oxides to get a nice red-orange.  The bottom third of the soap was to be green (the “field”), with a soft brown mica line separating it from the pale yellow soap above (the “sunshine”).  The poppies were to be scattered throughout the yellow portion.  And the top of the soap would be sprinkled with — what else? — poppy seeds.  But something went terribly wrong in spite of my careful planning.  I think I resized the recipe for a different mold than the one I actually used, because the soap was only half as tall as it should have been.  And the poppies, instead of being spots, were long thin lines.   So I reworked my recipe on my Soapmaker 3 software, printed it out, and back to the workshop I went.

Only something went wrong.  Again.  Did I print out a copy of the first recipe by mistake?  Did I resize it for the wrong mold again?  Am I crazy?  Because the second batch turned out exactly the same:  half as tall as it should be.  And even though I had increased the amount of red-orange batter for the poppies, I still ended up with thin lines.  Damn!  So I fumed about it for a week or more, and had more or less decided to give up gracefully.

But here’s the thing:  I hate to admit defeat.  There’s a stubborn streak in me, inherited from my Dad’s side of the family, no doubt.  So about a month later, I reworked my recipe (including a change from starlight green mica to golden green), printed it, and then double-checked it for accuracy (duh).  And this time – success!  It’s the correct size, and there are actually some reddish spots with black centers.  There are still some thin lines, too – but hey – there are spots!  And the green is much prettier.

So without further ado, I give you Bad Poppies and Good Poppies!

FieldComps - Etsy

And here’s a better look at Good Poppies, which has now been renamed Field of Dreams.   It’s still far from perfect, but it’s such a huge improvement that I can’t help but be happy.  The criss-cross pattern on top makes me smile, too.  And it will be available in my Etsy shop at the end of July.

Field1 - Etsy

Have any of you ever tried three (or more) times to get a batch of soap right?  I’d love to hear your stories!  After all, misery loves company, right?