Not just a hobby, it's a way of Life

Posts tagged ‘soap-making’

I’m back – again

Well, let’s see what I said last time and what needs updates.  I feel like I have been on a constant run since, um, April?  March?

The new spring craft show I tried was a bust. They have a very well attended fall show, but this was the first spring show. I heard varying reports of other things going on in the town, so that may have contributed to the low turnout. Then we didn’t have a great location, with many people not realizing there were booths at our end of the hallway. So, I’ll stick with smaller shows in smaller towns and the ever-popular Etsy.

I actually had a small show at a new location and did really well there.  I had found out about it late, and they were already full, but took my contact information.  Five days before the show, they called to say they had a cancellation, and I was in if I wanted.  I had prepped for a show at Ramblin’s work a couple of weeks after that, so I jumped on it. Did really well.  Got a call from the local health food store needing a restock on things. Then we had our annual spinning/knitting/sock-cranking/weaving/do-whatever-makes-you-happy retreat in May, and I sold yarn and soapy things there.  The next week was the show at Ramblin’s work, and it went phenomenally well.  All the while, I worked late into the evenings to make more lotions, scrubs, and bath bombs for the next event.  Soap has to cure for 4-6 weeks, so I just hoped I didn’t run out.  It was close.

The rest of May was spent winding up my new-to-me Literature class.  So much relief to post the grades.  Then, the first weekend in June, we did something fun!  Ragged and Cynical had invited us to go along with them to the Walker Stalker Con in Nashville.  We’re casual fans of the show.  This means none of us spent $100 for photos or $50 for autographs and selfies.  It was cool to see the stars of the show, albeit from varying distances.

In vacationing news, we went on a bus tour to New Orleans in mid-June and brought Ramblin’s parents along. I had been to New Orleans before and really enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so I was eager for them to see what an interesting city it was. I’m not sure if it was just the bus-tour aspect, but it wasn’t as fantastic as the first time I went. I think we would have enjoyed it more on our own schedule, and Ramblin is game to go back one day.

The local yarn crawl just wrapped up, and I was very pleased with the result. My LYS (local yarn shop for the non-yarny folks reading) had my yarns and soap+soap-related products during the crawl, and I only brought home a tiny bitof yarn, and a little over half of the soap products.  Considering I took a lot of stuff, that’s pretty good.

Yarn and soap at the 2017 Illiana Yarn Crawl at Atkinson Farm Yarns

Guessing what colors will be popular is really like playing a game of whack-a-mole.  Things I thought would sell – didn’t; things I thought might not go – did.  My LYS owner said she has quit trying to guess and just gets a wide selection of colors.  A fun thing I did both last year and this year was make a soap to match the special yarn crawl yarn.

Yarn Crawl shawl designed by Jane Campbell and matching soap made by yours truly

I hit my reading challenge for the year.  It was a modest 24 books, since I hadn’t read anything close to that in years.  Last year I read nine (sheesh!) and in 2015 I read 13, 14 in 2014 (appropriate!), 13 in 2013 (appropriate again!), and 23 in 2012.  In 2012, I was finishing my master’s degree and starting the graduate certificate, so I’m sure none of those were fun.  But, thanks to the Goodreads stats (oh how I do love numbers!), I know that the best year for pages read had been 2014 with 10133 pages (thanks, A Song of Ice and Fire series) compared to only one less book in 2013 for a total of 5,486 pages.  This year, I’m at 10,333 pages read so far.  I’m currently actively reading two books (you can keep up with that in the right hand column, should you so desire – yeah, I know it says four, but one was just opened on the Kindle and the other may never get finished)  and would love to hit 50 books by year’s end.  I mostly read on devices, but I do have the analog Dark Tower series.  Maybe after I finish with Odd Thomas.

I have a new smartphone, thanks to Amazon Prime Phones, Prime Day, and Tracfone BYOP.  Yes, I love technology, but I’m cheap.  The phone I had before was smart-ish, but had so little memory it couldn’t do – well, anything.  So now, I should be able to accomplish all kinds of things.  Or so I tell myself.

It’s been a slow summer, student-wise.  I had eight, but that’s dropped to five, and really only three are dedicated.  That should change this fall when I’m theoretically going to be teaching Comp I online to 75 high school students.  So, I’m enjoying the downtime right now.  I have big dyeing plans for the LYS as the owner and I have cooked up some really fun things.  Things like a shop colorway – you heard it hear first.

And that’s been my spring/summer so far.  Maybe I’ll download the WP app and make updating more convenient to do.

Soap Challenge Club – Clyde Slide Challenge

The first rule of Soap Challenge Club is . . . no wait, wrong club.

I’ve been watching the monthly challenges on Great Cakes Soapworks.  Each month there is a different theme or soap-making technique, and soapmakers from around the world enter and compete to be chosen as the winner.  I thought that one of these times, just for fun, I should try the technique of the month.  Not to compete; I’m not ready for that.

Well, the September challenge rolled around, and the challenge was to make a soap using the Clyde Slide, a technique used by the awesome soapmaker Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap.  Clyde has wonderful videos on YouTube.  Go watch them.  There’s something soothing about his voice.  He’s like the Bob Ross of Soap.

Anyway, before I even watched a single video of his, I found myself registering for the challenge.  What?!

There are seriously talented people making breathtaking soaps, and while I’m proud of the soaps I make, the aesthetic is not my main focus.  I want them to make skin feel good and smell great.  I play around with color, but it’s all a happy accident.  This is Soap with Intention.

The mark of the Clyde Slide is beautiful featherings of color in the soap.  So, Amy, she of Great Cakes Soapworks, said the key was to have a very light trace (how thick the soap is) for a successful Clyde Slide.   There are several factors that contribute to this, so I decided to try all of them.

  1. I used a very slow-to-trace recipe.  This is accomplished by using ingredients, like canola oil or sunflower oil, that slow down how quickly the soap thickens when mixed.  I swapped out olive oil for canola oil in my recipe.
  2. I used a well-behaving scent – Sweet Orange essential oil.  The scent you use can have a huge effect on how quickly the soap thickens.  Some fragrance oils will make the soap ‘seize’ or set up quickly.  Others, like citrus essential oils, keep the soap thin.
  3. I soaped cooler.  When you mix lye with water, there is an incredibly powerful exothermic reaction.  I’ve never checked it right after mixing, but I know within a short time, it registered 170 degrees.  The lye water needs to cool down, as do the oils after you heat them to get them all to a liquid state.  For this recipe, I let them both cool to about 100 degrees.

To make the swirls, I used these colors, plus added a little white (titanium dioxide) to the base.

Clyde Slide colors

I divided out the four colors, mixed the white into the main batch, then poured about half of the color of yellow, orange, pink, and purple in that order along one handle side of the pot, one on top of the other, added some reserve white, then poured the remainder of rest of the colors one at a time through the same order.  I then poured, so that the color was at one side, lengthwise in the mold, with a few passes.

How did it work?  A little too well.

Clyde Slide Take 1

Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that soap.  It’s pretty cool, actually.  But there is way too much movement and definitely no feathers.

So, back to the drawing board.  Things I did different:

  1. I used my usual recipe with olive oil.
  2. In addition to the Sweet Orange, I added it some Jasmine and Sandalwood fragrance oils.  Florals are infamous for speeding up trace, and I needed a little thicker batter to behave better.
  3. I soaped at about 105-110 of lye and oils.

Clyde Slide Take 2

Much better!  See those feathers?  Now, it was probably still a little too thin, even with the adjustments.  But this is a technique I will definitely play around with more in the future.