Friday, January 22, 2016

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge - Circling Taiwan Swirl

I thought it would be fun to participate in the Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Club for January.    I found the technique for this month, the Circling Taiwan Swirl, to be just that, fun....and challenging, too!

In starting,  I first wanted to make a decision about scent.  Since the soap batter would need to remain fluid for as long as possible, I wanted to be sure to use a fragrance that wouldn't accelerate trace.  Based on what I had on hand, I decided to use lavender essential oil.  That would be a safe choice!

The next step was to create dividers that would provide four needed spaces for the pour.  (Since making these by hand, I've decided that purchasing a set would be a great investment!)  I used thin cardboard, measured and cut to the right lengths.  I wrapped the pieces that would be in contact with the soap with Glad Press'n Seal wrap that I found in the back of a kitchen drawer.  I'm not sure if they even make this product any longer, but it worked like a charm!

After getting my divider system ready, next was to choose colors that would help define the design.  White, as a background for darker colors, always creates a nice contrast, so I decided to go with a combination of pearly white mica and titanium dioxide.  I also wanted colors that would be complementary to the scent I was using or, at least, wouldn't oppose it.  Two shades of purple with deep pink would do the trick!

Making progress, I prepared my oils and lye solution, then gathered everything together.  ( For safety, I always leave my lye solution container in the sink until it is cooled and ready to add to the oils.  It's close by, but not in the photo below).

At this point, taking time for photography wasn't an option.  However, there was time for breath-holding as I added fragrance and blended my colors!  Even using lavender essential oil and feeling confident that it wouldn't accelerate trace, I stressed a little about getting the soap batter to the point where it wasn't too thick or too thin.  Isn't that the challenge with just about every batch??  In the end, it worked out.  By the time I was pouring the last of the soap, it was starting to thicken up, but not too badly.  I used a 1/8"  diameter dowel stick to accomplish the Circling Taiwan Swirl technique.

Here is an in the mold photo. 

I sprayed the top with 91% strength rubbing alcohol.  David Fisher, soap guru from says that from his experience, soap made with lavender essential oil can tend to cause ash.   Even after spraying a few  times with rubbing alcohol, then covering for 24 hours, I found this to be true.

I also poured at cooler temperatures (around 85 degrees), which may also contribute to ash forming.  If anyone has experience with ash as a result of either fragrance or low pouring temperatures, please feel free to share in the comments section at the end of this post.  I'd be interested to hear about your experience!

I cut the soap log vertically into three 2 1/4 inch sections, then cut each section horizontally to reveal the design.  The photo below was taken shortly after cutting. The soap was quite soft at this point and had to be handled with care.

Here is the final result after curing and a little clean-up.

Lavish Lavender
I'm happy with how it turned out!  There are so many beautiful Circling Taiwan Swirl challenge entries this month.  Good luck to all!

~ Debbie