In-the-Pot Swirls

I always love to take part in the Soap Challenge Club put on by Amy of Great Cakes Soapworks. I’ve missed a few months this summer, but now that school’s back in swing, so am I! And this month’s challenge was one that I’ve actually done before: in-the pot swirls. Woohoo! (If you’re interested, here’s an Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap with a simple single-color in-the-pot swirl that I do quite frequently.) I love to learn new techniques, but it was a lot of fun pushing myself to do more with something I’ve already practiced a lot.

Thanks to this club and the Bramble Berry Soap Crafting Club, I’ve finally figured out that I need to use as many familiar variables as possible when trying something new. (I know, I know. It’s not rocket science.) With that in mind, I used a fragrance that I’m familiar with, my typical 8-oil recipe with goat milk added to the oils, and soaped at around 90 degrees. To make this a challenge for myself, I decided to use more colors than I’ve ever done with this technique, a total of 6: pink, orange, yellow, light aqua blue, dark blue, and purple. To achieve the colors I wanted, I blended lots of micas, oxides, and neons.

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Nearly a rainbow!

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Now as soap! I still had to tweak that orange a bit. It was just too brown, so I added a bit of red and yellow and pink. I had no idea how it would actually turn out in the end!

And along with using more colors, I did a double pot swirl. Just keep reading if you’re confused! 🙂

As I was planning it out, I decided it would be fun to try 2 separate in-the-pot swirls layered into the same soap to create a cool sunset effect. I split up the blues into 2 larger bowls to be the “main” or “base” colors. Into the lighter blue, I poured yellow, orange, and pink, then swirled around the pot in a spiral motion very lightly.

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I left lots of yellow close to the top so that it would be poured closest to the bottom of the mold.

My soap was at a medium trace when I poured that first pot into the bottom of my mold. I was hoping for a sunset look with lots of bright yellow streaks across the “sky.”

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The colored stripes were so beautiful that I hated to cover them up with the second layer of swirls!

Into the darker blue pot, I poured the remainder of the orange and pink soaps along with some purple. I was hoping to mimic the ombre effect of the night sky, moving from the lighter blue on the horizon into the darker blue above, while keeping the pink and orange swirls throughout the soap. I also added just a touch of yellow to the dark blue pot. By the time I got to the last few in-the-pot pours, the soap was really beginning to set up. I swirled it together lightly again, this time folding some of the dark blue soap from the bottom to the top of the pot.

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I left lots of pink on top to blend into the layer already poured into the mold, leaving lots of dark blue on the bottom to be poured last.

I poured this second pot over the first layer of soap in a back and forth motion across the length of my mold. I was excited to see many streaks of color rather than a muddy mess! And the dark blue finished out the night sky just as I’d planned!

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Does it remind you of the night sky???

I finished the soap off by dotting the top with more pink, purple, orange and a touch of yellow, lightly swirling it and adding some glitter. (Pixie Dust was the fragrance I used, and it would be sacrilege NOT to include some glitter!!!)

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The raw soap was really gorgeous!

Into the warm oven it went to ensure gel phase, a.k.a. bright colors.

It was thrilling to cut into this soap the next day!

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The first glimpse!

All of the colors are distinct yet well-incorporated throughout each bar, and the yellow really pops!

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I love the bright yellow, orange and pink swirls. Lots of contrast, while the top blue and purple blend well to create the sky effect I was going for.

The light aqua blue color morphed slightly into a blue-gray, and the orange turned reddish, and I love the results. I keep going back and forth about whether this reminds me of a crazy bright sunrise or a wild sunset, so I’m calling it Sunrise Sunset! It seems a bit reminiscent of Van Gogh, too. No?

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Every bar is completely unique, as expected with an in-the-pot swirl.

This soap was SO. MUCH. FUN. to create! It took me a while (translation: nearly 3 hours) to plan and make it, but it was entirely satisfying to complete this one. Worth every minute.

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Sunrise Sunset Soap made with goat milk

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Check out this cool sun spot! Only two bars got this awesome sun!

I’ll most certainly be playing around more with in-the-pot swirls very soon. I’ve dreamed up all sorts of ways to use an ITP swirl in conjunction with lots and lots of other techniques that I’ve learned through the club! Now to find the time to actually make all of my ideas…

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August Soap Crafting Club: Linear Swirl with Oxides

It’s the second month of Bramble Berry’s summer Soap Crafting Club, and boy, was this soap fun!!! I know. I say that pretty much every time I make soap. But it was seriously FUN this month! (If you haven’t picked up a copy of Anne-Marie Faiola’s book Soap Crafting, I highly, highly recommend it.)

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August kit contents: premixed base oils, sweet almond oil, White Tea & Ginger fragrance oil, and 4 oxide colors. We’ll be using the same 9-bar birchwood mold and more lye from the July shipment.

Once again, all of the extra information and videos available to the club members online was invaluable. I watched the video a few times and read through posts from other members who had already made the soap. Feeling pretty comfortable with it, I dove right in.

I began by mixing together the lye solution and heating the oils. Next, I mixed each of the oxides into the sweet almond oil and prepped my work space. When my lye and oils were at about 110 degrees, I blended to emulsify them then whisked in White Tea & Ginger fragrance oil. I used my handy dandy long pour-spout measuring cups to divide out the soap into 4 parts and mix in the colors as outlined in the recipe. In my haste to get the soap poured into the mold carefully, I forgot to have my hubby take pictures of the process! But rest assured, I followed the instructions closely and made lots of long s-curves, alternating my 4 colors in a side-by-side pattern. As I neared the last few pours, I tried to make sure that each colored stripe was visible and distinct so that the final swirling would reveal all of those beautiful colors.

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The raw soap before swirling

And I did get a picture of the pouring aftermath!

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Not as messy as I’ve been in the past, but certainly not super clean!

This technique called for the linear swirl, which I’ve done before and referred to as the Taiwan Swirl. (The top of the Tie-Dye soap from this club was also a linear swirl on top.) The final result of this technique is absolutely stunning every single time. The difference with this particular soap is the multiple pours of each color throughout the entire body of the soap. There will be tons and tons of visual interest for the life of this soap, each use revealing a new pattern.

I began by inserting a skewer to the bottom of the mold and dragging it back and forth in a vertical motion across the horizontal stripes.

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The first swirls are already revealing lovely feathering.

Next, I drug across the new vertical stripes in a horizontal motion.

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Now it’s even more beautiful!

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All the swirling complete and dividers in place. It’ll be interesting to see the drag marks down the sides of each bar created by the dividers.

Isn’t this just GORGEOUS!?!? It looks just like the versions in the book and online that I’ve seen. I’m amazed that I could recreate it!

After a few days, the soap slid right out of the silicone liner. I flipped it over, and look!

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Even the bottom of this soap has tons of visual interest!

I had to wrestle it out of the dividers more than last time, but it still came out cleanly. Every bar is beautiful.

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After a week of curing, the colors have muted a bit, especially the gray. But the fine feathering is still quite visible. (Please forgive the messy edges and soda ash. I’ll clean these up a bit after they’ve had proper time to harden.)

The White Tea & Ginger fragrance is bright and clean, and it was extremely workable. This will be a fun and refreshing bar of soap to use.

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The drag marks left from the dividers is a cool effect around each side!

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Another view of the drag marks and feathery details of this White Tea & Ginger Linear Swirl Soap.

These experiences along with the monthly Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club have been absolutely invaluable to me as a soap maker. With each new batch and new technique, I learn more and more about workable textures and how temperatures, additives and colors affect soap.  Oh, how far I’ve come since those first few batches!

Only one more month left in the Summer Soap Crafting Club. Drat. I’m wishing this would just keep going and going! But I’m looking forward, as usual, to what will arrive in a few weeks on my doorstep!