Monday, May 18, 2009

In the Seattle Rain, Nature Inspires.

Lately I've been trying to formulate soaps that have been inspired by the colours of nature. Having a lot of free time on my hands at my 9-5 job (rain means no one is buying house paint), I've been stocking aisles and staring out the windows at the downpour. I am fascinated by how vibrant and lush the trees look in a downpour in the middle of the day - against a gloomy backdrop, those trees just looked amazing. Since I conveniently work at a paint store by day (mad soapstress by night!), I began pulling out colour chips to match what I was seeing, and I brought them home and started using my colour matching skills to tint up soap, rather than paint.

The first experiment gave me these:


I love them! In person, people are wowing over the colours. The scent is unisex and quite fresh - I used linden, grass, and tomato leaf, of all things, and just a tiny couple of driplets of mahogany - to give it that woody scent. Mmmmmmm! It smells so wonderful!

I then tried to duplicate the colours in the purple plum trees. With the first layer, I decided to try out an oil-based colourant for a change, to see if it was more vibrant. However, I hadn't mixed it well enough and there were itty-bitty globules in there - not too distracting to most eyes, but they were to mine! To hide them, I mixed in some pearl mica. Ooooh. The next layer I left untinted, but used only pearl mica. OOOOooooOOOH! To the final layer, I mixed the colorant in properly to the fragrance oils first - like I should have done in the first place to avoid those droplets. Well, I'd been going for black, as a contrast to the purple and white. But then I mixed in a little pearl mica. OOOOOOoooOOOOOooooOOOH! Neat! It looked like some kind of melted alloy before I poured it into the soap base. When I did pour it all in, the "black" turned out to be more of a deep, dark purple - which is just as good, considering the colour combos. The scents I used in this one were plum, blackberry, and a touch of mahogany again. Holy cow. It smells DELICIOUS and spicy!

The coolest part about this soap, I think, is how it cured down - it looks like marble:

Dahlink, you look marbleish!

Okay. Moving on and away from the bad puns...

The final one I tried (so far) is one I call Seaberry Jellyfish. I have two of the same style rounded molds, one smaller than the other. Into the small one, I poured a mix of clear glycerin, tinted pink, drizzled with opaque glycerin, also tinted pink. These were both scented with Strawberry and Raspberry. Thing is, I think I used too much opaque - next time I do this one, I want it to look a little more marbled. Once this small, pink loaf cured, I melted down some more clear glycerin and tinted it with about 6oz of FD & C blue, and scented it with Ocean Rain and Blueberry. I poured a little of it into the larger mold, then let it set up for a little under an hour. Then I got impatient and threw it in the freezer for a few minutes. When I pulled it out, I worried about it being too solid - I didn't want there to be a noticeable "seam" when I poured the rest of the soap around it. It was still slightly smooshy in the middle, and I presed my knuckles into it, trying to push in a little dent for the rounded top of the smaller loaf - to prevent it from moving around. What ultimately happened was that my knuckles made little mini-dents in the soap. When I pressed my pink loaf gently into the blue "ditch" I made (all generously sprayed with rubbing alcohol - never forget the alcohol!), after I'd filled in the top and sides with the remaining electric blue mixture, it didn't get into those little dents my knuckles had made. In the final product, you can see in some of the jellyfish have a little blue "bubble" - I think it looks much cooler that way!

I crinkle cut them to artistically symbolise the jellyfish legs. I think they're kinda cute!:

Other nature/colour ideas I'm working on are Hummingbird, Alpenglow, Paua Shell, Warm Fuzzy Kitten, and Midnight Moon.

But I also love making soaps based on sweets - those are probably still my favourite!

Remember to look everywhere for inspiration!

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