Coming off of the exciting, exhausting whirlwind that characterized my first experience with “holiday fair retail season,” I resolved to put the breaks on in January, step back, and reevaluate how this whole soap-y endeavor fit into life. But I can’t stay away for long – tweaking products is a happily creative outlet for me. When I saw Magdoline’s post on the Addicted to Soap blogspot (“Funnel Swirls Tutorial” credited to Lomond Soap), I immediately saw an application for my Grapefruit Star Anise soap.
To the right you’ll see my initial batch of the Grapefruit Star Anise, made in fall 2013. I felt good about the result as this soap represented a series of “firsts” for me: my first time designing a completely original recipe, first time using turmeric as a natural colorant, first time attempting a subtle swirl technique, etc.
In subsequent batches, I’ve modified a few ingredients but my color combining was an afterthought: sometimes I’d like the result, other times, eh, not so exciting. So, Addicted to Soap’s post came along at the right time. Redemption!
As per Magdoline’s instructions, my intern Dalila and I prepped a log mold (5 lb.) with freezer paper, then secured a lightweight frame (fashioned from chopsticks, rubber bands and tape) across the top opening to support the funnel.
…after which we made the recipe for my Grapefruit Star Anise soap (you can make your favorite recipe), adding the essential oils at thin trace.
We divided the batch: 4 cups of base soap for coloring, 6 cups left naturally hued.
I use only natural coloring, and in this case decided to add turmeric powder to traced soap (rather than using an infused oil). To avoid clumping, I hand-stirred 2.5 teaspoons of turmeric into about a half cup of base to thoroughly mix before briefly stick blending the color into the remaining 4 cups of base. I wanted to avoid too much stick blending, which could over-thicken raw soap, preventing easy travel through the funnel spout.
Here’s what the two hues looked like before we began the funneling process – btw, have your thin trace, raw soap in easy pour containers (I replenished the lighter color in the smaller measuring cup from the mixing bowl as needed):
Next, alternate pouring the colors through the funnel:
Finally, I had to lift the funnel out of the soap to continue pouring. Perhaps leaving the funnel submerged would have added a distinctive design – fun to play with next time – but I opted to see the baseline look on this first go round.
These next two photos show a clearer look at the arrangement of the chopstick frame that we used to hold the funnel in place:
After removing the frame, I poured the last of the raw soap without using the funnel, centering the color as well as I could. Pretty cool looking at this point:
Here’s how the soap looks after the initial 24-hour, wrapped, cured-in-the-mold period (the bit of soda ash on top was easily wiped off with a clean, damp cloth before proceeding)…
…then cut into bars with a wavy soap cutter. I’ve placed them more or less in the same order as when they were in a log so you can see how the design “sliced” out:
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a “swirl” technique – looks more like banded, concentric circles to me – I really like how all of the bars are unique, yet have a consistency of design. Next time I’ll alternate the colors more frequently to see if I’d prefer a “stripe-y” look over a “banded” look.
(NOTE: This variety is sold-out/not in my current product rotation. To hear updates on this and other product availability, please contact me or sign-up for my monthly(-ish) newsletter for updates!)