Location Soap Challenge: I-70’s Point of Geological Interest (PoGI)

Been awhile since I’ve succumbed to the siren song of Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club. Sometimes I MUST STEP AWAY from the email notification – not because they aren’t intriguing (they are!) or because I don’t want to learn more (I do!), but because these challenges are like the crack cocaine* of soaping – once hooked, I end up dropping EVERYTHING to participate. Cooking? NO! Sleeping? NEGATORY! Bathing? …er…well I do shower (I make soap, for chrissakes.)


April’s soap challenge theme is Location, requiring participants to enter a soap design that reflects something special about where they’re from or presently living. Amy, a Kansas native, appropriately chose a Wizard of Oz-themed soap as an example. Her reasoning is that once people hear she’s from Kansas, they ask if she’s “seen Dorothy” (Amy seems the patient sort).

I live in Colorado, transplanted decades ago from the East coast. Once people hear that I live here, they’re curious about…legal pot. Though tempting to consider marijuana concepts – hemp oil soap! – frankly, scent could be problematic.

Besides, our geology holds more visual possibilities. We have an especially curious rock-cut landmark near Morrison, Colorado known as Dinosaur Ridge, and its Northern neighbor along the same hogback, known as the I-70 Point of Geological Interest (PoGI).

Fun facts: The PoGI formed from flood sediment deposited during the Late Jurassic Epoch (140 – 135 million years ago) when a large part of the West was a semiarid plain with a semitropical climate. This sediment was composed of grey, green and maroon claystone, gravels, and sandstone in a limestone bed. While this formation extends into many states, it was first discovered and identified in Morrison, Colorado, and is broadly known as the Morrison Formation. It is a truly mind-boggling slice of geology.

PoGI sign

When I first arrived in Colorado from NYC, The “I-70 Point of Geological Interest” struck me as a hilarious name. Can't explain why. Something about those solemn blue signs announcing the approach, as if startling this ancient site might spook it and cause it to flee. Or perhaps because NYC, despite it’s many wondrous features, does not seem to have geological points of interest with noteworthy signage.



Fascinated by the rock layer variations of the **I-70 Point of Geological Interest, I chose to do an abstract interpretation plus try out new techniques.



My intentions, beyond homage to this oddly striking place, were threefold:

First:  To use Indigo powder in the lye phase to produce a natural blue truer to color. As natural soap makers know, coaxing a decent blue from Indigo can be frustrating – the standard adding at trace usually results in a color closer to grey (meh).

Second: My first attempt at CPOP-ing (Cold Process, Oven Processing) the soap to force a complete gel phase. This involves preheating the oven to a low temperature, placing filled soap mold(s) inside and closing the door, allowing the soap to “cook” for an hour before turning off the oven and leaving it overnight. This method is known for producing more vivid and somewhat translucent natural colors.

Third – To provide a reason to carve my first stamp for a soap project (like I needed an excuse)!

CPOP 2lb challenge

Using a lined, 2-lb loaf mold, the project was done in two stages. The first stage was constructing the geological strata: earthier tones of safflower, turmeric, Moroccan red clay, cocoa, and activated charcoal, sprinkled through with cp soap chip embeds, using lighter base oils. Lighter oils help the naturally colored + uncolored sections avoid becoming overly yellowed or green – especially important when I did the second stage, involving the indigo.

I chose pure essential oils of fir needle and sage to reflect local, native foliage. Added to the mix was pure lavender essential oil (a drought-tolerant plant that grows readily in our western landscaped yard) plus dandelion leaf, which also (somewhat regrettably) thrives here.

Tilting the mold at a 45 degree angle, I alternated pouring medium-trace layers of colored raw soap, decidedly tricky. Allowing the soap to rest/thicken, I mixed a second, smaller batch for the blue sky using the same percentages of the lighter base oils. The indigo was then added at the lye phase, then strained into the oils. Before adding the Indigo soap layer to the top of the strata, I sculpted a “peak” a bit off-center, as shown in the photo, above right.

Indigo soap

The CPOP (Cold Porcess Oven Process) was…interesting. In the above photo, the far left heart is a sample of lye stage, indigo soap CPOP’d in a silicon mold – compare this to the middle soap, also from a silicon mold but cured the usual way (wrapped in towels, not initially cured in a pre-heated oven).

I belatedly found out that CPOP in a ***silicon mold isn’t ideal as the soap tends to overheat and bubble – hence those puffy, sponge-y looking patterns in the L soap. But the color is awesome. Actually the middle color is pretty cool, too, though a bit less robin’s egg-y in color (alas – doesn’t show up well in the photo). As a basis of comparison, the far R soap’s center layer shows indigo that was added at trace instead of at the lye stage – notice how grey it appears.

Dino footprints


As for the PoGI’s neighbor, Dinosaur Ridge – they’re a package deal, sharing the same hogback formation and all. Dinosaur Ridge is known for its visible dinosaur bones embedded in the rocks, as well as tracks – offering a perfect excuse to try carving a stamp. There it is to the R, that cute little footprint (!)




Had I the presence of mind, I could have carved a few tiny dino bones out of scrap soap, then embedded THEM in the bars for a paleontology dig bathing experience!  Whoa Nellie! Excuse me while I sit back and ponder that one. Not like it wouldn’t be incredibly TIME-consuming, but has that stopped me before? (No, it has not.)

But I digress – how DID this soap with the over-the-top-name and the multiple intentions turn out?

PoGI is pretty cool. The sky looks pale in the photo (it’s actually the color of the far L heart, center photo, above) but the dino tracks are easy to spot and I love the “movement” of the strata layers. Happily, the scent smells heavenly – the fir needle/sage/lavender turned out to be an awesome combo.






Thank you, gentle reader, for staying thus far – it’s a longer post but there was just such fascinating stuff going on with this project! Hopefully, you learned something new to make it worth the read. {BWAHAHAHAHA}

BTW – I DO recommend that you visit the I-70 Point of Geological Interest. It’s really pretty awesome. Kids love it, too.

What do you think? Leave a comment below. And if you did the Location Challenge, let me know what your soap entry was.

Thanks again to Amy Warden for heading up yet another intriguing soap challenge that pushed me in all the right ways. Now I really must go eat something. And get to bed. And (eventually) get a shower. <3 

*(I often buy up the tutorials I’ve missed. They’re that good.)

**(Sometimes referred to as the Geological Point of Interest. Colorado isn’t always consistent with names, apparently)

***Not a problem with wooden molds w/freezer paper linings. Go figure.

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