LOVE Is LOVE: The maker process


Love is Love

In November 2020 I entered a soap technique challenge to produce a mosaic-styled soap. I had wanted to do some version of a rainbow soap for quite awhile, and in researching mosaics online, I realized that this would be a great opportunity to produce a multicolored design with a bit more originality than a typical rainbow bar.

Step 1: Colors

As this would be a labor-intensive, multi-step design, I got an early start, filling a couple different single-cavity molds with vibrant, cosmetic mica-hued colors, some with subtle variations. 

After allowing the colored soap to set up for a day, I released them from the molds and cut out circles with various-sized cookie cutters.

I belatedly discovered that soap from the deeper molds was preferable - it would provide more flexibility when it came time to plane (shave) down the soap face to reveal the design. Noted for future batches.

Practice Layout

Doing a "practice layout" of the soap pieces was time consuming, but defiantly worth it as the circles had to be "glued" to the bottom of the mold with melted cocoa butter (no worries - it absorbs into the soap). Taking the extra time to make sure that my layout was workable, rather than trying to places pieces on the fly, was a pretty critical step to the design's success. 

I traced out the dimensions on the lid of my mold, arranged the design pieces, then placed them in the mold with the melted cocoa butter as carefully as I could. Not exact, but it worked out pretty well: 

 

soap between the embeds

Next step: whip up another batch of plain soap (colored with activated charcoal), pour it into the mold - being sure to get in-between the soap embeds - then allowing it to saponify overnight. (NOTE: The photos of this step are from a more recent batch.)

Yeah, it does look kind of messy, but the magic happens after it's cut into bars and planed down.

2021 Love is love unplaned

 Here's what the planed (vs. unplaned) bars look like - sorry the lighting is a bit off but I was in the middle of the process when it occurred to me to document it.

If you haven't already guessed, it takes a lot of plane-ing to reveal the finished bars - a good 25% of the soap was shaved off. There's also a fair amount of unused soap from initially cutting the circles from the solid color bars, though I'm excited to repurpose some of those beautiful pieces, which I incorporated into this soap here.) 

Overall, how do I feel about LOVE is LOVE? Fun for sure, though the  numerous steps, extra hours of workmanship and quantity of leftover soap does result in a pricier bar (much more labor + materials used). I'm proud of how beautifully it came out, but probably won't make often. I've already made this in various incarnations and achieved the thrill of the experience, you know?

excess soap

So...how did the soap challenge work out? Ironically, while the bars were actually done within the first week of the month-long challenge, I got so caught up in the busyness of November/December - my company's most intense months of the year - that I totally missed the deadline to submit them by an hour {face palm}.

On the bright side, they did sell out shortly after posting. So there's that.

Anyhow, if you want a bar for yourself, this particular variety is (again) sold out, but my latest batch of Interstellar Soap - made with a similar technique - is here. We'll see how long it lasts - while it's been huge fun to make, there's so many other labor-intensive soap techniques I want to try. 😉

Thanks for reading through - hope that you found this helpful for understanding the process.

#washyourdamnhands
#usegoodsoap


2 comments


  • Lisa G

    HAHAHA – use and enjoy your soap, Abby – there’s always more soap joy in the works!


  • Abby Dawkins
    Very interesting to learn about your labor intensive process! My daughter gave me one for Valentines Day but — should I save it or use it??

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