Cosmic Sherbet Wave
Whoo-hoo! Second Place!!!
Thank you to all that voted for me in this challenge! Your support means the world to me!
Can you believe we are nearing the end of 2016? What a year! Whether you are glad it is almost over or not, I am certain I am not the only American relieved that the 2016 presidential election is. Although I have never known an election to be permeated with tons of positivity and flowing with friendly compliments, the amount of hateful negativity that pervaded this one was extremely disheartening. I am so glad I have soap making to turn to and I am especially thankful for Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club. There is a huge camaraderie and warm fellowship within the club and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. Maybe we should encourage Amy to run for president in 2020. She’d have my vote!
Okay, stepping down from my soapbox (hee hee – soapbox!)
The technique featured for the November challenge is called the Cosmic Wave and once again, was taught by guest teacher Ms. Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso. Tatsiana and her friend, Jelena Vasiljeva from Soap Techniques, find soap designs they want to try to replicate and hold challenges between each other to try to recreate the design. The Cosmic Wave is one of the techniques that resulted from their challenges.
This is the soap Tatsiana created for this particular challenge
I wanted to be as detailed as possible for this post to help others gain a better understanding of how to properly do this technique. Click here if you prefer to skip the details and go straight to the main attraction.
The Three C’s
The object of this challenge was to create a soap with streaks of multicolored ribbons or waves, or as Amy put it, with “…feathery waves that form as the soap falls from the pouring pot”. When you first look at the soaps that Jelena and Tatsiana created, it may appear as if the waves within the soaps were created by physically moving the pouring pot in short side-to-side movements, or a zig-zag type fashion, as the soap is poured. In reality, if the technique is done properly, the stream of soap naturally creates its own zig-zag formation while it is being poured.
The technique is not terribly difficult to achieve. As long as the moon lines up perfectly with Mars as Mercury passes by Saturn’s rings in a counter-clockwise formation, the soap will fall perfectly into place. Okay, maybe it just seems like all that needs to happen in order for the technique to work properly. Actually, you just need a few things to coincide for the technique to work correctly, mainly the perfect batter consistency, a good method of combining the colors, and a decent control of the pouring pot; Consistency, Combination, Control. Unfortunately, it seemed that getting the planets lined up as previously mentioned might have been the easier task to accomplish!
A Good, Slow-Moving Recipe Is the Key…Or Is It?
It is imperative in this technique for the batter to be at a particular consistency for it to work properly. Too thin and the colors blend too much and create a muddied blob. Too thick and the batter clumps together keeping it from flowing into perfect feathered ribbons. I used to think that if I could find that “perfect” slow-moving recipe I would be set forever. However, one of the most valuable things I have learned over the past 18 months is that having the Holy Grail of a recipe is not the only way to ensure a slow-moving batter. Yes, ingredients most definitely play a huge role, but so do temperatures and the method you use to blend the oils and lye. Some of the wisest and most experienced soap makers even say ANY recipe can be a slow mover if you know what you are doing.
One interesting tip I recently learned from some fellow Club members is that adding sugar can help keep your batter fluid for a longer time. I often added sugar to boost lather and bubbles but never realized it had an added bonus!
I usually soap at room temperature but now that we are moving towards winter, the cooler temperatures aren’t always ideal. In cooler temperatures, oil mixtures may begin to re-solidify if the they are allowed to get too cool. A recipe I recently created has a very high percentage of lard in it and I learned the hard way that if the oils and lye are too cool when mixed, it can be more difficult to determine if proper emulsification has occurred.
It was late in the day when I started this particular batch. Adding to that, I had to leave suddenly after I had everything mixed and ready to go. When I finally returned, it was really late and I was too tired to attempt to make soap. I left everything as is and returned in the morning. I am very miserly with our heat and like to keep a cool house. I actually installed a digital thermostat to help control the usage of the furnace. I found the most complicated one I could, not because I though it would do a better job of regulating the heat, but because I knew none of the family would actually take the time to learn how to use it unless I taught them. I haven’t and I won’t. (I’ve even hidden the instruction manual just in case one of them decides to take matters into their own hands. Although, keeping them too cold to un-bury themselves from their cave of blankets has proven sufficient!)
I digress… Since the temps of my supplies were around 62 °F (don’t judge me – and no, my poor family doesn’t need their welfare checked on!) I knew I had to warm everything up a little. I set my lye container in a bowl of hot water and heated the oils slightly in the microwave until everything was close to 70 °F. The oils were still opaque but very fluid. I was kind of concerned but I didn’t want to heat them until they were translucent because they would be at a much higher temperature than the lye. I decided to forge ahead. I combined the oils and lye and used a whisk to mix everything together. When it all looked thoroughly blended, without any variations or streaks of color as I stirred, I split the batter into three containers and added the color and fragrance. At warmer temperatures, I normally wouldn’t use the stick blender at all, or if I do, only for a few short pulses. Because I was worried about the cooler temps, I stick blended each portion a little more extensively. After several minutes, it still seemed very thin and didn’t appear to be changing much. I began to fear that I had made a big mistake, that the batter would never even reach trace. I had two blenders, one for the white colored portion, and one that I alternated between the pink and orange portions. Finally, about 10 minutes later, I began to see some change. I ended up blending everything for another 5 minutes. What I ended up with was a batter with a consistency thicker than half-and-half yet not quite as thick as heavy whipping cream.
Details, details, details
To create the color patterns for the Cosmic Wave design, there are a few different ways to go about it. Basically, you add your chosen colors to a pot or pourable container in such a way that they stay separate and don’t bleed into each other or mix together before they are poured into the mold. As they are actually being poured, they create wavy ribbons of color. Tatsiana demonstrated three different methods of combining the colors into the pot for the pour. She suggested to use the following percentages to portion the colors – 85% of the entire batter for the base color, the remaining 15% split amongst the contrasting colors. She put the two contrasting colors into separate squirt bottles to ease application. For all three methods, the pouring pot is only filled partially with the colored soap mixture creating the necessity of utilizing numerous small pours instead of one large pour. Doing numerous small pours better suits this design by allowing each pour to create its own individual ribbon.
The first method, which was Tatsiana’s preferred method of combining the colors as well as Amy’s, was to fill a smaller pot with the base color, then squirt a few lines of one of the colors in a random pattern on top, pour in a little more of the base color, then the other color, again in a random pattern on top. The second method was a basic ITP (in the pot) swirl. She poured the base color into the pouring pot then added sections of the contrasting colors in a few spots around the pot. She used the squirt bottles again, but squirted them in with a little force so that they penetrated deeper into the base color. She then dipped a spoon into the pot and swirled it in a circular motion TWICE so it all didn’t mix too much. The third method was a side-pour method where she poured each color down the side of the pot in an alternating fashion.
I chose to do the third method. I felt the batter ratio of 85:15 was better suited to the first two methods so I divided my batter evenly between my three colors. I used my 8 x 8 square silicone mold and placed it on a cake decorating turntable to facilitate the change of directions during the pour. I had my three colors and an empty spouted pitcher for my actual pouring pot. (Please ignore the distracting newspaper headlines in my photos!)
When it came time to pour the soap, I poured with the spout as close to the mold as I could and I poured it much slower than Tatsiana did in her demonstration video. The slower pour seemed to make tighter, jagged waves. I rotated the mold periodically and alternated the direction of the streams.
Tatsiana’s videos gave fantastic instructions on how to combine the colors for the pour but you really have to pay attention as to how the feathery waves are created. As I mentioned before, at first glance, it looks as if the design is created by actually moving the pouring pot side-to-side using a zig-zag movement. After many discussions and confusion regarding the proper technique, Amy clarified the design was created by allowing the flowing batter to form the waves naturally.
I noticed after I poured my first pitcher, the final bit of batter had become somewhat muddied and mixed together from the continued action of moving the spout up and down each time I poured a line. I should have just poured this remaining muddied mixture into another mold but instead I used the last tiny bit to pour a small line. I realized after I poured it I had moved the pot back and forth the way we were told wasn’t the proper procedure. Luckily, the remaining 99.999% of the batch was poured correctly, so it doesn’t count as a disqualification. Instead it gave me a great opportunity to show an example of the WRONG way to pour it.
For the remaining pours, I didn’t fill the pitcher up as much, which greatly reduced the muddied colors at the tail end of the pours. The following pictures are great examples of how the pour should look if it is done correctly.
I chose to CPOP the final soap to maintain the beautiful colors. For this method to work in Colorado I found preheating the oven to 170 °F, turning it off after I place the soap in uncovered, and leaving it alone for at least eight hours, greatly reduces the chance of it overheating and causing bubbles, or craters.
This was one challenge that definitely was a challenge. I am really excited to try this technique with some different variations such as adding more colors, layering the colors in the pouring pot in a different fashion, and changing the direction of the pours. The combinations are endless with this technique.
I noticed something interesting on some of the current entries. It seemed that several of the entries that used the first pouring method Tatsiana showed us had a more subtle design coloration on the sides and edges. Amy used Tatsiana’s first method and she even mentioned that the colored layers tended to float towards the top leaving more of the base color below. The soap I created kept a very vivid pattern throughout the entire thickness of the final soap. I am interested to see if some of the entries that used the same side-pour method as I did also end up with similar side and edge detail.
15% coconut oil
20% olive oil
powdered sugar – 1 teaspoon/PPO
All from Steph’s Micas (Micas and More)
White: Titanium Dioxide
Mango Papaya from Wholesale Supplies Plus
(Since this fragrance contains 1% vanilla, I only added the fragrance to the pink and orange portions)
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time…