Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club Mini Drop Swirl Challenge

 


Kaleidoscope Drops

 

And so the Adventure Begins … Again!

I know I am not the only one to be completely over the moon with happiness at this moment; I can almost feel the waves of excitement all over the world. I would like to think there were jigs of happy dances in many places when Amy Warden decided to revive her legendary Soap Challenge Club! (okay, maybe I was the only one doing the jigs!)

After nine months – and what felt like eternity – I am thrilled to say the Soap Challenge Club is back in business, Baby!  

For those of you who haven’t followed my ramblings and have no idea what the Soap Challenge Club is, it’s an opportunity for soap makers all over the world to enhance their skills, meet amazing people and compete for fabulous prizes. I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again…I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the Soap Challenge Club. 

The Challenge

The challenge presented to us this month was to create a soap using the Mini Drop Swirl technique. Amy has changed a few things with the Club and it is now divided into two categories, Regular and Advanced. Amy presented two different ways to accomplish the technique and the guidelines for each category.

Both categories required:

  • The soap had to be created with the cold process or cold process/oven process method of soap making
  • The soap had to be made in a log mold
  • The soap had to be made in one batch within one pouring session
  • We were free to finish the tops however we wished

Regular Category:

  • The main soap base had to be all one color
  • The final soap had to feature mini drop swirls in the top half of the soap

Advanced Category:

  • The final soap needed to feature at least three fully suspended mini drop swirls within the soap, however they were achieved 

 The Process

To achieve the mini drop swirls, you need to use squeeze bottles to create the appearance of drops. To create drop swirls in the top half of the soap, as required for the Regular category, you begin by filling your mold approximately half way up with the main base color. You then use the squeeze bottles, placing the tips closer to the surface of the batter, to make lines up and down the length of the mold. The biggest difference between the mini drop swirl and traditional drop swirl technique is that with the mini drop swirl, you pour lines of soap so that they lay on top of the batter. As you build the lines up, the weight from the lines push everything down in to the base, forming drops. For regular drop swirls, you add the soap from a much higher distance above the batter to create swirls in the base below.

To create the drops required for the Advanced category, you still use the squeeze bottles, but you need to get the nozzle deeper down into the base. Squeeze bottles with long tips are ideal, but Amy showed us how to adapt the tips by taping a piece of drinking straw on the end to extend it. To create the suspended drops, the tip is placed deeper in the batter and lines are made down the length of the mold

The Execution

In typical Debi fashion, I jumped in full-speed and started devising super extravagant methods in hopes of creating an entry for the Advanced category. I envisioned drops that were perfectly layered with different colors, and topped with a cloud containing those colors above it. I was hoping to make it look like the drops of the cloud were dripping down into the soap.

Something like this:

To create the perfectly layered drops, I knew I needed to keep the tip in the exact same position as I poured each color. I devised guides to help keep me in the same spot each time. My thoughts were to lay the first colored layer of all three drops into the base, then snip off a tiny bit of the straw, bringing the tips up a little higher. I’d then pour the next layer, repeating the steps for each layer of color in the drops.

I figured I would only need two bottle lids, one for the two drops on the side and one for the middle, and I would switch the lids between the colors. I ended up cutting two straws and placed them in the tips of my squeeze bottle lids. I then drilled holes in two wide popsicle sticks to accommodate the straws and hot-glued around the tip and the stick to seal it. 

Best Laid Plans…Or Not!

I was excited to begin and confident that my idea would work exactly as planned. I poured my base and placed my first bottle in the soap. The first problem I encountered was when I realized I hadn’t calculated very well and hadn’t poured enough base. The tip for the side drops only skimmed the top surface of the soap. To accomplish drops, I needed the tips deeper down and I knew immediately that I had messed everything up.

Yes, those are indeed Legos! I use them to brace the sides of the mold to keep them for bowing out.

I quickly realized the second problem. The batter in the bottle was extremely thin and poured out quickly when I placed the bottle in for the first color layer. I couldn’t exactly pour more base at this point so I moved ahead, hoping I could squeeze the bottle a little bit harder to force it in a little deeper. 

I persevered, but I was fully aware it all had gone terribly wrong. I just started pouring in the soap lines until I hit another snag; I had not used this fragrance oil before and even though all the reviews said it behaved perfectly with no acceleration, it started thickening up towards the end. I was so disconcerted by this time I ended up pretty much winging the rest of it. I realized after I finished pouring that I had completely forgotten to snip the straws to make the layers of color!

Even though I knew I had created a flop, I decided to move forward as planned. I waited for the top to firm up a bit and used a scraper to create a cloud shape in the top.

Normally, I would have waited until the top had completely firmed up and would then pour a freshly made batch to make a swirly top. Since that went against the guidelines, I wasn’t able to do it this way. I was also pretty exasperated at this point and wanted it all to be finished! I decided to go ahead and combine the remaining colors but not mix them until I was ready to add them to the top. That way, I could at least start cleaning up.

My final mess-up was due to complete impatience. Even though I thought the batter was thick enough, and only sightly mixed to avoid making it muddy, I quickly realized that was not the case. As I scooped the mixture out, the whole thing became muddier and muddier. It ended up looking more like the color of a horrible bruise than the beautiful cloud I had envisioned!

Always the optimist, I hoped I would find that my careless mistakes might have somehow magically transformed into beautiful soap overnight. I was wrong. Very, very, very wrong! I ended up with something that looked like the a view into someone’s throat, complete with tonsils and uvula. It also looked like a bacterial infestation on top!!

I was able to salvage them somewhat by cutting off the bacteria-laden tops.

Two of them even had what looked like tiny little frogs on lily pads in them, so that helped ease some of my disappointment!

Time to Toss in the Hat?

I have been absolutely swamped lately and I feared that I had just messed up my only chance to enter the grand re-opening of the Challenge Club. 

The stars aligned a few days later, and I found myself with a few free hours. I decided to keep things a little more simple this time and not try to bite off more than I could chew. I still had some of the mica mixed from my first attempt so I added a few other colors to make them a little more vibrant. I also chose a fragrance I have worked with many times and knew it to be a very slow mover. 

I don’t have many pictures of the process since my photographer/daughter was busy with other things, but I do have a few. 

I was a little afraid my lines were a bit too thin and would not give a drop-like shape, but I felt much better about this attempt than my previous one. I decided to add some freestyle flair to the top.

Conclusion…

I could not be more thrilled with the amazing the colors and how the design ended up! This is the first time the colors turned out looking almost exactly like they were when they were still wet. I was also tickled to see perfectly formed drops.

The biggest challenge I faced with these soaps was trying to photograph them. My photography skills are limited and I had a difficult time trying to capture the amazing colors as they appear in real life. It seemed like every different setting I tried to shoot in gave a completely different soap. 

My Entry!

 For my entry photo, I chose the photo that most closely resembled what the colors look like in natural lighting.

Final Words

I have dearly missed doing these challenges over the past few months. I am also very thankful I was able to sneak away to try this challenge one more time. I am beyond blessed with the massive amounts of work I have for my business and I would not trade it for anything. It was really nice to be able to indulge in some creative play, though. It kind of took me back to my roots and reminded me of where I began so many years ago. Thank you, Amy for opening a new road of inspiration, creativity and camaraderie!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time…

 

 

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DebiEvaSara GoldingGwennHolly Recent comment authors
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Eva

You did a fine job miss Debi! I adore the color you chose. Bold & Beautiful

Sara Golding

So. I hope you realize that I always save your soaps for last. It takes me a minute to process all of the marvelous inventions you created to make the soaps (props on the lego mold!). Then it takes me another minute to stop drooling all over the keyboard!!! Debi, I have missed your posts so much! I am happy for the Challenge to be back, and equally as happy to see your thought process laid out. The soaps are exquisite and whimsical as always!! Well done, friend!

Gwenn

Love your soap and your post – the details of your first try really help a somewhat newbie like me learn. Your second try is a real stunner! Beautiful colors and excellent execution of the mini drop swirls! So glad to have these soap challenges back! We all learn so much!

Holly
Holly

Debi, When I saw these gorgeous soaps on Instagram, my first thought was “I cannot wait to read the blog post and see how she made these!” I’ve missed your soap challenge club posts! smile These soaps are just perfect – from the colors you used to the way the swirls drop down into the base. Absolutely love these!!

Muriel
Muriel

Wow Debi, your soap turned out so great! The colours are beautiful, like a true kaleidoscope. Good luck in the Challenge, I am also really happy that the Club is back on track :-).

Cheryl Wetzler, Saponaceous
Cheryl Wetzler, Saponaceous

Wow, Debi! A gorgeous stunner of a soap…so glad that you gave it a 2nd try! Really enjoyed reading about your first soap. The uvula and tonsil and bacteria part gave me a great chuckle and almost made me lose my swallow of tea. It was truly a good idea to start with though. I love your use of colors, especially the blue! It’s so great to be part of this club again, such inspiration!!

Lisa Norris
Lisa Norris

I love everything about this soap. The colours don’t just pop, they ring, and the drops are beautifully formed and very pleasing to the eye. I was doing facepalms as you were telling your story of the original soap – I was right there with you as the gremlins got involved. But the final product is way more beautiful than your concept picture.

Marty
Marty

Oh, Debi! I’ve been traveling and this was the first chance I had to read your entire blog post. I always enjoy seeing the process you devise when attacking a soap challenge! Your end result couldn’t be more stunning. Absolutely gorgeous!

Margo
Margo

Oh my, your colors are awesome. Great job on the soaps, they are so pretty.

Lynette Olsen

My first attempt was a total flop as well! The batter thickened up immediately and didn’t even have any drops, just lines. Love your colors. Nice save!

Faye M
Faye M

First, let me just say how genius the legos are! Second, those colors! Ah. Mazing!

Whitney S.
Whitney S.

I just adored your colors and your discussion on your process. We have similar thoughts and a similar taste in pallet!
Your soap cake out just lovely!!

Bonnie Howard
Bonnie Howard

Debi, so pretty – love the bright colors. Lots of WOW there.

Leilani Olsen
Leilani Olsen

Debi, I love these bright colors! So vibrant and a very 60’s vibe. I’m glad I’m not the only one that uses Legos for soaping (lol!). Great job!

Leslie Steadman
Leslie Steadman

I love your soap. you did a great job! i voted for you!

Yvonne

I always enjoy reading your post’s, you are good with the pen, Debi. As for your entry, wow!! Those colours are so pretty, and your soap is amazing. Congrats and good luck Yvonne

Taralyn
Taralyn

Debi, these turned out spectacular! Loving the color combinations and the drops are just right! Always love seeing your entries smile

Sly

Beautiful Soaps Debi!
Thanks for sharing your process!
Sly

Keely
Keely

One of my favorites. I love your colors. Very nice smile

Ľubica Hanáková
Ľubica Hanáková

Dear Debi, beautifully documented! The end result is fascinating. The combination of colors is perfectly luxurious. Simply, masterpiece. I wish good luck in the competition

Penny Foust
Penny Foust

Man! I am truly in love with this one! Amazing colors. Love your detailed process explanation!

Amy Warden

Ahhh, the tears are flowing over the debacle of your first soap! That was quite the commentary! The entry looks amazing, of course! Beautiful colors and drops….amazingly smooth batter and gorgeous photos despite your claim to be a terrible photographer.