Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club Location Theme Challenge


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Winnercolorado

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Welcome!

Colorado-Flag-US-State-Metal-XLThis month’s challenge for Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club was a theme challenge. The theme? Location, location, location! We were challenged to design a soap based on where we live – either now or where we have lived in the past. I was born in Colorado, raised in Colorado, and have never lived outside of Colorado (pretty adventurous, huh?), so my soap will be based on…drum roll…COLORADO! Amy asked us to create a soap reflecting who we are and to show attributes that are unique to our location. We were encouraged to use locally obtained ingredients too, if at all possible.

For me, Colorado is a fabulous place to live.  I have always loved nature and Colorado is most certainly the perfect place to nurture that passion.  We have a ton of geographical diversity – snow-covered mountains, desert lands and vast plains, sand dunes, river canyons and gorgeous forests full of evergreens and aspens. We also have quite the diversity in elevation too; the lowest point in Colorado is the Arkansas River at 3,315 feet above sea level and the highest point in Colorado is Mt. Elbert at 14,440 feet. One of my favorite pastimes is hiking and Colorado seems to have an infinite variety of trails to explore. I also love to camp and go boating or fishing on our beautiful lakes. Honestly, there are so many opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of Colorado, I’m not sure anyone could ever get bored.

 

Some of Colorado’s glory:

 

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do for my soap but I turned to friends, family, and even a few strangers, and asked them what came to mind when they thought of Colorado. The top answers were (in no particular order):

  • Mountains
  • Snow/Skiing
  • Cowboys/Wild West
  • Beer
  • Legalized Marijuana
  • Denver Broncos

These answers came as no surprise. I decided to try to incorporate a little of each of these things in my soap. Here is what I came up with:

  • Mountains: For the design, I chose to do a sunset over mountains. I’ve seen sunsets in many other places, but Colorado seems to have some of the most spectacular ones I have ever seen.
  • Snow/Skiing: I was fortunate to have a few large snowstorms during this competition (although many Coloradans would disagree with that perception). I gathered several pitchers of the abundant white piles and used it for some of the water in my soap.
  • Cowboys/Wild West: Disclaimer: No cowboys were harmed in the making of this soap, but some cows were. I have been collecting discarded scraps from a local butcher and rendering my own tallow so this was a perfect addition.
  • Beer: Colorado has 115 breweries and produces more beer per capita than any other state. My city, Fort Collins, is the largest beer producer in Colorado. I chose to use a seasonal beer from Odell’s Brewery, here in Fort Collins, called Runoff Red IPA in part of the soap.
  • Legalized Marijuana: Disclaimer: No mind altering drugs were used in the making of this soap – neither in the ingredients nor while actually making it. I used hemp seed oil – close enough!
  • Denver Broncos: Disclaimer: No Denver Broncos were harmed in the making of this soap. Okay, so this is one thing I didn’t actually include. I was going to go with an orange and blue sky but forgot about the blue. No big deal – I’m a New England Patriots fan anyway .  

 

Ingredients Used:

Mountains and hills in foreground:

  • Hemp Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Tallow
  • Shea butter
  • Odell’s Brewery Beer – Seasonal Runoff Red IPA
  • Tussah Silk
  • Sodium Lactate

Sky and lake:

  • Almond Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Tallow
  • Shea Butter
  • Freshly gathered Colorado Snow
  • Tussah Silk
  • Sodium Lactate

All parts were scented with Magestic Mountain Sage’s new fragrance Alpine Frost. According to their description it is “A twist of frost-bitten berries, a high mountain meadow, a snip of spice and a lingering Evergreen, all wrapped up into one”. I received it as a sample and it couldn’t have been more perfect for a Colorado scent.  

Planning

A little look at my attempt of planning ahead.

The first thing I realized when making this soap is I probably should have waited for the Soap Challenge in June to learn more before I tackled this technique. Claudia Carpenter, who is an absolute master at this technique (and soap making in general), will be teaching us about soap sculpting. Her attempts at sculpting landscapes have been nothing short of brilliant perfection. I tried to implement some of the techniques she shared with us for her winning entry in the Winter Wonderland Challenge in February. I knew it would be difficult but I didn’t anticipate how much planning went into this sort of thing. To help my envision the final design, I sectioned my design into individual layers and created notes and instructions for each one.  

Set up

Mold set-up with the layer scrapers.

Since the design was best suited for a tall and skinny mold I used my home-made adjustable one. On one end, I taped a copy of the design image to provide guidance for me to see which layer was which. One of the tips I used from Claudia was to cut “layer scrapers” using an electric die cutting machine. I convinced my family I needed an early Mother’s Day gift and found a used one online just in time. To each scraper, I added Popsicle sticks for added support.  

Scraping the first layer.

Scraping the first layer.

Lake ITP, poured at thin trace.

Lake ITP, poured at thin trace.

I poured the layers allowing each one to firm up enough to scrape with the specified layer scraper before moving on. For the hills and mountains I used a recipe that moved quicker and thickened up more rapidly. For the lake and sky, I used a slower recipe. I did a modified In The Pot Swirl to help blend the colors together in an attempt to recreate the blend of colors in the sky at sunset.

 

Gluing tissue paper to copy paper.

Gluing tissue paper to copy paper.

Images printed on tissue paper.

Images printed on tissue paper.

The next challenge came with adding the tree and geese. Originally, I thought I could find stamps and stamp each image on the soap. Unfortunately, I could not find any stamps that were the correct dimensions or what I wanted in appearance. I decided to try carving my own on a rubber block with a linoleum carving tool. That proved next to impossible. It was very difficult to carve and I knew I was not going to get the level of detail I wanted. My next thought was to try water transfer paper. That might have worked but my new printer won’t print anything heavier than copy paper. The water transfer paper was thicker than card stock and my printer wanted nothing to do with it.

 

My final brainstorm worked. I have been admiring decoupaged soaps and have been wanting to try my hand at it. I knew finding a napkin or tissue with the right tree and geese would be impossible. I decided to print my own tissue. Since tissue paper would not go through a printer by itself, I used a glue stick along the outside rim of regular copy paper and stuck the tissue paper to it. I only put glue on the rim so the images in the middle wouldn’t be stuck to the paper. After they were printed, I cut out each of the shapes, as close to the black ink as possible.

 

Wetting soap before application.

Wetting soap before application.

Positioning image.

Positioning image.

Applying Mod Podge.

Applying Mod Podge.

I used Mod Podge Outdoor to adhere the images. I still had some areas where the white tissue was showing because they were too difficult to get to with the scissors. They just faded into the background when I applied water and Mod Podge.    

Before adding tree and geese.

Before adding tree and geese.

This is what the soaps looked like before the trees and geese were added.    

 

And the final result…

Colorado 2

Finished Soaps!

Colorado

My entry!

 Overall, I am very happy with the result! I think it does a pretty good job of portraying the feel and look of a Colorado sunset. If you’ve never seen an authentic Colorado sunset, I highly suggest you add it to your bucket list. I promise, you won’t be disappointed! Thanks for taking the time to read about my project! Please leave your comments – I’d love to hear from you!   PS: This is officially my very first blog post so please feel free to offer any suggestions you might have in the comments!  

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time…

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