Last week I signed up to give my skills a challenge - a soap making challenge that is. Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks has graciously offered to hold a 20 week soapmakers challenge - 20 weeks of learning something new and improving my skills - how could I pass that up? So for the next 20 weeks or so I will be trying to challenge myself to become a better soapmaker, learning from the pros and getting a chance to see how creative all of the participants are. The first week of the challenge was an "in the pot swirl", which means that you swirl your colors together before putting them into the soap mold. The challenge was to do 1 color more than you've ever tried before. Since I've only done 1 color before, it was time to do 2.
So, I needed some inspiration for the colors of my soap, and what better inspiration than looking to the gardens! It's almost seed starting time here in the sunroom, so I thought I would color my soaps to remind me of the colors of one of my favorite herbs to grow - Calendula. The photo above is some calendula that was growing in my gardens last year. The beautiful shades of yellows, oranges and golds shine brightly in the garden and bring soothing properties to anything made with calendula petals. Now to replicate those colors with some natural colorants! I chose two spices I had on hand - Turmeric and Hungarian Paprika.
Colors of Spices in the Jars.
Colors of spices after mixing with oils,
ready to be swirled into the pot.
The colors were easy to chose, the fragrance not so much. Normally I always use essential oils for everything I make - no artificial fragrances. But this was a test of swirling and it was mostly educational for me and I wanted something that would behave while I was mixing. I decided to use up some fragrance oil I had received as a free product - a Lemon Verbena Fragrance Oil. It is a very lovely, herby smelling scent that reminded me of my herb gardens in summer time, so into the soap oils it went.
Swirled Soap in the mold before doing top swirl.
Top swirled with remaining colors.
My swirling attempt looks pretty good I think but the colors could have been a little more distinct from one another. When the soap came out of the mold, the colors were less vibrant and had somewhat mixed together, but still remind me of my calendula flowers in the summer.
Cut calendula inspired soap!
Next week's challenge is making soap with milk. That will really be a challenge for me because I've never done milk before. I'm excited to learn something new!