I’m a bit late for this one, since the news around Mars and the rover seems to have faded away. I have always been fascinated with the idea of interplanetary exploration, and it was when I finished the Color Studies III post that I was inspired to make this soap. I found this clip of the Martian sky at midday with a red dust storm in the distance. It’s a 360 degree video, so if this is the sort of thing that captures your attention, I encourage you to have a look at it. In my scientific explorations, I learned that the sky at midday on Mars is red, and shifts blue toward sunrise and sunset, the opposite of our own lovely, wet, blue marble. So here is a rather fanciful reproduction of the Martian landscape, soapy style. I made two molds, to try out a new corner of my own soapmaking. This soap is scented with Jeweled Fir Fragrance Oil, just because I like it, but I’m not sure if there’s a really appropriate scent for a Mars soap. Anything will do, as you can put discoloring soap in the brown section, and a little acceleration will be helpful in building the layers.
Is It Big Enough? No.
I’d never doubled my recipe. It did technically hold it all, but only just barely, and I ended up with a lot of bubbles, as you can see here. Now I know I need larger containers if I’m going to use both my molds. But it held. Since I had a very particular vision in mind, I weighed out the total amount of soap, then separated them into one bowl with two thirds, and one bowl with the remaining third. With the aforementioned red studies in mind earlier this month, I chose my shades of red and I divided the larger bowl into thirds again, and made each a different red.
Red Sky At Noon
The colors of the actual Mars are a little dull. I decided to brighten the skies and soil a bit with some pinks.
Candy Apple Mica is just about perfect for my more colorful Martian soil.
Cabaret Mica Is a deeper purple wine red.
Hollywood Pink is the lightest shade. I had a very clear idea of how to layer these soaps, wanting the Candy Apple at the ground level, and the Cabaret in the sky, with Hollywood to blend the shades. So when I layered them in the pot, I tried to keep them more closely stacked on top of each other, rather than a true pot swirl, to avoid having them blend too much together.
This is the bottom layer, about a third. I let it set fairly firmly before pouring the next layer.
Lustrous Brown Mountains
The distant mountains were made with the last third of the soap, colored with Lustrous Brown Mica. It’s a sort of grey brown at first, but it turns a richer color with saponification. In the final soap, it is also slightly discolored by the fragrance oil, which darkens slightly, and so it was only added to this part of the soap.
I poured it carefully over the layer beneath it, then shaped the top of it carefully with a spoon. I was looking for irregularities, but generally pushed the brown soap toward the sides of the mold to let the pink sky shine through. Martian mountains are not an exact science. When that had set a bit, I poured the rest of the red swirls over them to form the sky. Then I created a pretty standard swirl on top with a little of each mica mixed in a tiny amount of castor oil, taking care not to disturb the highest mountain peaks.
This is one taken from each loaf, but they are essentially the same. I got the effect I wanted; the sky is more pink, and the foreground more red, but there is a little bit of everything everywhere. It would be fun, I think, to experiment with shadows on the mountains – adding a little strip of brown mixed with charcoal, and another mixed with a tiny amount of titanium dioxide carefully added to opposing areas to create highlight and shadows. A simple pot swirl might create the same effect. But this is lovely in its own right, and very close to the vision I had in my head. If you want to try it, you can Instagram it, and add #nurturesoap so we can see your Martian creations.