A CASE OF THE MONDAYS
It’s Monday. Fall feels as if it has just arrived to Florida... In February. The wind is howling, the sky is dreary and gray, the air has a chilly bite to it, and I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. Perhaps I picked it up from a cart handle at the grocery store? Or maybe that friend I shared a sandwich with yesterday also shared a side of nasopharyngitis with it too? I suddenly have a feeling of blame towards a completely innocent person, and I’m ashamed of myself for feeling that way. Still, that feeling persists because, well... I’m in a mood! How dare that sweet, generous friend split a sandwich with me and intentionally get me sick! I quickly realize how utterly ridiculous my internal dialogue sounds! I snap out of it and decide I’m going to change my mood; after all, I’m the source of my own happiness. Even as “Oprah-ish” as that may sound, I’ve always firmly believed it; I’ve proven it to myself time and time again! Nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, bronchitis, laryngitis... Regardless of whatever type of “itis” I might or might not be coming down with, I realize I definitely have a good ol’ fashioned case of “the Mondays”!
Instead of continuing to dwell on the negative (and absurdly irrational feelings of blame and germaphobia), I decide to grab my phone and have a browse through social media. And there it was... A private message waiting for me on Instagram from a name I didn’t recognize. As I opened the message, fully expecting it to be some sort of solicitation, in one form or another (“Hey there, best friend I don’t know, you should follow me!”, OR, “I can help your business grow! Click this link to learn more!”.), I was surprised to find it was actually an incredibly sweet message from a fellow crafter! She’d seen my guest blogs on Nurture Soap’s website, and just wanted to share such a wonderfully thoughtful and kind compliment! It blew me away!
Since having this amazing opportunity to be a guest blog writer for Nurture Soap, there have been several simply incredible fellow crafters who have taken the time out of their day to reach out to me and COMPLETELY make mine! You know who you are, and for that, I truly cannot express enough how much that has meant to me! For someone to reach out to a virtual stranger, just to take a moment to say “thank you”, or completely brighten their day with such sweet words of praise, encouragement and support... Well, those are the small gestures of kindness and love that mean SO MUCH MORE than the sum of their words! Needless to say, after reading that extremely thoughtful message from such a dear, fellow soap artist, my Monday “funk” was completely dispelled!
It’s moments like this where I am forever reminded of just how much I love this crafty community of ours! It’s filled to the brim with the absolute BEST people!! I’m convinced you simply won’t find a more supportive and encouraging bunch of immensely talented individuals anywhere else, than in the soapmaking community! We have far more unity than we do division, far more praise than the pulling of one another down, and far more loving encouragement than negative discouragement... What can I say, soap makers ROCK! So, this blog post is dedicated to every single member of the crafting community who has ever cheered a fellow crafter on, shown love and support, offered a helping hand, or simply reached out to a soapy comrade, just to brightened their day! As someone who’s been on the receiving end of such selfless and random acts of kindness, I can tell you, it really does mean the world! So, HERE’S TO UNITY... Now let’s go make some divided soap!
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO, “OOH!”
Seems like every time I get an order from Nurture Soap (AKA: Christmas, any time of the year!), there’s always quite a few “somethings” which particularly have me audibly exclaiming, “OOH!”! In my last order, those items were “Camouflage” mica, “Shamrock Gold” Enviroglitter, and “Artemis” fragrance oil! I already had a bottle of Nurture Soap’s “Lavender and Sage” fragrance oil, lovingly tucked away (then subsequently pulled out for this project!) in my “FO closet”, as that’s an aroma that had me “oohing and ahhing” long ago, and I just can’t be without it! My oh my though, did I definitely find even more “ooh & ahh-worthy" products!
“Artemis” fragrance oil is totally not just a seasonal scent to my nose! The multifaceted allure of this aroma is a year-round love affair in my book, and I’ll definitely be incorporating it in a near-future blog post project! “Shamrock Gold” Enviroglitter is a stone-cold stunner! I knew it was going to be gorgeous, I just didn’t realize it was going to be as exceptionally gorgeous as it is! “Camouflage” mica was pure “WOW”! First time I unscrewed the lid to have a look, I immediately thought, “I’ve found a total gem!”. I’m telling you, the pictures for this mica simply don’t do it enough justice! This color is like if deep, forest-green met rich, honey-brown, and they decided to go on a journey through the woods together, only to end up finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! THAT’S “Camouflage” mica! It’s green meets brown meets gold, and it’s positively enchanting!
For this soapy project of phenomenally authentic lavender, united with gorgeously herbal sage notes (AKA: “Lavender and Sage” fragrance oil!), it just seemed especially perfect to make my melt & pour embeds (which would adorn the top of soap frosting, piped atop my soap loaf) with Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat Clear Soap Base, and the stunning colors of “Camouflage” and “Silver Mist” micas!
THE GREAT DIVIDE!
I wanted this specific soap project to feature lots and lots of swirls (ya’ll know how much I love my swirls!), but in a slightly different way. In “Lavender and Sage” fragrance oil, its notes of lovely lavender and centering sage are delightfully distinct, yet sensationally blended to be wonderfully harmonious too! In the spirit of “united division”, I wanted the sage to be sage, and the lavender to be lavender in my soap, but to also meet in the middle; symbolism of their unique aromatic qualities, joining together to create something magical! In more straightforward terms, I wanted one side of my soap to feature lots of pretty green swirls, and the other side to have lots of pretty purple swirls! I’d have to divide my 2.5lb Basic Soap Mold in half to do this.
Confession time: I don’t own actual mold dividers! It’s been one of those situations where when I’ve needed them, I’ve thought, “Dang it! Why haven’t I bought that yet?”, but when I’m done with my project, it becomes an “out of sight, out of mind” scenario... It’s a vicious cycle! So, if you’re like me, and keep forgetting that you need to order actual mold dividers, or maybe it’s just an item you don’t particularly need right now, worry not... You can make your own too! Here, I’ve cut out a piece of cardboard to fit snugly in my loaf mold, and it worked great for what I needed it to do!
Since I’ve been using cardboard as mold dividers for so long, I’d really love to come back and revisit this design in a future blog post, using Nurture Soap’s actual mold dividers! I think it would be fun to do a sort of “comparisons” post: cardboard versus “the real deal”! Something tells me I'm going to find Nurture Soap’s mold dividers to make a world of difference though! Already, I can think of quite a few advantages legitimate mold dividers would have over homemade cardboard ones, but in the meantime, this is all I have. If it’s all you have too, that’s absolutely A-Okay! As long as your mold divider fits snugly down the middle of your loaf mold, you’re sure to end up with a gorgeously swirly batch of two-toned soap!
Once finished making my divider (and while waiting for my lye solution and batch oils to cool down to around room temp), I got started on dispersing my micas in a bit of carrier oil. For my purple-swirly side, I chose the lovely “Iris Purple”, “Cyber Grape”, “Silver Mist” and “Winter White” micas. For the green-swirly side, the fantastic “Cabin Fever”, “Celadon Green” and “Camouflage” micas were chosen, with some more “Winter White” mica as well.
Eventually, everything was looking good! My lye solution and batch oils had both cooled down to around room temperature, and it was time to get to soapmaking! When making a design, such as this, it’s important to use a fragrance oil that stays on its best behavior, from start to finish, in cold process soap. Especially if you’re using a homemade mold divider, it’s particularly important to use a fragrance that won’t accelerate, as pouring can be a little more time consuming. Homemade mold dividers are especially susceptible to tipping over if you’re not careful to distribute the weight of your soap batter evenly. If using a divider you’ve made yourself, be sure to alternate sides as you pour, so that the fill level on each side remains relatively equal. This will keep your divider balanced and upright, as there will be an equal amount of pressure from your soap batter to support both sides of it.
Nurture Soap’s “Lavender and Sage” fragrance oil behaves like an absolute champ in cold process soap, so this is an outstanding fragrance to use for an intricate swirl design! I knew the actual pour itself was going to take me a bit longer to complete though, so as soon as my soap batter reached a very light trace, I stopped blending, and divided my soap batter into two equal portions.
Of these two soap portions, one portion was to be my purple side, and the other, my green side, so once again, I divided the batter. Each side of my soap design would feature four colors (“Winter White” mica included in both), so taking my two divided portions, I carefully split each one into four equal portions, so that I’d have eight equal portions of soap in total. Once all of my soap batter had been equally divided, I incorporated my beautiful mica colors into each one, then hand-stirred the heavenly “Lavender and Sage” fragrance oil into each portion as well. It was time to get this batch poured!
Pouring this soap design may be a bit on the time-consuming side (patience is required, but it’s so worth it!), but it’s actually very simple! Essentially, it’s just a tiger swirl, times two! Both the purple and green sides are poured, one color down the center the next, tiger swirl style. Just alternate each color as you go, pouring in a repeated pattern until every last drop of soap is in the mold, or until you can’t possibly fit any more soap in your mold... Whichever comes first! From here, you’ll remove your mold divider by gently pulling it straight up and out.
Once you’ve removed your mold divider, it’s time to get some amazing swirls going on in that soap batch of yours! Starting at the side closest to you, insert the hanger tool just barely below the surface of the soap batter (as if you were doing a butterfly swirl), then move it across the surface to the very center of the loaf. Once you’ve moved the hanger tool over to the very center, where the two sides of colors meet, begin making circular loops in a clockwise direction, moving the tool directly down the center of the loaf. Make four large loops, gradually moving the hanger tool lower and lower as you complete each loop. When you hit the bottom, run the hanger tool across the bottom of the mold until you return to the side closest to you. With one last curve upward, bring the tool straight up and out. That’s it, you’re done! At this point, if you have any leftover soap batter, you can drizzle it over the top of your loaf if you’d like, and if you prefer to omit the piped-top of this project, a bamboo skewer (or any other swirling tool you have handy), can be used to make a pretty swirl design to complete the look!
UNITING SOAP WITH SOAP FROSTING!
After completing my divided pour (and uniting both sides with a swirl!), it was time to whip up some soap frosting and get the top piped! Using the same recipe as my main batch, I blended my soap frosting to light trace, then allowed it to set up the rest of the way to a nice, pipeable consistency. Using “Winter White” mica to color the soap frosting and an Ateco #868 piping tip, I added a fluffy, white top to my batch of soap. But you know me... I can’t ever just stop there! I always have to add a little eco-friendly sparkle too!
Remember earlier when I mentioned “Shamrock Gold” Enviroglitter being positively stunning? Well, that was just what I could see from the jar! I hadn’t seen it in “action” yet, but I didn’t even need to question if I was going to use it to embellish this batch of soap; that was a given! I seriously don’t even have words for how jaw-dropping this Enviroglitter is on top of cold process soap! For starters, it’s an exceptionally fine glitter, but with super-high intensity shimmer! I filled up one of Nurture Soap’s awesomely handy-dandy Glitter Spray Pumps, and began applying the glitter to the top of my soap... This is the stuff of pure magic, and had me audibly saying, “WOW!”! At first, its wonderfully fine micron size makes it so that all you see are tiny flecks of gold, catching and reflecting the light with an opulent brilliance! The more you apply though, the more whimsical that “pop” of sparkling green glimmer becomes! Without question, this is an Enviroglitter I’m kicking myself for not adding to my glitter collection so much sooner; it’s absolutely gorgeous! Sadly, as with most things that glisten and shine, it’s impossible to capture the full scope of its breathtaking beauty in a picture, but I tried my very best!
It took a moment to retrieve my breath after “Shamrock Gold” Enviroglitter took it away faster than Tom Cruise could fly a Northrop F-5E fighter aircraft in 1986, but eventually I was able to regain my composure long enough to place my melt & pour embeds on top and call it a day! After getting its glamour shots taken, and a quick spritz of rubbing alcohol to help prevent soda ash, this blissful batch of soap was ready to be insulated and put to bed for the night! I’ve noticed throughout various soapy projects that Nurture Soap’s dreamy “Silver Mist” mica really comes to life with a bit of heat (as do many green micas as well), so while I insulated this batch, I also placed it on top of a heating pad, set on low heat for about 35 minuets, before turning it off and allowing those amazing colors to continue to intensify in the ambient heat.
UNITED WE MAKE SOAP!
It’s Friday. Fall feels as if it has just arrived to Florida... In February. The wind is howling, the sky is dreary and gray, the air has a chilly bite to it, and I never did come down with that imaginary cold I thought I was getting! In fact, even though it’s been a few brisk and nippy days for us heat-loving Floridians (complete with tornado warnings!), I’ve found it to be quite beautiful and invigorating! A stroll through a nearby park revealed piles of leaves scattered every which way, being swept up by the wind and stirred about in some invisible, spiraling dance with nature. My mental state is a happy one, which is one I very much prefer over paranoid germaphobia, and blaming complete strangers (or even worse, good friends) for illnesses they may or may not have shared with me!
Regardless of what surrounds me externally, internally, it’s a bright, sunshiny day, which is precisely when I’m able to feel most united with my fellow “kindred folk”! It’s only when I wallow in my own self-pity that I create a divide between myself and opportunities to connect with wonderful, likeminded people. You see, just like the common cold, happiness is contagious, but so is misery... It loves company, and enjoys pulling others down to its level. That’s why I felt it was important to make this very batch of soap for this specific blog post! Uncharacteristically, I found myself having a case of the crappy Mondays, yet all it took to be pulled up to higher ground was a random act of kindness from a fellow crafter; a message sent for no other reason than to brighten my day!
So, what does this have to do with this specific soap batch? Well, everything really! Happiness spurs inspiration, and happy inspiration makes for amazing outcomes! It makes for artistic expressions where you’re able to demonstrate just how beautiful things can be when divided, but only fully complete when united! To every crafter who’s ever lifted up another; who’s gone out of their way to extend a helping hand, offer patient guidance, or loving encouragement... You’re the bond that holds this community together, and where we meet in the middle is the most beautiful place of all!
MAKE THIS RECIPE:
Lye @ 5% Superfat
Distilled Water or Aloe Juice @ 33.33% Lye Concentration (2:1)
40% Olive Oil
30% Coconut Oil
10% Castor Oil
10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
10% Shea Butter
Sodium Lactate (Optional) @ 3% Usage Rate
Lavender and Sage Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate
Micas @ 1tsp/PPO: Winter White Mica, Silver Mist Mica, Iris Purple Mica, Cyber Grape Mica, Celadon Green Mica, Cabin Fever Mica, Camouflage Mica
OPTIONAL SOAP FROSTING:
Lye @ 5% Superfat
Distilled Water @ 33.33% Lye Concentration (2:1)
40% Olive Oil
30% Coconut Oil
10% Castor Oil
10% Cocoa Butter (Deodorized)
10% Shea Butter
Lavender and Sage Fragrance Oil @ 6% Usage Rate
Winter White Mica @ 1tsp/PPO
OPTIONAL EMBELLISHMENTS & SUPPLIES:
Low Sweat Soap Base (Clear)
Flower Embeds in Silver Mist Mica
Leaf Embeds in Camouflage Mica
Glitter Spray Pump
Shamrock Gold Enviroglitter
Ateco #868 Piping Tip
2.5lb Basic Loaf Mold