Guest post by Amber Beltran of A Squirrel & A Scholar Soap Co.
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OCTOBER IS IN THE AIR!
Ahhh, it’s finally October, and you know what that means! It means Halloween (The best holiday of the whole year!) is right around the corner! Even as a kid I always felt Halloween trumped Christmas, hands-down. I mean, just think about it... For one whole day you get to change your identity and be anything you want to be! Plus, it’s the only time when it’s perfectly acceptable to knock on a complete stranger’s door and score some free candy using those three, magical words!
Even as an adult, I still love Halloween! Even though I no longer dress-up, and it’s now up to me to foot the bill for said “free” candy, there’s still something magical about it! Maybe it’s the excitement in the air and on the faces of children, as you open the door to a chorus of, “Trick or treat!”. Perhaps it’s the cooler weather, where chilly evenings finally require you to get cozy in your favorite sweater again. Maybe it’s that spider web you couldn’t reach with the broom two weeks ago that somehow feels appropriate now; or that seemingly out-of-nowhere craving for spiced teas and pumpkin coffee drinks. Most likely, it’s all of the above, but whatever it is, the changing of the season (And the very first holiday to welcome it!), always seems to carry that wonderful sense of magic and cozy nostalgia with it!
That’s why I simply couldn’t resist going with a full-on Halloween theme for this week’s soapy shenanigans! What better way to welcome my personal favorite holiday than a soap project dedicated to all things spooky? While I must admit that I’m not much into the “scary” or “gory” side of Halloween (I can’t even sit through an entire horror movie!), I do love the fun, “spooky-cute” side of it! I think you’re really going to enjoy this week’s project... Not only does it feature fun and festive embellishments, but the design itself comes with some pretty awesome perks! I’ll explain what those are in just a moment, but for now, I’d be honored if you’d join me in making a super cute, super beginner-friendly, “interrupted layers” soap design celebrating the spirit of Halloween!
A DESIGN FOR EVERYONE & EVERY FRAGRANCE OIL!
Before jumping right into the project, let’s quickly talk about the perks of this design technique... What I love about pouring interrupted layers in my soap batches is that this is a technique for every skill level, and just about every fragrance oil too! Whether you’ve been making soap for 10 days or 10 years, this technique is guaranteed to be fun and easy to execute! Another guarantee is that you're sure to end up with an awesome, eye-catching design, regardless of if you pour your soap at a thicker trace, or a very thin one! Because this technique works great with practically any trace you pour your soap batter at, it’s an excellent “go-to” design when working with a fragrance oil you’re unfamiliar with. Unsure of how that new fragrance oil will behave in your soap recipe? Make interrupted layers! Whether the fragrance oil accelerates in soap or remains on its best behavior, this pouring technique is completely doable (With great results!) either way!
The only time I can imagine this technique being difficult to pull off would be when a particular fragrance oil causes your soap batter to instantly seize, but even moderate to heavier acceleration is no problem for this design. This leads me to another perk... This technique is gorgeously versatile! Pour your soap batter at a thicker trace, such as the soaps pictured above, and you’ll end up with a wonderful wavy design, where each layer stands out and makes its own, bold statement! Pour this very same design while your soap batter is at a very thin, fluid trace and you’ll end up achieving a look that resembles wispy flames (Or souls “rising up from the grave”, as my family pointed out!).
WITCHES’ FEET AND A COLORFUL TREAT!
The fantastical colors chosen for the main portion of this soap project are so synonymous with Halloween, you simply don’t need soap frosting or decorative embeds to capture the spirit of this holiday in your soap! If you’d rather omit adding soap frosting and/or melt & pour embellishments to the top of your own spooky batch of handmade, Halloween soap, that is absolutely more than okay! If you would like to include the soap frosting and/or embeds used to decorate this project, the recipe for my favorite soap frosting is included below, and the molds are Life of The Party brand molds that I picked up for $1.99 at my favorite online bakery supplies shop, Sweet Treat Supply. I felt it was important to add that I did adjust my favorite soap frosting recipe just a teeny bit, to make it more KD8000 scale-friendly, as this is a very popular scale in soap making, but doesn’t display all those little, in-between numbers. Rest assured, this very slightly-adjusted recipe is still just as awesome as its predecessor (Well, I think so anyway!), and performs exactly the same, including its qualities, properties, and finished outcome.
To decorate our Halloween-inspired, interrupted layers soap project, I used Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat, Clear Soap Base to create pairs of witches' feet/legs (As if this witch of ours were diving head-first into the soap itself!), and happy Jack-o’-lanterns. Of course, everyone knows witches love their boots to be as black as a moonless night, so each pair was colored with “Nocturnal” mica. For our smiling Jack-o'-lanterns, nothing but the brightest, boldest shade of orange would do. Nurture Soap’s exclusive “Eye of The Tiger” mica-pigment was just the orange for the job! To add a touch of detail, “Lime Appeal” mica was dry-painted onto each embed, using a soft-bristle paintbrush, to accent the buckles and striped socks that witches also love to wear (Naturally!); and “Firefly” mica was the perfect shade of glowing yellow to accent the eyes, nose and infectious smile of the Jack-o'-lanterns!
With embeds complete, I grabbed the creepy-crawly colors I’d selected for the main portion of the soap batch and dispersed them in a bit oil (Borrowing a little of your combined, melted batch oils works great for this!). For one of the project’s layers, the fabulously black-as-night “Nocturnal” mica would be perfect, and for the remaining three layers, I wanted to incorporate colors that would go above and beyond! When you have a soap project on your hands that requires some truly epic colors, look no further than Nurture Soap’s exclusive Epic Color Collection! These mica-pigments are insane (In a completely awesome way!), and would make this particular Halloween soap project “POP” with brilliant color! The final three layers simply had to be none other than “Eye of The Tiger”, “Force of Nature” and “Queen for A Day” mica-Pigments!
Creating interrupted layers in cold process soap is actually quite simple, and if you haven’t created this look in your soaps before, chances are you’re already familiar with the motion of pour. To begin this technique, you’ll want to split your batch oils into four equal portions, or however many layers you’d like to incorporate into your design. When I begin this technique, prior to splitting my soap batter equally, I always make sure my batch oils are between 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and that my lye solution is at room temperature, or no hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once I've added my lye solution to my batch oils, if wispy, fluid layers are the look I’m going for, I stick blend my soap batter to emulsion only. Emulsion is that stage where your batch oils and lye solution have just combined, but will no longer separate. If you can still see ribbons of oil on the surface of your soap batter, you haven’t reached emulsion quite yet, but take care not to over-blend either. Emulsion is best reached by alternating stirring by hand and pulsing your stick blender in short bursts; just until you can no longer see any remaining oil on top of your soap batter. Your soap batter will not form any kind of trace at emulsion, and will remain thin and fluid-like.
If a more separated look is what I’m going for, where the layers are more pronounced between each other, appearing wavier and/or jagged, then I’ll go ahead and blend my soap batter to a light trace only. A light trace is a great stopping point for this specific look, since you still want each layer to easily “interrupt” the layer below it, and you can always blend your batter to a thicker trace later on, if needed. Another preparation I make sure to do prior to splitting my soap batter into portions is splitting my fragrance oil into as many equal portions too. By portioning my fragrance oil, I can easily work layer by layer, at my own pace. If it’s a fragrance oil I’ve never worked with before, it’s especially helpful to add pre-weighed portions of fragrance oil to each layer as I get to it, stirring the fragrance oil in by hand just prior to pouring the layer.
All this talk of soap portions and fragrance oil portions reminds me that I haven’t told you yet which incredible fragrance oil we’ll be using, but it’s positively PERFECT (With a capital- everything!) for this specific project! It’s Nurture Soap’s “All Soul’s Day” fragrance oil, and it’s absolutely sensational! With notes of lime, neroli and frankincense, you might think this fragrance oil would smell heavy and resinous, but it’s the opposite that’s actually true! This fragrance oil smells fresh, delightful and downright delicious! To my nose, it smells like a sweet lime jelly, and it’s mouthwateringly addictive! It’s the perfect aroma for a sweet, candy-like Halloween treat- in soap form! “All Soul’s Day” does moderately accelerate in cold process soap, but that’s no problem for interrupted layers! To account for the acceleration, I simply blended my soap batter to emulsion, then went ahead and split the batter into four equal portions. Once equally split, I added the frightfully fabulous mica colors to each portion, and had four equal portions of “All Soul’s Day” fragrance oil already weighed out and ready to be added to each layer as I got to it.
As previously mentioned, the motion of pour for this technique is one you may already be very familiar with. If you’ve ever poured a drop-swirl design before, interrupted layers will be a piece of cake! Begin by pouring the first layer directly into your mold. The next layer, and all subsequent layers after it, are then poured in the exact same way. With each subsequent layer, begin by dropping the soap batter over the previous layer from up high, so that it breaks through the surface of the layer beneath it. As you pour, move from one end of your mold to the other in a non-stop, sweeping motion, making sure to pour the soap batter across the surface of the layer below. Continue this end-to-end, horizonal pour until the majority of the bottom layer is almost fully covered. Make sure to reserve some soap batter in order to complete the layer.
To complete the layer, simply fill in any and all gaps where you can still see some of the layer below peeking through. Using the rest of the soap batter remaining from the layer you've just poured, fully cover up any areas where the bottom layer might still be visible. Make sure to pour your remaining soap batter from down-low so that you don’t inadvertently displace any more soap from that bottom layer. These visably uncovered areas are actually a good thing! You want this to happen as you pour each subsequent layer, since It's these areas which ultimately create even more incredible texture and/or dimention between your layers when you cover them up! Covering up these small areas where the layer beneath is still exposed also sets you up for your next layer, giving it a nice, even surface to "interrupt"!
To finish up this ghoulishly grand soap design, all you have to do is just repeat these two steps (Displace from up-high; cover up from down-low.) until you’ve poured each layer and your mold is filled to the very top with the colors of Halloween mischief, and the scent of a sweet-lime Halloween treat! If you’d like, you can continue by whipping up a batch of soap frosting, or simply adorning the top of your soap with some festive embeds, without the piped-top. If you prefer to skip any additional embellishments, you could even use the back of a spoon to create some lovely texture on top. Whichever way you choose to finish-up your batch of soap, guaranteed it’s bound to look awesome!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN SOAP MAKING!
I’m such a sucker for soap frosting, but even more so when it comes to seasonal soaps! For me, nothing seems to say “Happy Holiday” better than continuing the soapy fun with some cute, theme-appropriate, melt & pour embeds, and a big, fluffy, piped-top! The colors in Nurture Soap’s Epic Color Collection look just as outstanding and ultra-vibrant in soap frosting as they do in actual soap batches, so for this specific project, no other color would make it feel more perfectly complete than the truly epic “Full Throttle” mica-pigment! Using a Wilton #1A piping tip, I created dollops of stunning, bright-yellow soap frosting, then accentuated it with a dusting of Silver Holographic Biodegradable Glitter; which shimmers and shines with the brilliance of a thousand rainbows! Once the embeds were carefully placed, I was officially feeling the full Halloween “spirit”!
In retail, the passage of Halloween always ushers in the beginning of the holiday season, where everywhere you go, it seems the world has suddenly bedecked itself in red ribbons, and golden bells; brown turkey figurines, and forest-green wreaths. In the crafting community, this is the time that marks the beginning of the “busy soap making season”! As you begin to plan and create your seasonal offerings, in all their unique and splendid artistry, I hope that in some small way, this soapy project helped to inspire you, or to ignite the fun and creativity of the season to come! To all my fabulous fellow crafters, happy Halloween, and happy holiday soap making too!
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration (2:1/Water: Lye)
- 30% Olive Oil
- 30% Coconut Oil
- 30% RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 6% “All Soul’s Day” Fragrance Oil
- 1tsp/PPO Each: “Nocturnal”, “Eye of The Tiger”, “Force of Nature” & “Queen for A Day” Micas
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% Lye Concentration (2:1/Water: Lye)
- 35% Olive Oil
- 30% RSPO Palm Shortening (AKA: “No-Stir Palm”)
- 25% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 1tsp/PPO “Full Throttle” Mica
- Silver Holographic Biodegradable Glitter
- Low Sweat Clear Soap Base:
- Witches Feet Embeds in “Nocturnal” Mica, Dry-Painted With “Lime Appeal” Mica
- Jack-o'-lantern Embeds in “Eye of The Tiger” Mica, Dry-Painted With “Firefly” Mica
- Wilton #1A Piping Tip