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Of Heartbreak and The Value of Good Tools

March 04, 2019 3 min read

Of Heartbreak and The Value of Good Tools

Hello again, Soapy Friends! Let’s talk about our tools.

For purposes of this discussion, we’ll call the things that make up our soap ‘materials’, and the things we make it with, we’ll label ‘tools’. Everyone has a soaping budget, whether hobbyist or full professional, or all the places in between, and both materials and tools have a cost. I think if I had an infinite budget, I would have a room of spectacular soapy paraphernalia, but as it happens, I do not. One of the places I chose to cut corners was a soap mold. I’ve had this mold a while. I will not mention where I got it, because I’m not going to be particularly kind to it, but it was not a name brand, with someone behind it to assure me of its quality. When I began soaping, I chose the cheapest mold I could find, and it did serve for a while. But its failure was rather catastrophic, and if I had been reliant on this for customers, it would have been a very costly loss. Allow me to show you.

I started with Firefly Mica. I’m not wild about yellow, but this is so bright and beautiful, it was perfect. At first, it was the color of a really fresh free-range chicken’s egg yolk, but as you’ll see, it warms into the brightest, most beautiful shade of yellow.

I mean, look at it. It’s so perfectly yellow. I let this settle a bit, and mixed the top half, setting aside a little more for piping. It set nicely with a little patience so I could blend my other colors. I like the way this formula takes on color. Mica stays bright and true in this blend of oils, and the premix is easy to use.

These are amazing colors. I think Really Red! Pigment is pretty well known, but if you don’t know it, here it is. It’s the truest red I’ve seen, and it stays red. It doesn’t darken or turn a brick shade or shift orangey. It is just RED. Atomic Orange Mica is also fierce, a bright, true orange. And I like Activated Charcoal, both for the color, and the fact that it doesn’t puff up in my face in a giant black cloud, but is still fine enough to use. I poured it in stripes on top of the yellow and swirled.

Look at these colors.  I just love the intensity.

So I let this settle just a few minutes, and then prepared the last of the soap with Maya Gold Mica. In retrospect, I should have used more of it. I used a light hand, because it is very shimmery, and I wanted the top to shine, but I didn’t want the piped soap to outshimmer the rest of the soap.

I was pleased. I tucked it away to rest, and I thought all was well. I was mistaken. I had great materials. This oil blend is amazing, and allows you to have sharp layers or slender swirls. The micas are bright and predictable and easy to use.

The mold warped. This is painful to look at.

It’s hard to see the twist in the wood. It isn’t a ton of warping, but it is enough to trap the inset and soap in the mold. I heated it, I froze it, I yelled at it, I called my mother. In the end, it had to be pried and squished out. I contacted the manufacturer, who never answered. Bottom right is a little soap cupcake – I love this piping set. I got the loaf out, with much weeping.

That’s ugly, and it doesn’t show all of it. (Still, look at that yellow!)

A friend of mine who is a contractor saw my mold, and he warned me. He doesn’t know much about soap, but he knows a lot about lumber, and he said he hoped it didn’t get wet or hot. I kept it dry, but, well, soap gets hot. This was a good bit of work lost. Though I have a drawer full of fragrances and colors, I kept putting off upgrading my mold. It catches up with you. It’s worth keeping upgrades on your tools on your priority list, along with the materials that make your soap beautiful and fun to use.

Having said all that, the parts of the soap that weren’t entirely chewed up were really pretty.

The swirls are very fine, and I love the small intrusions into the yellow base that look like cracks. These cuts from the relative center are still presentable, and my family has all heard about my adventures and will receive the rough bits with a chuckle.

So there’s that.

Happy Soaping!

Erin

Erin Chapman

Erin is a writer living quietly in the Appalachians, making soap and writing health care articles and horror fiction. She's obsessed with fragrances and the moods they evoke, and uses her soap to inspire her fiction, and her fiction to inspire her soap. She's probably baking delicious cupcakes right now. Or soaping them!


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