Hello, my name is Amber Beltran, and I am a morning person! Now, don’t get me wrong, I do have an affection for nights as well, and have definitely done my fair share of “night owl soapmaking” when inspiration strikes late, but mornings are really where it’s at for me! In fact, I’m such a fan of mornings, I’m even one of those weirdos who will set her alarm for 7a.m. on days when I have nowhere to be, nothing of importance planned, and could totally take advantage of sleeping in! But why sleep in and miss out on a perfectly glorious morning just waiting to fill you with a sense of renewal and awe? That’s my take on it anyway!
Now, admittedly, there is a moment, right as my alarm starts blaring each morning, where I silently curse myself for setting it the night before! Rarely do I ever hit that “snooze” button though, as the second semi-coherent thought slowly begins to creep into my brain, and I realize it’s the start of a brand-new day, I drag my semi-conscious self out of bed and clumsily stumble around in the general direction of the bathroom. You see, in this precise moment, I am a morning person who just doesn’t know it yet! It’s a realization I have to re-make each and every day. It’s not until I’ve had my morning shower that I remember once more just how much I love mornings. Then, and only then, have I become a coherent human being again who can fully appreciate the everyday miracle, wonder and beauty that is another awe-inspiring day… I am officially refreshed and renewed!
It’s actually Reason #81 of why I love soapmaking so much… Being that my morning shower is the catalyst for which I’m able to feel human again, I love the fact that I can make my own, custom soaps to facilitate that! It’s so fulfilling to be able to choose wonderfully rejuvenating and revitalizing fragrances (fragrances which speak to my very soul!), and incorporate those splendid aromas into my very own batch of soap! Whether it’s clay, castile, bastille, lard, tallow or beer soap; whether it’s smooth and creamy, or contains pumice, walnut shell or colloidal oats, a “morning shower” bar of soap is the very best kind of soap there is! It’s the soap that wakes you up and makes you feel alive. It’s the soap that uplifts the spirit and refreshes the soul; the soap that makes you think, “Ok world, let’s do this!” the moment you turn the water off and throw back the shower curtain!
As you can probably tell, I’m passionate about mornings, soap, and morning soap! It’s exactly why I was inspired to take these three passions and combine them into one soapy project: “sunrise soap”! With a marvelous bar of sunrise soap, I can bring the beauty and enchantment of the sunrise right into the shower with me! This actually isn’t the first time I’ve made this soap design, but I was immensely honored when my first batch of sunrise soap was so well received, I decided another batch needed to happen! I’m a creature of constantly changing creativity though (making the same exact batch of soap over and over again just isn’t for me), so I decided to stick with the original design theme, but make a few, fun changes as well!
The very first time I made a batch of sunrise soap, I did an online image search for inspiration. I discovered that there are SO MANY different types of unique and positively breathtaking sunrises in this astonishing world of ours! There are countless arrays of spectacular color combinations, with landscape, geographic location and even seasons shaping and affecting each and every one! Naturally, I went with the picture of the sunset (and matching color palette) which inspired me most, but what moves and inspires me might be completely different from what moves and inspires you. Feel free to fully embrace your inner creativity, look through pictures of sunrises as well, and choose that one which speaks most profoundly to YOU! You can absolutely change the color theme of this project to make it uniquely yours, as there’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to sunrise soap!
For this project, I wanted to choose a fragrance which would energize me and make me feel alive the very moment I turned the shower on and began lathering up… A fragrance which would immediately uplift and enhance my mood, taking me on a delightful sensory escape to images of blissful sunrises. It was a complete no-brainer for me… That fragrance had to be Nurture Soap’s “Sun Kissed Cocoa”! With notes of yuzu, cocoa, tonka bean, coconut, bergamot and orange, this is, without a doubt, one of my top 10 favorite fragrance oils of all time! Its notes of citrus and coconut are simply intoxicating, it behaves amazing in cold process, has outstanding scent retention, is deliciously fragrant in application, and very slight discoloration is easily and completely masked with the use of colorants! It’s absolutely drool-worthy, and knowing exactly what I wanted to do with this sensational scent, I got started on my sunrise soap project, and decided I’d call this particular batch “Rise & Shine Cold Process Soap”!
The rundown of this lovely soap design is actually quite simple! It might look complicated because of all the colors, embedded soap column, piped top and embeds, but doing a layered look in soap is actually quite fun and simple, and with this fragrance oil allowing plenty of time to work, you can happily soap away at your own, leisure pace! Furthermore, if you don’t own a column mold, and/or prefer to omit the piped-top with embeds, this soap, with all its beautiful layers of eye-catching color, will still look absolutely amazing without these extra embellishments!
First thing to do was to get started on making the melt & pour embeds, which would go both in and on top of the soap. I grabbed the best melt & pour soap base for embed-making (Nurture Soap’s Low Sweat, Clear Soap Base), my handy-dandy .15CC Mini Scoops, my molds and my micas. There were four different types of embeds I wanted to make, and the first was a round column of soap, which would be embedded into the actual soap itself to represent the sun coming up over the horizon.
The round, silicone column mold that I have is one inch in diameter, but if you don’t have a column mold available to you, remember that this is completely optional, and not necessary for making a gorgeous batch of soap. Alternatively, you can also make your own column mold by going to your local hardware store and having an associate cut you a piece of appropriately-sized PVC piping. When making your own column mold, just be sure to secure one end to prevent leaking, and line the inside with plastic or parchment paper so you can easily unmold your soap too. You’ll also want to use a tall jar, vase or cup to hold your mold upright as your soap sets up.
For my round column embed, I chose Nurture Soap’s brilliant “Orange Vibrance” mica, and once the melt & pour soap had set, I cut the length of the soap column so that it would fit perfectly within my 2.5lb Basic Soap Mold. Next was to make the melt & pour embeds which would adorn the top of my soap. Using Nurture Soap’s Small 9 Ball Silicone Mold, I made adorable, little spheres of soap using the ever lovely, delicately pink “Love Song” mica.
For my remaining embeds, I chose to make little leaves to represent the beauty of nature, and no other shade was more perfect for that than “Celadon Green” mica! To highlight the citrusy goodness of the fragrance oil itself, citrus wedges in “Orange Vibrance” mica were made as well. With the embeds complete, and things coming together beautifully, it was time to make my sunrise-inspired cold process soap!
I was feeling excited and ready to dive into this bright, awakening project, so I gathered all my mica colors, which would create this sunrise-inspired creation, and dispersed them in a bit of olive oil. I left the color blend with which I’d color my soap frosting dry, since that one would be dispersed directly into the soap frosting batch oils later on. This specific soapy sunrise would have six stunning layers and a fluffy, cloud-like piped top.
For the first layer, I chose “Northern Lights” mica, as this mystical shade of purple was the perfect color to represent rolling hills in the near horizon at the very first sign of daybreak. The next layer had to be none other than the whimsical “Berry Twist” mica, as the violet-pinkish tone of this delightful shade was the perfect accompaniment to “Northern Lights” mica, representing the kiss of daybreak upon yonder hills! The third layer had to be positively magical! This was the layer which would represent those earliest, intensely breathtaking rays of sunlight which herald the first blazing glimpses of the rising sun as it begins to spill over the horizon. No other color was more felicitous for this than the fabulous “Coral Reef” mica! This mica is positively Exquisite with a capitol “E”! Oranges, and especially coral oranges can occasionally be tricksters in cold process though. Being temperamental to temperature, they can sometimes start out bold and bright, only to fade to a peachy color after saponification. Through personal experience however, I’ve found “Coral Reef” mica to be an intensely bold shade of coral-orangey-pinkish-red in application, and it has never once faded or morphed on me! I kind of don’t allow it to though! To ensure I get the brightest, most vivid shade of coral in my cold process soaps, I use double my usual amount (opting for 2tsp per pound of oils instead of my usual 1tsp per pound of oils), and keep an eye on my batch while insulated, to make sure it doesn’t get too hot during saponification.
The final three layers had to flawlessly represent the heaven-bound rays of the sun, as they yawned and stretched across the expanse of a tranquil, blue sky. Nothing like the serenity of Nurture Soap’s exclusive, peachy-pink “Cantaloupe” mica, followed by the exuberant vibrancy of “Orange Vibrance” and “Love & Sunshine” micas, could be more pleasing or appropriate for this specific part of the project! With the colors ready and looking sublimely ethereal, it was time to start designing a sunrise!
I wanted this layered soap design to feature softly, uneven texture in each layer, so I brought my soap batter to a slightly thicker trace that what I normally work at, stick blending until my soap batter just barely reached medium trace. As mentioned previously, “Sun Kissed Cocoa” fragrance oil remains on its best behavior in cold process soap, so I knew it wouldn’t give me any trouble starting out at this thicker trace. I carefully divided my soap batter into six equal portions, then incorporated each stunning mica color in the order which I’d be pouring each layer. When working in layers, normally I reserve adding the fragrance oil until the very end, hand-stirring it into one layer at a time, immediately prior to pouring it. With “Sun Kissed Cocoa” however, there’s nothing to fear, so I went ahead and incorporated this deliciously scrumptious fragrance into every portion of my soap batter at the same time. My whole workspace immediately smelled like pure sunshine!
I grabbed my first portion of soap, and began creating my “Rise & Shine” sunrise soap! I poured the entirety of it into the mold, then took the back of a spoon to add some texture. I wanted my layers to be more like soft hills and less like sharp mountains, so using the backside of the spoon to create wavy “hills” of texture worked out great!
When I was finished obsessing over my little “soap hills” and was pleased with the look, I continued on to the next layer. When creating layers in soap, it’s important to use a spatula to break the fall of one layer over the next, so that your layers remainlayers, and don’t inadvertently disrupt the layer below it. To do this, simply position a spatula over your mold with one hand as you pour the next layer with the other hand. Gently pour down the spatula, guiding your soap batter with it, as you steadily and simultaneously move the spatula and the soap batter from one end of your mold to the other. Continue this until the layer below is thoroughly covered.
As with the first layer, I intended to add some soft texture, but before texturing this specific layer, there was one important embellishment that was ready to be added: my “sun”! My soap batter was still fluid enough to be easily workable, but also thick enough to where I could lay down my round column soap embed without it sinking to the layer below. I carefully laid it down into the soap, and it stayed put nicely! I continued by adding some soft texture to this layer as well.
I pressed on, pouring each layer in the same fashion as the one before it, using my spatula to break the fall, then adding some texture with my spoon. Thanks to this AMAZING fragrance oil, I was able to work at a blissfully slow and steady pace! Each layer poured as smoothly and effortlessly as the next, and the colors, paired with the enlivening scent of “Sun Kissed Cocoa”, looked and smelled like a sunrise in paradise!
At this point, if you’d like to create this soapy design at home, but choose to omit the piped top, that would be perfectly great too! A “low-top” version of this sunrise-themed soap design is going to look every bit as beautiful as a “high-top” version would! For me, I’m just hopelessly addicted to the fun of piping the top of my soap batches, so I proceeded to the next step of this project by incorporating the micas into the batch oils which would become my soap frosting. I wanted this part of my soapy design to represent a peacefully pretty, soft, blue sky, so I mixed my all-time favorite blue mica with my all-time favorite white one! One part “Blue Vibrance” mica mixed with three parts “Winter White” mica creates the most true, beautiful, delicate shade of light blue in my soap batches, so I knew this would be perfect for my piped top!
I plan on discussing soap frosting and piping the tops of soap batches more thoroughly in a future blog post, but for the time being, I wanted to let you in on a little secret… If you’ve been interested in making your own piped top soaps, but haven’t given it a try yet because you think you don’t know how, it’s very possible you’re wrong (to put it rather bluntly)! If you know how to make cold process soap, then you know how to make soap frosting too! I know you may be thinking, “But Amber, I don’t even have a recipe for making soap frosting!”, and to that I say: most likely you do!
You see, some might have you believe that you need a super special recipe to make soap frosting, or that the process itself is complicated, but I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT, and it’s extremely likely that the very same cold process soap recipe you’re using right now will also make for a great soap frosting recipe too! The very same recipe that I use for my soap batches is the exact recipe I use for my soap frosting as well! The absolute only thing I would suggest when it comes to making soap frosting is that your recipe consist of at least 60% hard oils (or close to that), and that you implement a liquid discount of at least a 33% lye concentration (2:1/liquid:lye). This is purely for the sake of not having to wait around forever for your soap frosting to set up to a pipeable consistency. The actual process? Easy-peasy! Just make a batch of cold process soap in the same way you normally would, starting with about half the amount of oils as your main batch (for example, if your main batch was 32oz of oils, make an additional 16oz recipe for your soap frosting), and then adjust from there if you find it was more frosting than you needed, or not enough.
Once you’ve added your optional colorant(s) and/or fragrance oil (only well-behaving fragrance oils for soap frosting!!!) to your batch oils, incorporate the lye and simply stick blend to a light trace, stopping here (you don’t want to burn out your stick blender!). Come back frequently and stir your soap batter with a spatula to check the consistency. Once it’s reached the point where it will hold its shape nicely and form soft peaks, it’s ready to be poured into a piping bag and piped onto the top of your soap! It’s that easy, and you can even practice your piping skills by purchasing a small container of frosting at your local market, and making dollops with it on a piece of parchment or freezer paper. This way, you’ll be able to accustom yourself to the type of consistency to look for, and also practice your technique with different piping tips too!
As I finished piping the top of my “Rise & Shine” sunrise soap, I stood back and happily inspected my fluffy, blue “sky”. It looks great, and fit the theme of my soapy project perfectly, but it was missing something. This cheerful, blue sky needed some “bling”, and no other “bling” was more fitting for this heavenly creation than Nurture Soap’s dazzling “Mystic Gold” EnviroGlitter! Not only is this glitter downright entrancing, but it’s 100% environmentally-friendly too! It’s a truly opulent white-based glitter that shimmers and shines with a golden brilliance that would make King Midas jealous! They say every cloud has a silver lining, but in my soapy world, it’s a Mystic Gold one!
After applying a generous amount of enthralling sparkle to the top of my sunrise soap, I lovingly placed the remaining embeds on top, gave the batch a quick spritz of rubbing alcohol (to help keep the soda ash gremlins away), lightly insulated, then put this sunrise to bed for the night!
The next morning was a positively glorious one (as always)! Not only was it a fresh, new beginning to another fabulous day, but it was sunrise soap-cutting day too! Normally I slide my way out of bed until my feet eventually touch the floor, but on this day, I bounded! As I began to cut the loaf into uniquely individual bars of soap, carefully admiring each and every one as I went along (and savoring that sweet nectar of the gods, otherwise known as “Sun Kissed Cocoa” fragrance oil!), I found myself falling in love! The incredible colors, design and aroma of this soapy work of art came together magnificently to create my own little slice of sunshine… A personal depiction and representation of one of my absolute favorite sunrises to be captured in a photograph, now brought to life through creative inspiration, and resting in the palm of my hand!
Whether you’re a morning person like me, or a night owl, like sometimes me (WOW! We’re so much alike, it’s scary!), creativity and inspiration can strike at any time! Inspiration comes in many ways, and in so many different forms! What inspires one person may become the catalyst which inspires many others! The ways in which inspiration comes to us is so beautifully personal to the individual receiving it. Creative inspiration could come in the form of a sunrise that takes your breath away, or a sunset which sets the whole sky ablaze! It could be in the way the light of a full moon dances upon ripples of water, or how still and delicately snow sits upon the bare branches of a tree. In whatever form inspiration finds you, may you always embrace it and use it as fuel to shine! Through your own magnificent creativity, capture that which moves and motivates you, and make it uniquely yours! But please, do share as well! I love seeing what my fellow soap artists have created, and learning about the unique inspirations which brought your own soapy creations to life! So get out there, get inspired, and then pass it on… TAG, YOU’RE IT!