Guest post by Amber Beltran of A Squirrel & A Scholar Soap Co.
Join Amber's Facebook Group Soap Artistry and High-Top Soap Making For More Tips, Tricks, and Info
INSPIRATION IS ALL AROUND YOU!
I really and truly feel that I was born to be a soap maker! To some, that may not sound like the noblest of dreams or ambitions, but admittedly, I’ve always been a deep thinker; fascinated by science, nature and the world around me, yet supremely content with the simple pleasures in life! I’ve never had dreams of fame, fortune, grandeur or luxury. My version of luxury is curling up on the couch under a cozy blanket while getting thoroughly lost in a good book, or treating myself to the occasional bath bomb. My version of fortune is feeling grateful for all the things I’m fortunate to have: A safe, comfortable roof over my head; good, healthy food in my belly, a soft place to lay my head at night and the love of family! My version of fame is how special and amazing it feels to be the mom of the world’s most awesome boys! In the smallest acts of transforming into a ruthless sniper during a “Nerf War”, becoming a master architect by designing a living room fort, or by tripping over furniture while playing our version of “Indoor Marko Polo Hide & Seek”, my boys make me feel like a Rockstar every single day!
These things have always been enough for me, and are a big part of why I feel artistic soap making runs through my veins! The sheer joy and happiness I find in life’s simple pleasures extends far into soap making too! Creating something beautiful and useful with my own two hands positively fascinates me! Utilizing my imagination to change an intangible thought into a tangible thing feels like pure magic! A color, or combination of them, can immediately ignite inspiration in me, and different fragrances take me on aromatic journeys inside my mind. With a single sniff of a lovely aroma, I can be instantly transported to a rocky shoreline on a stormy, chilly November morning; go on a stroll through a quiet meadow on a warm, spring afternoon; or lie in the cool, damp grass as I look up into the night sky and gaze into the cosmos!
I’ve always felt so content and complete with the feelings these simple joys bring me, I thought it would be fun to make this week’s guest blog more of an invitation to my fellow soap artists! I'll explain... About a year ago we took a family trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and while there, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meander through a busy marketplace to ogle all the beautiful handmade goods! I really wasn’t planning on buying anything, and I think I politely said, “stoy solo mirando” (“I’m just looking”) about a dozen times within the first 10 minutes of being there! However, something about this particular woman’s collection of handmade purses had me drawn in like a magnet!
Each little purse was intricately and uniquely different, but one in particular simply needed to come home with me! Its colors were mesmerizing, and I didn’t even bother to haggle the price down, as many tourists often do; it was well worth the asking price to me! Since then, I’ve stared at that little purse and have pondered making a batch of soap that shared its precise color scheme. For this specific soap project, I decided to do just that! But here’s where I present a fun “challenge” to you, my fellow soap makers! Because I truly feel that artistic inspiration can be found anywhere, and in anything, I’d like to extend a soapy invitation!
The very next batch of soap you make, begin by looking around your home, your yard, or even your neighborhood. Find one object or item which inspires you. Then, using Nurture Soap’s stellar micas and/or pigments, design your batch of soap to match that object or item as closely as possible! With great soap comes great responsibility though! Should you choose to accept this mission, I WANT TO SEE IT!! On Facebook and/or Instagram, share a picture of your gorgeous, soapy creation, along with the item or object you chose to match it with. If posting on Instagram, don’t forget to tag Nurture Soap @nurturesoap (and me too @squirrelandscholar !), or share it on Nurture Soap’s Facebook group page: “Nurture Soap – For the Love of Soap”! Make sure to include which micas and/or pigments you used so that others can be inspired by your artistry too!
Inspiration is incredibly infectious, so I’d be honored if you came along with me as I create a batch of soap based off my own inspiration! Of course, you’re always more than welcome to use or re-create these colors and/or design in your own soap making adventures if you’d like, and I’m happy to share the recipe I used as well! Now, without further ado, let’s get to soap making while re-creating the colors of my favorite purse in a batch of cold process soap!
MELT & POUR MATCH-UP!
Making an awesome-colored batch of soap requires an equally awesome fragrance oil to go with it! Admittedly, before even beginning my “color challenge”, I already had the precise fragrance oil in mind that I wanted to grace this batch of soap with! With such striking colors, Nurture Soap’s sensationally mouthwatering “Avalon” fragrance oil seemed a perfect fit! To my nose, the scent is predominately one of the freshest, juiciest, most crisp apple aromas I’ve ever smelled, but with a delightful twist that gives it a delicious burst of dimension and character! Comprised of glistening top notes of citrus, a fragrant heart of apple, sugar and violet, and an exquisite foundation of peach and musk, “Avalon” fragrance oil doesn’t just smell absolutely sensational, it’s a soap maker’s dream-fragrance too! In my recipe, it actually thins trace, allowing for all sorts of colors and intricate swirls! It doesn’t rice, separate, discolor or morph in scent, and the aroma sticks like superglue in cold process!
It was fully settled in my mind that “Avalon” fragrance oil was the best scent-choice for this project, and because it’s such a fun and easy-going oil, I wanted to make this batch a “high-top” one as well, complete with soap frosting and melt & pour soap embeds adorning the top! Definitely keep in mind though that if you’d like to accept my invitation to create a batch of soap based off of your own in-home color inspiration, or would simply like to re-create this design as well, there is absolutely no obligation to add soap frosting to the top of your own batch of soap if you’d prefer not to. As I always say (because it’s true!), soap frosting is not a requirement for creating sensational batches of handmade soap!
For me and my own soapy shenanigans though, I decided to try my hand at matching up melt & pour embeds to some of the colors I saw in my purse, as well as accentuate the apple-awesomeness of “Avalon” fragrance oil! Embeds in the shape of clovers and apples is what I was aiming for, so for my apple embeds, no other color was more perfect than “Trial by Fire” mica pigment! For half of my clover embeds, I used the always eye-catching “Synergy” mica, and for the remaining half, I created a blend. I wanted to get a super-deep, intense shade of emerald just right, and with a little mixing, I was able to accomplish that by combining “Emerald Green” and “Savage Garden” micas at equal parts. With the embeds complete and looking pretty darn spot-on, I was feeling a little more confident about the rest of the project!
From what I could see in the purse I was hoping to “color-copycat”, I needed 5 different colors to create this specific color scheme. Since Nurture Soap carries such a vast variety of stunning soap colorants, I was happily surprised by how easy it was to match most of the colors up with their mica equivalents! For the ones which presented a little more of a challenge, I discovered Nurture Soap’s Color Blender to be incredibly helpful! If you ever find yourself in a color-blending pickle, Nurture Soap has got your back! Simply select the micas you wish to blend, and the Color Blender will do the rest, showing you the results of your chosen blend in 5 different ratios! The Color Blender also offers helpful blending tips, and if you really want to step up your mica-blending game, check out Nurture Soap’s Mica Blender Mixing Tool! This handy, little gadget allows you to evenly and thoroughly mix small amounts of dry mica so that you can effectively create your very own custom-color blends with precision and ease!
After using Nurture Soap’s Color Blender as a guide for my project’s slightly more challenging colors, I felt confident I had chosen the right ones to accurately represent the colors I saw in my “muse” (AKA: my purse)! Those fabulous micas included: “Honey Blush”, “Synergy”, 2 parts “Winter White” mixed with 1 part “Siren’s Song”, “Trial by Fire”, and 1 part “Emerald Green” mixed with 1 part “Savage Garden”. I dispersed each mica and mica blend in a bit of batch oils, then set them aside as I proceeded to get the rest of the batch prepared and cooled down to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
From here, it was smooth, soapy, sailing, as I split my soap batter into 5 different portions. The main color of the purse I was re-creating in my soap’s color scheme and design was a super-pigmented, vibrantly-bold shade of red, so I poured off a bit more soap batter for the portion I’d be incorporating “Trial by Fire” mica pigment into. Once all 5 portions of soap were looking fantastic in their respective colors, with “Avalon” fragrance oil distributed amongst them, it was time to start pouring!
For the actual design of the project, I chose to do my favorite design technique! “Avalon” fragrance oi behaves so exceptionally well in cold process soap, pouring a down-the-middle tiger-swirl, followed up with a hanger-swirl was a piece of cake! The soap batter remained so fluid and workable from beginning to end, when I finished pouring the batch, I still had plenty of time to create some pretty swirls on top too, simply for the pure enjoyment of it! So far, things were looking great, but I was positively itching to find out if I had indeed gotten each color right!
The last order of business was to whip up a batch of soap frosting, complete piping the loaf, then place each decorative embed on the very top of the soap frosting. Of course, I’m nothing without a bit of magical shimmer dusted on top as well, so I reached for one of my absolute most favorite Enviroglitters of all time! Nurture Soap’s “Shamrock Gold” Enviroglitter was the perfect finishing touch! Now all that remained was to wait and see! Hopefully the cut would reveal a batch of soap that looked somewhat similar in its color scheme to the colors I saw in my purse!
MATCHING THE MUSE!
It was about 12 hours later when the suspense was killing me so much, I just couldn’t wait any longer... It was time to get the batch cut and find out what color-surprises lay in store for me! For the actual cutting of the loaf, I purposely left my purse (the project’s inspiration and muse) in my bedroom so that I wouldn’t be able to make any close-up, side-by-side comparisons until every bar was cut and ready to be scrutinized. In and of themselves, the actual design, and combination of colors, within the bars looked really cool, and so far, I was super pleased with the results! But how would the soaps compare when placed directly beside the purse? Did I ace a perfect color-match? Was I at least close? Did I miss the mark entirely? There was only one way to find out!
It’s extremely possible I experienced a case of mica-matching beginner’s luck with this particular batch... Especially since it’s the first time I can recall attempting to match up my batch colors with an actual physical object (I love looking up color palettes online though)! While I felt pretty confident that I had at least gotten close to my goal, not once did I imagine I’d get this close! Seeing the bars of soap right next to the colors of my purse, I was positively thrilled with the results, and how exceptionally bold, rich and vibrant the micas looked in the soap! I felt like a kid all over again, searching for Waldo in an endless sea of characters also donning red and white stripes!
COLORFUL INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE!
The different sources of inspiration available to us all are as amazing as they are countless! One of the absolute best things about inspiration is that it knows no distance! Inspiration can be found and felt as far away as the other side of our planet, or as distant as the stars in the Milky Way! Fortunately, you don’t have to be a world traveler or an astronaut to find it; it’s easily accessible with the tap of a button, or the click of a mouse! The same is true for how incredibly close by inspiration can be found as well ... In fact, it could be right under your nose, just waiting to be noticed or discovered! It could be as simple as the tiles on your kitchen floor, a favorite sweater or scarf, even a pretty flower that captures your attention on the way out to the mailbox! Earlier today, I even found the inspiration for my next soap project, and it just so happened to be during a family outing this afternoon! Bird of Paradise flowers in full, glorious, bloom and bright, colorful, display made my heart skip a beat the moment they caught my eye! Feel free to use this picture I took for your own source of inspiration too, if you’d like!
Out of all the subjects and themes I’ve had the immense honor of contributing to Nurture Soap’s blog, I think inspiration, in one aspect or another, has been my most written-about topic of all. This is no accident! When it comes to doing those things which you’re most passionate about and love doing with your whole heart, finding and feeling renewed inspiration is so important! Inspiration is the fire which continuously fuels your artistic journey! For me, It’s the secret ingredient in every batch of soap I make! Please join me on this fun and colorful quest for home-grown inspiration! Fully embrace any object or item in, around, or near your home which brings you joy and sparks imagination, then make a batch of soap to match it! Share your soapy inspiration with as many fellow crafters as you possibly can, then watch that inspiration spread like wildfire! I can’t wait to see what you create!
- Lye @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% (2:1/Water: Lye)
- 35% Refined Olive Oil
- 28% RSPO Palm Oil OR RSPO Palm Shortening
- 27% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 6% “Avalon” Fragrance Oil
- 1tsp/PPO “Honey Blush” Mica & “Synergy” Mica
- 1.5 - 2tsp/PPO “Trial by Fire” Mica Pigment
- 1 Part “Savage Garden” Mica + 1 Part “Emerald Green” Mica (To Equal 1tsp/PPO)
- 2 Parts “Winter White” Mica + 1 Part “Siren’s Song” Mica (To Equal 1tsp/PPO)
- Lye @ 5% Superfat
- Distilled Water @ 33% (2:1/Water: Lye)
- 35% Refined Olive Oil
- 28% RSPO Palm Shortening
- 27% Coconut Oil
- 10% Castor Oil
- 6% “Avalon” Fragrance Oil (Optional)
- 2tsp/PPO “Winter White” Mica
- Shamrock Gold Enviroglitter (Dusted on Top)
- Melt & Pour Clover Embeds in “Synergy” Mica
- Melt & Pour Clover Embeds in “Savage Garden” Mica + “Emerald Green” Mica (Blended @ Equal Parts)
- Melt & Pour Apple Embeds in “Trial by Fire” Mica
- ATECO Round Piping Tip (Any Size Preferred)