Photo submitted in the soap challenge contest:
This month’s soap challenge by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks is to make soap using an impression mat.
These are mats that are typically used on cakes with fondant or frosting. I knew this challenge was coming up, so I ordered a wonderful Wilton Fondant Mat. However, it was surprisingly different than what is used for making soap. This mat leaves a negative impression, or an imprint in the soap. Most soap I have seen using this technique uses a positive impression – or a raised portion of the soap on top – which really makes it pop.
Of course after signing up for the challenge and watching the training videos, there wasn’t enough time to order something else and still be assured that I could make my soaps before the deadline.
Fortunately, I was able to find one mat from Hobby Lobby that looked like it had plenty of detail to work nicely. It was big enough for my 5 lb soap mold and when I trimmed a half inch off the edges of empty space, it fit perfectly into my BB mold without the liner.
Four Thieves Soap:
My plan was to make my Four Thieves soap with a Dandelion Zebra swirl just like I have done in the past, with the addition of the mat.
I mixed up my essential oil blend of Four Thieves:
5 oz – 142 grams:
34% Clove leaf: 1.7 oz 48 grams
30% Litsea: 1.5 oz 43 grams
16% Cinnamon: .8 oz 23 grams
12% Eucalyptus: .6 oz 17 grams
8% Rosemary: .4 oz 11 grams
Of course this blend accelerates trace & discolors a bit, but I’ve been able to work around that by omitting the eo in the colors used for the zebra swirl, and mixing up just what I need of natural soap with the Four Thieves oil and some TD.
I planned for 3 pours of soap with the fragrance in it, progressively adding more eo to each layer, which would cause each to become a bit darker than the previous layer.
3 pours with eo (total of 134 grams scent):
But first I needed to put some colors on my impression mat. I used:
Yellow: CC Yellow Oil Locking Mica
Red/Orange: BB Coral Mica
Bright Pink: BB Radiant Plum
Purple: TKB Magic Violet
Blue: BB Ultramarine Blue
Green: Leftover combo of greens
I mixed my oils & lye water together, then poured off 12 oz for the impression mat colors. (In hindsight I would have needed less than 6 oz.)
I stick blended my 12 oz to a medium trace, then divided them into 6 paper cups and added the colors:
I spread the soap on the mat in a diagonal so that each bar would have a variety of colors. I wish I would have applied them at a 45 degree angle for more color variety and only stick blended the soap to light trace, as it got really thick.
I worked the colored soap into the mat a bit, then scraped off the excess and carefully put the mat into the mold.
That took much longer than expected, and now all my soap batter was thicker than I had wanted.
I put down the first layer of uncolored soap with a small amount of eo in it, then started my dandelion zebra swirl. (I did take a photo, but it was quite blurry, so it’s not included.) Things were setting up very fast – even the soap without the fragrance – so I had to step up my pace and didn’t stop for any more attempts at photographing the process.
After the first layers of zebra swirl, I mixed up the 2nd third of my plain soap batter and poured that; then did another layer of zebra and the last third of batter with eo.
I used the rest of my colors on top (which, if the impression is successful, will be the bottom.)
And now the unveiling:
The first cut from each end…looks like clouds & rainbows.
A whopping 197 soapers entered the challenge, which I found surprising, as December is such a busy month. It just goes to show you how important soaping is to enthusiasts!
I was very fortunate & really thrilled to receive the “Sponsor’s Choice Award,” from Bramble Berry, the patron of this challenge. I placed 7th overall.
The note Kelsey from Bramble Berry sent me said: “We all love your Four Thieves Soap. The diagonal rainbow colors on the lace are amazing. You did such an excellent job.”
Very high praises from a group of super talented people – their feedback really means a lot to me and I am extremely grateful.
See my next blog (Dec 16, 2015) on working with negative impression mats.