Circling Taiwan Swirl – January 2016 Soap Challenge

The January 2016 Soap Challenge Competition is the Circling Taiwan Swirl. The challenge is run by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.


The lotus flower – photo submitted in challenge. The green jojoba beads add a texture to the petals.

The objective in this challenge was to create a lotus flower pattern when putting two end pieces side by side, mirroring each other.

The lotus flower is the national flower of both Vietnam and India. In India the lotus flower has made its way deep into religious beliefs and in national folklore. The lotus is one of the eight auspicious symbols and is considered to be a symbol for the progress of the soul through muddy materialism, all the way to bright and sunny enlightenment.

Lotus Flower Facts - All Amazing Facts

I chose both the colors & scent for this batch because they feel very Asian: Lemongrass essential oil is from a plant native to Southeast Asia and is know for numerous medicinal properties. The Kumquat is added to tame the earthiness of the lemongrass just a bit.

Lemongrass Kumquat with Jojoba Beads (Third Batch):

This is the third batch I made (the first & second batches to follow).

In this attempt, I used a thicker batter and bigger chopstick, with a wider swirl to achieve the lotus flower in the end pieces.

Master batch oils – #2 (see previous blog for recipe):
80 oz/ 2268 grams of oils
11.332 oz/ 321 grams lye
25oz liquid/ 709 grams = 116 oz soap
47 grams Sodium Lactate

5 lb Mold:
1.5 oz/ 42 grams BB Lemongrass eo
2.5 oz/ 71 grams BB Kumquat fo

I poured off 32 oz for another project and added all of the fragrance to the batter, then divided & added color. The dark green got very stiff, but there was no acceleration with the others.

20 oz of each color:
Dark green (BB Leftover green)
BB Fizzy Lemonade yellow (with green jojoba beads)
TKB EZB Lakeside light green (with green jojoba beads)
BB Tangerine Wow orange

The lotus flower:




Sunshine Orange Yuzu (Second Batch)

In this batch, I was going for an especially bright, sunny and happy soap.

I used my 3 lb mold with dividers and put it all in a miter box to prevent the middle from bowing out. I also put masking tap on the dividers to make them easier to grip when pulling them out – which worked great!

This was my plan…

Use Master batch oils – #2:
42 oz/ 1191 grams of oils
5.949 oz/ 169 grams lye
12 .8 oz liquid/ 362 grams = 61 oz soap
16 grams Sodium Lactate
1.5 oz 10X Orange eo
1.5 oz Yuzu fo

With my oils & lye water at about 112 degrees, I stick blended to just emulsification. I pulled out 9 oz for test samples, as I only needed 52 oz for this project.

Color & Fragrance Blend – 13 oz of batter for each:
TD white – .75 oz Yuzu
BB Electric Lemonade – .75 oz 10X Orange eo
BB Tangerine Wow Orange – .75 oz 10X Orange eo
TKB #30 Lake True Red – .75 oz Yuzu

I was really worried about using TD, as it tends to thicken up the batter, and I wanted it to be even thinner than my first batch. I added my colors & fragrances to all the containers, with the TD last and pouring it first.

The 10x orange in the orange & yellow colors darkened them up a bit, while the Yuzu is water white, so there was no change to the white & red colors.


I circled the mold 14 times. With such thin batter, the soap did not curve as much as the other batchs, but the lines were very thin & nicely delineated.


Close up of right side – I love the very fine detail.

I know I could have increased the pop if I alternated the colors so that there was more contrast: i.e. white, red, yellow, orange – but I wanted them to gradually flow into each other like a sunrise.


The mirrored end pieces from each side of the loaf (cut horizontally) for the lotus flower effect.


Slices from the middle of the loaf:


I do like this batch the best, but I felt it did not meet the requirement of a lotus flower in the soap, which the previous batch did.

(For another try at this soap, see Blog Post June 13, 2016 –
Sunshine Orange Yuzu in Circling Taiwan Swirl).


Lavender soap (First Batch):

I used 55 oz of Master batch oils #2 for 80 oz of soap; with 4.5 oz of BB Lavender fo, in a 5 lb mold with 4 dividers.

I mixed the fragrance in the oils before adding the lye water and stick blended to emulsified.

Colors used – 20 oz of each:
BB Radiant Plum
BB Aqua Mica
TKB EZB The Fox Purple
BB Ultraviolet Blue

After pouring into the four divided areas and swirling with a small chopstick, I realized I was so intent with what I was doing that I forgot to take any photos of the process

I circled the mold 12 times to get this effect.


Close up of Circling Taiwan swirl.

I had wanted more of a blue-colored aqua, rather than the greener aqua I got and realized I should have used BB Neon Blue Raspberry instead. But the Aqua does brighten the soap up a bit more.

The mirrored ends of the loaf, for the lotus flower effect:


I love the colors in this soap batch, just not happy with all the soda ash. Even after steaming and planing it off, it seems to permeate the bars like tiny ice crystals.



Pat yourself on the back for making it all the way to the end of this post….it was a long one! Thank you so much for checking out my blog!!


There were 177 soapers that signed up for this challenge – with the option of submitting soaps for judging split into two categories: “Newbie,” for those who have been making soap for less then 2 years and “Experienced,” with more than 2 years of soaping. Since I have been soaping for 3+ years, I entered in the experienced category, although I and certainly no expert and feel there is still so much more for me to learn.

59 newbie’s and 51 experienced soapers submitted their soaps for judging. I think the newbie’s soaps were even prettier than the experienced soapers entires, which made it even more difficult to pick out the superstars…but then it’s always very tough to choose the winners!





18 comments on “Circling Taiwan Swirl – January 2016 Soap Challenge

  1. eva edmonds says:

    Nice soaps Sly! I especially liked the colors of your Lavender soaps. It is amazing how different the opposite ends are sure – a really cool technique. I like the fine veins you made in your flower petals for your final entry! Pretty! : )


  2. Omneya Dhmaid says:

    Very very pretty


  3. Debi Olsen says:

    Great job on all of them, Sly! They are all so uplifting and cheerful. They make me even more ready for spring! I’m not sure what it’s like down in your part of the state but up here in the northern part we are full of snow and lots of brown mud where everything is melting! šŸ˜¦ Come on spring!!!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I just wish they would have turned out better :-0
      We have definitely had a lot of snow…that has taken forever to melt! I hadn’t seen my “pets” in over a month – they’ve found some winter wheat fields to feast on. But our deer herd finally came around this week, with lots of friends – 3 dozen of them in our front “yard!” It was a joy to see them all.
      Your alpacas must enjoy the cold weather…what about your bees?


      • Debi says:

        The alpacas do seem to like it. They’re allover the pasture exploring. The bees seem to be hanging in there. They have to love Colorado! One day it’s freezing and the next it’s practically shorts weather!šŸ˜


  4. Janie says:

    Very nice, Sly! I thought about adding poppy seeds to mine, but backed out of that idea. I’m happy to see that the Jojoba beads did well. Great job!


  5. Amy Warden says:

    Loved all three of your batches because of all the different color combos! Fascinating how the differences in colors, the texture of the batter, and the different tools used to swirl the soap can make such marked differences in the final outcome! I also love seeing the difference between the two ends – really cool! They each were framed by the outside color which I just think is so fascinating. šŸ™‚


    • soapsbysly says:

      Dear Amy:
      You are very generous in your praises – thank you so very much! You can always see the good in every soap & soaper!
      I am much more critical of my results: I feel like I didn’t live up to the “experienced” level of soaping on this one and was very disappointed with the outcome of the Lavender and Lemongrass soaps. The Lavender because of the plethora of soda ash permeating the soap – I haven’t had that happen so thoroughly in a couple years. And the colors were different than I had expected – which of course happens many times. The color morphing & design outcome of the Lemongrass didn’t live up to my expectations either.
      It’s always a learning experience!
      And that’s why we are all here!!


  6. Claudia says:

    Your soaps make me so happy — you really are a joyful soaper! How did you like working with the jojoba beads? I’m partial to on-purpose speckles myself, partially because the disguise my flaws, but they are also fun.

    Thank you for sharing all your recipes, steps, successes, failures, etc.!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Dear Claudia:
      Your comment makes me happy! Thank you so much!I do like using bright colors (especially purple & pink).
      RE: Jojoba beads – I rarely use them, mostly when I am making something with only two colors in my vertical mold, to add more interest. And I don’t use my vertical mold enough, so I don’t have much experience with the jojoba beads.
      I have some white “medium” ones (28/60) and they are so tiny that it makes the soap look like it’s has problems. I only used them once and it wasn’t pretty. The colored ones in this size might make it look different.
      The rest of my Jojoba beads are 20/40 (425-850 microns), so I’m guessing they are considered large. They show up nicely.


  7. April says:

    I love your colors as usual Sly! You have a gift with Colors, every single loaf is brilliant. I was also a little mystified. For the most part all of us could have entered as one group. This is apparently an extremely challenging challenge šŸ˜‰ I’ll take bets though that almost all of us will try some more to perfect this one because these soaps are really pretty.


    • soapsbysly says:

      Dear April:
      Thank you so much!
      You are so right – there are so many great looking soaps, it’s hard to vote!
      Interestingly, I used the exact same orange and yellow in both the Sunshine Orange Yuzu soap and the Lemongrass Kumquat soap – and they turned out totally different.
      I know the 10x Orange eo darkened them both in the Sunshine soap, but I was surprised at how the orange looked more melon colored in the Lemongrass soap. This eo does discolor yellow, and I was a bit flustered when the yellow turned more green-ish with the green jojoba beads, as that didn’t happen last time I used them in yellow. (I did use a different brand of eo this time, so that may have made the difference.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. April says:

    oh, I’ve wondered about jojoba beads and if they would survive saponification, looks like they most certainly did in your lotus! How do they feel and perform in your soaps? I think they’re pretty.


    • soapsbysly says:

      Jojoba beads are really a wax, so if you put them in with your oils they would melt at some temperature. But I have never had a problem with them when adding to the soap batter.
      They are such a mild exfoliant, I barely feel them in the soap, so maybe I need to add more. But they are great when someone wants an exfoliant, but not anything scratchy.
      I have put them on top of soap as more of a decoration and you could feel them more in the soap. I mostly use them for extra color, usually in my vertical mold when I’m only using two colors, but I haven’t had much experience with them.
      I do know the white 28/60 (250-600 microns – Bramble Berry’s medium size) made my soap look like it had a problem – that could be because of the color or the tiny size. All my other beads are 20/40 (425-850 microns), so I they are a larger size and look good in the soap.
      You will have to give them a try and let me know how they worked for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. April says:

    I will order and try some and let you know šŸ™‚


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