My journey through Great Cakes Soap Challenge January 18, 2016 08:50 1 Comment

I have been following great cakes soap challenge for a couple of years now.  In the past, I have used it for a resource and inspiration.  I looked forward to seeing each months new soap challenge and all of the beautiful soaps that were made.  This past December I decided to take the plunge and sign up for January's challenge.  This is my very first soap challenge/competition even though I have been soaping or making soap for over seven years.  January 4 was an exciting day,  I was so excited when I entered the soap challenge.  The very next day I began making batches of the circling Taiwan swirl with three dividers and three colors.  It took me a bit to figure out which one of my recipes would be the best to use for this technique.  There was also the issue of fragrance oils causing acceleration of the soap batter.  Needless to say, I did have a few failed batches that didn't quite turn out as pretty as expected or I had to abandon the plan altogether because of the fragrance accelerating my soap batter into super thick pudding.  Oh, the woe's of the soap maker.  Seriously I have had a blast making all eight batches of soap.  Yes, you read it right I did say eight.  The soap challenge has been a great experience for me so far in creativity and color scheming, thinking about how the end soap would look once it was cut with those certain colors I had chosen or was thinking about choosing.

Here are what the judges are looking for in the circling Taiwan swirl.  The batch of soap is to be cut differently than you would normally cut a batch of soap.  Instead of making regular slices, the log of soap is to be cut double thick (the size that would normally be 2 bars of soap), then it is turned on its side and sliced in half again.  This cut reveals on the end inside pieces a lotus flower when matched side by side.  You will understand as you read and look at the photos below.

So here is the very first batch that I made for the soap challenge. 

Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations Soaps    I made this with my rice bran soap recipe and scented it with lemongrass sage fragrance oil from Elements Bath & Body.  Colors used were all mica from Nurture Soap.  My oils were at 93 degrees and my lye was at 103 degrees with this batch.  This accelerated and set up quicker than I had anticipated.  I used a chopstick to do the swirl and thought from the look on the top that the inside would come out better than it did.  Once I unmolded and cut it into bars I knew that this one was not going to be submitted into the challenge so I beveled the edges and stamped them as you can see. Soap smell fresh and clean.

Batch No. 2

    Sometimes your color scheme doesn't turn out like you planned either.  This batch was scented with a blend of Georgia peach fo and mango sorbet from Elements Bath & Body and Wholesale Supplies Plus, which was a little bit better than the first batch.  Colors are all mica from Nurture Soap.  I used a chopstick again to do the swirl. This soap smells really good to me but, it is just horribly ugly.  I can say that because I made it.  Not submittable again.  I used my same rice bran soap recipe.

Batch No 3

    Awww, now I was getting somewhere with this technique, or an improvement anyway.  I made this batch with my olive cocoa butter soap recipe.  It is scented with Irish green tweed fragrance oil from Elements Bath & body.  Once again all color are mica from Nurture.  Yes, I love their mica!  I used a chopstick for the swirl on this batch also.  Not sure I'm liking the effect that I get, though. This batch performed better but was extremely soft when I took it out of the mold.  I had to let it set for another day before I could cut it.  Okay, so I'm thinking I will make another batch still because I know I can do better.

On to batch No 4

Oh my GOSH!  I wish I had pictures of this fail!  I used my olive cocoa butter recipe for this one as well and used the scent Narcissist from Natures Garden.  I read the info online about this fo stating that it didn't accelerate in their soap recipe that they tested it with.  I soaped at around 95 degrees with this and as soon as I added this fragrance, instant super thick pudding.  So I hurried and glooped it into my mold with the other two colors, ran a hanger swirl through it then sprinkled some intergalactic glitter on top and put it to bed.

  Not the best picture, but some things you try to forget.

Moving on to batch No 5

Okay, by now I'm starting to get frustrated.  If you know me, when something is giving me a hard time I obsess about it more than a little bit.  Well, I did obsess about it so much that I made a new recipe.  Talk about stressing yourself out.  Now I have a new recipe that has never been tested so I don't know how it's going to act, but it looks like it's going to stay thin enough to let me do what I need to with this technique.

      I was right, it did behave much better.  I had plenty of time to get it done.  This one I scented with Lime Cilantro fro Elements Bath & Body, colors are mica all from Nurture Soap.  This time, I used the end of my soaping spoon that I've had since I started making soap.  I got this gadget from Majestic Mountain Sage.  I like the results better than all the previous batches that I made so far for the challenge although I do have a bit of soda ash on the top as you can see from the picture in the bottom right.

Batch No 6

      Now we're talking.  On this batch, I used the new recipe I created again and scented it with Vetiver fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus.  Colors are mica from Nurture Soap again, turquoise and firecracker red.  I used the spoon handle again to make my swirl.  This batch was soaped at 88 degrees.  I think they do look pretty, but still having issues with soda ash on top of this recipe and am wanting more petals on my lotus flower so I will make another batch.

Batch No 7

Good ole' #7 don't fail me now.  I decided to go back to my olive cocoa butter soap recipe and instead of soaping at a higher temp like I had previously done with a few of the other batches I just soaped at my regular mid 80 degrees.  I realized that I was overthinking and putting way to much pressure on myself with this challenge and I should just do it how I normally do things.

     I was so right!  I really like this one!  This batch I scented with lavender essential oil and used iris purple, purple vibrance, and super sparkle mica all from Nurture Soap. I used the end of my spoon handle again for the swirl.  I am super excited with the results of this batch!   I am still wanting more petals, so I made another batch.

Batch No 8

I went on to the challenge club site and read some of the questions and answers that had come in from other soap makers.  One question caught my interest in particular.  The question asked if you could use four colors instead of just three.  The answer was Yes!  I went right to work on hopefully my last batch for this competition.  I used my emu hemp soap recipe for this batch and soaped at around 85 degrees.

 I am sure you can see the bright orange color in the mold.  That is not the color that I wanted.  Morphed color! Not again. Ugh!  I used yellow chiffon mica (that orange color), laurel green mica, sea green mica and kumbo green mica all from Nurture Soap.  I scented this batch with apple slice fragrance from New Directions Aromatics.  The swirl, this time, I used the chopstick again for the zig-zags and the spoon handle to do the circling.  The next day to my surprise the orange had morphed back to the yellow it was supposed to be.  Thank goodness!

   It seems that the color morphing has also affected the laurel green too, not just the yellow chiffon mica.  Right now I think ist is the fragrance oil that did this.  Very weird.

Now I get to choose which of these soaps to submit.  Honestly, I really would like to submit two of them but I don't think I can,  so it's off to social media to help me make a decision.  These are the pictures I put up on my Facebook page for everyone's opinion.

    It was very close between the green (top left) and the white (bottom left), but white was the soap of choice.  Thanks to all who commented and helped me decide.

I am still torn a bit, I like them all, but I have decided that my submission for the great cakes soap challenge will be the white.

 Inside cut view.

 Top view.

 Right after the pour.

I will let everyone know how I did.  I will be able to submit on January 20th and judging will be on January 24th.  The winners will be announced on January 27th. 

Wish me luck!