Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Soap that Took More Than a Year to Make- Rose Clay and Silk Goat's Milk Soap

When my husband told me that we were moving to North Carolina (again, we've lived here before and I LOVE it!), I was ecstatic.  One of my first questions was, "Can I get a goat?!"

He looked at me like I had grown another head.

HOWEVER, when he came out to look at houses and I stayed behind in Alabama with the kids, he asked the realtor if we could have goats on the property.  She said, "yes"… and so it began.

    As soon as we moved, the hunt was on.  I researched breeds and I looked at all kinds of breeders.  Eventually, I knew that I wanted a Nigerian Dwarf.  Great for milking, super sweet, not huge… perfect.  Goats are herd animals and can't be kept alone.  I brought home two adorable little doelings, sisters, and we named them Bebe and Midge.

     A month or so later, I brought home a buck, and the kids named him "Captain Jack Sparrow".  We were set.  They bottle fed, weaned, got huge, and eventually the girls and Captain Jack had some babies of their own…
Bebe (Mama) and Mimi (doeling)

Midge (Mama) and Jake (buckling)
    There are so many fantastic things about goats, I can't even begin to tell you.  I'm addicted now.  And one of the best things… I now had FRESH goat's milks for my soaps!  More than a year of raising, loving, cleaning, worrying (first time breeding goats ever and I was a wreck), and learning how to milk.

     I don't think I've ever been so nervous to make a soap in all my life!

    So I froze the milk, added a pinch of silk… and got down to it.
Adding the lye to the frozen goat's milk & Tussah silk
   I added the lye to the frozen goat's milk, a bit at a time.  Stirring well in between each small addition.  I did NOT want to burn this.  Trust me, once you've milked a goat by hand, you have a whole new-found respect for milk and taking the time to "do it right" is easy.  The thought of scorching the batch made my toes curl and hair stand up on end in a horrible way.  Lol!

     I soaped cool, with the oils at room temperature.  Milk soaps are notorious for overheating.
Adding the goat's milk lye solution to the room temp oils

     Stick blended to light trace, separated a small portion for the textured top, and then added in my rose clay and fragrance to the main batter.
     The fragrance I added is one of my own making.  It's a blend of a few different florals.  I wanted soft, floral, feminine… but not "granny".  However, I knew this floral blend would move fast, so I didn't add it until AFTER I had the rose clay completely mixed in and uniform.  After that, I added the fragrance, zapped it with a stick blender really quick and poured like a supersonic ninja.
If I don't spill SOME batter when I pour… something is wrong.  I always make a mess. ;)
     After pouring, I whapped it on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles, and then colored the separate portion (the portion I'd set aside for the top) with titanium dioxide for a nice, creamy white.

     Then it was time to get the roses ready.  I suppose I could have done this prior to doing ANYTHING, but I guess I just got excited about making soap.  So I popped the mold into the fridge while I prepped the roses.  

     The roses are organic sun-dried roses that my daughter and I picked together and laid out in the sun to dry for a few days.  I wanted the nicely formed, tight rosebuds, so I went digging through my rosebud basket and selected the ones I thought "fit".  After picking them, I took the backs off.  I didn't want ANY green, just bud petals.  So pinched the green back and the bud, wiggled and gently pulled them apart.
Freshly-cut buds, prior to drying.
Separating bottoms from buds.
  Now the white batter for the top had thickened up enough to be properly "plopped".  (Scientific term for the textured top, I guess.  I call it the "Spoon Plop Top", but that's hard to say.)  ;)

Correct texture.  Holding a shape, but still fluid.  Not stiff peaked, but medium.
    To do the "Spoon Plop Top", all you need is a spoon, batter, and a sense of "it doesn't have to be perfect".  If you're going for perfect plop tops, you'll stress yourself out and actually make it look bad.  

    Plop the batter smack down the middle, and then go over the top, plopping in-between the bottom "plops".
Start spooning down the middle.
Line of "plops" down the middle.
Second layer of "plops" in between bottom "plops".
Now it's time to add the roses!  I wanted two per bar, paired up in the middle.  I tried my best to match the size of the buds to each other, but I also didn't want to get too picky about it.  Sometimes, you just have to let the imperfections be beautiful on their own.  
   And THAT'S probably the longest it's ever taken me to make a soap.  From the beginnings of the first ingredients to the final placement of the last dried rosebud…. more than a year.  

     And I can't believe I have to wait to cut it.  *groans*  No worries, I'll post updated pics and I also made a video for this one.  ;)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soap Challenge Club- Taiwan Swirl

I love soap challenges! Anything that gives me an excuse to break out with my soaping oils and spatulas is a GOOD thing. That's why, I was super excited to hear that the new Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club's challenge was the…



      Never heard of the Taiwan Swirl? You will LOVE it. It's easy to do, yet makes a remarkable bar of soap that looks like it took ages to create.

      For my SCC (That's "Soap Club Challenge") soap, I went with a CK-One dupe fragrance oil. It had great reviews, reminded me of being a preteen, and was a slow-moving fragrance. All of these great attributes made it the PERFECT fragrance oil for what I was trying to do. I figured that a clean, refreshing palette of crisp white, bright blue, and black would do this unisex fragrance justice. I love the results.
Want to see how I did it? No worries! I made a video! ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vanilla Goat's Milk Soap

I've been playing with additives in my soap. With this one, I went a little overboard, but totally in a good way. First, I knew that I wanted to use egg yolks. Egg yolks are supposed to up the lather, and I've also heard that the fat in the yolk is super conditioning to the skin. I wanted a super gentle, super conditioning soap, so I decided…. 1.) Goat's Milk- Conditioning, great for sensitive skin. 2.) Egg yolks- Also conditioning, said to reduce redness and give SUPER LATHER! 3.) Avocado puree- Wait, what? Yup, avocado puree. I was playing with my food processor and made a great avocado puree. I made so much, though, that I froze the extra in individual cubes to save and toss in soaps that I thought would benefit from it. Since I knew this soap was going to be dark (from the vanillin in the Vanilla fragrance oil), I figured, "Why not?" So on to the avocado puree on the list… 3.) Avocado puree- ALSO gives great lather, and avocado is rich in vitamins A, D, and E… as well as containing a whopping amount of potassium, which helps the goodies penetrate deep into the skin. Score! 4.) Organic honey- antimicrobial, it's a humectant (attracts moisture and helps retain it), contains antioxidants AND, I thought it would go well with the whole goat's milk/vanilla theme. Who DOESN'T like vanilla and honey? If you raised your hand, I'm watching you… there's something weird about you. ;) 5.) Three kinds of butters. WHOOP! Okay, so it's cold outside and that means that it's prime dry-skin weather. I wanted to load on the butters. So I added cocoa, shea, and mango. If you've never used mango, it's phenomenal… try it. So enough of my rambling, you're probably wondering what it looks like.
The photo on the left is how it looked when I put it in the mold. The photo on the right is the end product. All prettied up and ready to start curing. It takes about 3 days after cutting for it to discolor to this point. I had planned on it discoloring, so I left it completely plain and embraced the chocolate-y beauty of it. THIS is why you always have to take vanillin into consideration when designing your soaps. My vanilla fragrance is from Bramble Berry. It smells wonderful! Excited to see how this one turns out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Week- New Giveaway!

     Summertime is my favorite time.  Bright colors, warm weather, LOVE!


     So to celebrate summer, Spicy Pinecone is giving away a free Rainbow Rattle Mini Lovey!


     This Mini Lovey has been hand dyed by me in a Rainbow Spiral, washed with professional, baby-safe detergent and finished with a baby-safe professional grade fabric softener for super plush, super snuggly softness.  A CPSIA compliant rattle has been sewn on the inside of one corner for your loved one's entertainment.  Our Mini Lovey measures 15" x 22" and is the perfect size for your loved one to chew and snuggle.

     As with all hand-dyed items, please wash by itself for the first few washes.  As always, machine wash cold and tumble dry low.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great Cakes Soapworks Peacock Swirl Challenge

   Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks started a Soap Challenge Club and the first technique was the Peacock Swirl.  I had never tried this before, so I decided to give it a whirl.


     Rainbow Sherbert Peacock was born!  This soap is scented with Rainbow Sherbert fragrance oil from Nature's Garden, and it smells good enough to eat!  

      Okay, now the process....

First, I had to get all of my supplies together:

     I used micas and titanium dioxide from The Conservatorie to color my soap.  The marbling rake was made using curler picks and a piece of cardboard.  I liked the look of a tightly swirled peacock swirl, so I spaced mine closer together.  :)

     I mixed up a slow-moving soap recipe to give myself time to work with the swirl, lined a pizza box (I wanted a lot of room to work), and then got all of my colors into my squeeze bottles.  Poured the majority of my soap batter (colored with TD) into the box, and then took a deep breath...

  It was time to start squeezing and marbling.  I went crazy with the colors, but also squirted some white to help define the swirls.

Above is a picture before using the rake and doing the "S" swirls...
And now (above) here is the photo AFTER swirling.  I am now SUCH a fan of this technique and really can't wait to try it again!  

     After a day of drying, it was ready to cut and shoot.

     Hungry?  ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thermofax Screen Printing

     I've always wanted to learn how to screen print and recently found a very easy and economical way to do it.

    Thermofax screen printing!

     Super easy, and even easier on the wallet.  Also, babies look cute in hermit crab onesies.  ;)

Here's how:

TONS of possibilites.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Music Made Me Do It... and More Experimentation

     Okay, so it took me a while to recover from Christmas.  With four kids, I think it's amazing that I made it through the holiday without any help (husband deployed, but returning soon) and with my sanity relatively intact.  Go, me!  *fist pump*  Everyone still has all their arms, legs, toes, and fingers... so I'll call it a victory.

     Cheerleading aside, I've been busy since my last post.

     When Kai was a baby, his all-time favorite song was Owl City's "Fireflies".  If you haven't heard it, you can hear it here.  I've had it on my playlist forever, and he still requests it every now and then.  The last time he did, I had an idea to put fireflies in his room.

     How to do it?  VINYL!  More specifically, glow-in-the-dark vinyl.

     And if Kai was going to have fireflies, it was only fair for Cam to have them too.  So I got to work painting up some (4) canvases.

 And then designed a file in Silhouette Studio Designer Edition for my fireflies.

Afterwards, I cut the fireflies out of glow-in-the-dark vinyl and enlisted the help of my kids to put them on the canvases.  They had a blast!

And then we lined them up to admire our work.

Next, we tested their glow-in-the-dark abilities.  Believe it or not, they glow BRIGHT!  I just couldn't get my iPhone to cooperate with a good pic.

Finally, we hung them up.  The boys love looking at the fireflies when they go to bed at night.

     After the firefly canvases, my latest project has been dyeing fabric.  I tried a few different experiments, and I think that the shibori dyeing technique is by far my favorite.  (All the way to the left.)

     These were done on cotton gauze with Dylon fabric dye.  I'm still experimenting with different techniques and would love to carry some hand-dyed baby blankets in the shop once I've tested a few different things out and see what I like best.

     Hope everyone is enjoying their new year!