Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Things of Spring

These are the Things of Spring
Part I - Colorful Embeddables
Spring is just around the corner.  The sun is peeking out, our days are lasting longer, and we day dream of all of the things of Spring; colors and scents of roses, lilacs, Jasmine, grass, violets.......
This is a Spring inspired soaping tutorial.  Great for beginners of melt and pour, and can be incorporated into cold process as well. This tutorial will show you how to make beautiful embeddable glycerin spirals, chunks, and other shapes in all of the colors and aromas of Spring. These embeddable pieces can be used inside of your next loaf of clear, or opaque melt & pour soap, and / or your next batch of cold process soap.

What you need:

  • Clear Melt & Pour soap base
  • FD & C Color
  • Essential & / or Fragrance Oils
  • Mica Powder (gold, silver, pearl)
  • Flat molds that will allow you to pout sheets of soap (1/4" thick and at least 12 or more inches long)  Any of the following can be used for a mold: Tupperware, other plastic containers, empty. clean milk or juice cartons, plastic food trays. If you do not have something suitable for a mold, don't fret.  You can pour your soap slowly over any flat surface such as your counter or table.  As long as your soap hardens in a thin, long slab and can be peeled off of the surface it is poured on, you're fine.  Pouring on a sheet of wax paper works fine as well.  
  • Spray bottle with rubbing alcohol for spritzing your poured soap to remove surface bubbles.
  • Optional: liquid glycerin
Step One:
The first thing we do of course is cut our clear glycerin soap base into small chunks to speed up the melting process. After you have chopped up your base, (I used about 4 loose cups), place it into a microwavable cup.  The amount you choose to cut will depend on how many slabs of soap you are pouring, and how many different colors you will be using.  For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using 3 colors: Violet, Pink & Green.  Therefore, I have chopped up enough soap base to loosely fill about 4 cups.  For Spring colors, you may wish to use: Yellows, Greens, Blues, Violets, Pink & Aqua. Because you will be doing more colors, than I am, you will likely want to melt more soap, say 6-8 cups, or approximately 1.5lbs of soap base.

Because we are pouring thin slabs of soap that we will want to remain flexible, we are going to add a little bit of water to the soap chunks before microwaving. In this four cup glass, I added approximately 3-5 oz of water.  A small amount of water should not hurt the integrity of your finished soap.  If you have liquid glycerin, add about a tablespoon of this (per pound) before microwaving as well.  Both the water and the glycerin will help the hardened soap remain flexible enough to roll, twist, etc., without cracking and breaking.  If you don't have glycerin, you can add a touch of olive oil.

 I will be pouring my soap into these plastic TV trays.  They can be purchased at most dollar stores and are great for projects like these.  Directly below this picture, take note of the three small plastic containers. You will need one small container for each color you decide to make.  I have added my chosen essential oils to each of my containers as well as some pearl, silver and gold mica.  For my scents, I am using florals, such as Jasmine, Lavender, rose, geranium and lilac.  My colors will be pink, violet and green.  As a side note, gold mica looks great in green coloring.  Silver and pearl mica look great in any coloring.  The way you choose to use your micas are totally up to you. If you do not have any micas at this time, no worries.  You can still make these embeds and they will look great either way.
By now you have begun to melt your glycerin soap base in the microwave, and you have gathered small containers which contain the scents you have chosen to use, the micas you are using, and a few drops of FD & C coloring.  The coloring will separate from the fragrance or essential oils in the containers, but this will be mixed in just fine once you add the melted glycerin soap and mix it.

*Do not heat your soap base any more than needed.  If you heat it to steaming, you will have lost some of the moisture in the soap, making it dry.
Once your melt and pour base has melted, pour some into each of your small containers, and mix gently.  
As you can see (left), I have used a silver mica with violet color (mixed blue and red), a pearl mica with the pink (red FD&C color), and a gold mica with the green FD&C color (yellow and blue mixed to green).

Just to recap before proceeding:
Each small container should contain:
~Color of choosing,
~Fragrance or Essential Oil of choosing,
~Micas (if using)
~Your melted glycerin soap base.
Mix these gently, and if they are super hot, let them cool down before pouring.  Why? Because we want the mica to stay somewhat suspended within the color, so pouring the base a little cooler than usual is a good idea.

When you are ready to pour, proceed to do so.  Each color is poured into a long thin slab of soap, approximately 1/4 of an inch thick.  Spritz the poured soap with rubbing alcohol to displace any foam or bubbles on the surface of the soap.  

As you can see, I had some green left over, as well as some violet and pink, so I have poured the remainder into the smaller squares on my tray. You don't need small slabs.  If you have soap left over, pour it into a mold and let it harden, then wrap it up for future use.  You can even pout your left over soap base into glad baggies and let it harden in the bag.  Make sure you label it with the scent you have used.  It can be peeled right out of the bag when you are ready to use it in the future.

The Fun Begins:
Watch your poured soap carefully and check it often.  You will want to peel it from it's mold as soon as it becomes hard enough to do so.  It won't take long to harden at this thickness.  Within 10-15 minutes or so it should be ready.  If you can peel your soap off of it's mold while it is still warm, it will be even easier to manipulate it without it cracking or breaking.  Pick a corner and lift your soap out of it's mold.  It is best to remove all colors of soap from all molds at the same time.  You can stack them in piles while you are working with the first color. You will now manipulate your slabs of soap into spirals.  Start with one slab, and wrap it tightly just like the picture below:

Now you can do the same thing again, but this time keep two slabs together so that when you roll it, you have something like the picture below:

Get Creative:
Carefully slice your colored rolls into a variety of thicknesses.  You can make large rolls, small rolls, very thickly sliced roles, and very thinly sliced rolls.
The smaller rolls in the picture to the left were made by shaving some thin slices off of the edges if the soap slabs with a vegetable peeler.  They were then simply rolled by hand both by themselves and with other colors.

One thing to keep in mind after you have wound up your rolls and sliced them is that you need to loosen the   slices up some.  If the slices are wound too tightly, they may not adhere properly to the soap batch you're going to pour over them. The larger rolls pictured above are an example of rolls that are too tightly wound.  This is fine when you are rolling them up initially, but they must be loosed as pictures below, after you have finished slicing them. Continue on to the next few pictures.  The pictures have notes beneath them and are there to show you  examples:

 Properly loosened, sliced rolls
Too tightly wound
Properly loosened, sliced rolls

Imagination & Creativity:  
After you have mastered the rolling, slicing and loosening, you can try many different things.  Your imagination is your only limit here.  As picture left for example, try taking a tightly wound, sliced roll and pull each end of it outward to form a spring shape.  You can curl your soap pieces around your finger, a pencil, pull it, twist it  do whatever you want to it! Make squiggly lines, small cubes, rectangles, shavings and on and on it goes.   I have taken a few pictures, (below), to give you an idea on all of the different shapes and sizes you can create here.

Try some of the following.......

Preparing to use your embedables:
It's time to either a) put your embeds into a plastic baggy and put them away for future use, or prepare to use them now,  If you are bagging them for future use, try to get as much of the air out of the bag as possible,  Too much air around these, and they will begin to sweat.  If you are ready to move on and use your embeds now, it's time to choose a soap mold.  Pictured below, are three different types of molds I have chosen for my embeds.

1) A small plastic Bundt Cake mold.
Remember with cake molds, your cake is actually upside down, so you will want to place your embeds carefully and with some thought to ensure that they look upright after your soap cake is complete.

2) A sheet mold of 4 dome cavities.
Again, depending on how your soap will sit, you may have to place your embeds with careful thought to ensure that they look upright when your soap is complete.

3) A disk shaped mold which is meant to be cut into half moons afterwards.  Again, because of the way this soap will be cut and places after, I put some thought into how I wanted to place these embeds, ensuring that they would look upright when the soap is complete.

Pictured below: Dome molds, Bunt cake molds, and a disk mold - all filled with embeds.

When you pour hot soap over these embeds, they will sink down, and shrink.  You may want to have some extra embeds left over to add after pouring is done.  I prefer to leave mine with a little more clear soap around the embeds so I filled these molds loosely.

Wrap your filled molds in wax paper, and place them into a freezer.  We want to make sure that when we pour hot soap over these, the colors don't run into our clear or opaque soap. These can stay in the freezer almost indefinitely, so you don't have to rush onto the next step.  Before proceeding to the next step, take some time to decide what you will be pouring over these. Will you be pouring clear melt and pour? Opaque melt and pour? Or will you be using a cold processed soap with these?
~Melt & Pour (beginners) Proceed to step two below, when ready.  Embeds should have been in the freezer for at least a couple of hours before pouring hot soap over them.

~Cold Process (some knowledge and experience of cold process soap making required). If you are using a cold process soap recipe, proceed with making your CP soap, and bring to a light trace.  If it traces too thick, you may end up with a lot of air bubbles in a project like this one.  You can either add these embeds to your traced soap and stir it together before spooning it into molds, or you can keep the embeds in the molds and simply pour your CP soap over the embeds.  (Tap the sides of the mold after to release any air pockets / bubbles). Cover & Insulate as usual.

Part Two:
Remove your now frozen project from the freezer. I am completing this tutorial using the bundt cake mold I had filled with embeds earlier,  Melt an appropriate amount of clear glycerin soap base, add your chosen scent to it, and slowly pour it over your frozen mold full of embeds until the mold is full.
Tap the sides to release air bubbles, and spray the top with rubbing alcohol to reduce foaming and bubbles on the surface.

If you have any left over shavings or embeds to add, complete your soap by topping it off with these and pressing them into the melted glycerin soap you just poured.  If you do not have any remaining shavings or extra embeds, it is not a necessary step. I just had some yellow ones to use up in this photo.
You should leave your soap to harden at room temperature now.  It won't take as long as usual because you poured the soap over some already hardened and cold soap embeds.

When your soap is ready (hardened and cooled), remove it gently from the mold by pressing down on the underside of it with your thumbs. This will create air pockets inside of the mold between the mold and your soap, and it will allow the soap to slide out.  This is a picture of my soap already removed from the mold.

We're not done yet......
We're going to finish this off with some finishing touches.  Grab some white / opaque melt and pour soap.  You don't need much. We're just going to drizzle it over the soap cake.

I have added some red FD&C which will create a light pink in opaque M&P soap.  I have also added more of the fragrance I am using for this recipe.

The center of my soap cake has a hollow part, as you can see in the photo left.  I'm going to fill this up with pink melt and pour before I drizzle.  Your soap make or may not have a hollow area like this to fill.  And you may choose to leave a hollow area unfilled if you have one.  It's up to you.

Here we have the hole filled in, but I am going to continue drizzling the pink M&P so that it drips down the sides of the cake.  

We're looking for some contrast and character here.  Let's see how this turns out.  You will be drizzling in whatever method you wish to, as your soap may or may not have grooves in it like this one, in which the poured soap can this:

We're getting there.  It's starting to look a little more like desert!
I'm going to keep pouring.

Almost finished, view from the top.

I think we're about there now.  I'm going to leave it alone and let it harden. This won't take long at all.
After about 20 minutes, I come back to it and it's ready to cut!

The finished soap......


  1. Wow! This is so creative and colorful!
    I love all of your tips, especially pouring extra soap into baggies to save for later. Great time saver!

    I would like to mention that for multi-colored soaps like this one you might want to try non-bleeding colorants instead of FD&C colors so your embeds stay as beautiful in a week as they are on the day you made them.

    Thanks for this great and very thorough tutorial!

  2. i love it !!! Great tutorial..thx

  3. Thank you both Soapylove and Enjabon for your comments! Soapylove, I would agree with you 100%, however I have yet to find colorant as you are suggesting that will keep the transparent soap, transparent, and if using some shimmering mica, we want to still see that shimmer. Of course, I do have plenty of natural pigments on hand, which I use in white bases and in cold process soaping. The yellow embeds was colored with oxide, and as you can see they are no longer transparent. What would you recommend as colorant for the transparent soap bases? More options are always better, so thank you for your insight. One thing I did notice in this recipe was that the clear base poured over the embeds wasn't the greatest in clarity which may be an issue with soap base quality, but what would you use for your transparent colors?