Bello ed abbronzato!

Bello ed abbronzato!

Hallo liebe Saponistengemeinde.

Vor einiger Zeit weilte ich berufsbedingt einige schöne Monate in Süditalien, in Pomigliano d’Arco, um genau zu sein, das liegt in der Nähe von Neapel. Wenn man von Neapel zur Arbeit fährt, guckt man immer auf den Vesuv. Das ist sehr beeindruckend, nicht nur, weil man ja die Geschichten von Pompei und Ercolaneo kennt, die der kleine Berg in einem Anfall von Übellaunigkeit im Jahre 79 nach Christi mit einem vulkanischen Rülpser unter dem Inhalt seines Vulkanmagens unter sich begrub.

Nicht minder beeindruckend waren die Eskapaden des damaligen italienischen Ministerpräsidenten, Silvio Berlusconi. Komische (nicht komisch ha ha) Präsidenten wählen können nicht nur die Amerikaner.. Berlusconi fiel nicht nur durch seiner Neigung zu deutlich jüngeren Gespielinnen fragwürdiger Provenienz auf. Vielmehr hat er es als einer der wenigen Staatsoberhäupter der Welt geschafft, Queen Elizabeth aus der Fassung zu bringen, und sein Kommentar über den 44. Präsidenten der Vereinigten Staaten veranlasste meine lieben Kollegen, die Hände theatralisch in die Luft zu werfen und dann schamgebeugt die Gesichter darin zu vergraben.

“Sabrina (Sabine war irgendwie schwer auszusprechen) – oggi siamo diventati la vergogna dell’ Europa!!” (heute sind wir zur Schande Europas verkommen).

Aber was genau hat der Silvio denn über Obama gesagt, und vor allem – was hat das mit SEIFE zu tun???

Ich muss mal abschweifen. Wir benutzen beim Seife machen (also, viele von uns, es gibt auch DIE ANDEREN) gerne schöne Farben und Düfte. Während die Farben meist eher verhaltensunauffällig sind und brav ihren Job erledigen – bunt machen – kommt das eine oder andere Mal ein Duft um die Ecke, der sich denkt “wenn ihr mich schon in der Laugenpampe versenkt, dann räche ich mich ganz fürchterlich”.

Die Varianten sind mannigfaltig. Manchmal rührt man den Duft in den Seifenschleim und denkt sich “da geht noch was!”. Das passiert meistens, wenn man eigentlich drauf gesetzt hat, dass das Parfumöl den Lauge-Fett-Mix zum Andicken bringt, weil man vielleicht ein vielschichtiges Design geplant hat (#erbsenprinzessin – stay tuned). Dann wiederum hast du noch nicht mal einen Tropfen Duft untergerührt und plopp – Seife am Stiel. Auch hier wieder – immer dann wenn es net passt.

Manche Düfte sind aber eher die Spätzünder unter den Fieslingen… Und hier kommt wieder elegant die Kurve zu Berlusconi und Obama. Berlusconi hat damals gesagt, der neue Präsident hätte alles, was man braucht, um erfolgreich zu sein. Er sei jung, er sei gebräunt (abbronzato) und gut aussehend.

So ähnlich ist es mit meiner Bubblegum Ice Cream Woodgrain Soap auch gewesen.

Den Duft hatte ich in England bestellt, bei Gracefruit. Bis zum Brexit ein gern benutzter und zuverlässiger Lieferant schöner Düfte. Nach dem Brexit hat sich das dahingehend geändert, dass bis zu dem Moment, wo sie das Paket an den Spediteur übergeben, alles ok ist. Dann kommt UPS und macht alles anstrengend. Erzähl’ ich ein anderes Mal.

Bubblegum Ice Cream riecht wie “A fruity yet spicy bubblegum accord opening with top notes of apple, pear and sugary notes supported by softer notes of strawberry, peach and orange warmed by spicy cinnamon resting on a bed of sweet raspberry and vanilla.”. Hört sich doch gut an, oder? “Acceleration: Moderate – Discolouration: None” – super! Acceleration bedeutet “andicken” und discolouration bedeutet eigentlich nicht, dass es dis-coloured, also ent-färbt, sondern eher färbt wie Hulle. Egal wie. Manchmal ein bisschen ins Cremfarbene, Dunkelbeige, ich hatte auch schon welche, die gingen in zartlila – und dann kommen die ganz ganz bösen… Die, die richtig dunkel machen. Und wenn ich dunkel sage, meine ich dunkel.

Woodgrain technique heisst, dass man verschieden eingefärbte Seifenleime über die Seite einer zu Anfang leicht gekippten Form entlang in dieselbe reingiesst. Die Vollprofis kriegen es auch noch hin, mit einem lockeren Schnickser aus dem Handgelenk ein paar Astlöcher zu zaubern. Ich hatte, nachdem wir nach einer gefühlten Äone endlich unser Paket aus England bekommen hatten, schon mal einen Test gemacht, und da hat sich Bubblegum Ice Cream schon als nicht ganz so non-discolouring gezeigt – ein zartes Braun lachte mir aus dem Testblob entgegen.

 

Mein Herz rief “Woodgrain!”, und die zum Herz gehörenden Händchen mixten blitzschnell etwas Rosé und weiss in zwei der drei Töpfchen und den Duft allein in das ungefärbte.

Wie das ganze so in der Form fertig eingegossen aussah, wirkte alles noch unverdächtig.

Auch ausgeformt und geschnitten am Tag 1 sah es noch nicht wirklich woody aus.

Das leise Kichern aus dem Pappedeckel hätte mich schon misstrauisch stimmen müssen.

Aber es hört nicht auf.. Es wird jeden Tag schwärzer… Bello ed abbronzato.. Nicht mehr so ganz giovane, aber das soll Seife ja auch nicht sein.

Ich bin sehr gespannt, wo die Reise bräunungstechnisch hingeht. Der Sommer ist ja noch lang.

Abschliessend bleibt zu sagen, dass Bubblegum Ice Cream so lecker riecht (kommt mich gerne mal in meinem Keller besuchen) dass ich ihm sein unkooperatives Verhalten verzeihen werde. Mit ein bisschen Fantasie kann man sich das ja auch zunutze machen. Ich zeig euch später mal ein tolles Beispiel dafür. Lemon Pound Cake spielt nämlich in derselben Färberliga…

Was passiert, wenn Seife Seife küsst? (englisch)

Was passiert, wenn Seife Seife küsst? (englisch)

Hello there!

Soap challenge time again.

2021 /02 – this month’s subject was “Kiss Pour”. Valentine’s day casts its shadow ahead.

The kiss pour technique is actually quite self explanatory. No, it’s not intended you hold the pitcher with the soap batter in one hand and kiss your partner / your children / your pet at the same time.

Its secret is two or more portions of soap batter, coloured in different hues, poured from two different pitchers in a steady stream, meeting each other up in the air and forming a feathery pattern once they hit the mould.

It’s the only moment I can think of something hitting the ground forms something beautiful – think about eggs, a bottle of red wine (or two) or a glass of pickles. No feathering, just swearing.

The challenge in the challenge was to create a recipe which would stay fluid long enough until you have coloured all the different portions of soap batter in the separate containers. Then combine them in the two pouring pitchers (if you were an octopus, you could have used eight pitchers, I guess) and finally pouring them into the mould. Preferably without having blobby glops or gloppy blobs splattering down and ruining the pattern.

As usual, I was late and also somehow uninspired. I did a first attempt right on Valentine’s Day.

I chose a recipe with palm kernel oil (30%), palm oil (30%), olive oil (20%), rice bran oil (10%), cocoa butter (5%) and castor oil (5%).

I wanted to create something colourful hitting a black-and-white on the other side, because I felt like these days are like that.

As it was Feb 14th, and it was a Kiss Pour, I chose “Love Potion” from Gracefruit to be the perfectly matching scent. (And I knew that this fragrance would neither discolour nor accelerate the trace – clever girl, am I not?)

Talking about safety at work: This is what happens if you try to clean the little blade from your vegetable chopper, erroneously assuming that a latex glove is cut-proof  #donttrythisathome

Ladies (are there Gentlemen amonst us?)  meet “The Darkness devouring the light”

Intimidated by the numerous other beautiful kiss pour soaps appearing all over the social media, I decided to give it another go without titanium dioxide speckles and more subtle colourings.

I chose to divide the batter in 5 portions, two should go in one container, coloured in fuchsia and buttercup yellow, and the other three were a fried egg like pattern of light silver grey, dark grey and pastel pink (“aphrodite” mica from UMakeitup).

The recipe was one I already had used to make a thin line pour for my niece’s 20th birthday last year. Sunflower oil, palm kernel oil, peanut oil, palm oil, coconut oil and castor oil (35/15/15/15/5) would do the trick.

Scented in Coastal Rain from Brambleberry it looked nice when it was in the mould.

Unmoulded, the first thing I wanted to do was to put it straight to the bin. The colours had somehow gelled away – no more sign of bright fuchsia pink or buttercup yellow.

But sometimes you just have to dig deeper to find gold (or cat droppings). Fortunately, I had made the soap thick enough to be able to merrily plane away until some colour reappeared:

and finally I found the mummy and the fire-breathing squid:

 I still have some more hours left to decide, which one goes in which category – experienced and bonus are the options. And I have some more hours to do market research for a decent, affordable soap planer.

What the h*** is “Duschbutter”?

What the h*** is “Duschbutter”?

Dear saponist community,

new year, new challenges! Try something new – TODAY! And because it’s fricking cold outside, it had to be some kind of hot stuff. Well, you might already guess where the route is taking us – HOT PROCESS. Crockpot hot process, to be exact. I had recently bought one at an unbeatable price, and the time had come to give it  a try and find out if it would stay with me or had to leave and find a new home at some other soapmaker’s home.

Last year, my friends had given me a present for my 21st 29th birthday (which is in the middle of February, and I am really grateful we could celebrate then, with about 20 people, family, friends – feels like ages, because shortly after that date, C19 measures hit with full force and made convivial gatherings impossible). The present was a soapmaking course for the three of us, ! Remember, it was February, I had just started my soapmaking journey in January, thus making it the perfect gift. Who could know that we would have to wait until September to be able to do it?

To cut a long story short – one of the recipes we created on the second day was a highly superfatted soap to be used in the shower. The German word for this kind of soap is “Duschbutter”. Dusch(e) means “shower” and Butter ist just butter, like in body butter. The trick is the enormous percentage of superfatting – in our case, it was about 50%! This is a lot, even for German soapmakers, who usually like to have their SF rate at a higher level than in any other country in the whole world 🙂

Our original recipe then was 420 g of cocoa butter added to a soap batter of 780 g. Because maths is not my core competence, I tweaked the recipe and decided, it would be fine to have 250 g cocoa butter on 500 g of oils.

I melted the coconut oil directly in the crockpot, added the olive oil and the lye and blended until trace was reached:

Then I turned the heat a wee bit higher – see the change in the texture of the soap batter?

When you stir and scrape down the walls of the crockpot’s insert, you can see how the soap batter starts to go into a jelly texture:

These pics are taken when the soap batter had a temperature of about 80° Celsius (approx. 176°F). I was expecting to see the soap turn in a foamy mass and try to climb out of the post, but nothing happened. I later learned that this volcano-effect happens mostly when the temperature exceeds 100°C and the water used to dissolve the lye starts to boil. This makes the soap “erupt”. But at 80°, it kept gelling merrily and without any caustic suprises.

It goes from potatoe mash:

to petroleum jelly:

and because it had spent almost one hour in the pot when this picture was taken (and it was already 1.30 a.m.), I decided to call it a day and finish the production process adding some sour cream (I heard that adding sour cream or yoghurt or something like that makes the batter more smooth) and, of course – the cocoa butter. I had chosen a fragrance called “fresh mango” to go into that soap, so the colour had to be some kind of orange hue:

Theoretically, the hot processed soap is fully saponified after the process, which – theoretically – would make it safe to use (my soap was, I am a great aficionado of licking my soap – aka zap testing). Nevertheless, a curing time also makes hot process soap better. Has got something to do with building of crystalline structures inside the soap. Remember, chemically soap is a mix of sodium salts of the fatty acids used for making the soap. It loses water during the curing process, making it harder and invisibly more “aligned”.

On special request I used a scrap of the unmoulded soap for a “lather it up”-picture:

No big bubbles, but a creamy, soft lather. It will turn out to be even nicer once it had the chance to reach maturity.

Draculas seifige Braut

Draculas seifige Braut

oder “was hat ein Blutbad mit einem Weltrekord zu tun?”

Es fing alles so harmlos an. Superbini und der Mann an ihrer Seite saßen im Auto und hörten einen lokalen Radiosender. Ein seriös wirkender Herr aus Schleswig-Holstein berichtete über die Vorbereitungen zu einem Weltrekordversuch. Man plane, zusammen mit einer lokalen Musikkapelle das blutigste Musikvideo aller Zeiten zu drehen. Und man suche noch Statisten. Zeitgleich entfuhr es Superbini “ja wie cool” während dMaSS “oh oh” murmelte. Half alles nix. Kaum daheim, machte ich mich an die Recherche, wo und wie man sich bewerben könne. Superbini wäre nicht Sherlock Superbini, hätte sie es nicht innerhalb kürzester Zeit herausgefunden. Es erging eine Kurzbewerbung im modernen eMail-Format mit ausdrucksstarkem Foto:

Und wenige Tage darauf erging die Zusage:

 Eine Reihe von Nachrichten zwecks Informationsaustauschs später stand fest – es sollte trotz der allgemein geltenden Einschränkungen, die die Pest des 2. Jahrzehnts des 21. Jahrhundert uns auferlegte, stattfinden.

Am ersten Wochenende des Halloweenurlaubs. Der Woche, an dem wir eigentlich als einen Jahreshöhepunkt geplant hatten, am 31. Oktober zum Whitby Goth Festival zu reisen. Nun ja. Aufgeschoben… Und so ein Videodreh ist definitiv ein sehr cooler Ersatz dazu. Eine Vorbesprechung sollte am Freitag nachmittag stattfinden, die eigentlichen Dreharbeiten dann am Samstag, mit Option auf Nachdreh am Sonntag.

#raisepanic – ich brauchte eine Unterkunft. José ist toll, aber zum Übernachten völlig ungeeignet. Es sei denn, man ist Pygmäe, was ich nicht bin.

“Wenn Du zelten möchtest, kannste das im Garten vom Sänger in Hamweddel.” Ich dachte kurz an Wacken 2019, wo ich im August auf dem norddeutschen Acker schon so gefroren hatte, und beschloss, dass Zelten keine Option sei. Zum Glück fand ich eine sehr nette ältere Dame, die sich bereit erklärte, mich zu einem akzeptablen Preis in der Einliegerwohnung ihres Hauses unterzubringen. Sie sagte später, sie vermiete eigentlich nicht mehr, aber sie habe Mitleid mit mir gehabt :). So machten sich Superbini und der treue José an einem frischen Freitagmittag auf eine kleine Reise quer durch Norddeutschland.

Es war eine der wenigen Gelegenheiten im Leben, an denen ich völlig underdressed war – zum Glück gab es einen reichhaltigen Fundus an Leihklamotten, und da ich eine kostümtechnisch eher weniger anspruchsvolle Schankmaid darstellen sollte, hatte ich zunächst einen Leihumhang und später dann ein geschenktes Kleid. Ein Wikinger namens Thorsten hat mir das überlassen, es gehörte mal seiner Ex-Frau und er meinte, sie braucht es nicht mehr. Thorsten, falls du das liest – vielen Dank noch mal!

Der Drehtag war superlustig. Maleen, die Sängerin, hat uns bei ihr daheim alle geschminkt und aufgebrezelt. Haartechnisch war ja bei mir nicht viel zu machen, daher trug ich ein kleidsames Tuch auf dem Kopf.  Es trug sich alles am Dorfteich zu, an frischer Luft, mit genug Abstand zu allen – fast wie in Hollywood. Nur eben in Hamweddel.

Komischerweise waren, als es am Abend dann daran ging, sich am brennenden Klavier mit aus Rote-Bete-Pulver hersgstelltem Kunstblut aus der Gartenpumpe besprühen zu lassen, alle Freiwilligen spontan verschwunden. Es blieb noch übrig – die Band, ein netter IT-Nerd aus Hamburg, und ich. Es war dunkel. Es war schon recht kalt.

Und wir standen da und wurden aus lichter Höhe mit Rote-Bete-Sprotz beregnet. Es war nass. Es war klebrig. Es war  schon irgenwie eklig.  Ich hab versucht, neutral dreinzublicken und gehofft, dass  man nachher nicht sehen würde, wie ich vor Kälte am bibbern war. Aber was tut man nicht alles für einen Weltrekord! Oder um ins Fernsehen zu kommen!

Als ultimativen Luxus mussten wir zum Sauberwerden  nicht in den Dorfteich springen, sondern wurden in einem mit Plastikfolie ausgekleideten Kleinbus verfrachtet (übrigens war nur der Bus mit Plastikfolie ausgeschlagen, wir waren nicht in Folie gewickelt) und durften  unsere mit Rote-Bete-Glipsch eingesauten Luxuskörper im Haus von Maleen wieder in einen vorzeigbaren Zustand bringen.

Für uns Darsteller war die eigentliche Arbeit damit erledigt.  Jetzt musste noch alles fertig geschnitten und zusammengestellt werden, damit pünktlich zum Halloweensamstag die Premiere des blutigsten Musikvideos aller Zeiten bis jetzt live im Internet über die Bühne gehen konnte.

Für mich war klar, das muss adäquat gewürdigt werden. Nur wie? Wie bringt man die Assoziation dunkel und rot, den Geruch nach Lagerfeuer, Gegrilltem und Bier zusammen? Und die Erinnnerung daran, wie dreckig wir waren (ihr glaubt gar nicht, wo überall man Rote-Bete-Brei findet..). Und wie toll Duschen sein kann (auch wenn der Sprotz dann den Abfluss verstopft hat und Maleen mit einem Pümpel das Rohr wieder gangbar machen musste).

Ganz klar. Mit Seife. Eine eigens kreierte Seife musste her.  Oliven- und Kokosöl als Basis, Rizinus für den schönen Schein – äh, Schaum, und Gänse- (weil ich an ganz vielen freilaufenden Gänsen vorbeigekommen war) und Schweineschmalz (weil es Schweinesteaks vom Grill gab als Catering). Welch wunderschöne Möglichkeit, endlich mal meine neuen Duftentdeckungen Woodsmoke, Bacon und Bier auszuprobieren. Was nach getaner Arbeit hier so in der Form schlummert (schade, daß übers weltweite Netz kein Duft übertragen werden kann)

 

sieht ausgeformt, aufgeschnitten und bestempelt halloween-mässig dekoriert so aus:

Jedes Stück ist anders gemustert – wie die roten Tropfen halt in die schwarze Grundmasse eingerieselt sind:

Der Duft war am Anfang wirklich so überwältigend, dass ich die Stücke zum Reifen in den heimischen Heizungskeller gestellt habe. Da hatten sie es trocken und warm, und den Heizkessel störte es auch nicht, dass es um ihn herum nach Lagerfeuer roch.

Verschenkt hab ich sie jetzt zu Weihnachten. Da waren sie fast 2 Monate alt, gut durchgetrocknet und alt genug, die Reise in den hohen Norden (von hier aus gesehen) anzutreten. Ein erstes Teststück war vorab schon nach Bayern gegangen. Es gefiel. So hoffe ich, dass auch die anderen gefallen.

Es gab wenige Highlights in diesem Jahr. Unsere Reise nach Barcelona im Januar (damals.. als man noch reisen durfte…). Mein 21. 29. Geburtstag im Februar. Der 21.29. Geburtstag meiner Freundin Anja im Sommer, den wir auch wieder feiern durften.  Die Tatsache, dass wir bisher ohne gesundheitliche Beeinträchtigungen durch die Pandemie gekommen sind.

Und eben dieses Wochenende mit den Drunken Fools. Es war eine tolle, verrückte, unvergessliche Erfahrung. Danke!

She’s got the jack…

She’s got the jack…

The Union Jack, to be precise… Before you utter medical advice – let me explain..
The entry date for November’s soap challenge was approaching.

Fast. Same same as last time…Even though I had seen what others were preparing as their entries, I did not have any clue what I wanted to do for it. The theme was “Mosaic soap“. The idea was to create a picture of small pieces of soap and kind of glue them together with another gallon of liquid soap batter, like you would if you were plastering your bathroom floor with tiny tiles.  Nothing easier as that – as long as inspiration hits you.

Inspiration kept hiding from me until I was about to resign and skip this challenge – until the 11th of November. The day, when in Germany the official carnival season opening is celebrated in Mainz, the German capital of carnival (or “Fassenacht“, as they say here).

Don’t listen if people tell you that Cologne and Düsseldorf have Carnival celebrations, too. They are merely poor copies of the original 🙂

November 11th is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth states , and in the USA, they have Veterans’ day. Both are days on which people honor  the end of World War I. or / and military service men and women who have served their countries since then till now.  By the way, I really do appreciate that – in my opinion, people who are willing to serve their contries and risk to get hurt on duty deserve to be treated with respect, which is not usually the case here in  my home country. But let’s not get political – there I was, following the news coverage, seeing empty places in the German Carnival capital, no carnival revellers (had to look that up – in German we call them “Narren”) – so sad. Switching TV channels, I could see the Royal family in their festive attire attending the Poppy Day ceremonies.

Flashback

Must have been 2005 or so. It was November, and I was still working for Rolls-Royce in Germany then. I had to travel to the UK in order to attend a project meeting (I was project lead for the SAP implementation in my logistics department). Rolls Royce has plants all over the country, and some of them are in the defence sector, so they have strict security regulations. That means, that even though I carried my company badge, I was not allowed to enter unaccompanied into the company’s building and find my way to the conference room, but I had to wait until somebody picked me up. Being a communicative person, I asked the elderly man at the reception counter, why he was wearing a poppy blossom attached to his lapel, and he explained to me that this was issued by a charity campaign called The Poppy appeal which collects money for members of the armed forces who are in need of support.

I remember saying that this was a lovely idea and told him that we do not have anything similar in Germany – well, we all know about the very problematic military history.  He asked me if anyone of my family had been in the war, and I told him about my grandfather who hade been deployed to Norway at the end of the war, aged 23, and lost his eyesight, his hearing and his right arm in an explosion. Suddenly the gentleman at the reception desk took off his poppy pin from his jacket and gave it to me as a present. I found that so extremely sweet and touching.

Back in 2020 – The Royal Highnesses covered in poppies,  the British flag softly waving in the air…

I became sentimental for a second, thinking about the downlight at the end of the already horrible year – the UK leaving the European Union (ok. Sean Connery leaving the planet was also a downlight)….

Wait a moment – there she was – Lady Inspiration, frantically waving with one hand and pointing towards the flag with the other.

Heureka! From this moment on, everything went like fast forward. I had my slab mould, which actually was some kind of acrylic dish meant to keep the bathroom drawers in order, I had borrowed a set of japanese spatulas from my partner’s toolbox (remind me to return them!) and I had a recipe.

On a website for quilting nerds, I had found a usable pattern for cutting pieces for the flag, which I used to calculate  how much blue and how much red soap I would need. And I could stick the printed pattern to the bottom of my acrylic box and use it as “map” for arranging my soap pieces.

The soap batter is made from olive oil, coconutoil, cocoa butter, lard and castor oil. It’s scented with Gorse flower from Gracefruit. Gorse flower reminds me of my beautiful holidaywith one of my best friends (Hallo Anette 🙂 !!! ) in Scotland years ago, and I found it appropriate for a British themed soap.

Here you see the soap batter merrily gelling away in the oven:

Here you see the soap batter after moving out of his acrylic box and waiting to be sliced up:

Here you can see the why it is good and important to have a properly stuffed toolbox (or at least, have access to one)

Here you see my beautifully arranged workplace, strewn with cutting patterns and stuff:

And here you see the progress of arranging the tiny pieces in the mould:

The yellow stuff underneath is fully biodegradable glue – aka cocoa butter:

Mind the gap!

The remains of the day (I doubt, Sir Anthony Hopkins has fun in soapmaking)

and – tadaaa….  the final results – cut and trimmed and differently decorated:

Keep calm was my mantra while planing and cutting the soap – believe me, I was using quite a lot of strong language until everything was done:

Patriotic underwear – I bought these silk knickers and camisole years ago and have never had the heart to give them away.

So here it is. Superbini’s soap challenge club entry 11/20.

It’s a bit more than just soap. It’s a declaration of love to a wonderful country and the wonderful people I had the honour and pleasure to meet. I have been to quite some countries, and I love France and Italy, but my affection for the Britons is special. I openly envy you the Queen.

Contrary to the common rumours, it is possible to have a tasty meal in the UK. And yes, I do like Haggis and smoked Haddock for breakfast.

The weather ist not bad on 364 days of the year.

Our garden shed shelters 4 english motorcycles. One of them is pink. Triumph Motorcycles were the only ones to put extraordinary colour schemes on their bikes. Some people found that strange, I love them for that.

To make up for Little Britain, you have decent folks like DCI Barnaby and  Agatha Raisin. Faboulous scientist like Dr. Who. World known veteriniarian Dr. James Herriott was a part of my childhood reading experience.

Well, you see – it takes more than a disputable “leave!” decision and a pandemic to come between and girl and his favourite country (apart from her home country, of course). Once we will be free and safe to travel again, we will catch up on everyting we missed out this year (Whitby Gothic Festival, Trooping the Colour etc). Britain, be prepared!!!

 

Brighter than a thousand suns…

Brighter than a thousand suns…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senores y Senoras – here we go !

IT’S SOAPCHALLENGE TIME AGAIN!!!

You might remember the last time I made soap for the Soapchallenge Club – then in June it was the One Pot Wonder.

Now, two months later, it’s “Layers and Dropswirls“.

I missed the one I actually wanted to do – river rocks and marbles. An acute feline health emergency  distracted me from focussing on something unimportant like soapmaking. At least it seemed totally unimportant to me in that moment. But now, as our furry family member is feeling much better, spirits were up again and ready to get creative.

If you search the internet, you will come up with loooooads of pictures of all kind of layered soaps. Just the same happens if you search for dropswirls in soap. The task our lovely SSC host Amy asked us to fulfil was combining both techniques.

Like before, there was one beginner category, where beginners with less than 50 batches of soap or less than one year of soaping experience would be allowed to enter. And one advanced category for all the rest.

Too good to be true!

That is, only if you qualify as a beginner and your soap complies to the rules of the beginners’ category. Because if the soap is a beginner’s oeuvre, but contains elements those would automatically push it to the advanced category. Easy, huh?

As I was lacking enough time to do several attempts like last time, I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and make it a one try wonder. I had recently purchased a small loaf mould from a lady who regrettably had to give up soaping herself.

It is a loaf mould, reasonably sized (18 x 6,5 x 7 cm), it has a silicone liner and a wooden box with a lid. It holds about 800 ml of soap – it was perfect for my purpose. No more sectioning a way too big loaf mold with cardbord box thingys.

Still sounds easy, doesn’t it?

I needed a recipe… Amy had provided us with a recipe suggestion. I liked it, but it contained beef tallow. Beef tallow seems to be around only in winter time, when birds are fed with it. So no beef tallow. Recipe tweaking was the motto.

The original recipe was the following:

Olive oil—35%
Coconut oil—25%
Beef tallow—25%
Cocoa butter—10%
Castor oil—5%

and this is what I made from it:

I thought, goose instead of beef should be alright as well, and I had found goose fat in a local supermarket recently and wanted to give it a try.

The whole layers and dropswirl thing required a plan. Some kind of architectural layout. I was planning to do 3 layers, each in a different colour, and then there had to be the droppings (it’s more linear droplets than swirls, so the term dropswirls is a trifle misleading). Two differently coloured lines of droppings would do.

Mind the gap!

So I had a loaf mould with round about 850 ml of capacity. I needed three batches of differently coloured soap for the layers, and I needed two more small amounts of even more differently coloured soap batter for the droppings. And here it the snag – maths and me never got along well.  Never. I speak seven languages, learn another one at the moment, but numbers and me? Go away and nobody will get hurt. Visualising helps. Even if it looks really stupid – it helps!

I did not want to mix the oils and the lye first and then split it into batches, no, I wanted to split oils and lye and add it in small containers, then add the respective colours and the scents (I used Jelly Beans Frangrance Oil  to add a scent that matches the bright colours). Thus I would  have full control about when the batter starts to accelerate and not getting under pressure because of funny things happening in my mixing containers. Especially when the colours I chose were screaming

“RADIOACTIVITY”

This was the palette I had to choose from. The pigments are from a German company called Manske. I guess a lot of soaping ingredients vendors have them, but I like the idea of supporting local business. Their prices are good and the service is reliable (this was unpaid advertising, by the way 🙂 ). A lot of soapmakers have a critical opinion about the neon colours, because they contain polyurethane. My fellow soapmaker Eva Gomez has recently been in touch with a leading seller of micas and pigments in the UK about this topic. People using neon colours are not as bad as it seems.

Back to our challenging task of splitting, mixing, pouring, waiting, sculpting, waiting again…

I poured the first layer – the orange one – as bottom layer and let it sit for about 30 minutes until it got solid.

Preparing the next layer in the small mixing pot in the meantime (I used a milk frother to do so. We have on where you can take of the mixing thing and put it into the dishwasher. So my partner’s cocoa would not have a taste of soap the next morning…)

Poured the yellow layer:

and let it sit not as long as the orange one, because I wanted to give this layer a little sculpting. I had bought a jagged buttercream sculpting plastic tool at TEDI – similar like the 1 Dollar stores in the US, and cut it to fit into the mould:

Unfortunately, I am still no octopus, and this is why I have no pictures of the sculpting process of the yellow layer. It was about midnight on a Saturday evening, and the man of the house, who would otherwise had acted as photographer, was fast asleep on the sofa. No reason to stay awake when Soaping Superbini disappears in the black hole called kitchen and plays with chemicals.

Neither there are pictures of the dropping of the swirls. Or the swirling of the drops. Whatever. I think, the mysterious and funny thing about this technique is that you cannot ever say what is the outcome. You simply drizzle the soap batter into the filled mould from a certain height. Gravity will decide how the finished soap will look like in the end.

Next thing I remember

is the unmoulding. Out of the dark:

I had put the mould with the still not solid soap in the oven for the night. It seems like my hands have been shaking with either fear or excitement – well, the batter had piled up on one end of the mould. Mishap again. But then, in the tutorial video, Amy, too, dropped her finished soap, so I feel in good company 🙂

Following some more pictures just to show off 🙂

Green river:

This is the end..

The first cut is the deepest: (does Rod Stewart really wear a Celtics jersey??)

Brighter than a thousand suns:

I must say – I am very very please with the result. It makes my pupils constrict, and I do not need all these fancy night lights anymore because my soap leads me the way through my apartment. My only hope is that the colour will not come off and stay on the skin once I (or anybody else) washes with it.