Friday, June 13, 2014

Beautiful Mistakes.

One thing I love about making soap is, even the mistakes usually turn out pretty.  Well, at least most of the time.  I've been making soap now for 12 years.  And most of the time, what I have in my mind's eye, usually turns out pretty close to what I get.  But there are so many factors that can effect how a soap turns out, (usually the fragrance oil) that sometimes it doesn't turn out how you expected.  Here are a couple of my most recent "mistakes".

For my Black Raspberry Vanilla, I wanted to layer three colors, and then hanger swirl them together.  This picture is an example of what a bar looks like when you hanger swirl layers together:  
Hanger Swirl Example, Cranberry Crush soap.
Three layers of colors in a white base.  

So I made a large 15 pound batch in three log molds.  I painstakingly layered each mold with three layers of color in a white base.  Then after making a stunning mantra swirled top, that I was so proud of, I realized I had forgotten to actually use the hanger in for hanger swirl.  So instead of something like the soap above, I got this:
Black Raspberry Vanilla 

It's still pretty, but not quite what I had in mind.  Can you imagine how pretty they would be with a hanger swirl?  Next time....

At least the tops turned out really pretty.  I love the texture and how the colors flows together.  It makes me want to touch them.

For this next bar, I had in mind a two tone bar, with a pencil line, and smooth even halves.  I used a fragrance that in the past has been pretty easy to work with.  It was a Myrtle fragrance oil.  (Lovely fragrance,  horrible name.)  I mixed the oils just to emulsification, fragranced the batch, then split the batch and colored both halves.  I poured the bottom layer in three of my 5 pound log molds.  I carefully put a layer of cocoa powder for the pencil line, and cleaned up all  the sides of the soap so the top layer would be clean.  By the time I got to the top layer, it has almost solidified in the pot!  It was thicker than Vaseline.  My husband heard my cry of distress and ran into the kitchen to help.  We scooped out the soap, which was hard on my poor arms, and glopped it onto the tops of the soap already in the molds.  Then with gloved hands we pushed the thick soap down into the mold, trying to get rid of air bubbles and make it lay flat.  The soap was HOT and was the heat of it was burning my hands through the gloves.  We had to push the soap down so hard, I was wondering what it was doing to the pretty bottom layer I had already poured.  

The next morning we cut the soap, and this is what we got.  I think I love how it turned out better than how I had pictured it in my mind.  I like how the top layers look like waves on water.  And the lines and waves in the top layer caused by the glopping of the thick overheated soap look like churning foamy water.  It's hard to see from the picture, but it is very pretty.  
Biscay Breeze Soap
Original HoneyComb Goat Milk Soap
This final mistake is one of my favorite bars to make.  It is a Honeycomb Goat Milk soap.  I make a honeycomb design by lining the bottom of my log molds with bubble wrap, and then pour soap over it.  So when the bubble wrap is removed, that then becomes the top of the soap, and there is a nice honeycomb design where the bubble wrap was.  The design goes really nicely with a soft honey fragrance.  The picture with the red background is the normal look of my Honeycomb soap.  

Honey fragrances are notorious for overheating.  And since my Honeycomb soaps are also goat milk soaps, milk soaps can overheat too.  I think this time my issue was I used a new Honey fragrance, and I added too much fragrance oil.  The soap got super-hot, and started to volcano!  It was my first and only volcano so far.  A volcano is when the soap gets so hot it starts to climb on up out of the mold!  This picture of the soap in the mold is my Honeycomb batch that overheated.  Notice the ugly bumpy part coming up above the mold.  I had actually poured it smooth, and below the edge of the mold.  So when I cut this batch, the bottom (shown as the top in this picture) is not flat.  It kind of looked like a bumpy brown butt on the bottom of the bar, with the pretty honeycomb design on the top.  Plus this batch was scented WAY too strong in my opinion, although my husband liked it strong.   

Overheated Honeycomb Soap.  Volcanoing out of the mold, ugly, and too strongly scented.  

I grated the ugly batch, and then made the beautiful batch below with it.  I didn't add much scent at all, and just let the grated soap from the ugly batch provide most of the fragrance.  So now this batch is scented perfectly, with a soft Honey scent.  And the bar is really pretty with the layers!  I love the fix better than I like how the original bar looks!  I am considering making my bars this way all the time, just because I think it is one of the prettiest bars I have ever made.  But it is so labor intensive, that I probably won't to do it again on purpose.  

Fixed Batch with old batch grated into it.


Viva La Juicy.  
 The last two bars were also mistakes, or fixes that I think turned our really pretty.  I had Planned a totally different swirl for my Viva La Juicy soap.  But the soap seized really quickly.  So I just had to slam and glop it into the molds.  It got so hot, it looked all rough.  But rough soaps look so pretty when cut with a crinkle cutter!  Crinkle cutters often make ugly soap pretty.  

Pink Berry Mimosa

Chunking up messed up batches, and putting them in another batch is always a good idea.

Whenever I mess up a batch, I usually complain, and get upset about it at first.  My husband reminds me that they always turn out beautiful and to just wait till we cut it to judge it.  The cool thing about making soap is, it is very hard to make an ugly soap.  Even the messed up ones are really pretty.  


  1. This sounds like me and my husband- I'm rarely happy, he's rarely/never disappointed with my soap designs.
    It's not good to be too hard to yourself, but the perfectionist in my tells different.
    All of these soaps look as if they matched another story, not mishaps. I specially like honeycomb, it really looks gorgeous. Good save, Katrina!

    1. Thank you Maja. I've looked at your soap designs on your blog. They are very beautiful. I love your designs.

  2. I would really love to try viva la juicy! Your designs are beautiful!