From Ugly Ducklings to Swans (sort of)

Like all soapmakers, I’ve had my share of fugly soaps. Nothing wrong with them, just downright unattractive.

Earlier this month, I had planned on making a masculine and earthy-looking soap by having layers of green, black and tan.  The cedar-spice scented black and tan portions set up quite suddenly, while the green portion scented with lavender and sage remained liquid. To compound the problem, the green chrome oxide that I had mixed with some neon green was not turning out the way I wanted it to.

I could not stand how ugly it looked, I just had to chop it up right away.  Believe me, it’s so much better to face ugly soap in a pile of little cubes than in big bars.  I also wish I could use up everything in one go, but my plan was to do embeds, not a rebatch.

I’ve already made 3 batches with the embeds, and I still have 2 more to go. For the first batch, I used Vetyver, grapefruit and sage fragrance oils. It smells fresh and masculine, but I am not happy with the specks of undissolved titanium dioxide. I just opened a new pack and I feel that it is behaving differently from before. I got it from the same supplier and they don’t indicate whether it is water or oil soluble. With the first bag I bought, I was mixing it with oil until I figured out it worked better with water. With the new pack, I suspect it is the other way around.

Embed 1

For my second batch, I used french green clay for the first time. I was surprised at how gritty it was. I sifted it, mixed it with a little water, and pressed it against the wall of the bowl with a spatula. My poor new plastic bowl got seriously scratched.

Even though it’s supposed to be green clay, it looked gray to me, so I added a pinch of green chrome oxide. The result was an earthy grayish-green color, just what I was hoping for.  I scented it with spearmint and  eucalyptus E.O.s, and orange and grapefruit F.O.s  It smells fresh, but a little toothpaste-like for my taste.

I got my design inspiration from Petals Bath Boutique’s stunningly pretty Candy Rocks soap. Mine is a far cry from Kia’s gorgeous artistry, but nonetheless, I am pretty happy with it. This is my second try to make a pencil line and both times have been a little bit messy. Can someone please give me advice on how do it cleanly?

embed green clay 1

I had some green mica already mixed with oil that I was not able to use for an earlier batch. It wasn’t part of the plan to do a mica swirl top for this masculine soap, but I got carried away.  I think it’s pretty, but I don’t know how guys will react to it.

embed green clay 2

For the third batch with the same embeds, I used French green clay again (I am really liking the texture it gives to soaps).  I wanted the embeds to be on one side only, so I tilted the mold, poured some soap, sprinkled embeds, then added the rest of the soap. This time I scented it with peppermint E.O. and orange peel F.O. Combined with the woodsy scent from the embeds, the smell is fresh and soothing, very spa-like.  I am thinking of naming it Hakone Spa or Zen Garden.

embed green clay peppermint 1 embed green clay peppermint 2Pardon the poor lighting of the photos. I had to do several re-takes and this is the best I could come up with that shows a fairly accurate color of the soaps.  I usually take pictures before I go to work or when I go home.  Even though I try to go home a bit early, the sun sets even earlier.

Wishing you all a good week, and happy shopping if you haven’t finished yet with your list! 🙂

23 thoughts on “From Ugly Ducklings to Swans (sort of)

  1. DivaSoap

    They are super pretty,Silvia! I don’t think the original batch was fugly either, embeds are looking great. If I picked my favourite, it would be the first one, the whiteness really makes contrast to embeds,and the black top even intesifies it. No particular adivce for pencil lines, I do mine using a strainer, but little bit of powder (whatever it is) always finishes out of the mould. I don’t mind little mess.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you for the advice, Maja. I should look for a proper strainer and practice more to achieve cleaner lines. The first one smells so good! Still looking for a name for it. 🙂

  2. Monica Glaboff

    Like Maja, I don’t think your originals were ugly at all, but I do like how you used it as embeds. I love all the colours and designs you did, in particular I like the second one because to me it looks like sushi. 🙂 Despite the swirliness, I think your third one is still very masculine, the colours remind me of a peacock, which of course is the male. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful week Silvia!

    1. soapjam Post author

      It’s really interesting how we all see things differently. Now I see the sushi resemblance since you’ve pointed it out. 🙂
      Happy holidays, Monica!

  3. Jenny

    All of these soaps are gorgeous, Silvia! I love the embeds in all of them, and I especially like the one with the pencil lines. I use a tea strainer (it looks like a miniature mesh strainer) to make my pencil lines. Just a bit of mica in there, and gently tap, tap, tap to create a light layer. (And remember to wipe the sides of your mold after making your line!) I’ll have to try some French green clay. I am using a soap with Moroccan red clay right now and I really like the texture of the lather.

    1. soapjam Post author

      I have to remember not to put too much charcoal or mica, and to clean the sides! Thank you, Jenny. I have to wait for the soaps to cure, but I think I am going to love clay as an additive. I hope you get to try french green clay, and see how it differs from the other clays.

  4. Vicki

    Really nice use of embeds Silvia! Some of them remind me of opals, which I love… I hear you on the ‘fugly soaps’, we’ve all been there hahaha! I usually grate mine up to make confetti soaps, but I did once use a horrible brown soap chopped up to represent chunks of chocolate on top of a ‘cake’ soap which looked quite good.

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Gordana. I have to say I like the look of embeds, but I don’t wish to have a batch go awry to be able to use them as embeds. happy holidays!

  5. Cindy

    Such beauties!
    I don’t know why you think guys wouldn’t like that opal and black swirl… my hisband has asked me to see if I can put something similar on his charcoal bars…. he thought it was really beautiful!

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you and welcome to my blog, Cindy! I just assumed that men don’t really care for fancy soap designs, but I shouldn’t be too hasty with my conclusions. It’s good to know that men also appreciate soap aesthetics.:-)

  6. Pingback: Embeds | SoapJam

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