I wasn’t going to join in WOYWW this week, but since I ended up doing a blog post, I decided to after all – even if rather late in the day!
I’ve had a bad few days with a horrible flu bug that involves a bad cold, temperature and vomiting. I spent Monday in bed, asleep most of the day and feeling very cold. I am now feeling quite a bit better but still rather fazed and no appetite. Fortunately we have postponed our Christmas meal till the beginning of January so I’ve got a few days to recover.
As a result of all this, I’m terribly behind with all the things I’d planned to do in the days running up to Christmas. I spent this evening in my ARTHaven making soap – when I’d much rather have been resting, but if I’m going to have anything physical to hand over as presents tomorrow, it had to be. I still haven’t done the ironing… Yesterday, as I was pulling the clothes airer up again after taking the last lot of washing off it, the rope broke and the whole lot came down, hitting me on the back of the shoulder! It could have been a lot worse if it had been heavily laden with wet laundry! My hubby went out and bought a nice new washing line and re-hung it for me and it’s lovely again.
This will be part 1 of two posts about the soaps, because I haven’t finished – there are still some waiting to turn out of the moulds, and I’ve got more wrapping and labelling to do, and little baskets to make up of mixed soaps/bath melts/bath bombs.
Recently I found an interesting soap recipe on the Internet, for a soap suitable for after workshop time or gardening, and wanted to give it a try – one for the friend we’re sharing “Christmas” lunch with and one for my hubby. The recipe wasn’t that specific and in my more than usually brainfogged state I couldn’t be bothered to do a lot of calculation (which would have been beyond me!) so I just bunged in the amount of additives she said, for the amount of soap base I wanted to use – probably too much - as a result of which, it has come out quite oily and probably more strongly fragranced than it might have been – the next time I do it, I will adapt the recipe somewhat – but once it is dried out, it may be fine.
Here are the materials laid out for making this soap. The only thing I forgot to get out at this stage was my little spray bottle of rubbing alcohol for dispersing foam on the soap surface.
Back row: olive oil; good basic six-cavity rectangle soap mould (which, thank goodness, arrived from Ebay a couple of days ago – been waiting for it for ages!); clear soap base. Middle row: kitchen spoon; shea butter; glass bowls containing a) grated rind of 3 oranges, dried in 30-second increments on a plate in the microwave and b) two tablespoons of ground cloves. Front row: electronic scales; sweet orange essential oil; pourable natural Vitamin E.
To make 3 bars of this soap (60g soap base for each soap) I mixed a total of 180g clear soap base, and 1 tablespoon each of shea butter and olive oil. I melted this in the microwave in a plastic jug in 30-second increments, and poured a little into the bowl of ground cloves and mixed to a paste, which I then returned to the jug and mixed it well. I added two teaspoons of Vitamin E and 30 drops of orange essential oil to give a good fragrance. I mixed it all together well and poured it into three moulds, and sprinkled the grated orange rind on top, and left it to set.
While that was happening, I started to make some teddy soaps for my hubby. Some time ago I got a teddy mould from Ebay for him, but unfortunately it is rather small, and not really suitable for everyday soap use, but I thought it would make a fun gift for him. I made three, in different colours.
I measured how much white soap base I would use, but did not calculate that there is always a small amount lost through hardening in the jug when pouring; this isn’t usually a problem, but it is much more noticeable when using a small quantity. I ended up having to return the soap to the jug and add some more – to a total of 25g.
The first one was coloured with three drops of yellow colour.
I was going to make an orange bear with 3 drops of yellow, 3 drops of red and 2 drops of the brown colour I mixed the other day, but the wretched dropper bottles are very unreliable – sometimes nothing comes, then you get a whole lot at once! I put in too much of the brown, so the second bear ended up being the brown one (a nice chocolate brown! – looks good enough to eat!) and after this there was a bit of soap base left in the jug, so I added a bit more, and then added some more yellow, to make a medium brown bear! All a bit hit and miss really! Anyway, he’ll get three bears (but no Goldilocks).
While waiting for the individual teddy soaps to set (having only one mould, this took a bit of time), I started making labels for the gardener’s soap. I used ordinary self-adhesive address labels cut down to the length I wanted, and I peeled each end from the backing paper and rounded the corners using my small corner rounder punch and then stuck them back onto the backing paper. I used a sepia archival Faber Castell Pitt Artist pen to write the text and create the border, and filled in the border gaps with some Spiced Marmalade (appropriate!) distress ink, using the ink as a watercolour. I then used a blending tool to distress the edges with the same ink. The final touch was to add some dots of Orange Peel Stickles (again, appropriate!) glitter glue, which of course doesn’t show up too well on the photo.
By this time, the gardener’s soaps were ready to turn out. This is what they look like.
They look more like flapjack than soap!! They smell great. The grated orange rind will act as an exfoliant, and the olive oil, shea butter and Vitamin E will all nourish and moisturise the skin after the punishing treatment the hands can receive in the workshop or garden.
I also made three natural lemon soaps for kitchen use. These were very straightforward – I used a total of 300g of clear soap base for the three soaps and melted this in the microwave as before. I put a small quantity of turmeric powder in a small bowl and added a little of the melted soap base to it and mixed it to a paste, which I then added back to the jug of soap base and mixed well. I added about 20 drops of lemon essential oil and stirred the mixture, and poured it into the moulds. The final step was to add three dried lemon slices. I made a collection of dried orange and lemon slices a couple of weeks ago, putting them on a baking sheet and leaving them in the top oven for a couple of hours at 50 deg. C, but they were still pretty moist, so since then, they have been in the airing cupboard, and when I have remembered, I have been turning them. The lemon slices are now pretty well dry and hard, but the orange ones are going to take a bit longer.
The lemon soap I made in the natural soaps class had a half slice of lemon on it, and almost as soon as I started using the soap, this came off. It doesn’t matter – it’s only decoration. This soap is brilliant in the kitchen because it really does deal with the onion smell on one’s hands – I even rubbed my chopping board with it and then scrubbed it with a brush, and the onion smell was practically all gone from that too. It’s a very easy soap to make, and one I am sure I shall be making regularly from now on, as and when we need it.
The final soap I made, I didn’t photograph – this will appear in the second of these two posts. It is a plain oval soap made from 130g clear soap base, coloured with ultramarine violet powder, mixed to a paste and added, as before. I was careful to keep this colour fairly pale. I added 5 drops of lavender essential oil, poured the soap and left it to set.
There was a small amount of the medium brown soap left from the final teddy, and I didn’t want to throw it away, so I filled my cameo mould with it. It’s not really the right colour, and I am pondering how to add some highlights to it (maybe with white soap base but not sure how I’ll get it to stick on, and I don’t want to lose definition on the cameo). The next step will be to score the back of the cameo, spritz with rubbing alcohol and adhere it to the top of the soap once I’ve turned it out, using a little melted clear soap base. If this is successful, I shall be making some more lavender soap like this, but probably making the cameo from plain, uncoloured white soap base. Any surface colouring would in any case come off the first time the soap is used.
Watch this space for how all these soaps turn out, and how I wrap them.
A quick update – my hubby went back to the hospital yesterday with his wrist, and they X-rayed it and said the bone had knit, and they took the cast off. He’s now got a wrist brace, and says it feels quite sore and very vulnerable – it’s amazing how dependent one can get on the rigid protection of a cast! Anyway, he can drive again, but he’s taking care over the next few days when we hope that it will gradually start to feel better. He’s going back in a month to get it X-rayed again, and hopefully all will be well and it won’t require pinning.