September 2015 was the Great Cakes Soapworks Clyde Slide Challenge. The point of this challenge was to get a signature "feathered" look using one of three techniques devised by Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soaps. This was the second challenge I participated in having just started cold process soaping in May. I made three tries for the challenge. I would love to write and say that after each batch, each try, I got better and better. That my persistence and dedication to excellence paid off. But alas, that was not the case. If I had to name this challenge for myself, I think I would call it the Case of Working Backwards……
Recently, I have been working on learning to add fresh goat's milk to my soap. There was a recipe I wanted to try the goat's milk with. It was so simple--just coconut oil, olive oil and palm. I thought I would make that before I worked on the challenge. My idea for the goat's milk loaf was to add no color but just some essential oils of lemongrass and tea tree plus the milk I had weighed out and frozen. I kept the lye/goat's milk solution at 65 degrees and the batter was at 85.
Low and behold, the trace was so slow and the batter so fluid, I thought, why not try using it for the challenge! I quickly divided the batter into three "colors"- the base I added nothing to so I could see what color the goat's milk made the soap, to the second batch I added Mad Oil's Indigo Girls and to the third I added Mad Oil's Pot of Gold. Since I hadn't been planning this I had left a smaller amount of base than I normally would have. But I faux funnel poured blue with yellow on top on both sides of the pot, then poured it in from the SIDE of the pot instead of through the spout moving back and forth into my log mold. I really liked the results and thought it smelled heavenly. But since I had not planned on using this for the challenge, I decided to do another because even though I loved it, I KNEW I could do better.
My second try had an inspiration. I saw a photo by Jessica Colaluca on Design Seed's Instagram that I just loved. Here is a link to the photo:
This time my recipe had different percentages of those same three oils plus the addition of avocado oil. My essential oils (I had made the mistake with the earlier Mantra Marble challenge of using an untested fragrance oil so I stuck to some essential oils here) were Grapefruit, Tangerine and Lemon. I used Snow White for the base, and Tangerine Dream, Tennis Ball Breaker, Hot Pants and Grape Nehi micas for the other colors. This time I did the faux funnel pour with pink with yellow on top on both sides, and my intention was to do orange with a small amount of purple on top in the 6 o'clock position. But I forgot I had so much orange so I had to pour a boatload of orange at 6 o'clock and add a bit of purple and drizzle the rest of the purple in the middle.
Hmmm… the colors sort of melded together and even though there is a little feathering in the white, all I could think of was that the purple looked like some sort of freakish weed growing in the middle of my soap. For some reason, Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed kept coming to mind. And I won't even go into the hideously wrinkled texture on the top….
On to my third try. New recipe: Olive, Canola, Coconut and Palm. This time I decided to use a fragrance oil that I love--Bluebonnet. I've made soap with it before so it's "sort of" tested and I thought it would work ok. I poured the colors in the pot in three "stripes". Then I again poured it back and forth into the log mold. I decided to use a light blue base, with the deep purple-ish blue, pink and green you see in pictures of bluebonnets. I should have been better about writing down the colors I used but I started getting a little crazed as I mixed my colors. I think they went something like this: light blue--Preppy Blue Mica (so far, so good); pink--Bazooka Joe with a touch of Grape Nehi; green--Chromium Green with some Maniacal Pea (can you see the color desperation starting to set in?) and purple was Ultramarine Blue with some Grape Nehi added. I got so caught up in all these colors I wound up forgetting my fragrance oil. And shazam! One of the ugliest unscented soap bars you could ever hope to achieve!
It was time to retreat….back to my first try. So my lemongrass and tea tree soap became my submission. What did I learn for this challenge? Sometimes, (maybe a lot of the time), simpler is better!