August Great Cakes Soapwork's Challenge uses a technique created by Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soaps by Steso called The Dancing Funnel. No funnel involved though! This technique looks deceptively simple. I found it much harder than it looks. The key seems to be getting your soap batter to just the right consistency as well as laying down your soap in the right proportions. I was not as successful at either as I would have liked to have been but I do like my results just the same.
We had two categories to chose from--natural or synthetic. I was really excited to try to make a black soap with neon green lines. So on my first attempt I followed the recipe given by Tatsiana in the tutorial and used activated charcoal and neon green from Mad Oils. But, my soap came out very oily. I mean VERY oily. I had forgotten to pop the soap in the oven after pouring so I thought maybe that was the issue. The photos below give you some idea of the oil pouring out of the mold. The first is the bottom of the soap. The second photo is the wooden mold with oil left in it after the soap was removed. Fortunately the soap was not lye heavy so I will be able to use it some day in the future....
Once the soap was cut, the two sides looked entirely different. Neither one looking like the challenge soap was supposed to. On one side we had Toxic Ectoplasm. On the other side what looked like a bag of frozen spinach. Well, Halloween is coming up. Maybe I can pass off the Toxic Ectoplasm as an Ode to Ghostbusters. Now if only that neon green had been Glow in the Dark.....
Moving onward to my second attempt I decided to try the natural route. I thought that the Dancing Funnel pattern would look a lot like a giraffe's hide if the right colors were used. I had done a great Bengal tiger swirl in another soap and knew how to do a zebra stripe and I thought adding a giraffe soap might make a nice set some day. So, I used cocoa for the brown color and orange peel powder for the yellowish tan lines in my next soap. I used a slow moving recipe that I had saved from when I first started soaping and made sure my superfat was not too high. Once again I forgot to cpop the soap and once again it came out oily. Not as much this time though. And I think I figured out the oiliness-- in my concern over mixing too long, I think I needed to mix it a bit more. I really had thought it was emulsified but later I felt that maybe it could have used a bit more stirring.
Although I felt the giraffe pattern was acceptable (it didn't look like Tatiana's but it did look like giraffe) I still felt it was rather dull. At this point I didn't think I was going to have anything to enter. So I decided to just have a lot of fun with it and get a little crazy. I had been wanting to do a soap that looked like the oil spills you sometimes see. Where the puddles of oil show colors--usually pinks, blues, yellows, sometimes greens, etc. So I thought, "what if I do an in the pot swirl for my circle color and black soap for my line?" Now I knew that the in the pot swirl might over blend with tilting the squirt bottles back and forth so much but hey, I was having fun so what did it matter?! I decided to make up my own recipe of coconut, lard, olive and just a bit of castor. I DID remember to put it in the oven and I was sure that I mixed enough. This one came out oily as well! But only a bit, and I was able to dab the oil off for the most part. I'm still not sure why I kept having oil troubles. In the 15 months I've been soaping I have never had oil issues. But in the end this one came out well.
I used Pitch Black mica for the lines, and Sunshine Yellow from Steph's Micas and More, Peacock mica from Mad Oils and Electric Bubblegum mica from Brambleberry. I did an in-the-pot swirl in my large bowl and then poured that into the squeeze bottles. I debated on trying an in-the-squeeze-bottle swirl instead of in-the-pot but decided that would be too difficult. The funny thing is as the squeeze bottles eventually blended, each blended to a different color. So some of my circles are purple, some blue-ish and some more yellow. As I planed and cleaned the soap however, a few circles came out that were like the oil puddles that I wanted to achieve!
The other thing I noticed is that my "lines" are a bit thick. Probably because I got a little lost placing my next circles (although I was always careful to put it down somewhere that looked like an in between space.) And my count was off I think. My count of one was more of a onnnnneeeeee. I just didn't want to stop squeezing that first bottle! So, the soap is a bit more of a cobblestone/clog step than a dance. But I do love the soap. It is really interesting looking with its swirls of colors and it smells wonderful. I used Black Raspberry Vanilla since I knew it would behave. I loved the fact that even though this technique will take me more practice, it is not time consuming to do and has endless possibilities. Thanks again, Amy for another fun learning experience!