This is the 3rd challenge I’ve taken part in and one that I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to attempt. The thing I love about soaping is that most swirls don’t require too much precision but this challenge definitely called for it!
Ebru art originates from Turkey and involves dropping oil paint on top of a layer of water then manipulating the paint to form intricate pictures and patterns before laying paper over it so that the paint sticks.
For this challenge we had to show where our inspiration came from. I love, love, love cherry blossom – the scent, the delicate look of it, everything, so it was a no brainer for me when deciding. This isn’t the first time a cherry blossom tree has inspired me to create – last year I made this cherry blossom cake for a cake decorating contest
I also have my very own cherry blossom tree on my back – I love the delicate lines of my tattoo
I found a few Ebru Art pictures of cherry blossom trees but this one caught my eye more than the others – I love the background colour against the different pinks – it really sets it off
So now onto how I went about creating my soap. I knew that the recipe would need to be slow moving for me to have the time to create my Ebru Art so I picked a recipe with quite a high olive oil content and rather than using a water discount I thought full water would be prudent, here’s my recipe
I always like to soap at room temp so I prepared my lye water and melted my hard oils before adding my soft oils, FO (cherry blossom of course, what else could it be!) and butter. Whilst this was all cooling down I prepared my colours. I used tropical green mica with a little sky blue mica and some TD for my base colour – I was going for turquoise and I’m happy with the outcome. For my two pinks I used rosebud mica for both but lightened one with some more TD. The brown for the tree was achieved using bronze mica mixed with a little black pearl mica – it really shimmers up close.
Once everything had cooled down to around 85 degrees F, I set about mixing my lye water with my oils whilst praying the FO was going to behave – I’ve had bad experiences in the past with florals accelerating on me – thankfully it was a dream to work with. I used my stick blender until I reached emulsion then left it for a few minutes just to let it thicken slightly on it’s own – I didn’t want to keep using the SB in case it got too thick. Now it was time to separate out very small amounts for my picture on top. I used squeezy sauce bottles for dropping the soap on top so I just poured the uncoloured soap into those then added the colours and gave it a little shake. As well as my picture colours I coloured a very small amount of soap white using TD as I wanted to add some movement to my background too. Once I had my smaller portions ready I added my turquoise to the bulk of the soap batter and poured into my waiting slab mould – this would be the first time I used my home made liner, made out of mylar sheets.
I dropped on a few drops of white then used a chopstick (the only tool allowed for this challenge) to swirl the white into the turquoise – I really should have taken pictures of this process but I was worried about everything getting too thick to work with.
Next I created the tree – using the squeezy bottle I put down the basic outline of the trunk and branches then used the chopstick to smooth the edges and to create the thinner, wispy branches at the top of my tree. Then I used the darker pink and randomly squeezed circles on top of and on the edges of my branches – I followed this with the pale pink and finally and drop of white in the centre. At this point it looked like lots of pink and white targets on my tree! Using the chopstick I pulled in from the outside of all the circles to create the petals of my blossoms. To make it look like petals falling I dropped some small drops of the pinks and used the chopstick to pull up the top of the drop to form a petal shape.
Here’s the finished product straight after the pour/design
In an attempt to avoid ash – I didn’t want my tree to end up muted by it – I gave it a liberal spraying with rubbing alcohol then covered the top with cling film.
I knew it was going to take a while before I could unmould with the high water and soft oils content – plus the fact I poured at light trace.
Here it is once dry and out of the mould
It took maybe 3 days before I could comfortably unmould it and a further 3 days before I could cut it. It felt wrong somehow to cut it as it was a single piece of art but I think the cut bars are lovely too.