Great Cakes Soapworts Challenge November 2017 – Dirty Pour

It’s been a while – 6 months actually!! In that time I’ve been on two holidays to Cyprus and Spain but by far the most exciting thing to happen in that time is welcoming two furry new additions to our family!!

Meet Fozzie and Bella – our Shar Pei pups!!


To say they’ve been keeping us busy is an understatement!!

Anyway back to the challenge. The challenge this month was to use an acrylic paint technique called a ‘Dirty Pour’. There are various ways of creating the look should you Google search it but the method taught in the tutorial video was to use different sized plastic couplers within each other and pour 2 or more colours into each one. You also needed a base colour which would be poured around the couplers/pipes once you’ve finished pouring the colours (or during if you need to anchor down the couplers.

I decided for my first attempt – which isn’t my entry – to use a 4 inch coupler with a 2 inch coupler inside it. For this first attempt I decided to use pale & dark pink and pale & dark blue with a pale green base. Fragrance for this attempt was Black Raspberry Vanilla which is amazing and will definitely be a scent I purchase again!

Once the alternating colours were poured into the couplers I filled the empty spaces with my base colour before removing the couplers and letting the soap blob out into the base soap. In the tutorial video the drops from the couplers were allowed to drip and were shaken over the top of the soap – me being a bit of a control freak and liking order I decided against this and to stick with just the pattern formed by the soap that was inside the pipes but I since realised that a lack of preciseness is exactly what this challenge is all about. Once the pipes are removed the idea is to tilt the mould (a slab mould by the way) and let the soap slide to the sides – this is not a spin swirl though so you must resist the urge to twist rather than just tilt. I found it was quite hard to get the colours to fill the spaces taken up by my base colour and was worried about the colours muddying together but eventually I got a look I was happy with.


Unfortunately I wasn’t totally in love with the colours once the soap was set – although steaming did make it look a little brighter.


I also found that planing off the top of some of the cut soaps revealed a more vibrant colour. Here’s some cut pics of my first attempt:

Onto attempt number two.

For this try I decided I would use the same two couplers as before but have the smaller one slightly off centre inside the bigger one as well as using two smaller pipes alone in some of the extra space in an attempt to get less empty base colour space in my finished soap – although looking back I now think I actually prefer the ratio of base to colour in my first attempt.

Colours for this attempt were various purples and blues with a white/cream base.

Here’s the mould with the pipes in place – held in place with some melted cocoa butter.


I had a purple and a blue each for the two different sized couplers with a bright vibrant cerise that I used every so often to break up the colours. Once the pipes were full up I poured by base soap into the empty spaces and pulled out the pipes one at a time starting with the biggest. This time I let the drops from the pipes fall all over the top of my soap even giving them a good old shake to get plenty on there – the control freak inside was really not happy about this!! Then onto the tilting which I found harder this time as I’d decided I wanted to make thicker bars than last time so made a larger batch but to be honest it made tilting the soap and getting motion into it a lot harder than in my first batch. I think the next time I attempt this technique I will go somewhere in-between the two batch sizes in an attempt to get the best of both worlds.

Here’s a pic of the top after I’d poured and tilted – you can see how the middle isn’t showing as much movement as the outside edges:


I enjoyed learning this technique and letting go a little – it’s definitely one I will be trying again just so that I can see if a slightly smaller batch size than this one will give me the movement that I want.

Here’s the bottom of the soap once removed from the mould – you can see the cocoa butter that was holding the pipes in place:


Finally here’s lots of cut pics:

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And I think this one will be my entry photo for this challenge:


Or this one:



Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge March 2017 – Hidden Feather Swirl

A break from exams!

So that means time to soap and better still… time for a challenge!! The first since July 2016!

I’ve done a hidden feather swirl before which had gone really well so figured this would be a breeze! Here’s the first and only other feather I’ve attempted – gonna go ahead and say it was beginners luck!


So onto this challenge. I used my go to slow moving recipe and used a FO that I’d read behaved – Lavender and Cucumber. Achieving emulsion was easy enough but my soap took forever to get thick enough to pour and I made the mistake of pouring my first layer for the feather when it was still too thin so it just sank right down to the bottom of the soap. I left it to get a little thicker before trying again and the rest of the pour seemed to go ok but I wasn’t in love with the result. Plus because I knew I’d done a much better feather in the past I knew I could do it again.

Here is attempt #1:


I like the colours but it’s not a feather

So onto attempt #2

I used the same slow moving recipe as the last attempt but used a different FO this time – Black Raspberry Vanilla from Mad Oils which is a beautiful FO! Turns out this also behaves VERY well and meant my soap took forever to get thick enough to pour again. I was a lot more restrained this time though and managed to hold back from pouring until it was ready to go! I used colours I thought would ‘POP’ and went which black (AC), white (TD), neon pink/orange and a very pale orange base using neon orange with a little TD. On my first attempt the dividers I was using for the feather had started to move so I was careful to keep topping up the sides this time to stop the dividers from slipping outwards. I finished pouring and felt it had gone really well but time would tell. Attempt #2 will be my entry for the challenge.


I’m happy with this one 🙂


But then I had another plan!

I wanted to try something a little different so thought I would try to create 2 feathers within 1 bar – 1 each way up by pushing my tool down through one feather and up through the other. I fashioned myself a set of dividers out of plastic and cardboard so that they were all one unit – I figured it would make them more stable verses having 4 individual dividers. Used my usual slow moving recipe and selected colours – turns out I don’t actually like the colours I chose which is part of the reason I’m not using it as my entry. I decided to stickblend a little longer this time to try speed up the process but as is usually the case my FO (gin & tonic) decided it was going to do that job for this soap! So I had to move quite quickly this time to pour but thankfully I didn’t have to try and control the dividers. Apart from the soap being thicker than I would have liked it seemed to go to plan but I knew I wasn’t in love with my colours – that will teach me not to plan my colours in advance! And here it is:

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And that’s the end of this month’s challenge and as usually here are a few more images!!


It’s been waaaay too long!!

Catch up time!

The last time I was here was back in September when I posted about my entry for the Great Cakes Soapworks challenge – the Clyde Slide, that was a fun technique.

Fast forward to now and a lot has happened since then:

  1. I’ve finally passed the accountancy exam I’d just sat in September – though I failed that sitting, I passed it when I sat it again in December (that was the 3rd sitting!). Also sat and passed (first time) the next exam so am now exactly halfway through my journey to become a chartered accountant.
  2. I’ve moved house but don’t have the soaping room in the garage, YET! Love our new house! Also just got a new car!
  3. But, most importantly – I’ve made lots of soap!!

September to present day soaps

This is going to be a very quick journey through the soaps I’ve made since my last post along with brief details of each.

First up was the hidden feather swirl for which I did a tutorial for the SMF October challenge. It was my first attempt at this technique so I was very happy it turned out!


The tutorial for the technique can be found here: SMF October challenge – hidden feather

And that was the last soap I made in 2015 before we moved.

Onto 2016!

The first soap of the new year was my first castile, made on the 3rd Jan with plans to let it cure for 12 months. No colours or fragrances, just water, olive oil and lye.


Also in January I took part in the SMF January challenge which was black and white soaps. There was no specific technique to be used for this challenge so I attempted to make some black embeds but my FO caused massive acceleration  and my base colour was so thick I could pour it around them very well – as a result the tops came off on some of them.

I had another go and decided to stick with a simple hanger swirl – I was happy with this result.

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One last soaping adventure in January was the tutorial for the Feb SMF challenge – the spin swirl. I had many issues recording this tutorial ranging from the memory on my phone getting too full halfway through filming (and not realising until I finished!), dropping my phone in the soap and acceleration! As a result I think I ended up making 4 batches = lots of soap to be given away still!

Here are the various batches:

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The tutorial for this one can be found here: SMF Challenge Feb 2016 – spin swirl

Fast forward to March where the SMF challenge was whipped soap, the unique property of this soap is that it floats!! Whilst my soap did fit the brief of the challenge and floated, I didn’t like how it looked so I rebatched and added some as confetti. It still floated in its rebatched form.

The tutorial for this unique soap can be found here: SMF Challenge March 2016 – whipped soap

I have a friend with sensitive skin that can’t really use most of my soaps but after a fair bit of research I formulated a recipe I think she will be ok with, it has 20% neem oil – boy does that stuff stink! She has a horse though and they use neem on the horses apparently so she doesn’t mind the smell! Good job really as the EO blend of lemongrass, cedarwood and tea tree don’t really mask it! Did an ITP swirl for this one.

I can’t actually remember what technique I was going for here, I just know it didn’t work because the FO caused a fair bit of acceleration!!

I really like this next soap, everything about it makes me happy – the swirl went exactly as planned and the FO is sherbet lemons – it smells amazing!!

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My mum came to visit for the weekend in March so we made soap together. the idea had been to do a drop hanger swirl but the soap got a little too thick to really get the movement in the swirl I’d been hoping for. I liked my mum’s colour choices though.


We’re almost upto date now! Next comes the April SMF challenge which was a specific type of hanger swirl, we called it the Petra hanger swirl after the soaper that inspired it. I had 3 tries at this technique and felt I didn’t truly achieve the look I wanted – I wished my butterfly was a bit more substantial, instead it was quite flat. I still managed to place 3rd!

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The tutorial for this technique can be found here:Part 1 – SMF Challenge April – Petra hanger

Part 2 is here: Part 2 – SMF Challenge April – Petra hanger

And that is me upto date. I have signed up for the Great Cakes Soapworks May challenge which is the teardrop soap. I will be back very soon with the details of how this went for me!