Soap Challenge Club: Tall & Skinny Shimmy

This past month I have started to learn how to make soap! Here are my most recent attempts in line with the Soap Challenge Club coordinated by Amy Warden.

[[drawing notes doodle]]

We were working on creating a 7 section wall pour that "shimmied" in the middle (see the curvy S shape through the center of my sketch?). While I had the concept of the technique down, I did not have the correct consistency for my soap batter on either of my attempts.

When doing a cold process soap, there are a lot of safety basics to be aware of but that will be for another post. If you are looking into starting a soap making hobby, I recommend watching some of Bramble Berry or Soap Queen's videos on YouTube. There is a wealth of information out there!

Back to my soap! Fitting with a main theme in my life, I wanted to make a soap that incorporated some adorable macarons! I made a cold process soap dough and molded it using a silicone form. More on that process can be found on a new post soon!

I colored my soaps with things I already have at home. Being a baker, that means cocoa powder, vanilla bean paste, and titanium dioxide. I left the soap otherwise unscented for a few reasons: there is a high percentage of cocoa butter in my formula, and as I'm new to soaping I haven't invested in fragrance oils and have limited essential oils on hand (hello COVID-19 times). Plus many fragrance and essential oils can speed up the trace, which is undesirable for this Tall & Skinny Shimmy technique.

The first attempt my oils and lye solution were not emulsified correctly. I recorded the pour and took pictures of the cut to learn from it. I may rebatch this attempt, but want to give it more time before I decide. Feedback from friends is that I created a delicious marble fudge look a like, so it would be fun for gifts if it tests in the right pH range.

The second attempt made really cute soap, too! But the technique still needs work. One place I went wrong: I was nervous about the color difference between my cream and light brown layers, so I added extra vanilla extract which sped up the trace and made for a thicker batter than works for this technique.

[[Here is a 2 minute video of the pour, topping, and some inside shots]]

How cute is all of that! That thicker batter worked well as a "frosting" after allowing time for the top to set up. I tested the consistency on parchment paper for a pipable consistency that would keep the form for my rosettes and dollops.

Looks like a pretty tasty piece of cake or something though, right!? And with a "yummy" soap macaron and some sparkly mica painted and sprayed on top!

Just to share it, here is the pour video compilation from the first attempt.

Additional notes:

  • These molds were made from cereal boxes, tape, and lined with parchment paper (the second was reinforced with more cardboard and rubber bands). For a loose guide on how to make your own at home, check out this post (that's coming soon!)

  • The first mold with only one layer of cardboard was too weak in the middle and bowed out with the three pounds of oils.

  • Reinforcing the second mold with more cardboard and rubber bands was a great affordable fix.

  • Using the stick blender on your oils right before adding your lye solution can help you remember what emulsification will look like. I also used the stick blender to reach emulsification the second time. The first time I hand whisked but mistakenly decided it was ready too early.

  • Both times dispersing the colorants in the seven cups (or 9 in my case) was helpful. second time, Iowered my superfat and then added canola oil to disperse my colorants instead of using batch oils.

Mainly, I'm glad I challenged myself to make something new and try a design I wasn't originally very inspired by! I loved adding the piped top and the macaron embed because I have never done those things before either. If you are interested in learning how to make soap - it wasn't as scary as it could be! And if you want an added challenge, look to see if you can get into the next Soap Challenge Club session because the private facebook group is really supportive and the tutorials are very informative.

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