Advanced Swirling part 3: Design and Color-Matching
Hello again! This is part three of four in my Advanced Cold Process Swirling tutorial. If you missed the first half of the series, be sure to check out part 1 (Understanding Color Theory and Terminology) and 2 (Getting Brave with Color) to learn about color theory terms and how to build confidence with color. This is the final segment on color usage before we get into actual swirling techniques.
Let your personality show through your soap! Your product is a reflection of your style and aesthetic. Choose colors and patterns based on what best radiates as “you.” Simple and elegant designs use few colors with wider spacing between the lines (by leaving more negative space, it leaves an area for your eye to rest, thus creating a calming effect). Bright and fun designs use multiple colors and the pattern is manipulated further for a more active and energetic look. You can also color match based on your chosen fragrance. If the scent is lavender, for example, it makes more sense to use purples and blues than it would reds. Theme the color based on the flower or plant’s physical properties.
Keep in mind, the more you swirl the soap by hand, the more the colors blend together. If you manipulate the swirl pattern too much, you could easily end up with one muddy color. The test of a true soap artist is knowing when to stop. Here’s how I know when to stop: You’ll come to a point in the swirling process where magic starts to happen. The pattern begins to form and the excitement builds. Then you start to get the giggles and let out a big “WOW”! Stop swirling at the first wow. I know you want to keep going to see if it gets cooler, but that’s when you can begin to over-swirl and loose what made it a wow in the first place. Stop while you’re ahead.
Developing your signature swirl takes a lot of practice and experimenting with color combinations and pattern techniques. The more you try it, the better you’ll get, and the more you know what you like. Try not to get discouraged right away and make small batches until you get the hang of it.
Strategy vs. Spontaneity: Linear swirling is much more about strategy and in-the-pot swirling is about spontaneity. You can go somewhere in between the two techniques by alternating pours of color into a loaf mold in a layering fashion. The result is a conglomerate of color shapes and the pattern differs with each cut bar. Cutting into a loaf soap is SO exciting; like cracking open a geode.
Creating specific patterns will be covered step-by-step in the next and final portion of the tutorial series. Stay tuned!