THREE: After the dye is dispersed and the wool seems to be evenly colored, cover the wool with plastic wrap and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes. WARNING: The water will almost be boiling when the 5 minutes is up. DO NOT TOUCH. Just let the wool cool until it hits room temperature. Then remove the plastic wrap.
Simply blend one drop each of lime and brilliant blue Labcolors in an opaque melt-and-pour soap base for the perfect minty green. I made a basic rectangle with black oxide pigment and chopped it up for the chips. It worked great! For the actual bars, I used a variety of Soapy Love scalloped shapes molds.
Use 4ml of fragrance per pound of melt-and-pour soap. Let the green cool and thicken slightly, but not too much to where you can’t pour it. Add a couple cubes of white soap to help the cooling process go faster. If you put your chips into too hot of soap (generally above 125 or higher), the color will bleed out of them and make a gray mess and the chips will melt away.
Sprinkle a few of the chips on the bottom of the mold before pouring the green so that you can see them on the top of the bar, and be sure to spray, spray, spray with rubbing alcohol so everything sticks together.
Top it off with a thin light green or white layer to make the colors pop. Don’t cover over the chips completely– we want to see those! Put them in the freezer for up to 20 minutes and you’re done. Now try not to eat them.
— from Kat at Otion
Last week, I was supremely lucky to spend almost two full days at Otion with a private soapmaking student. Diane visted us from Watsonville, California to learn more about soapmaking and how we run Otion. She and I spent one full day exploring Cold Process soap. First we designed three key recipes for her based on her personal preferences around what a ‘good’ soap makes. Then, it was time for a serious soaptopia at Otion.
We enjoyed working with honey and focusing on temperatures to inhibit superheating (caused by the honey). Soap on right? Never got above 97 degrees. Soap on left? 145 for over 20 minutes. Same recipe. Same additives. Temperature was the only variant.
Can you believe this is Goatsmilk soap? No tan color and no ammonia smell. It’s a technique I’ve been exploring for a new e-book on goatsmilk soapmaking. Colors are Black Oxide and Yellow Oxide.
We also made custom essential oil blends for all of Diane’s soaps, played with bath fizzies and did a great batch of layered rebatch. Diane also spent time with Erik, the Otion store manager, learning about the ins and outs of running a small shop (something she aspires too do)
One of my favorite parts of being in charge of Bramble Berry ‘SoapNation’ is the one-on-one instruction opportunities at Otion. From time to time, soapers and toiletry makers come to Otion for private instruction on how to make everything and anything that their heart desires. The days (and weekends) are all custom designed to meet the interests of our students. Selena came to us from Africa by way of London. And poor dear, because of the Icelandic volcanic eruptions, she is in Bellingham for a bit longer than she intended.
We designed a jam packed two days for Selena. Cold Process soap – swirled with the Bramble Berry ‘World’s Best Divider Molds’ and a couple double layer loaves (with a sprinkled mica vein in the middle of each layer, above). The above soap is the dark color because of the honey. It gets hot and burns in the soap, causing it to turn brown.
Most of our cold process soaps included a generous serving (up to 10%) Sierra Leone honey, fresh off the plane (and brought in at some trouble for poor Selena who was stopped by customs so long that she missed her flight to Bellingham!).
We made four different types of scrubs. The two pictured below are both emulsified scrubs (similar to the ones I teach in this video here).
Not to worry though – we hot processed the entire batch out and made some luscious soap (above) despite the initial horrifying leaky honey results. And then we redesigned the batch – less honey, lower temperatures, no insulation and presto! successful batch.
It was a joy to spend two days with Selena. She’s headed back to Africa with three massive boxes bulging with goodies. I’m excited to watch her company progress in the next few years. Thanks for spending the day with me Selena!
Happy weekend everyone! I’m spending part of the weekend with Selena who flew over to Bellingham from London to take private classes at Otion (Kat did a great write up on the classes she taught Selena here). We’re going to hit the farmer’s market today (hellooooo, cupcakes!) and engage in some retail therapy locally. If you’d like to engage in some retail therapy with us virtually, I may have found the thing just for you – the latest and greatest, fashion forward gloves for you cold process soapmakers out there. He he. Are these a must have or what? Gotta love The Spoon Sisters!
“Now you can look chic and sophisticated while…washing the dishes (Soap Queen Insert: Or making soap)! Yes, these decorative rubber gloves allow you to turn a simple household chore, into a fashion statement. A fabulous hostess gift. Hand-embellished with faux jewels and faux leopard cuffs.”
One of the best parts of my Bramble Berry life is teaching and interacting with customers who want to reach the next level in their business. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with Erin of CottonTreeChocolate.com on a special project that is near and dear to her heart. She has a chocolate company that manufactures chocolate in Belize. Her passion is in working with local farmers and providing jobs for women who might otherwise have an opportunity to work. Cotton Tree Chocolate works towards economic, environmental and social sustainability for both their own company and also the local community in Belize. She brought a friend, also named Erin, with her. I had fun calling Erin #2 “Friend Erin” all day.
In the chocolate manufacturing process, there are a variety of chocolate related products – from cocoa, to cocoa butter, to cocoa nibs, to chocolate. Erin has a passion for being environmentally sustainable in her entire supply chain and she came to Otion to design custom formulations to use all of this chocolate (yummy!) product in bath and body products.
We had a jam packed day making all kinds of goodies. We made solid scrubs and stamped them to give them a sophisticated and unique look.
We made emulsified scrubs and oil based scrubs.
We made two different types of soap. First up was Hot Process soap.
Our favorite was definitely the swirled cold process soap. We loved the natural chocolate coloring in the soap and used a heavily colored titanium dioxide white soap to provide contrast to the textured, dark soap.
Erin does chocolate tours to Belize (of amazing scuba diving renown). If you’ve ever wanted to know how chocolate is made (literally picking the beans yourself and making your bars of chocolate from scratch and wrapping it by the end of the week), she does 7 day tours that sound absolutely heavenly. If you’d like to learn more about the tours or her single batch, single origin bars, check out her website here or email her here.
Otion’s popular Soap Intensive Weekend is officially taking registrations. Located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with access to two airports (Seattle and Bellingham), getting here is a snap. With our Cold Process soap expert flying over from Australia (Jude Birch from Aussie Soap Supplies) and a brand new Melt and Pour expert completely with rockin’ new ideas, this Soap Intensive Weekend will be sweet. Erin Pikor wrote two of the most popular Soap Queen blogs ever (frosted CP cupcakes & solid sugar scrub). Her projects are crowd pleasers with style.
Otion’s jam-packed weekends usually book out at $1250 per weekend but the Soap Intensive Weekend is just $350. Want to join in the soapy sweet fun? Sign up here.
PS – Here are some of the blog posts from SWI’s from previous years to read over and drool.
I had an AWESOME Saturday at Otion. I was there all day working with Julie from a lavender farm in Sequim, Washington. Though she is already one busy lady, getting her Masters in Horticulture and running her farm and burgeoning toiletries business, she has big plans. Rather than experimenting with recipes for the next year, she decided to get all her questions answered with a custom designed day, including recipes already figured out, at Otion.
Here was the schedule of the day:
9:30 start (lay of the land, coffee, bath rooms)
9:45 – 11:30 – Advanced Lotion with Whipped Butter (includes preserving and shelf life)
11:30 – 11:45 – break
11:45 to 12:45 – lip balms/lipsticks (4 different recipes)
12:45 – 1:15 lunch delivered from Old World Deli
1:15 – 2:15 – Body Scrub (three emulsified scrub recipes)
2:15– 3:15– Soy container candles
3:15 – 4:00 – Bath fizzies
4:15 – 5:15 – Spritzers & follow up questions
We jammed all of that into the day and Julie left with a huge pile of goodies by the end of the day between all the recipes we made. And most importantly, she now has a stable of successful recipes to turn to when expanding her line.
Julie was super smart and brought a store bought lotion that she loved. We dissected the ingredients and created something similar both in feel and performance. It was fun to make similar recipes with and without IPM to feel the difference in slip and feel. We also played with the addition of talc to reduce oiliness in the oh-so-rich body butters.
We made lip balms and lipsticks. We had lots of fun experimenting with manly-man type lip balm flavors and ideas. Julie is a huge fan of unrefined hemp oil so we spent some time talking about the tradeoff with the unrefined hemp versus shorter shelf life for products.
We had a delicious lunch delivered by Erik, the Otion Store manager, from Old World Deli. I got my typical (homemade pickled onions, with fontina cheese & spinach, grilled to perfection) and Julie had a delicious chicken pesto sandwich.
Then we were back in the thick of things (literally!) with emulsified sugar and salt scrubs. We made a variety of recipes and discussed the pros and cons of each. It was fascinating to see how much salt and sugar needed to be added to get any sort of legit ‘scrubbiness’ to the products.
We did have one small mishap. The emulsifying wax/oils/stearic acid mixture spilled a bit on our protective paper towel. We didn’t think much of it and kept using the microwave until we smelled smoke. Whoops! The oil/wax combo coupled with the dry paper towel caught fire in the microwave. That was quite a surprise and we put out the (small) fire quickly, marveling at the strange occurrence and vowing clean up thoroughly after each and every spill from here on out.
Then, with barely a pause, it was back to the races to finish the busy learning schedule with bath fizzies, candles and making body spritzers (Polysorbate 20 is your friend for body spritzers). We did take a quick break to run across the street for donuts for a late afternoon pick-me-up. We were both pretty tired but satisfied when 5:30 rolled around.
Thanks for a fun day, Julie!
Fragrance versus essential oil
Skin Safe/Cosmetic Grade
Stains versus lipsticks versus gloss
One thing Michelle really wanted to learn was the so-cool-it-should-be-patented Plaid Soap concept that was taught this year at the Otion Soap Weekend Intensive. One thing I love about the project is how complicated the project looks when it’s done but how easy the project is once you understand the technique and pattern. You can learn how to make the same soap from the comfort of your own home with the video or the video + the kit here.