The competition's theme is "Winter Wonderland" and I firstly did some research on Facebook and asked everyone what they thought when I said Winter Wonderland. Out of the tons of answers, there seemed to be two themes - red/gold and spicy and white/blue/silver and fresh, minty fragrances. Initially I tried the gold and spicy view which was lovely but didn't say Winter Wonderland to me. Regular readers will have read about my recent Orange Spice cold process soap. So I decided I'd try my hand at the white/blue/silver look.
I checked online and found a fabulous new fragrance oil I'd not tried before - it was a US one (which I can't use for items for sale due to EU regulations but I can use for personal projects) that I loved the sound of (it's described as having top notes of eucalyptus, spearmint, wild rose and dew fresh ferns leading to snow pines, blue jasmine magnolia and white lilies finishing with a base of white musk, balsam and sandalwood).. no idea how it would perform and despite posts on an US based soap forum, nobody could tell me. A universally untried fragrance, oh I am brave! You may know that some fragrance oils (and essential oils too) can react with the lye in cold process soap and start the whole saponification reaction (the chemical process where fats are turned into soap due to the reaction with lye) very quickly ... so you can end up with, literally, soap on a stick!
So, I set up everything ... weighed out my lye and water and made that up, with added silk for a luxury touch. Weighed out my hard butters/oils and melted them and poured the whole lot into the fluid oils. Mixed my titanium dioxide (a colouring element that helps the soap stay nice and white - some soaps will naturally be shades of cream, yellow or green depending on the base oils used) and keep that close by me. Put my fragrance oil beside it alongside the bottle of blue cosmetic colour. One of the most important things about soaping is to have everything ready, to hand for when you need it ... it's a really BAD idea to forget something and have to go running as your soap is beginning to set on your stick blender!
Anyway, I got everything all ready and sorted, nicely prepped. I wanted to do a pale baby blue and white soap and I had imagined maybe a nice delicate swirl or two. I checked my temperatures were ok, added the fragrance oil to my oils and poured my lye/silk water in. I mixed a little with a handwhisk and then mixed with the stick blender. All as usual up til now. But then, Oh Boy. Can we say the thickest of thick custard in a world of the thickest custard you've ever imagined? The stainless steel bowl I was mixing it all in even felt hot! The soap was setting up quicker than anything I've made to date.
So, I decided, that it wasn't going to beat me! So I stick blended it until I was sure everything was well mixed (including the titanium dioxide) - now we were at the mega thick custard stage! I then added half of the now white soap batter to a bowl with 2 drops of blue liquid colour and mixed that with a spatula. The white was setting up fast and furious, the now blue soap was doing the same - I had sweat on my brow! So I had to drop portions of blue and then portions of the white soap into the mould and then banged the mould on the work surface about 15 times (I'm sure I woke up everyone in the house at that stage!). I had to make sure that I got everything in the corners and leave no air pockets. I then layered the last of the blue and white (really mega thick by now) on top and swirled them as best I could with my spatula. The last thing I did was generously dust it with sparkling silver mica to represent the crisp ice sparkling in the sunlight.
I fully suspected it wasn't going to work and it would be back to the drawing board for this one.
However...... I got up early on Sunday morning too and decided to cut it and see. And what did I find? One beauty of a soap! And one that, I think, says Winter Wonderland to me far more than some wispy swirls do.. I wanted something reminiscent of the cold, fresh air the hits your lungs when you walk out on a snowy Winter’s day and I think this one achieves that nicely – it smells so much of clean, fresh air, and it is almost icy. I think the blue/white pattern is reminiscent of a glacier in wintertime.
Personally, Winter Wonderland says snow topped moutains, that crisp crunchy sound of the new snow underfoot and the wonderful scent of fresh air, pines and, ultimately, a clean cool peacefulness.
So, for your visual pleasure, I present my Winter Wonderland:
The blue swirl looks like a ski slope!
I just love the silver mica glistening against the blue and white top - so reminds me of Winter
This is the soap straight out of the mould - a few air bubbles from the speed of trying to get it into the mould!
The competition is being sponsored by http://www.creativesoapweek.com/ and details of the competition can be found at http://www.creativesoapweek.com/contest-for-creative-soapmakers.
Voting begins on 16 November and I'll be doing a new blog post then to ask you all to vote for my soap, if you don't mind that is!
I'd really really love to win this - not because of the prize but because I've only been making cold process soap for less than two months but researching it for far far longer and I'd adore it if my soap, the one I worked long and hard to make and which I had to beat into submission and won, actually won! It'd be such a lovely recognition for me!
Thanks for reading ... as ever, if you'd like to comment, please feel free.