I am entering my first soap design competition! Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks hosts a soap challenge every month. For a small fee, participants get a tutorial on a specific design technique and are invited to post their best entry and vote for the winners. This month the challenge is to design a soap using the Clyde’s Slide technique. Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soaps developed this technique which relies a thin soap batter (oils and lye solution combined to thin trace), contrasting soap colors, and pouring techniques so the different soap batter colors can run down down a loaf mold and spread into a feathered design. Like many soap designs, there’s no telling if the soap will set with the intended design until it is firm enough to cut. Yes, soap making requires a lot patience because soaps unmolded before they are firm can break in the mold and when handled and cut, and no soap should be used until it is fully saponified.
Here’s how I made this soap:
Oil blend: Some oil blends lend themselves to soap design because when mixed with the lye solution they allow plenty of time to color, layer, swirl, and otherwise manipulate the batter before it becomes too thick (reaches heavy trace). I chose an oil blend with coconut, palm, canola, olive, sweet almond, castor, and vitamin E oils. This combination produces a hard bar with stable lather that moisturizes and soothes the skin.
Color selection: To help make sure that my feathered swirls could be clearly discerned in the cut soap, I chose the following contrasting colors: Tahitian Teal and 3 Olive Martini from Mad Oils, and titanium dioxide (white) from Brambleberry.
- It was a warm day in my soap studio, so I used my stick blender to combine the oils and lye solution when both were 93 degrees.
- When they were mixed to thin trace I lightly whisked in the fragrance oil.
- I divided the soap batter into three containers. Then I had to decide which pouring techniques to use. Choices included:
- Tipping up the bowl while alternating pours of each color down the side of the bowl and then pouring into a mold that is flat on the table.
- Keeping the bowl flat on the table and then pouring the alternating colors into a tipped-up mold.
- Pouring in one spot at a short end of the mold or pouring up and down the middle or or one edge of the length of the mold.
- I decided to tip the bowl instead of the mold, and pour entirely into a short end of the mold. Even though I was using ingredients to minimize quick tracing, the batter was thickening and I hoped it was the right thickness.
- I used a comb tool on the top of the soap to create a marbled effect, and then I drizzled on some copper sparkle mica mixed with sweet almond oil over the top.
- I unmolded and cut the soap two days later.
The result is soaps with different types of feathers. In the photo below the soaps on the left have distinct curved feathers and the soaps on the right have more wispy zig-zag feathers. Reflecting on the results, I think I should have made larger pours of each color into the bowl.
Here are close-ups of two of the soaps.
Thank you Amy and Clyde for teaching me this technique. I will try this again with variations on which piece of equipment I tip and how I pour into the bowl and mold.
Update: No, I didn’t win, but I learned a lot! Here’s a link to the beautiful winning entries.