I have been working on a series of “Romance Soaps”. These soaps come with a tag that contains a very short, romantic “tale”. I recently watched a YouTube video by Katie Carson of Royalty Soaps in which she demonstrated a “mermaid” design. If you haven’t watched Katie or visited any of her numerous social media sites, you are missing a lot of fun, information, and good vibes!
When I saw the video, I immediately started thinking about how I could translate a similar concept into one of my romance soaps. I worked out the story in my head, the colors and design for the soap itself (blue, white, and sea foam green with bubble and mermaid tail embeds), found a cute little silicon mold for mermaid tails, assembled everything and got started making my soap. What follows is a cautionary tale for new soapers in particular – but even experienced soapers will be able to relate (and hopefully share a bit of laughter with me).
First, I was feeling a bit disorganized and I honestly try to avoid soaping when in that state. Soaping can be a bit dangerous (we work with LYE, after all). It also requires some careful measuring. It is best to have your wits about you and to have as few distractions as possible during the process. Mistake number one.
I’ve been losing a bit of weight lately (thank you Weight Watchers!). Some of my stretchier jeans are getting a little loose. I hate belts. Mistake number two.
It is really important that a soaper understands their equipment. I have a new 5-pound mold, but all my recipes were created with a slightly larger mold. I looked at my recipe and decided it would fit – but didn’t actually measure my new mold. Mistake number three.
I gathered all my colorants, oils, molds, recipes, and various tools. I work on a small table in my kitchen so I have to bring everything together on soaping days and then put everything away afterwards. I also have a pug dog who likes to sit right under my feet and I have to lock him out of the kitchen with a portable doggy door.
This soap was going to be based off the Royalty Soaps base and piping recipe (I love tall soaps). I mixed up my two batches of lye and let them begin to cool while I measured and prepped my base soap. I normally soap at around 120 degrees and I try to be sure my lye and oils are within 10-20 degrees of each other. This time my oils were a little cooler, but I thought they were “close enough” based on previous batches and began the mixing process. I was using a fragrance I know well which doesn’t accelerate so I put that in, blended a bit more and the soap, unexpectedly, came to trace a smidge faster than normal. I was only separating the base into two basic colors for a simple in the mold swirl, so no problem.
I poured one portion into a container into which I had a BRIGHT blue colorant and gave it a couple of blasts from the blender. It was setting up pretty quickly now. No problem. I poured the rest of the soap into the new mold. And the base COMPLETELY filled the mold with a LOT left over. There was NO WAY I was going to be able to mix in the rather important portion with the bright blue color. This was a mermaid story – very few white oceans. I needed that blue!
Like an idiot, I just stared at the mold, then tapped it down on the table, as if that would make a good 8-10 ounces somehow “settle”. It didn’t. Then I ran out of the kitchen, reassembling the doggy door as I flew past, and up the stairs to my craft area to pull out a one pound mold to capture the overflow. I was in a scramble as the soap on my gloves was hardening so I knew that it was faring no better in the mixing bowls downstairs. I frantically pulled down plastic bins filled with molds only to remember that I had given that one away nearly a year ago! I fished out a 10 oz mold and ran back.
In all the running, my stretch jeans were slowly inching down below my tummy. I reassembled the doggy door, began scraping the overflow contents into the 10 oz mold and my pants, literally, dropped to my knees. My soaping area is right in front of a huge window that faces the public park behind our home. There was no time to stop and pull them up. And my gloved hands were covered now in bright blue soap which would have ruined them if I got it on them.
I plunged ahead, plopping a couple of dashes of the bright blue soap into the larger mold (which was now completely level with the brim). There was no way my gentle pick swirl was going to work with the rapidly firming soap so I took a whisk, did a couple of quick plunges up and down to push some of the bright blue around in the large mold, then plopped the rest of the bright blue into the overflow in the 10 oz mold.
By this time I was alternately laughing and cursing. No one but the pug was watching and he is partially deaf and blind. But even he was cocking his head to one side as if confused by all the uproar. I quickly gathered the embeds and pushed them into the soap, dashed the top over with glitter and a bit of mica. Washed off my gloves, pulled up my pants, and made myself a cup of coffee.
I have no idea if the soap will turn out. It should. Soap is amazingly forgiving. Thank goodness I had not already prepped the piping. It makes a nice soap on its own – but with everything else happening it would likely have hardened in the icing bag and I was in no mood to scrape out a bunch of “soap balls”. Thankfully no one was walking their dogs in the park so my dignity was spared a public shaming. Soaping is nothing if not an opportunity to experience being fully human!