February 2019 Soap Challenge and SZN News

IMG_0814Hello everyone and thank you for joining us on our blog page.

Life has been kind of crazy for us at Skin Zen over the last year with changes to our focus market.  Things moved very fast as we changed our internal processes to gear up for the new business goals and challenges we faced.  Our increase in production is a direct result of our new Marketing Manager and Director who joined us in 2018, and we are pleased to welcome Shanelle and Dan Mayerhofer on our team. Shanelle and Dan have already implemented great ideas within the company and boosted our business and clientele tremendously since joining our team.  Looking forward to greater things to come for 2019!

It has been several months since I have had the time to make a new soap, so I decided to use the February 2019 Soap Challenge by Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks and dedicate my weekend to creating a new custom soap for a wholesale order (one of five new wholesale orders!)  I am so grateful that Amy was able to bring the challenges back for the inspiration these events provide to soapers which push us to grow and experiment while making our products.

This month the challenge is Glycerin Rivers design and is inspired by soapmaker Clara Lindberg from Auntie Clara’s Handcrafted Cosmetics and her blog posts on glycerin rivers.  I have created glycerin rivers on previous challenges (here and here) but they were not intentional.  When I created the first soap with glycerin rivers I liked the effect they gave my soap, and I thought they complemented the design perfectly (January 2016 Soap Challenge blog for the Circling Taiwan Swirl.

Glycerin rivers are not actually glycerin but are non-pigmented (clear) “rivers” or a crackle-like sections running through your bar. These “rivers” run along side or surround the pigmented sections in your soap. Rivers (or Glivers as Clara likes to call them) must meet specific criteria when found in your soaps:  (a) colored with pigment such as Titanium Dioxide, rather than with mica or lake colorants; and (b) when heat was added to the soap for a gel phase.  Rivers can also be caused when you have a high sugar content in your soap, or some fragrance oils can cause overheating and rivers.  Glycerin rivers cure at a different rate than the “smooth” portions of your bar, causing an uneven or ridged look between the pigmented and non-pigmented sections. I believe the addition of rivers in some bars adds to the overall design which is what we are trying to accomplish with this challenge.

My first attempt to create rivers in my soap is the only soap I made that actually had rivers in the bars. I used my standard moisturizing soap recipe with 38% water.  The colors used were Pink Vibrance Mica, Green Neon Fluorescent Pigment, Neon Orange Fluorescent Pigment (mixed in water), and Titanium Dioxide  mixed with water all from Nurture Soap.

 

The design was made using a hanger swirl.  I placed the wooden loaf on a heating pad and covered the loaf with several towels. Unfortunately the heating pad I pulled out had a default two-hour timer and auto shut off so I had to keep a timer on to turn the heating pad back on every two hours for six hours which was very frustrating. The loaf was left covered over night without the heat once I went to bed.

Unfortunately I ran out of time to make a better “river” soap but I do love how this one turned out with the clear rivers in the white and between the colors adding additional depth to the soap.

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September 2018 Soap Challenge

IMG_2770Hello to all viewers!

I was so excited to hear Amy Warden, the owner of Great Cakes Soapworks, decided to revive the Soap Challenge Club!!! Thank you Amy for giving us this wonderful opportunity to practice and play soap with our peers and to… “Learn. Make. Share. Repeat.”

This month our challenge design was a mini drop swirl technique.  This technique gives your soap an amazing look of small teardrop shapes suspended within the body of the soap for a beautiful floating bubble effect.  For my first attempt at mastering this technique I used my standard soaping formula that is fairly slow to trace and scented  with lavender essential oil.   Lavender essential oil doesn’t seem to accelerate my soap base much so it was easy to experiment with for new designs.  I wanted to experiment with Halloween colors as well so this soap was made with mica from Nurture Soap in neon green, neon yellow and neon orange, glow in the dark pigment, in the titanium dioxide, and activated charcoal. I set the essential oil in Kaolin clay from Arizona Soap Supply to help hold the fragrance in the soap longer.  Unfortunately this batch didn’t make the cut for the challenge club entry as I over blended the batter and it didn’t get very good drops in the design as well as the heavy glycerin rivers throughout the loaf… so, more practice!  Sorry that a couple of the photos are blurry, I got oil on the camera lens but I do love the little face that was  in the finished bars, what do you think?

My second batch was made with the same oil recipe and a custom citrus essential oil blend.  I again used Nurture Soap’s neon colors but the orange wasn’t what I was looking for (it turned pink!) so this will be another soap for the house.   The “drops” are perfect in this batch though, but unfortunately this loaf was full of glycerin rivers.  I believe I have the technique down now,  and I hope number three will be perfect!

My third batch is a new essential oil blend I designed for the holidays with Sweet orange Chocolate and peppermint YUM!  I don’t know why I decided to try an untested scent on this batch but it worked out fine.  The colors are from Nurture Soap ( identified as “ns” below) and Crafter’s Choice purchased from Essential Depot (identified as “cc” below).  The colors used in this batch are: 24 K Gold mica (cc) and Yellow Gold (cc) combined, the red is Crimson Sparkle mica (cc).  The green is Alpine Green (ns), and I didn’t have a silver so I created some using titanium dioxide, Ivory Lace (cc), Super Sparkles (cc),  Platinum Grey (ns),  and activated charcoal.  I decided to pipe the top of this and used a mica drizzle of red, gold and green but the red didn’t stay blended very well.  I still love the look of this and the fragrance is soooo yummy!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the creation of this soap (which is why I show the pictures from the above batches) but I do have pictures below of the loaf ready to cut and final pictures.  I really love this technique and will be using it again in the future.  I can’t wait to see all of the creative ideas everyone used with this challenge!

 

Soap Challenge – Circling Taiwan Swirl

Hello everyone;

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  And glad we are all here once again for Amy Warden’s Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge!  I am excited for the phased or split judging in this challenge as it can be a little intimidating to go up agents some of these entries sometimes as they are so beautiful. I kept entering because I loved the learning aspect and felt it was well worth the challenge… But NOW…. As a newbie, I just might have a chance to win😄  Thanks so much to the wonderful prize donations from Bath Alchemy Labs, and Custom Soap Stamps.  I can’t wait to sign up for some classes at Bath Alchemy, and I love my stamp that Alex made me a few months ago, and use the plainer and  beveler  I bought from Custom Coap Stamps exclusively now (thanks Alex), it is superior to my previous equipment.

This challenge was exactly that for me…a challenge.

I was sick when I decided to make my first batch of challenge soap and needless to say, it was quite a disaster.  My black wasn’t black enough, my soap thickened up on me too much, I spilled my batter all over my counter and floor, ugh it was a nightmare!  I did have enough to make a loaf and I popped it in the oven (CPOP) cleaned up my mess and went to bed.

(It turned out pretty in a Frued kinda way lol! if you like looking at ink blots that is)

Inkblot soap- failed01

So, two nights later, I attempted my second batch for the challenge.  This one I decided to make pink, gold and white but my colors didn’t come out well so… Back to the drawing board I go again!  The pink was the middle color, gold is the bottom.

Failedsoap02

 

My last batch, and the one I am using as my entry, is made using mica colors from Nurture Soap.  I used Neon Pink, Vibrant Purple, Maya Gold Mica, and Velvet Pearl with Titanium Dioxide.

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I wanted to use the gold to highlight the purple as an accent to give it a little bit extra but it isn’t very noticeable, so I think next time I will need to do a little more (maybe half) for it to really pop. I will also experiment on placing the gold in different locations to see what that does.

Gold Mica line enlarged

It was really interesting to see how different both ends turned out on my loaf of soap!

loaf

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I can’t wait to see all the beautiful entries this month, good luck everyone!

 

Impression Mat December 2015 Soap Challenge

The challenge this month from Amy Warden and  Great Cakes Soap Works was using Impression Mats with our soap.  We could either buy a mat or make our own, and the coupon from this month’s sponsor really helped so thanks to Bramble Berry too, for being the sponsor for this challenge.

I decided I needed to buy my mats and hit the internet for anything interesting.  Several of the mats and items I bought will not arrive until after Christmas, but that’s ok, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the mats in this challenge and will again add this technique to my growing skills.  I subscribe to Antie Clara’s blog and love reading about her techniques. Her blog on impression mats was very informative and can be found here.

found some  as it was very similar to painting in my opinion.

applying purple
I started out using the Q-tips as Amy did in her video but that didn’t work very well for me. I switched to a small makeup brush the to a small paint brush to apply the mica to the matt and found that was the perfect way to work.  The smaller the bristles the better.  The picture  above shows a small makeup brush and the below image shows one of the small paint brushes.
rubbing tape to pull off excess mica on top
I found that tape worked really well to pull excess mica off the top of the mat and saved me a LOT of clean up.  I used the edge of the paint brush to rub the top of the mat to clean the top.  If I used my finger or a ball of tape, I would pull off mica where I didn’t want, if I fell into a wide spot such as a grape or big leaf.
2nd pealing tape off after rubbing - better
You can see the imprint of the excess mica that would have been on the top of the soap if I had not cleaned it well using the tape.
matt in mold with oils ready to make soap
Here is the mat in my mold, and I am ready to make my soap batter.
Pealing off mat 2
I used  the following micas from Nurture Soap in this batch so I will not be selling this soap: Paradise Purple, Vibrant Purple, Titanium Dioxide, Hunter Green Vibrance Green, Alpine Green, and a custom blend of these greens.  I tried to create shading on the leaves, grapes and vines.  there was a little bleed-through on the purple drop swirl, but i think it came out ok over-all.  The first loaf I made wasn’t as defined in the shading but this second loaf came out better.   In the above picture the mat pealed off really clean during the unmolding.
loaf 2 and frog molds
Here are the two frog molds I painted with mica drying with my challeng soap! My Daughter will love these!
deep angle view
Close up of the shading detail on the leaves and grapes.
cut bars uncleaned
cut bars waiting to be cleaned.
cut bar closeup
Close up
final 2
I used a CPOP process on this soap and will be giving these away to family soon.
Final Photo
Lavender and Vines

 

I scented my soap with a custom blend of essential oils  that has a light “Lavender and Fresh Air” fragrance.  Slightly citrus, floral, and refreshing.  I don’t use micas in my soaps and the swirl in the main portion wasn’t enough color and I lost the color in the first batch but this second bach is great!

This was a really fun challenge, I can’t wait for next month. Thanks Amy!

Tall Skinny Shimmy November Soap Challenge

Because I am late posting this I have copied the original post from facebook.  In the future, I will be more diligent in posting here each month!

Thank you Amy for hosting this Month’s Soap challenge and Tatiana for teaching us this wonderful technique! I had so much fun with this challenge. It’s too bad my first few didn’t turn out lol! Oh well, my Grandkids and friends will love them! I have decided I will need to invest in a tall skinny mold after playing around with these soaps.

I went out of my comfort zone with this challenge and used micas for coloring from Nurture Soap with all of the batches that I made while playing with this challenge. This challenge wasn’t as easy as it appeared in the video and some of my soaps are pretty psychedelic but not even close to an “S” curve. I actually went back to my 3rd batch for pictures because I went with a holiday theme and it really looks like a Tree! Not quite an “S” shape, but I am happy with what I learned this month! I am already looking forward to next month!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thankful

I want to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving today, and share a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition from my family.   We have practiced this tradition  in my family for as long as I can remember.

We always hold hands for prayer, and while we are still holding hands, each person shares at least one thing that they are thankful for.   Now some of you might think this is kind of corny. But actually, while you’re sitting there thinking about  about what you’re going to say as it comes closer to your time to speak, you get rather philosophical and you begin to dig deep down inside yourself .

So  I thought I would share it with all of you this year, and then I will share this with my family at dinner  this afternoon.

What am I thankful for this year? I am thankful for all my friends and family, and all of you who read and share my blog, so thank you.

I am thankful for all of you who have tried and stood beside me and tested my Skin Zen products as I bug you repeatedly for your opinions on the little tweaks that I give to products to make things better.

I’m thankful that I have a job and can be some-what self-sufficient as there are so many people in this world, and in this country without employment and without homes to live in.

I am especially thankful for my boyfriend who does so much for me such as grocery shopping filling the gas in my vehicle. He does things that I can no longer easily do for myself because of my multiple chemical sensitivity, I really don’t know what I’d do without his help and support.

On a broader note,  I am thankful for peace on American soil, during this time of so much turmoil in the world.   My prayer is that this continues, and I am praying for peace and safety for all of our  men and women at arms.  And I give thanks to all of their families for the sacrifices that they give to each and everyone of us to keep us safe.

Thank you.