Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Driving to Yuma" Landscape Soap

I have been wanting to join the Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge Club for some time. When I saw that March's Challenge was to do a landscape soap, I knew I just had to join for this challenge. I had a landscape soap that been percolating in my brain since August 2014.

Way back in August my husband, daughter and I were driving back to Yuma, AZ from an interview in Bisbee, AZ. I was greatly enjoying the road trip with just the few of us. The church in Bisbee was a lovely bit of encouragement for us and Cowboy Preacher and I were talking about the possibilities. My husband and I have this habit of just getting into deep discussion while driving so I had put my camera away in the back. Big mistake because around Casa Grande we saw the most beautiful thunderstorm. Of course I didn't have my boys to get my camera from the back. We were heading to Gila Bend for dinner. The thunderstorm was most spectacular and it was really quite huge. Well on the way to Gila Bend for supper, the sun was setting in the most beautiful colors and I thought that would make a really truly beautiful soap.

I really could kick myself for not having my camera available to me, so I tried to memorize the colors and such. I really remember thinking how that my camera wouldn't be able to pick up the little slash of green from the fields. There was also this little haze of grey white and I realized that it was the irrigation systems going on the fields. The colors of the sunset were awesome and beautiful. Cowboy Preacher kinda laughed when I mentioned that it would make a beautiful soap. He knows that I have soap on the brain most of the time.

During another interview the next week I make sure to have my camera, but I couldn't get a shot that was close to the one from before.
August 2014 sunset coming home from Pueblo, CO.
When we were called to Bisbee we took another trip to gather information and meet with the church again. Again, I tried to take a similar picture as the sunset from August, but I couldn't quite get it.
October 2014 sunset going back to Yuma from Bisbee, AZ.
The colors were similar though, so I used the two pictures above to paint the sunset I wanted in watercolor.
My Inspiration for the Landscape Soap
This is the picture inspiration for the soap. I was so excited to get started and I really hoped that I could recreate this beautiful sunset in a soap. I posted on my Facebook and my friends were very excited for me as well.

I wanted to show the green fields around Casa Grande as most people think of Arizona as a desert so it must be shades of brown. Also I thought putting in the misty haze of the irrigation to show that in the desert we water our plants after the sun goes down so as not to burn or have excessive evaporation. The mountains really turn a lovely black as the sun sets, and well, I wanted to show the colors of gold, blue and dark purple black. 

I started with the green. I mixed up green oxide, hydrated chrome green and a touch of black. The soap batter was very thin and I have to say at this point of the soap I did want it to set fast. *Sigh* of course it didn't. I at first sprinkled the grey white soap on the top of the green forgetting that, no silly, you wanted a haze and not clouds. I really am too impatient sometimes with soap layers. Waiting for the green to get thick enough to pour the white was, well, not fun at all. 

Since my old stick blender died, a good friend gave me hers. It was just too heavy and awkward for her so she gave it to me. Well, the new one kicked up a ton of tiny bubbles. So I just tried to stir and bang them away. Usually, the bubbles don't bother me a whole lot, but I had a specific design in mind. This also meant that I tried not to use it to help the soap to thicken up like I would have with my old stick blender. After seeing the end result, I'll probably won't hesitate to use it again.

I did want the black to be thick enough to sculpt a bit. This was the mountain layer. Again my patience got away from me. Wow, I cannot describe how difficult it was for me just to wait for the silly black layer to thicken. So eventually I talked myself into leaving it alone and go play some Pogo for a bit. After it was thick enough to sculpt, I carved up some mountains.

Then I waited until the yellow "Sun" soap batter thickened enough to pipe a pretty little setting sun. Uh,yeah, I think I need to work on piping a bit more for next time. So again, some more Pogo. I can get caught up playing "Dice City Rollers" for hours. Though it was getting late and I was getting bleary. I really try not to soap when I'm tired. So instead of finishing the soap, I went to bed after piping the sun. 

The next day, I discovered that the soap was still very soft. I didn't add sodium lactate to these layers. I did a little more sculpting because sometimes I just can't leave well enough alone. Then I added a silver mica line to help with the sunset glow. I kinda buffed it in and sprayed it with isopropyl alcohol. Next time, I'll try to spray it with some watered down glycerin as some of the cut soaps want to separate at this particular spot.

The sunset layers I wanted to bleed into each other so I used Brambleberry (BB) Lab Colors. Note: next time make a more concentrated solution of colors. I wanted red orange, orange, yellow, sky blue, blue, dark blue and purplish black ombre. I ended up using some Key West Blue mica (Mad Oils) and Ultramarine blue (BB) to get the blues I wanted. I decided to put a pretty gold oil mica swirl on the top.

Since we were driving home to Yuma when we observed the glorious sunset, I decided to scent this with Brambleberry's Energy fragrance oil and Mad Oil's Pink Grapefruit fragrance oil. Yuma has a lot of grapefruit groves and their cucumbers are to die for. Really, both scents just remind me a lot of Yuma. It really is lovely to drive past a grove of citrus in the dead of night. The cool air from the irrigation and the scent of the blossoms is just amazing.

Gold Oil Mica Swirl topping
I guess I am very good at creating anticipation because I did get a lot of comments on my personal Facebook page about the coming reveal. When I finally unmolded the soap, I loved the colors on the outside.
So Pretty
So in the end, I have to say that I had a lot of fun and I learned quite a bit. As often as I thought about the construction of this particular soap, I now have some more insight of what to do and what not to do. I did use a slight water discount, but it wasn't enough for the weather in my area. Also, this soap has proved to me that I really love color and I NEED to buy more colorants to supplement my dwindling supply. *Smirk* I really NEED more colorants. Also, I really should be more patient when doing layers to get the crisp lines that I was looking for. I am planning on doing more soaps like this one because well, the landscape around Bisbee is just gorgeous.

I really love how this soap turned out. I want to say thank you to my cheering section. You guys really are very encouraging. And thanks for the help deciding which of the soaps you wanted to be entered. A big thank you to my brother Kwon who loaned me his flash and tries to help his big sister get better at photography. If you wanted to check out the different cuts of the soap, here is the link==> The Ladybug's Soapbox.