Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sunflower Glycerin Soap

A while back I purchased a silicone baking pan from Wilton that’s shaped like a flower. I used it once and then it was immediately devoured by that dark monster known as the craft closet. Being the internet junkie that I am, I was reading away at Five Full Plates during their spring cleaning challenge. Those lovely, strong women, through their literary eloquence, FORCED me to take part in their goal making and I chose to battle the craft closet head on. I can’t say I got very far in the challenge, because in nudging that monster to regurgitate its fine loot into an organized and useful display of tools, I found the pan and was then distracted by the idea placed in my head for its use.
So here’s what you need to make my cute sunflower soaps:

• 16 oz clear glycerin soap base

• 1 package of Lavender Buds-I used the Life of the Party Brand sold at Michaels

• Golden Yellow Soap Colorant

• Fragrance of your choice

• Rubbing Alcohol in a small spritzer bottle

• Circle shaped cookie cutter that will fit inside the daisy mold-I used a fondant cutter from Wilton

• 8x8 silicone baking pan

• Wilton silicone daisy pan

• Glass Container that’s microwave safe to melt soap in-I use pyrex measuring cups because they have an easy pour spout. Mine are the 4 cup capacity, but you could get away with a 2 cup measure for this project.

• Spoons or skewers for mixing

• Microwave

If you’ve ever used lavender in a soap making project you know that it turns brown when the soap hardens. We’re going to use this to our advantage, making it the center of our sunflower soap. Each bar is going to consist of 3 parts: The base, the center, and the over-pour. In between each element you’ll want to spritz the soap with rubbing alcohol, as it helps the layers adhere to each other. You should also use the alcohol on the top of each layer as you pour it to help remove bubbles in the soap. Don’t worry though, the heat in the soap will break down the alcohol so it won’t stay in the soap.

Preparing the centers
1. Melt 2-4 oz of the soap base in the microwave following the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. When completely melted, add two generous handfuls of lavender and mix well. You’re trying to get a dense scattering of the buds, so it almost looks like it’s all buds in the mix and very little soap.

3. Pour the mixture into the 8x8 baking pan and let it harden; about half an hour or so. Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely cover the bottom. You just want a thin layer.

4. Spritz the top with rubbing alcohol to remove any bubbles.

5. Once hardened, use your circle cutter to punch out 6 discs from the lavender soap and set aside.

The base layer
1. Melt 4 oz of the soap base and divide it amongst the wells in the daisy mold. You want a thin layer in the bottom of each well. If you don’t use it all, that’s fine, just set it aside to use in the over-pour layer.

2. Spritz the top to remove any bubbles.

3. Here’s the tricky part: You want the base layer set up enough that the center discs won’t melt from the heat of the soap, but not so much that it’s completely hardened. If the base is still sort of gel-like on the top, but it will hold the weight of the disc, that’s perfect. If you look at my final soap bars you’ll see a cloudy spot over the center of flower. This is because I waited too long to add the center discs. That cloudy spot is actually an air bubble between the 2 layers where they didn’t adhere well.

4. The timing will depend on the depth of your base layer of soap, but I’d say about 3-5 minutes (maybe even less) after you pour the base, spritz the top of the base with alcohol and center the lavender circles in each of the daisy molds.

The over-pour
1. Measure out approximately ¼ oz of your fragrance and set aside. Measure out your colorant if needed. This is the first time I’m trying out an oxide colorant I purchased from, but any non-bleeding yellow colorant of your choice will also work.

2. Melt 6-8 oz of soap base.

3. Pour in your fragrance and stir thoroughly.

4. Add colorant until the soap is your desired shade of yellow, and stir well again.

5. Spritz the soap layers inside the daisy mold and pour the yellow soap over the top. You want enough in each well to cover the top of the center disc, plus a little more if you have the soap for it.

6. Spritz with alcohol one last time to remove any bubbles on top.

That’s it!

Leave your soap alone overnight. Try not to bump or move it, or you risk putting wrinkles in the soap. When it’s fully hardened the next day, remove it from the daisy pan and wrap the bars in plastic wrap to keep them fresh until you want to use them. And because it’s melt-and-pour, there’s no cure time, so you can use them right away. Have fun sudsing up!

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