Monday, February 17, 2014

A Little Quilting, A Little Soaping. . .

about describes what I have been up to this long weekend.  Oh, and don't forget household chores and watching the Olympics!

Last weekend I got the ditch quilting done on Michelle's pink quilt- Saturday I started doing the free motion. I thought I would do spirals, but after some practice changed my mind.  I ended up with a kind of leaf design.  I can see every mistake I make, but hopefully none will jump out and scream when it is all done.

I purposely bought a 100% cotton batt for this, because I'm planning to wash it and throw it in the dryer when it's all done.  Hopefully it will crinkle, which will make my mistakes even less obvious.  I think I am going to have to dye some more sateen for the binding, I don't have enough left of anything for that.  I've got one block about done- since it only has six large blocks, I'm thinking the quilting should go fairly quickly.

Saturday and Sunday I also made three batches of soap.  I wanted to try the circular PVC mold, so I did Lemongrass Green Tea soap in that- a recipe I developed myself.  I learned that adding lye turns light colored green tea dark, so my soap is this caramel color.  And I'm guessing the soap got pretty hot, because the top looks like this:

I will need help getting the end cap off, and I sure hope this slides out without a lot of problems.  I'll probably stick it in the freezer for a bit.

The others came out easily from my lovely wood log molds.  I made Cocoa Coffee soap, another recipe I developed myself.  The coffee is supposed to remove the scent of garlic and onion from the hands, so this one is intended for the kitchen.  It also has coffee grounds in it for scrubability.

Because you use coffee to dissolve the lye, the batter is very dark brown.  I took some out and lightened it with titanium dioxide, hoping I could do some cool swirls.  The top looks good, but the interior is not what I was hoping for.  I also learned that you really have to swirl with soap batter that has only gone to light trace- meaning, is more liquid.

Last, I did Peach Mango Butter soap, adapted from a recipe in The Ultimate Guide to Soap Making by Amanda McCarthy.  

 I had a little bit of the red palm oil left from my first batch, so I mixed it with the regular palm oil, which turned it a lovely yellow color.  Then I took out part of the batch and used a hot pick colorant I got as a sample from Majestic Mountain Sage- that made the pretty coral color.  I was going for the color of peaches, which was one of the scents I used.

We just started using the soaps from my first batches.  I've been using the Lemon Eucalyptus in the shower, and really like it.  Marly has tried the Lavender Almond soap, and really likes how it makes her skin feel.  So, so far it's been a successful experiment!  I'll wait another couple of weeks before I try the ones I did at the beginning of the month.  I learned a trick to tell if they've cured enough- weigh a bar, and when it quits losing weight, it's done.  So I've been keeping track on those.

That's what I've been up to.  I have a busy time at work until after the end of March, and I'm also traveling two of those weeks.  One week is for work, another week will be my swan song for Florida.  Sean is going back to walk for his degree, and I'm going to celebrate with them.  That will be a fun time, including plenty of time to enjoy some warmth!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The obsessive chemist continues. . .

I promise this isn't going to turn into a soaping blog.  I did do some fiber stuff this weekend, I got a pillow made for a friend of Shannon's.  The fabric and form have been sitting around in my studio since before Christmas- so it felt good to get that finally done.

But I couldn't resist making more soap.  I got three done Saturday afternoon- all a lovely creamy color, with fresh, mostly citrus scents.

From left to right: Avocado Oil, Ginger Lime Mango Butter, Citrus Honey

The one in the center is my favorite, and it was also my first try at coming up with my own original recipe. I used mango butter, coconut, avocado, olive and castor oils, and scented it with lime essential oil and ginger fragrance oil. I hope it feels as good on my skin as it smells!

The one on the right has an interesting texture on the top and bottom, thanks to bubble wrap.  I always have some of the hanging around the studio for surface design!  It was also the first soap I've made that include lard as one of the oils.  I was afraid it would be stinky, but it worked well to melt in the microwave with the other solid oils- cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil.  I do it at about half power and take my time, which has worked well.

Sean helped me make a couple of wooden molds this weekend also.  The Citrus Honey soap is from that one- it will do about a four pound loaf.  I like how the ends are straight, and having learned on a YouTube video how to fold freezer paper to make a one-piece liner, I think it works a lot easier than the other molds I've used so far.  Here it is, next to a shibori pole that can now double as a round soap mold!

The end caps are braced by the bolts- but when it's time to unmold, it's nice to be able to remove the ends.  We made the second one with a longer base on one end, so I can also use it to cut the bars evenly.

So that is what I have been up to.  I'm starting the research for my next Tangled Textiles piece- the theme is Artistic License.  I know I will be looking for a twentieth century abstract artist!  And, I will have to plan it around an unexpected trip to Florida the first week in March.  I will be going with Sean, Marly, and Michelle to celebrate Sean's graduation with a BA in Video Game Design, and watch him walk with his class.  It will be nice to warm up, too!

The studio is now cleaned up from the chaos of soapmaking, so now it is back to some fiber.  Maybe I'll have something later this week. . .