Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Soap Challenge: Butterfly Swirl

I knew from the outset I would not make more than one attempt to get this one. I've not done a lot of hanger swirls, although I like the look.  Zahida of Handmade in Florida has done some amazing soaps using the hanger.

I also wanted to try something different for me- using a color for a background rather than white.  I decided to go with a gold background, and white, black, and deep red for the swirls.

I don't have a lot of process pictures, since I was both soap maker and photographer this time.  No way I was going to risk stopping the process and having the batter go thick on me!  I used one of my recipes that has proven to be a slow mover in the past- coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, avocado oil, sunflower oil, and castor oil.  I scented it with Brambleberry's Champagne fragrance oil- love how that smells!

Here's my batter, divided out.  I used a bit of yellow oxide and a lot of Shimmer Gold mica (from Nurture Soap Supplies) for the main batter.  I used activated charcoal, TD, and Brambleberry's Merlot Sparkle mica for the accent colors.

I poured about half the gold batter in my mold, then drop swirled the colors, trying to stay on one side.  After all the batter was in the mold, I did some swirls on the top.

So far, the colors look good, just what I was hoping for. We'll see how they look in 24 hours. . . 

I realized the next day that I'd forgotten my sodium lactate, so the loaf was soft.  This one will need a nice long cure.  However, after 36 hours, I couldn't wait any longer, so I VERY carefully unmolded the soap.

So far, so good- but I want to see the inside!  So I made one cut- it looks good, I think I may get some butterflies!!

I waited another twelve hours before cutting the entire loaf.  I played around with different combinations, and decided this is the one that was most successful.  (The differences in the colors are because I used two different cameras- the top pics are from my iPhone, the last is with my Pentax DSLR.  The last photo is the most accurate color representation.)

To say I am thrilled would be an understatement!  Thanks to Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks for hosting the challenge!

Monday, January 19, 2015

When I'm Sixty-Four. . . .

Wow, five since my last post.  I'd say it's a good indicator of where my head has been in the last few weeks- certainly not in a blogging mode.

We had a lovely Christmas, both my brother and Shannon were here.  I celebrated a milestone three weeks after Christmas- referenced in the title!  It feels a bit weird, because I don't feel that old.  My mother used to talk about wondering who that old lady was in the mirror, because she didn't feel like her inside.  Now, I can relate.  I'm grateful to be told regularly that I don't look my age, and my health is good so I don't have to act it either!

I have also been doing a lot of thinking about the coming year, and where I want to take my creative life.  Writing about my inner conversations is not easy for me- forgive me if this sounds disjointed.

The creative aspects of my life are a refuge, they are a large part of what helps keep me feeling young.  I have a community of friends who share this passion to create, both online and 'in the flesh'.  I treasure my time alone in the studio also- I find the solitude rejuvenating.  Our culture and time bombards us daily with information, noise- it is nice to seclude myself and just turn all that off.

I have noticed over the past few months that the drive and focus with respect to my fiber art are lessening.  Granted, the soap making (another creative outlet, I would add) has impacted that.  I don't want to give up the fiber art, but it is no longer the sole outlet for my creative urges.  How to balance them?  I'm not very good at that; when I get interested in something I tend to immerse myself and go at it full bore.

What conclusions have I reached?  I'd already taken one step a couple of years ago, when I decided to quit trying every surface design and quilting technique under the sun and limit myself to those that make my heart sing.  It has made for some interesting conversations in my small local art quilt group, as several members are polar opposite.  We are still working on making the group a safe haven for all of us.

I think it is time to take the idea of limitations to other parts of my creative life.  I'm hoping that this will mean my work becomes more authentically "me"- a goal I have been striving for.  It will mean backing out of some arenas.  It may mean taking the time to recharge by finishing a more traditional quilt sitting in my UFO pile.  It will mean asking the same question consistently- will this take me further along the path I want to go?
 I hope you wish me well on this fork in my road.