July 2016 will go down as the first time I’ve submitted my soap as a contestant to the Soap Challenge Club through Great Cakes Soapworks. I did enter the last challenge, Soap Sculpting, but I didn’t submit my soap as I couldn’t manage to pull off a sculpted or flat top. The skill level required was a bit too much for me. This time around, I was very excited to be able to submit my first soap and be amongst so many amazing soapers! The challenge for July was to create a Pipe Divider Swirl in a slab mould. A floral design was shown in the tutorial, however I saw an opportunity to try something different whilst still following the rules.
I have wanted to make a galaxy soap for quite a while. I watched someone make galaxy soap using the Clyde Slide technique, and I once tried the Tall and Skinny Shimmy with a wall pour, which didn’t work out. I am pretty new to soap making in general. The smallest difficulty seems to become unmanageable sometimes. When I attempt something new, I find it to be difficult at first, because all the steps are unfamiliar. But I learn things along the way and I have fun, so that makes it all worthwhile.
I looked at designs on the Internet for creating a galaxy soap, the colours I’d need to use, and just knew a PDS would be fab for galaxy soap, especially making the Milky Way.
I asked my hubby, who is a Pipe Supervisor/Foreman for a civil engineering company, if he could please grab me some PVC pipes from work. Darling that he is, he brought them home the next day, in all different sizes. He even called me up while he was at work and asked me to check if I liked the sizes (I didn’t even know he’d dropped them off). When I checked the pipes, I asked him for a few more sizes. He found them as he was in the process of salvaging PVC pipes that were going to be thrown away. He knew all the size names like 50mm etc, but I explained to him my idea of creating a Milky Way Galaxy soap. He understood what I wanted to do, and the look I was aiming for, even though I didn’t know the measurements of the pipes.
I wanted a smaller white/yellow pipe for the bright centre of the Milky Way, then another larger pipe to surround the small one with the trails of swirling stars, like the Sagittarius arm, plus two more smaller pipes for stars.
Hubby brought home a range of PVC pipes, and we had the chance to recycle. Gotta love that.
School holidays were pretty busy, and I didn’t manage to make the soap then. But I marked where I wanted hubby to cut the pipes. He immediately cut them with a saw, and I washed them. I had a plan for my galaxy soap, but you know what they say about plans. Most of mine offer a good guideline, but they’re not exactly a sure thing since I’m so new to soaping. I’m a lister and I find that organising things on paper helps organise them in my mind.
I did draw up a design before I realised I was only allowed four colours. Since I looked up images of the Milky Way Galaxy, my plan consisted of drawing up a grid in my soap diary and figuring out how every bar could have a pretty image. I wanted every bar to look nice.
It was hard to choose which four colours to use. I decided on yellow, blue, white, and black after looking at this picture. I also made the final decision to use 4 pipes.
I chose to use lavender essential oil as the fragrance, and I shredded bits of white, blue, and yellow soap (in the same colours for the galaxy) which I had leftover from the last challenge (soap scultping in which I made a bubblegum ice cream soap). I didn’t enter my ice cream soap as it didn’t have a sculpted or flat top. But using these bits of shredded soap that you set aside with soap sculpting would be perfect in galaxy soap, as there are so many pretty colours in the galaxy.
A picture of my mould:
Then I got out my mould and arranged everything on my breakfast bar and hubby mentioned I should use the bigger pipe for the swirl around the bright centre (the orange pipe) of the Milky Way. I thought about it and agreed. Man knows his pipes. He has been absolutely wonderful in helping me with this soap challenge. Thanks, honey!
Hot cocoa butter.
Here you can see the cut pipes that are stuck to the silicone mould with cocoa butter. This is a mould I picked up from aliexpress, and I used regular 12 bar Nizzy dividers inside.
I really didn’t even try to calculate how much batter I’d need. My brain is language orientated. I’m kind of spontaneous with creativity, and I just went with the flow and made extra batter in case I needed it. In fact, I doubled my recipe.
Some more designs that caught my eye:
This image helped define which way I would swirl with a chopstick.
I made the galaxy soap the day the kids went back to school after two weeks holiday. Making soap was like a ‘doing’ meditation.
A few things went awry—the soap thickened up pretty fast, although I used my slowest recipe, lavender eo, and only stick blended a couple of times to emulsify. It didn’t really have clean lines and I poured in too much soap. I didn’t add salt or sugar to the lye water, and I used full water as I knew I needed time to swirl. Even though I used silicone as a mould, I planned to gel in the oven to brighten the colours, so the soap would be easier to unmould.
There were a couple of techniques I wanted to use in addition to the PDS (Pipe Divider Swirl). I wanted to use the Clyde Slide, which I’ve never done before, so this challenge heralded two completely new techniques for me. When I poured the soap the order of colours went: black, yellow, blue, black, yellow, blue. I spun the mould on a lazy susan. I also did a blue wall pour around the outside the smaller white pipes. I wanted yellow in the centre and blue around the outside for the smaller stars. You can see in the stars in the picture above that the centre of the smaller stars are bright white/yellow with a blue glow on the outside. I also added white soap to the top of the Milky Way centre.
I’m glad I made twice the recipe. I used 2000g of oils. But when I pulled out the PVC pipes, I noticed this technique gave the effect of a Van Gogh painting, I think. I liked it and I enjoyed using the Pipe Divider Swirl for the first time. I’ll update with what the soap looks like after I pretty it up once it comes out of the oven and cools.
Electric Blue Mica from Green Living Australia
Magic Yellow Mica from Green Living Australia
Titanium Dioxide from Green Living Australia
Activated Charcoal that I bought from a herb awareness fair
35 g of Lavender Essential Oil
I didn’t use extra oils for the micas, just stirred them into some of the oils that I separated out for the recipe.
This has only been my 2nd or 3rd time using the oven to gel, and it has never turned out right. I put the soap in on the lowest setting. The soap gets always gets bubbly and tacky and really weird. It’s a fan forced electric oven.
I cleaned up one of the bars as best as I could (I was impatient and couldn’t wait another day to unmould) and my daughter said it looked like Starry Night by Van Gogh.
The soap reminded me of Van Gogh when I first pulled out the PVC pipes. She put up a picture of Starry Night on her phone and placed the picture beside my soap.
It gives me an idea that I might be able to get hubby to cut more lengths from the smaller PVC pipes so I can have a sun or a moon like that in each bar of a slab mould and just do a Clyde Slide swirl in the same colours to deliberately create a Starry Night Soap. That would be fun! lol 🙂
I’ll post more images in another 24 hours and give the soap a chance to harden up some more. Even though it sat in the oven overnight, it was still soft.
I only got my planer today, and it took me hours to fiddle with the razor. I had to assemble it, and normally I leave anything like that to hubby. It takes him seconds to get it perfect.
I only made one batch of soap for this challenge. I probably could have made more, but I was happy with the result of my galaxy soap that I’ve decided to call Starry Night.
The PDS technique makes me wonder what Van Gogh’s Sunflowers would look like.
The things I learned from this challenge: PVC pipes rock when making soap. Cocoa butter is great at adhering the pipes to the mould. The PVC pipes take less batter than you think. There are a lot of artistic things you can do with PVC pipes, things outside the box, so to speak.
I will definitely make more soap with this technique, and I think this is how I’ll always make galaxy soap.
Here is the soap after I planed off the tacky bits from CPOPing the soap. I took this photo with my phone.
Can you tell this is the first time I’ve used a soap planer? 🙂 Still, I love how it looks like you can see the curvature of the earth in the middle soap on the far right. I love the look of the curve of the sun in the middle on the far left. I love the Van Gogh look to the soap at the top on the right, and at the bottom in the middle it looks like a cloud of stardust!
I am very happy to have participated in this challenge. I don’t know what it is about using pipes, or columns to pour soap, but I always end up with something pretty awesome and completely different to what I expected. I once tried to make an aboriginal flag soap I was going to give to my mother so she wouldn’t have to buy presents for her friends and she could give them away. The soap bled under the pipe and I just decided to swirl it.
This was the result:
🙂 I can laugh about it now. I used a paper towel cardboard tube and a chopstick. I wish I knew how to recreate the butterfly in a slab mould. I’ll have to think about it some more.
I want to thank Tania from Soapish for the wonderful idea of a Pipe Divider Swirl and for the genius trick to use cocoa butter, plus I’d like to thank Amy for another fun soap challenge.
More pictures taken with a real camera this time:
The front and sides of a solar flare.
A cloud of stardust.
The effect from the two smaller white pipes. I used yellow soap batter down these PVC pipes.
Front and back.
Back and front.
This one looks like the curvature of a planet. Imagine doing the Pipe Divider Swirl technique for an Aurora Borealis effect.
This one looks like steam or gas rising.
The back and front of the ‘curve’ and ‘gas’ soap.
Some more soaps:
You can sort of see the blue wall pour here, where I dragged out the edges of the soap for a star.
This is one of my favourites! I just love the how all the negative space is used up with blue swirls, white speckles and the yellow curve.
Back of this soap.
Another curve soap. Front, side, and back.
Front, back and side of another bar.
Another bar. This one looks like it has a little bird on the back 🙂
Finally, if you watch this video, uploaded by Spicy Pinecone who made an absolutely gorgeous Galaxy Cold Process Soap, hopefully you will understand a little more about how I spun the mould and achieved the graduating colours, courtesy of the Clyde Slide technique. I didn’t add any extra bits of soap or mica to the top to achieve more ‘stars’ though, and I just kept my mould on the lazy susan to spin as I poured. I spun in an anti-clockwise direction while pouring with my right hand. I made sure to pour right down the spout of my container, like you can see in the video. 🙂