Ok, so you may have heard that I've taken a slight interest in homemade soap. *snort* I was scared to death to make my first batch cuz the thought of failing at something so many others do so easily was horrible to me. My first batch was so easy and flawless that I got over confident. My second batch was a semi-failure. I learned from my mistakes in that one and went leerily into my third batch. Another semi-failure but for different reasons. Although not nearly as upset that time as the time before, it still knocked me down quite a bit. I was rethinking the kinds of soaps I wanted to make, but not ready to give up.
In my already low spirits, the soap makers forum that I'd joined dealt me another blow or two. It had started to seem that the old pros over there are willing to help in the very beginning but then can't be bothered. It seemed that they all chat amongst themselves about their fabulous new soap experiments or their business successes or whatnot, but patience seemed thin with new soapers. And then I was dealt the dreaded 'Please use the search function blah blah blah' response by one of the moderators who seems to have nothing better to do than tell everyone to use the search function. Hello, moderators (or anyone) of any board, do you know how much people HATE to hear 'use the search function'? Do you know how inaccurate the search results are? Do YOU have time to read thru 20 pages of results where 98% of the matches are simply the words coming up in passing conversation? GAH!!!!
So I was feeling disgusted with that forum and discouraged in general.
Then yesterday hubby and I made some wooden soap molds and a soap cutter. I'd been wanting these since before I even made my first batch. I just hadn't wanted to bother hubby with it cuz I somethimes think he finds this new hobby silly. But yesterday we made them.....a one pound batch size, and two two pound batch sized molds, and the cutter. They are not perfect but they're pretty nice looking and good enough to start with. If I really do get into this, and stick with it, I'll have him make me some better ones.
I'm not sure if this cutter will work good enough though. I tried trimming my already made soaps, trying to get them a little more squared and proper looking. There was too much slop, or play, in the cuts and they always came out slightly angled, pushing the soap back as it cut. Maybe it will be different with full size uncut logs, but if not we will need to redesign or modify, put some stoppers in.
So ok, I was feeling kinda loserish and down about making soap....was almost considering giving up.....then decided 'screw it!' and I'd have to figure things out on my own. I decided to give up swirls and colors and just work my way thru my various fragrance oils and see what I ended up with, cuz some are known to turn soap different colors. I still really wanted to make my pumpkin soap but I'd decided this morning that I would skip the use of the spices and the making of the brown swirl. And that's what I had in my head when I started the batch. Things were going fine, everything mixing well, and I got to the point where I add the canned pumpkin. Aha, it turned the mix orange like I'd heard it would, and it still continued to mix just fine. Now I need to add the fragrance oil and I'm a tad nervous cuz I'd heard this one would turn the mix brown. It mixed fine and I didn't see it affecting the orange color, so I'm feeling confident again. I poured a small amount into another container and added a small amount of McCormicks pumpkin spice. It mixed great and gave it a medium brown color. Yes!! Neither mix is thickening too fast. All is going great. I pour the orange bulk of the batch into my wonderful new two pound mold....and it fills it nearly to the top, which it wasn't supposed to do. Doh! Oh well, no turning back now. I drizzle the brown over the top and do a proper swirl. And it worked!!! I was so excited!! IT WORKED!!!!!
It's kinda hard to see in this pic but the swirls are definitely there. I think there might have been a bit too much of the brown batter, and it sucked that it went all the way to the top of the mold but hey.....it worked!! I covered it and 'put it to bed' and when I peeked in at it a couple hours later it was gelling nicely.
I was SOOOO happy and excited that I cleaned up my tools and started another batch. I'd read that one of my fragrance oils would turn the soap a red or pink color. Since it's a Christmas scent, that's wonderful. And since I've been wanting to make these soaps to be ready by the holidays I figured I'd try that one next. I whipped up a smaller, one pound batch with no fancy extras except the Cinnamon & Balsam oil, and it did indeed turn it a dark pink/light red color! Everything went wonderfully on this batch too. I poured it into my new small mold and found that this one did not fill all the way to the top. Awesome. I wondered what happened with the pumpkin batch, like, had I miscalculated something? Whatever...two successful batches!
I am riding high at this point, totally back to loving this hobby and thinking 'Ha, I *can* do this!' My family is laughing at my enthusiasm, and we're making jokes about having to build a room for my shop. I see that I have enough ingredients left to get one more batch....it would be a shame to let my last new mold sit empty. Browsing my list of oils, I decide to do one of them that contains vanilla because it will turn tan or brown. Clean up my stuff quick and get set up for my third batch of the day. Craziness!
Although I wasn't sure if gingerbread actually contained vanilla or not, I really wanted to use my Gingerbread fragrance oil because it would go along with my holiday theme. I checked a couple sites hoping someone would have a review of it but couldn't find anything to say if it would color the soap or not. Oh well, only one way to find out. For the third time in one day my batch mixes wonderfully and I add the oil. At first I don't see any change. Bummer, oh well, at least it's scented. But wait....I see some....yellow.....? I keep stirring and it goes from a yellow to a tan, or a yellowish light brown. I was hoping it would have been darker but hey, I'm three for three today! I pour it into my other two pound mold and this one also fills right to the top. This tells me the measurement of the two pound mold is off. We'll build some new ones. But for now.....
I don't know why my colors are so off in that picture. Things that are white look blue....!? The soap actually looks more yellow-y in real life. But I did it, three successful soaps...including the elusive swirl! So sooo happy with things today.
And to add to it, hubby made a comment about something I'd actually been thinking about this morning in bed. Yesterday when we were out in the cramped and dirty garage making the molds, hubby had been talking about how much he wanted a proper workshop. We'd talked briefly here and there over the years about fixing up the barn so he'd have a workshop but it was one of those things that was always like dream talk. Since my soap addiction hit we'd made jokes about fixing up the barn and turning it into a soap shop. Totally unrelated, we'd recently been talking about going on vacation for our 20th wedding anniversary (summer 2010). This morning I was thinking maybe we should take the money we would have spent on vacation and put it into redoing the barn. Well sure enough, this afternoon hubby suggested the same thing and I had not even mentioned my earlier thoughts. I told him then that I'd also thought of it and we laughed, then both agreed that maybe this is something we should seriously consider. We're going to jot down some notes and ideas on what we'd like to have in our 'shops,' see if we can come up with some workable plan.
One thing we're both in agreement about is the guy who did our house will NOT be doing our workshop.
And then to top off an already wonderful day, the Vikings won their game in the final two seconds again. WOOOOOT!!! Who's undefeated? Who's in first place? That's right.....the Minnesota Vikings.