Opal Ombré soap

Hi again

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything. But here we are and I have another soap that I have made for this months Soap challenge club. I enjoyed making this soap as I have been struggling a bit with making a recipe that set up slow enough to make patterns. The tricks and tips I got worked really well.

The recipe I used for this soap was:

Olive oil 500g

Lard 420g

Coconut oil 350g

Avocado oil 120g

I used 500ml water and 196g Lye, I also placed 2 tsp of icing sugar in the water before I mixed in the lye – to slow the recipe down. The fragrance I used was Brambleberry’s ‘Love Spell’ which is a well behaved fragrance! 

After mixing the oils and Lye together, I decided to try and keep this mixture slow, so I hand whisked it. Usually I use a hand blender, which takes about 5 minutes. It took me an hour of mixing before the mixture reached a slight trace.


When the mixture reached a slight trace I poured it into something less likely to spill!

I poured the mixture evenly into 12 cups, so that I could add the colour individually to each cup.

Adding the colour

I did this by eye!

Then I started layering the colours. The aim was to have the colours change from dark to light throughout the soap, so I kept on, layering blues, then Oranges, then reds! I did this on a slight angle throughout and then tipped it the other way right at the end to get the circles, like you find in opals.

Then all I needed to do was to finish it off with a pattern on the top!

The finished product turned out pretty well I thought! 🙂

Knife pouch

im not going to post a huge amount in regards to how I went about this. I had an old knife pouch which I was able to pull apart and use the pieces as a guide so in terms of the size, it was easy. It did take me a few go’s however to stitch it together as I had to work out spacing and style of stitch to use.

Here is the old one that I used as a guide.


Then I proceeded to make a mess. I didn’t use the calculator or the hand cream by the way!


I had to cut out the new leather and work on some stitching. I ended up using an old book on leather stitching I have by Ron Edwards, called bush leatherwork and I used a stitch called the double cord over. Along the single edge I just used a simple whip stitch.  I got the leather from a shop in Sydney called Birdsall leather. They have an online shop as well, but I just went in and bought some off cuts. I used kangaroo hide lacing for the stitching.


I have to say it did take me a couple of goes to get the stitching right. I used a press stud to close the pouch and although I didn’t take a photo of it, I stitched the belt loop on the back of the pouch before I stitched up the pouch itself. It turned out pretty well!


Tiger stripe soap challenge

hi everyone.

i know it’s been a long time since I posted. I’ve been travelling, busy and haven’t had a huge amount of time for soaping lately. But I’m back into the swing of it now and I just made some soap for the latest great cakes soap challenge Amy wardens soap challenge club.

The recipe I used was the one suggested by Amy Warden

400g coconut oil

450g olive oil

450g tallow

50g Castoe oil

I used 191g lye and 450g water. Although please make sure that you check your lye amounts on a lye calculator (MMS lye calculator ) before you use these amounts. I also used Amy’s advice to make the mixture slower tracing and added some sugar to the lye water mixture before adding it to the oil. The above batch made up 1350g of soap, so I added 2 teaspoons of caster sugar to the lye. I used some jasmine scent from Brambleberry

I decided to use 5 colours – white, black, yellow, blue and red and I decided to try out the new liquid brites from Aussie soap supplies.

After I had mixed the soap to a very light trace, I split the mixture into 5 even lots. I then placed my loaf tin on an angle and poured the soap in alternate lines until it was pretty close to the top. Then I turned the loaf tin and put in on the opposite angle and kept pouring in lines.

The final lot I used da chopstick to drag through the top layer to make a pattern.

The results turned out pretty good I thought.

I  had some soap left over, so I used the rest to make some round soaps. I used the same technique in a round mould. I think these turned out pretty nice too. I think I’ll try the round mould again sometime.

Altogether, I really enjoyed this challenge.



Psychadelic rimmed soap

This soap is one I’ve seen pictures of but have never tried. I had a go but am thinking I either need to practice it a bit more or get the tutorial off Amy Wardens Great cakes soapworks before I try it again.

I got my colours together. I decided on simply pouring all of the colours together and just doing a general comb effect.


It sort of ended up looking a bit like a peacock swirl – sort of! But hey, pretty I reckon. So I prepared an oven roasting pan by lining it with oven proof paper, poured a thin layer into the bottom (at least what I thought was a thin layer – as you will see later it didn’t turn out quite so thin!


And popped it into the oven. I put the oven on to about 120 degrees to warm while I was making the mixture and then turned it off when I put the oven try in. The reason I did this is that the soap is more malleable if it has gone through a gel phase and I wasn’t sure it would without a bit of help because of how thin the layer was, so I decided that it needed a bit of help (but not too much).


The Next day I tipped it out and used a rolling pin to try and roll it into a round shape so that it would fit into my mould. This took lots of swearing and cracking and not a very smooth roll. It was at this point that I realised the layer was a bit thick. Next time I’ll have to do it really thin. But I managed to get it into my mould in the end!


There was a lot of bits cut off. They won’t be wasted. I can feel some more confetti soap coming on – or I might try and do something fancy with all of the colours!


After that, I made up another mixture using the same ingredients as the rim I just made (the same as the Bush painted daisy if you want to see what I used – the last post I did) and poured it into the centre.


I left it for about a day and a half to set.


In this picture the pieces look a bit rough. I still have to clean them up a bit. I’m not really happy with the thickness of the rim as that has made them look a bit chunky, however, it’s a start. The next lot should be heaps better. It’s all a learning experience I guess! 🙂

Bush Flower painted soap

In this technique I decided to see what happened if I just painted on some soap, almost like a canvas. I really enjoyed making this soap. It makes me wonder about all of the paintings/patterns I could do in the future.

The recipe I used is one I’ve used before and quite like

520g Olive Oil

450g Lard

36g Coconut Oil

150g Avocado Oil

206g Lye and 500ml water

I used Jasmine scent for this mixture – to go with the flowery theme

Remember, if you haven’t soaped before you’ll need to go to a beginning blog as Lye is dangerous to use. There are plenty of beginning websites and some of my favourites are Amy Warden’sGreat Cakes soap works  as well as The soap queen website.

I used my new square mould and lined it with baking paper first so the soap wouldn’t stick to the wooden mould.


After I made the mixture to a light trace, I poured off enough colour into some tomato sauce containers to make up green, yellow, blue and white. Poured the base down and then started on the ‘painting’.

Below is the green branches, just as a poured them.


Then I touched them up with a skewer, so they looked a bit fluffy


I added dollops of yellow, blue, white and yellow


Then used a skewer to mix the colours a bit into a pretty pattern


After the soap had set overnight I cut the blocks. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I’ll have to muck around more with this method!


Apple Cyser – A honey mead made from apples

After bottling some of my standard honey mead, I had a demijohn or two left over, so time to put on another mead. This time I decided to try a Cyser (a honey mead made with apples), as I already have a couple of different Methaglens (honey meads made with fruit). I’m not sure why apples get a different name, however, I’m keen to give this one a go.

First, the recipe, I got this recipe from Ken Shramm’s, the Complete Meadmaker (2003), which is full of great information about meads and meadmaking.

Falls bounty Cyser

1.3 kg Honey (straight from my hives yesterday)

3.7 litres of pressed apple juice. I just used the 100% Apple juice from Coles

150 g Brown Sugar

100g Chopped Dates

100g Raisins

Yeast, I used this one


I placed all of the fruits in the demijohn, then mixed up the honey, sugar and the apple juice with a whisk in a sterilised bowl. I added this mixture to the demijohn with the other fruit.

Adding the mixture to the demijohn
Adding the mixture to the demijohn

Then I prepared the yeast by emptying the packet of yeast to a cup of Warmed Spring water and leaving it alone for 15 minutes. After that you can stir it in the cup, add it to the demijohn and top it up with Apple juice. At this point you need to shake the demijohn for 5 minutes with the aim to mix and aerate it as much as possible. The yeast will need oxygen to start fermenting, so the more the demijohn is aerated at this stage the better.

The you just need to pop on the airlock, put it aside and wait for the action.

Airlock on and waiting for the action to start
Airlock on and waiting for the action to start

Less than 24 hours later it is bubbling away

I left that to bubble away for about a month, until all of the action had stopped and then transferred it into another demijohn. Of course I forgot to take photos of it while it was sitting there for 2 months! 🙂

The transfers to different demijohns help clear the liquid. So I transferred twice when it appeared that there was some dregs on the bottom of the demijohn. The dregs are the yeast cells that have now died and if left in the bottom will end up leaving a horrible taste.

On the 7th July I decided it was finally clear enough to bottle, so I transferred it into some glass coke bottles I have been saving for just this purpose! It still tastes pretty rough, however I can tell it’s going to be very nice in another 4 or 5 months. Just in time for Christmas I think! 🙂



Hopeful hearts soap

This soap started because I decided to buy a couple of moulds from Aussie soap supplies. I bought two moulds and this one is a heart shaped mould. While I was making a different soap, I set aside a bit of soap, coloured it and filled my mould to see how it looked.

First you gotta make a heart
First you gotta make a heart

The soap looked great when it came out of the mould.


I decided to make a loaf mould and put this in in it and place a pretty pattern, maybe of hearts on the top as well. So first to cut the mould down so it fit in my loaf, then on to making the soap.


The recipe for this is one that I have used before and I really love because of its richness, creaminess and wonderful lather. This recipe is just the right size for my loaf pan as well.

250g Tallow

250g Coconut Oil

200g Olive Oil

200g Rice Bran Oil

80g Cocoa Butter

50g Castor Oil

300ml water (distilled or Spring)

142g Lye

Please make sure if you haven’t made soap before you have a look at my beginning soaping blog and follow the safety rules. Lye is very caustic and dangerous to use unless you follow the right safety precautions. You can follow this link if you like and have a look at my beginners blog, which has lots of links to other good sites as well!Learning about soaping

I made that batch and decided I wouldn’t use a colour. I did add some fragrance though, for this batch I decided on Brambleberry’s ‘Energy’ fragrance, which I really love. I used about 30ml for this recipe.

Then I mixed my batch to light trace and poured off a little of the batch into the two plastic bottles and to those I added a little blue and a little red colour to use as decoration for the top. Then I continued mixing the batch to medium trace.

I poured about 1/2 of the mixture into the loaf and then set the heart in it. It has to be medium trace so the heart doesn’t move. Then I poured the rest of the mixture over the top.


Then I started decorating the top of the soap. I placed dots on the top


Then swirled through the dots with a chopstick.

In a perfect world, those dots would have looked like hearts! Oh well.

The mixture was a bit too set by the time I got to that and it didn’t quite work out, but I reckon it still looks ok.


The next day I cut the soap, and I’m pretty pleased with the result.

A friend suggested a layer some colours through the soap next time, and I think I will try that!


Sunset soap Using a sculpted layers technique

Hi all.

This technique is the latest from Amy Wardens Soap challenge club. This month we are learning a new technique called sculpted layers technique. The person teaching this technique is Claudia Carpenter from Omnom soap. I found this soap a real challenge to make (excuse the pun). I am actually hoping that I will have time to make another soap before I have to upload my soap as this one didn’t quite work out how I’d like.

First things first was making some cutouts of the layers I wanted to make. I made a couple of designs and first of all I decided to try making a sunset soap. I drew the design, which was pretty simple, and uploaded it onto my iPad.


Then I had to make some cardboard cutouts to match the soap. I decided to coat them in some glue to make the edges a bit harder.

Making the patterns from cardboard

I made both lots of moulds at the same time, and below are both moulds, finished drying and ready to go.


After this came the usual preparation. Please see my blog on beginning soaping if you have never soaped before – you can get to it easily from the following link – Learning about soaping.

I used the following recipe which was recommended by Claudia

42% Lard – 660g

22% Olive oil – 330g

25% Cocnut oil – 360g

11% castor oil – 160g

Claudia suggested 1 teaspoon per pound of sodium lactate and the same of fragrance, a 1.5:1 ratio of water:lye as well as a 3% lye discount

Unfortunately, I had no sodium lactate, and as it is used to make the bars of soap harder (because the lye discount and high castor oil was likely to make quite soft bars) I decided to try and substitute with beeswax, so instead of sodium lactate, I used 5% beeswax, or 80g.

This meant that I used 221g of lye and 500ml of water, but if you are going to use my recipe please check it in a lye calculator. I did toss up whether to make it 5% lye discount or not but decided to go with the 3% and see what happened.

Next came putting together the colours, so I mixed these in a cup, with water as a mix and the fragrance I used was Jasmine.


I mixed the lye and melted the oils together.

When I added the lye to the oils, I mixed them to a light trace, then poured off enough to make the top colour -the sky. I’m afraid I accidentally poured in too much blue straight away, but didn’t really feel I had enough soap mixture to start again so decided to go with it.

I added the colour and the fragrance, blended it until it was at medium trace and poured it in, waited for a little while until it started to set firmer.


And then dragged the first, and longest of the mould through the mixture, taking out the excess and adding it to another mould. I’ll use the leftover soaps to make a different sort of soap.


Unfortunately, I think the beeswax accelerated the trace, so I was rushing to get the layers mixed, poured and moulded. Seriously, I made such a mess on the way, I had to take a photo at the end. I was rushing so much I had no time to take photos of each layer as I had plans to do.  I think the beeswax was a bad idea!

However I finally got the last layer poured and put the mould away to set overnight.

What a mess
What a mess

Actually, they didn’t turn out as bad as I thought they would. One of the problems is that the mixture was too stiff by the end and this meant there are holes in between colours where the mixture didn’t go right into the next layer. Partly this is because I forgot to tamp each layer down as I went due to my panick! I’m looking forward to having a go with the sodium lactate as it arrived yesterday from Aussie soap supplies. Hopefully I’ll get another batch made before the competition closes. Oh well, it’s all a learning experience!







Salty Dog Soap

I know its been awhile since I last blogged. I’m afraid the university assignments got on top of me and I had to actually devote time to that. However, I have now finished for this semester – Yay! Which gives me a bit of time to do some soaping, and also some other creative activities.

On my first day off from University assignments I decided to try a very different recipe. This one comes from Katia Mera Soap, who has a whole heap of great recipes on thier site. If you follow the link you will see the recipe, as well as a video on how the soap was made, which was very interesting as there are a few things That we’re done a bit differently to how I usually make soap.

The story of this is that a very good old friend, who I haven’t heard from in about 25 years, contacted me out of the blue. He has a shipping company called Salty Dog Shipping, and when I was randomly googling the company later, I came across this recipe (come on people, don’t judge me, I know you all randomly Google friends sometimes), anyway, it peaked my interest and I decided to give it a go. I’m really looking forward to actually trying it out and seeing what it it’s like after its cured too, but that’s too long a time to wait to send this blog out! 🙂 – So, first the recipe.

Salty Dog Soap

750g Coconut Oil

300g Olive Oil

150g Tallow

75g Sunflower Oil

75g Avocado Oil

75g Apricot Kernel Oil

75g Castor Oil

15 0g Salt

I used a Brambleberry fragrance called Yachtclub

For this recipe the original called for 15% super fat, however, I’ve never made a soap that high in super fat (the free oils floating around the soaps. If a soap is higher in super fat it tends to be a softer soap and more moisturising because it has more oils in the soap. However it also will not last as long. I’m pretty sure the salt in the soap will make it a harder soap though too). Anyway, I decided on 10% super fat, rather than my usual 5-6%, and I guess if I’m wrong, I’ll pay later!

With that in mind, I calculated the lye at 215g

For moisture I used a half/half coconut milk and water – so 250ml coconut milk and 250ml water.

For colouring I used White Kaolin Clay, as well as Australian Pink clay.

At this point I’d like to remind anybody who hasn’t made soap before to please check out the beginning soap makers blog which has links to great beginning soap making videos and information Learning about soaping.

First off I prepared my Clays, salt and fragrance and it them aside while I prepared the lye and the oils.

I made up the lye mixture with the water and the lye component and left the coconut milk on the side as well. This means the lye was more concentrated than usual.

Oil, colours and Coconut milk

Then, I added the coconut milk to the oil and blended it in. Usually, when I’m making a milk soap, I freeze the milk and stir the lye into that over ice to keep it cool. I have never added it to the oil before, so I was interested to see how this worked out.

Adding coconut milk to the oil

Then I added the lye to the oil and milk mixture and blended until it reached a medium trace.

Adding the clays

After that I split off about 2 cups of the mixture and mixed the white Kaolin Clay to the larger amount and the Australian Pink Clay to the smaller batch. I actually think I didn’t mix up enough of the pink clay, or the White clay, but it was too late to mix any more – lesson to self – better to mix too much that too little.

I added the fragrance, and then added the salt and mixed that in right before I poured the mixture.

I poured the main mixture into the two moulds first and then poured the pink mixture over the top and then sort of folded the top of the mixture a bit to blend some of the pink with the White (so it wasn’t simply a straight layer).  I Moulder the top a little to make it look a bit interesting and then left it to set

Soap setting in trays

The next day when I cut it I could see the White salt crystals, but because the mixture was still a bit wet, I think it doesn’t look particularly nice. At least I hope it looks a bit better as it dries. The original recipe on the previous link looks fantastic. I’ll just have to leave it a bit and see what it looks like in a few days/weeks! 🙂

It seems to have worked out well, but I don’t think I used enough white Kaolin clay in this batch. I think I’ll try it again with a different colour as well as more clay. It smells delicious however. Can’t wait to see what it’s like to use as a soap.


Hot processed colour swirl soap

I do love cold processed soap, however, I was interested to learn about hot processed as well. Hot processed is simply the process of cooking the soap.

When we make soap, there is a chemical reaction that takes place between the lye (caustic soda) and the oils, called saponification. When we make cold processed soap, it has to be left 4-6 weeks so that the lye can finish doing its thing. This is called curing. If you make hot processed soap, you help the process along and cook off the lye. This means that if you make hot processed soap, it can be used straight away, as soon as its popped or cut from the moulds.

You might ask, well why don’t we always make hot processed soap then, it’s really hard to sit back and make a lovely soap and then wait for 6 weeks to use it. Well the answer is that, when you hot process it, the soap is more difficult to make elaborate patterns and designs, and it also comes out looking a bit more rustic. It doesn’t have that beautiful finish to the soap. Although I kind of like the look of hot processed soap too.

Anyway, today I decided to make another batch of hot processed soap, and make a swirl pattern to show you how that is done.

essentially you can use any cold processed recipe, you just have to do the extra step of cooking it. I use an old crockpot. Actually this is the one I also use for melting down my wax from the honeycomb. Might as well use it as much as possible. This crockpot sees more use now than it ever did when I was actually cooking in it.

The recipe I used for this one is

Hot Processed Colour swirl soap

500g Tallow

500g Coconut Oil

425g Olive Oil

425g Rice Bran Oil

150g Cocoa Butter

65g Castor Oil

285g Lye

750ml distilled water

I used Blue, Red and Pink soap making colours

The fragrance for this one is Brambleberry’s ‘Energy’

Again, please look at the beginners soaping blog if you are making soap for the first time where I have links to lots of great videos and advice on soaping. The link is here –Beginning soaping

I made the lye and the oil mixture, mixed to medium trace with a stick blender then put the crock pot on high and left it alone to cook the soap. This forces the chemical reaction to happen faster and cooks the lye out of the soap.


The soap starting to cook around the edges


Starting to cook from the outside in


I gave it a stir and this is what it looked like. It took about an hour for the soap to all be cooked. One way of testing to see whether the lye has been processed is to take a small amount of the soap and touch it to your tongue (after it is cooled a little). If you get a zap – it means there is still lye in the soap that needs to cook out. If so, let it cook further for 5 minutes or so and try again. Don’t leave it to long however or it will really start to dry out.


After that I added the fragrance then split the soap into 4 batches. I left one batch in the cooker as I was leaving the soap colour as one of the colours, then I mixed in the red, blue and pink into the other batches.


Tipped them back into the crockpot and folded the colours lightly. After all, I don’t want them mixed, just swirled.


Spooned them into the moulds. To me they look rather funky compared to the cold processed soaps.


And a day later – Voila – Hot processed soaps. They look more rustic than the cold processed variety and I have seen some videos of people doing amazing things with these in regards to patterns etc as well. Would take me a bit more trial and error to get used to though. However, these soaps can be used straight away. I’ll leave them a week or two just so the moisture evaporated and they get a little harder before use, but they do smell fantastic!