Hmmm…this is a sticky wicket.



Geek alert!  Soapmaking technique stuff ahead.

(Update and unmolded at the bottom.)

I’m on a quest for an awesome individual mold swirl.  I have tried numerous batches and different methods.  Varying degrees of success, and some of them look beautiful, really great.  But still…I search for stunning.

moose and bear blu,purple, gr  paws soap 9.22.14          tie dye moose soap

The problem:  What pours out of the pot first determines the look of an individually molded soap. Whatever ends up on the bottom of the mold is what you see when it’s unmolded.

I tried a basic “in the pot” swirl”:  Pour color in a couple spots in plain batter and but I found the colors  muddled in the individual mold.

Next, tried pouring my colored batter in stripes on the plain batter.  Better, but not as good as I hoped.

Tried flicking colored batter across the molds, then pouring.  This actually worked really well, guarantees the colors will show in the finished soap.  (in the top two pics above, I did both flicking/ dribbling colored batter on the mold and also stripes of color batter on plain, then pouring)   But still…

As Winnie the Pooh says, “think, think, think.”  How about a mica-oil swirl, only instead of on top of a loaf,  dribble the mica-oil mixture on top of the plain batter as it is poured?  This is what I tried tonight.

I put about a half tablespoon of olive oil in a small stainless steel cup and added a heaping teaspoon of mica and mixed well.  Since I was experimenting, these are ballpark measurements; I mixed in enough mica for good rich color but still pourable/dribbly.

My soap batter was my regular go to recipe; excellent, but does tend to reach trace moderately quickly.  Knowing this, I soaped at lower temperatures.  Oils were about 95 F and lye mixture was about 100 F.  I wanted to work cooler, but…I got impatient.

I stick-blended to very light trace,  dribbled my mica-oil in lines on top of the batter and then poured into the molds.  I found that as I poured, it seems to work better if I started at the edge of a mold and moved the bowl slowly forward.  (Guess I’ll know when I unmold)

So, here are three just poured using this method.  I’m hopeful it works.  Possible problems I considered are oily stripes through the soap, too much oil for the lye amount.  I don’t think these things will happen, but who knows?  Sure pretty though.

Unmolding tomorrow evening.


And here they are, unmolded.  I like ‘em!

Unmolding soaps

Fair warning.  If you are not  a soapmaker, this will likely be a bit boring and nerdy.

If you make soap and use individual plastic molds, this may help you.  I use silicone molds and also the Milky Way plastic molds.  The silicone are, hands down, superior for ease of removing soap. I make cold process soap and have struggled with the more intricate plastic molds, trying to unmold soap without damaging it.

I figured it out today!

1.  Make and pour your soap.

2.  I let it sit 24 hours and then into the freezer for a couple hours; it needs to be hard!

3.  Put the mold soap side down on your work surface and use a heat gun on it for a few seconds.  I have had my soap fall right out perfectly intact.  I did 6 or 8 today and all came out perfectly.  In my picture, they are still cold and have condensation on them.  But, perfect! moose and bear blu,purple, gr

Is that lye soap?

Ruth Esteves, a soapmaker, blogger and teacher, wrote a wonderful piece on her blog about lye in soap.  She graciously gave permission for me to share it here.

“Soapmakers often get asked about the use of lye in their soap. The fact is that lye is indeed used to make soap. While in many minds, “lye soap” brings up images of grandmas and washboards and red, red hands, anyone who has used handmade soap knows that it is quite mild and moisturizing. Sound like a contradiction? Well, the truth is that the lye was there, but now it’s gone. Is it magic? Sort of. It’s chemistry!”

To learn more, check out Ruth’s blog.


I am certified!

No, not what you’re thinking.  In April, I attended the 2014 Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference in Tuscon, AZ.  Four fabulous days of whirlwind learning, meeting soapmakers from around the world, and enjoying an incredible resort, Loews Ventana Canyon.  One of my goals was to pass the exams for my advanced cold process/hot process soapmaker certification.  I am thrilled to announce I did indeed get certified!  This involved not only a written exam, but creating and making a recipe, all the associated recordkeeping, and submitting the soap for judging.  I received a 100% on my soap.  So, when you use one of my soaps, you can be assured I know the how and why of making an awesome bar of soap.

Here are a few pics of  the area I stayed.  When this resort was built, they didn’t move any Saguaros.  They built around them.




cactus and flowers, tuscon 2014

New soaps!

Here are some of my latest soaps.  I haven’t posted in so long, figured I should update this blog.

If you’re a gardener or work and get your hands dirty, this is the ticket.  My new Coffee Kitchen & Garden Soap.  Made with luxurious soothing and moisturizing oils, fresh strong coffee, and the coffee grinds.  Lightly scented with essential oils.  You’ll love this soap.

coffee kitchen & garden soap II



I got a new mold and have been played with that.  Here are two new soaps that have you dreaming of summer in Talkeetna.  Goes without saying, full of the best skin loving oils, tie dye, and a scent that says groovin’ in Talkeetna.

rainbow squeeze swirl 1 & 2


And, another new round mold.  This is a fabulous rose geranium, jasmine, lavender and patchouli blend.  Incredible!  (Sort of cosmic looking, don’t you think?)


Talkeetna Rose Soap


My, where does the time go…

Gardening, making soap, lip balms, body creams, sewing. That’s where it goes!
A big deal for us is that we are getting two high tunnels this year. They are en route and should be here this coming week. Should vastly improve our gardening and extend our season. So excited.

If you haven’t seen them, my soaps are getting a new look. A craggy top reminiscent of our beautiful Alaska range.

lavender rosemary mint soap 6.22.14


Sewing is so satisfying.    Here’s a recent block I’ve been working on.  I just love the stars and the fabric.  The technique is called Disappearing Hourglass by Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Co. She is a kick and makes some great tutorials.


Disappearing pinwheels blocks



Recent sewing projects

A few things I’ve been working on for me and for family.  With my wonderful Janome 7700 and her partner Babylock Jane, I can accomplish so much, easier and in far less time.

This is a quilt I’m working on.  It’s not sewn together yet; still working on the layout.  After a while, I get dizzy from so many options.  I adore this fabric.

in the park quilt

Here’s another one, blocks in progress.  I think I like the yellow centers; looks like blazing suns.  If my son and his wife like these, it will be for them.

New York Beauty blocks

More options with another project.  I love piecing these stars.


This is a little pincushion owl in progress.  She’s a bit saggy, need to add more stuffing.  This was a free Craftsy pattern download.  A plug for Craftsy here.  It is an amazing site with tons of online classes.  The classes are professionally done and videoed with excellent instructors.


So, out to sew.  Will post more pics later.

Update:  Here’s my owl finished.