Sunday, May 29, 2016

Confetti Soap

This month's soap challenge is Sculpted Layers, which is based on my Winter Wonderland soap*. I'm teaching it, so I'm not competing, but I thought folks might want to see how I use left-over soap.

For the sunrise soap I made, I just dumped the excess batter into individual bar molds for my family to use later.

sunrise soap made with natural colorants and essential oils. The hills have
faded from dark green at cutting to almost uncolored, despite my having
used 4 T/ppo of spirulina. Would chlorophyll stay brighter?

It's truly hideous, but with lemongrass and sage, plus the high castor oil and sodium lactate, it's a luxurious, natural soap that just happens to match my shower tiles :).

a sad looking individual bar made from the leftover batter

For the waves soap, I had a different plan in mind from the start.

waves soap for this month's challenge club

It's a confetti soap so dense it looks almost like an Impressionist painting. I usually make a batch of confetti soap after each challenge, using my rejects. OK, maybe two. :)

who doesn't love a confetti bar?

For this one, I started with the leftover wave soap, plus some other scraps I had on hand.

I also made some extra individual bars in the other bright colors I wanted to add, trying to match my new hand towels (from Cost Plus).

confetti base colors

another bar that ended its sad existence in a much happier place

How It's Made

You'll be shocked to learn that I'm very particular about how the confetti looks.

I like it to be in thin ribbons, with a rounded profile, and curling a bit if possible. 

To achieve this, I first cut the bars in quarters, lengthwise, and let them dry out for a few days. I then grate them lengthwise by hand using the small julienne side of a cheap box grater from Target:

closeup of a box grater similar to the one I use (that's around here somewhere...)

I grate them into piles of individual colors, and let them dry some more before combining them, so that they won't stick together.

colors grated into individual piles

Just before making the soap, I gently toss the shredded soap together using two bowls to mix the colors as uniformly possible, without breaking the ribbons.

combined ribbons, ready to be used

For this batch, I used about 40% ribbons to 60% batter, which is probably the limit as there were a few air holes in the finished bars.

To calculate everything, I started by figuring out how much batter I'd need to fill my 2.5 x 3.5 x 8" mold -- about 40.5 oz, all in. I then grated 17.5 oz of confetti, and subtracted that from 40.5, leaving 23 oz of batter needed:

  40.5 oz batter
- 17.5 oz confetti
= 23.0 oz batter

Working backward in soapcalc, I could then keep lowering the oil amount until the batter amount got to 23 oz. OK, so I actually have a confetti spreadsheet, of course, but that's what I'd do without one!

To mix the batter with the ribbons, I worked in sections, adding a pile of ribbons to a bowl, pouring batter over it, and gently tossing until it was all combined. I then spooned it into the mold in sections, pressing down to get the air bubbles out.

For the batter, I used the same recipe as with the ribbons, but chose Nurture Soap's 8th & Ocean as the fragrance oil, as it's one of my favorites. It's sweet and girly, but well behaved, and I wanted the batter to stay thin.

After 2 hours in a 140F oven, with a few hours to cool, it was ready to cut.

It ended up a bit busy to go with my towels, but it still makes me happy.

Just as a confetti soap should...!


*A quick aside about the inspiration for my Sculpted Layers technique...

It all started with Pasito a pasito, who never ceases to amaze me. His work, combined with this amazing polymer fine art on Pinterest, inspired me to try to create a soap embed extruder.

I failed completely (thus far -- I never really give up ;), but the technique I used for the Winter Wonderland challenge came directly from those attempts. 

That said, some other very innovative and inspirational soap makers have used similar techniques before me, and I'd be remiss to not call them out!

Clara Lindberg's fabulous Mexican Lace tutorial features a distinct geometric middle sculpted layer, but I still haven't figured out how she did it...

Debi Olsen's adorable button impression mat soap includes a clever use of cardboard and ric rac to sculpt her layers.

As always, I tip my hat to the always amazing and incredibly generous soaping community!


  1. Wonderful post and beautiful soaps! Thank you Claudia!

  2. The Mexican lace middle layer looks like it might have been done with a notched trowel used for thin-set mortar.