My Eclectic Mess

March 10, 2014

Adventures in Soap Making: Rorschach Test and Ocean Waves

Filed under: Soap — beth @ 2:18 pm


This is my latest soap making attempt.  I originally thought calling it “Rorschach Test” was a great name for it.  Each section of the cut loaf reveals a different swirl.

But this week we’ve finally started to slowly melt out from under our record breaking snow accumulation and what was once pristine white everywhere is slowly beginning to look much like the above bars. I scented this soap with “Dirt” fragrance oil and it really does smell like freshly plowed farm fields or turned garden beds in the spring. So I’m considering renaming it “Spring Thaw” or something similar.

The black swirl was made with activated charcoal which also gives it purifying properties. This is still a pretty soft bar, it has a large percentage of Sweet Almond Oil in the recipe. But it lathers really well and leaves my skin really soft.  I’m still experimenting with different oils and different recipes. I prefer to not order a lot of exotic oils and to keep my recipes pretty simple with only 3-4 oils. So far I’m mainly using combinations of Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Almond Oil and Lard. I did just recently pick up a small bottle of Grapeseed Oil that I’m going to try in my next batch. I know a lot of my vegan/vegetarian friends will cringe at the thought of lard in soap. But it makes a really lovely soap with nice lather and I can get it really cheap at the local Mexican grocery store. I like to have it on hand for pie crusts too!


Here is a photo of the uncut log. I made the swirl using the funnel pour technique in my new 5# Wooden Log mold from Brambleberry.  I really like this mold and the matching silicone liner. It makes a lot of soap and it really easy to use.  I think I will invest in or DIY a smaller mold because this is really too much soap for me to ever use up for personal use and at this time I don’t intend to go into the soap selling business.


You can see that it was still a little soft when I cut it so it isn’t as smooth as I’d like. I did find a wire cheese cutter board at Goodwill that I’m now using as a soap cutter and it has really helped me get more consistent results.


This is the first batch of soap I made in my 5# mold and using colored oxides. I used the hanger swirl technique and attempted a swirled, textured top. This one is scented with “Sea Glass” fragrance oil. I love it. It smells fresh and clean and the bar gives a really nice soft lather. I love that the colors really do bring to mind sea glass and the top looks like foaming waves. Next time I try this swirl I’ll be a little more vigorous with my hanger to get a more defined swirl.

I’m trying not to go to crazy with soap making because I will end up with more soap than I will ever use in a lifetime. But I do have lots of ideas and inspiration and want to try it all. I’m playing with ideas for more natural soaps with milks, avocado, cucumber, oatmeal, honey, teas and essential oils versus soaps made with all the pretty oxide and mica colors and fancy swirl techniques. Both approaches appeal to me for different reasons. I like to use the more natural soaps and I like to make the pretty ones with all the fancy fragrances.

February 25, 2014

College Girl Pillows

Filed under: sewing — beth @ 9:39 pm











I had a little time over the holidays to do some sewing for my college daughter. She mentioned that her apartment couch was ugly and uncomfortable and needed some pillows. I was inspired by the many monogram, typography and initial items I’d been seeing on Pinterest recently. I thought it would be fun to personalize the pillows for each of the girls who live in the apartment. They’ve all signed on to live together again next year so I know they will get used for  more than a few months. Sarah stopped in to the store to pick out fabrics that she liked. I love working with the Moda Essex Linen and this Zen Chics line of fabrics  is one of my favorites too. (I made a runner for my living room table out of it last summer.)

The initials are machine embroidered but you could just as easily stencil them on with fabric paint for the same look. I digitized them in my software using Times New Roman font and changed the satin stitch fill to a step fill. I also reduced the stitch density of two of them to prevent puckering. I intended to do it on all of them but forgot for the ‘’m” and the “s”.

The backs of the pillow covers are black linen. I just did an overlapping back to make putting them on and off easy.  Because we all know that college students are concerned with the ability to launder things easily!

Sarah made it back to campus Saturday before the worst of the Polar Vortex weather hit. She said the fabrics matched perfectly and the roommates liked the pillows. SCORE!

And we’re back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — beth @ 6:48 am

Lesson learned. Don’t take a blogging break at the same time that your domain registrar decides to change everything and you don’t get the notice.

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