buy sudstress

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Labor of Love

Last summer Milana, one of my best friends in the world got married and asked me to make soap as her wedding favors.  I happily obliged and together we came up with a theme of 2 oz. (about half the size of a regular bar) conversation hearts in light pink, scented with a duplicate of the Bath and Body Works fragrance  'Sweet Pea'.  So, I ordered five molds, each containing five individual heart cavities, enabling me to make 25 at a time, since the soap has to sit in the mold for about 24 hours.  This way, I would be able to make all 100 pieces in just four batches.  These were to be my wedding present to her.  It would be something I could truly put my heart into, a labor of love.
Sweet Pea, as a fragrance, behaves somewhat like most floral fragrances do in that it accelerates the chemical reaction where the oils and lye become soap.  When first combined, the substance is a cloudy liquid that slowly turns into a pudding-like consistency depending on how long you stir the mixture.  Some fragrances when added can make this process speed up, making the soap batter into a thick pudding (and sometimes chunky a.k.a. ricing) very quickly.  Two ways to better work with a fragrance like this are to use the full water amount (in which the lye is dissolved) and to mix the lye water with the oils at a relatively low temperature, which is exactly what I did.  The thing is, these molds were fairly intricate in that the lettering of the conversation hearts was raised and relatively thin.  So, this presented two problems..  one, when the soap is thick, it's harder to get it into detailed molds without air bubbles obscuring the design and two, the use of full water makes the soap a lot stickier and difficult to remove from the molds.  After spending much time frantically banging the mold on the table and mutilating several hearts, I tried putting the molds in the freezer for a couple of hours which would usually enable the soaps to slip right out..  but to no avail.  I ended up having to leave the soaps in the freezer for a couple of days before they could be finessed out of the molds.  And when I say "finessed", I mean beat the living hell out of.  Besides a few mutilated hearts and several moments of panic on my part, I ended up with great results, especially after packaging them.  Behold!

So, when my cousin Jen asked me to do the favors for her wedding in January, I decided to do the same, and this time would be more aware of what I was getting into.  At twice the number of pieces and with limited time, but with no individual molds required, I decided to do the same for her.  It would no doubt be cheaper, easier and less time consuming for me to order something from Crate & Barrel, but I feel like it means more to do this.  I would be making them either way, but giving the gift of my time, money and effort through creative process feels much more meaningful.  So, with six different designs on the curing racks at the moment, I have little time left to figure out how to package these little blue beauties.  I'll return with another post when I figure that out. 


No comments: