14 July 2011

Good Clean Fun: a tutorial

I love how sometimes one rotten, annoying thing leads to a most delightful, enjoyable thing.  The other day Olive broke one of the shelves in the sewing studio which is filled with art supplies.  She was jamming a game in where it didn't belong and crash, things came tumbling out.  So, of course, we had to clean the whole thing out after fixing the shelf.  As we were cleaning, I found a big block of glycerin soap I bought forever ago.  I put it on the table and Olive asked what it was.  I told her it was for making soap and boy oh boy you should have seen the excitement that filled those blue eyes!  She asked if we could make some.  She made so many she used up the entire soap block and we had to get some more for Divine and Pearl to be able to join in the fun.
We didn't even use those fancy molds they sell at craft stores, just some supplies we had around the house (and the yard!)
If you are wanting to see the add-ins really well, you'll want clear glycerin soap, but when I went back to get some more, I noticed they even have olive oil soap blocks and goat's milk soap blocks you can use!  Perhaps those are next.  You will also need some oils to scent the soap.  The ones I had on hand were: lemon, orange, clove, cinnamon, and lavender.  The one's used in cooking can be found at specialty kitchen stores, but craft stores have some near their sucker making supplies.
For your tools, use a glass measuring cup, a mold to pour your soap in.  The bottom of the milk carton worked really well because it is malleable which made releasing the soap easy and slightly waxy.  I tried a tin can and had to re-melt the soap and pour it in something else because it would not come out.  We also used a cream cheese plastic container that worked really well.  Just take a peak at your recycling bin to see what you have laying around.  A zester or cheese grater is nice to have if you want to add some citrus zest.
Cut off a few sections of soap and warm in the microwave (or in a pan on the stove) until melted.
Make sure you have your add-ins ready or you may need to re-heat the soap because as it cools, a film develops over the top.
Oils come in different strengths, so I would add a few drops and then smell the soap to make sure it was strong enough.  The scent isn't as strong once the soap is cool, so add a couple extra if you're unsure.
I jokingly call this our "dirt soap" because that's what it turned out looking like.  I thought whole cloves might be too scratchy, so I put them in the spice grinder and loosened the mechanism to make coarse clove chunks.
Pour into container and allow to cool.  If you your kids keep checking to see if it's cool yet, you may make the top wrinkly looking, so just chill and let it chill.
Some of our add-ins gave a color to the soap, but the lavender didn't, so we added some beet juice, trying to stay away from artificial colors.  I should have added more because it was lighter once it cooled, but I loved the pale purple hue it created.

If you want something chunkier than zest, go ahead and add the whole peel, chopped up!

It was a bit of a science experiment, guessing what would float and what would sink.  Orange peel?  
And who put those wrinkles in my soap?
Pearl wanted to make cinnamon, so I told her to go out and find some flowers to add at least something visually.  She brought in some orange cosmos.  As she poured the soap in, it was an amazing transformation to watch the flowers shrink and release their color, which looked more red than orange, perfect for cinnamon.  I'll let you know if the color turns out to be a...hinderance when it comes to getting hands clean ;) but good to know the next time I want to dye something naturally.
I don't remember the name of these pale blue flowers, but the color just disappeared once it touched the hot soap.  The blue that's left was sticking out...another floater, but I thought it was beautiful, too.

Then we I wrapped them using scraps of dupioni silk, velvet, corduroy and tied fun colored twine to secure.  I also found some scrapbook stuff that I won't ever use for it's intended purpose to secure the fabric. 
I told the girls they could give  one of their soaps to their Sunday School teacher and keep the other (as I cut them in half).  Pearl said she wanted to give her cosmo-cinnamon to her friend who is having a birthday party next week.  I'm trying to decide whether or not to break it to her that an 8 year old might not think a bar of soap is that great of a gift, even if it is handmade.  Perhaps we'll put together a little beauty kit(?)
So, now I have a basket of readily available gifts (I'm thinking school teacher gifts this year!) plus our art supply/games closet looks amazing.  I threw out an entire garbage bag full of stuff.  
Yes, I am in full nesting mode.  
I love it and I'm pretty sure Ryan loves it because when I make him look at the most recently organized drawer and appreciate it's beauty he gets his sly smile and raised eyebrow look on.
Speaking of fun twine, my parents have just added baker's twine to their shop, and they've got the best prices I've seen: $14 for one of the above (and only $2 shipping) or a buffet of colors below (15 yards of each) if you're indecisive and noncommittal like I, for $20 and free shipping.


  1. Beautiful! Just beautiful! I've never tried my hand at making soap, but now I'm so inspired! And it seems like such a kid-friendly project! I didn't realize your parents were crafty as well! Now it's all beginning to make sense!!!

  2. Love the soap. They turned out so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the how to.

  3. Thank you for this tutorial! I've wanted to try this for a while now. They're beautiful!

  4. My little girl just turned 8 and she thought her own little overnight wrap was a neat idea. Something for her toothbrush, toothpaste, comb/brush made out of a fun hand towel and some ribbon. You could go with something like that to make the soap a gift for the birthday party.

  5. what good fun. you are a pro at doing exciting beautiful things with your girls... i'm feeling lucky if i get food on the table and everyone bathed these days :O) we will have to give this a go sometime- maybe for Christmas gifts! we'll need to start next week then, of course;o)

  6. This is gorgeous! Love these soaps and so impressed you don't need a mould!

  7. You never cease to amaze me. These are simply lovely! Love the beet juice idea for color. I cannot WAIT for my nesting to kick in, I am counting on it to get sooo much done! :)

  8. Jennifer-yes, they are royalty when it comes to artsy, and when they do something, anything, they do it well. Just order a stained glass star from them and the packaging will delight you as much as the star :)

    Kristie and Diana-this is a ridiculously easy project. My girls had taken over by the end and still want to make more!

    Sallyavena-what a fun idea! Girls do like things like that ;)

    Elise-you could make these while you nurse, they're that easy.

    ecoMILF-no mold, and part of the fun is trying to figure out what to use, (or what to eat/drink up so you can use the container ;)

    Sweeter Hours-ah, you are kind. Have fun with your own nesting!

  9. whoa! the soaps are beautiful! you make it sound so easy...i am not sure we would have the same outcome in my household!

  10. I can't wait to try this!!! PROJECT! :)

  11. ohh I wish to be one of those teachers that will have this gift:-)
    what a funny day did you have!!!!

  12. I have a closet full of supplies I bought to make something super awesome and never used, lol. But making soap looks so fun and easy, PLUS the gift factor is huge! My husband will be shaking his head at me when I come home with a soap kit to make this year's Christmas presents, lol.



  13. Oh my goodness, I'm so inspired now! Thank you for sharing this. I'll be headed to get some of these materials very soon. (:

  14. Thanks so much for posting this! My girls and I tried it out too. It was so much fun.
    I posted it here:http://www.falafelandthebee.com/?p=6961


  15. Great tutorial and blog!!! I posted it on Pinterest via the soap picture which will link back to your page for your excellent tutorial. I hope that is ok. Please let me know if you want me to remove it. :)


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