Mis à jour : mars 25
Difficulty Level 2
This is an unusual soap swirl technique using a type of funnel to “block and mask” your soap pour. It is a good technique to try not matter your experience and the key to this is preparation and taking your time to be methodical will reap results.
I’m not taking personal credit for this technique as some person cleverer and more creative than me came up with the original idea, but I've made a few adaptations along the way. The photograph above isn't mine, I've used it with permission to demonstrate the possible outcome of this technique. You'll see my photos later !
It is something you can easily try at home to help advance your soap-art techniques and your formula can be as simple as 100% Olive Oil, although the greenish/yellow colour of Olive Oil might affect the desired finished colours of your millefleurs.
What I love about this technique is that you can make your own funnel from stuff that is probably lurking in your recycle bin right now. Whilst I've seen this done with plastic sink stainers, I prefer the challenge of doing everything from scratch myself, so if you want to help save the planet and rescue our seas from the dreaded plastic, have a rummage and see what little unloved gem is awaiting your transformation.
There are two techniques to this flower swirl, I’m trying the easier option and I’m going to share all my trials, tribulations and hopefully, successes with you so everything will be laid bare ! Fingers crossed it will be a success but if not, there’s nothing lost and everything to gain at the next attempt. Well, let’s see….
I’m not going to explain fully the process in text format as the photos will give you a better idea of how to proceed, after-all a picture paints a thousand words.
- plastic drink or milk bottles with a nice star-like or flower-like design at the base. Photo shows milk bottle on left with a star shape and the other a tonic water bottle with a petal like design. I coloured in the pattern to make distinguising the patter and the cutting easier.
- cardboard tube such as a Pringles tube but this might not be necessary as you could always use the remaining part of the plastic bottle.
A word of warning - the plastic is really difficult to cut. You’ll need a very, very sharp craft knife as part of the plastic is really tough and thick. I gave up on the first shape as it took ages to cut! I used the 2nd one on the right.
If you don't fancy messing around cutting out your template/stencil, go ahead an buy a plastic sink drainer/basket and use that instead.
After you've cut out the parts you've marked, secure the funnel to your tube trying to leave a small gap at the sides of the tube to allow for air-flow otherwise you'll have a build up of air bubbles in your finished soap.
Next, you’ll need a tube - consider using the remaining part of the bottle with the lid on and turn it upside down, securing it stable to your worktop....somehow.
I used a Pringles tube to avoid the hassle. I lined it with baking paper and secured the template to the top of the tube with masking tape. (I realised afterwards that I didn’t clean the marker pen off the template, so remember to do it before you attach to your tube !)
Next, I calculated the amount of liquid oils needed to fill the tube:
i.e. length x radius x radius x pi (3.14) x 0.7 = grams of liquid oils
My calculation : 21.4cms x 4cms x 4cms x 3.14 (pi) x 0.7 = 752.59 grams of liquid oils (OK, I’ll go for 750grams)
When cutting, please ensure you wear protective gloves that are resistant to knife cuts. I have a pair of metallic gloves, bought on Amazon, the type used in butchery or professional kitchens.
You need a fluid recipe, that is to say one with more unsaturated fats than saturated fats, as you’ll need as much time as possible to pour.
Remember, the more saturated fats (hard fats like coconut, cocoa butter, shea.. etc) the quicker trace will appear.
I suggest a recipe around 35% saturated fat and 65% unsaturated fats such as sunflower oil, almond oil, colza, rapeseed.
Formulate your recipe accordingly either manually (double check your caclulations) or using an on-line calculator.
You know how to proceed preparing your NaOh solution and your oils, but if you need extra help or can't remember, click here to download my new How to Be The Perfect Soap-Maker which is the technical guide that accompanies the one day Introduction to Soap-Making course, level 1.
COLOUR PREPARATION AND FRAGRANCE
Prepare your colour palette - you’ll need a minimum of 4 different colours but you can have more. For 4 colours, you’ll need 4 containers, one for each of the 4 colours in your palette. In my case, I’ve gone for 5.
If using cosmetic micas, you’ll need to dilute them in a bit of oil. You can either take some from your liquid oil mixture or use a bit of additional oil to dissolve the mica - remember though to count this as additional super-fat. You don’t want more than 3% of the total quantity of oil in your original recipe as this will lead to a soft soap that could go rancid quickly.
If using botanical extracts which require water dilution, remember to discount the amount of water used to dissolve the extracts from the original quantity of water needed to dissolve your NaOH otherwise your soap will take a lot longer to cure and dry.
Prepare your chosen fragrance or blend of essential oils. Warm them slightly in a water bath of warm water. This will help prolong trace, especially if the essential oil blend or fragrance has a tendency to accelerate trace.
ACHIEVE THE EMULSION STATE
Prepare the NaOH and fatty acids and combine together when optimal temperature is achieved (around 35 degrees C or less for both). Blend to emulsion state i.e. mixing until both the NaOH solution and fatty acids are combined an no oil slick remains in the mixture. DON’T PROCEED TO TRACE !
Pour an equal amount of the mixture into each of your containers that hold the colour.
Stir the contents of each container by hand to fully combine the colourant and decide on which container will be your first pour, your second one and so on.
ADDING FRAGRANCE , THE POUR, THE INSULATION
Add a portion of your fragrance/essential oil blend to container 1 and stir in by hand. When fully combined, pour a small quantity over the template into the tube.
Add a portion of your fragrance/essential oil blend to container 2 and stir in by hand. When fully combined, pour a small quantity over the template into the tube.
Continue with the above method for all remaining containers and continue alternating the colours until all your containers are empty. Spray with Isopropyl to prevent soda ash.
This is mine after the pour. Cool eh?
Insulate (cover the top of the tube with cling film and keep warm to encourage saponification. Do this by placing in an insulated box such as a cool box or inside a cold oven. Don’t switch the oven on !.
OOOPS. ... !
I made an error in my calculations because I had a bit of left over soap..I know exactly why ..it’s because I used extra oil to dissolve my micas (additional super-fatting, not thinking this would increase the total oil quantity beyond the capacity of my tube !
No worries because I put it into a plastic bag and will use it creatively in someway..small embeds, rose flowers, flower cane embeds etc.
For me, this is the joy of soap-art !
THE END RESULTS
After de-moulding, I cut a slice off the end to see what I'd got. Interesting but not EXACTLY like the ones in the top photo. I decided to carve the tube of soap into a clover-like shape to use as a rather large embed ..and this is the finished soap:
The soap that I removed during the carving was saved to use as a smaller embed in the soap on the left.
My final thoughts on this for the next time of trying is to work with a maximum of 3 colours in my colour palette to achieve a more defined "flower", similar to those shown at the top of this page.
Happy soaping !