I spent a surprisingly long time arranging the berries. I may still go back and add the little hairs to them and possibly a shadow. It may not be noticeable, but each berry is a slightly different color because I wanted to make it clear that they were distinct even when they were on top of each other like this.
The hardest part of the thorns was getting the lighter color to run down the middle. I’m still not 100% happy with it, but after spending hours trying to fiddle with ‘mesh gradient’ until I gave up, I’m going to call this good enough for now.
Edit: here’s my soap label made from the above images.
Back in the fall I took one day to make a loop through the Jemez. This is a favorite day trip of mine and each time I get to see a little something new. This time I took a side road up to see some tunnels through a steep pass that I’d never been out to see before.
Last week I went to visit a friend in Albuquerque and pick his brain about how to make molds for soap and resin casting. There was a LOT of information all at once and I’m still organizing it in my mind. Here are some of the photos I took during the workshop.
This is the shop where he makes his molds. Lately he’s been moving more into metal casting than resin, and one March (this year or next) I may come to a metal-casting workshop. In the back notice the very large mold of the very, very large horny-toad. I loved that sculpture. On the back wall there is also a nice mold of the classic archaeopteryx fossil. I would have taken a casting of that if I’d had space for it in my luggage. As it was, I barely fit the molds I made myself plus the LARGE quantity of hot green chili I brought back.
I’m getting ready to make some silicone molds for soaps and here are my first prototypes for the designs I want to use. A trilobite, a ‘white lotus’ from Avatar the Last Airbender and the BAT SIGNAL. The last one is because I’ve really wanted to make a menthol-peppermint soap and call it “HOLY MENTHOL, BATMAN!!”
Just a quick post today. My first attempt at a “funnel pour” using one of my standard recipes and Frankincense and Myrrh fragrance oil. The black is activated charcoal while the yellow is the natural color of the soap. I expect it to morph into a tan as it cures.
The local 4-H Arts program had a workshop where the kids could learn to make acrylic-pour art on canvas. Since I’d been looking at exactly that just a few weeks earlier and thinking that I wanted to try it out, I jumped at the chance to sign up with my two younger children.
We did a ‘flip cup’ pour with only 3-4 colors as this was suggested to get the best results for the kids. And I held back a bit to watch how everything turned out. Part of the secret seems to be patience – don’t rush the process of letting the colors spread out.
I happen to like the one made by my youngest best, I think choosing highly contrasting colors help the final outcome. I also noticed that the color I used most in the cup isn’t necessarily what you get most of on the canvas. (For mine, I used nearly 1/2 purple, but it’s not dominant in the final painting).
They are still drying right now and will have a poly finish applied before they are ready to go.
This château has everything: white stone towers, a river, grand rooms, complicated gardens, a tree-lined path and a hedge maze. We may be early in our journey, but I declared it “Peak Castle” all other castles are downhill from here. Technically I consider this a ‘palace’ – a non-defensive structure, leaving room for me to really enjoy some less elaborate and more defensive structures. While we were there we saw a few people paddling by in canoes which also seems a great way to view it.
I was impressed by the amount of copper-ware in the kitchens and the vast black-and-white checkerboard tiles in the long gallery that spans the river, but the best part was definitely the exterior of the castle and the grounds, which were stunning.
Blackberry-Basil, aka “Fantasy Berry” is officially ready to ship out!
I also have a small batch of my unscented, uncolored, shea & cocoa butter soap that is ready to ship out, but I haven’t figured out what to call it. I typically name the soaps after the fragrance and/or a notable ingredient. I could call it “shea & cocoa” but in this case I think the “unscented” part is a selling point for people with allergies. I’ve seen these called “Plain Jane” or “Minimalist”, but nothing is grabbing me.
Even without scent, I find I like this one rather a lot. The pure soap cured out and smells vaguely of graham crackers to me. I’d noticed this before in an oatmeal-honey soap, but I thought it was coming from the honey.
Now I’m just thinking of ridiculous names. “Sin Nombre” sounds rather dangerous, doesn’t it? It’s also what they called one of the Hanta Virus outbreaks in the 90’s, so maybe not. My husband is suggesting a marketing campaign around “I rode through the desert with a soap with no name.” Or something using this guy:
I probably need to work on marketing skills.
Today’s plan is for me to make a decision about the name and then make one or two batches of Manly soaps that should be ready for Father’s Day.
Last night I made a new solid shampoo bar since the trial worked out great (and I was starting to run out). These are scented with lemon & rosemary. I’ve never used this combination before but some friends were suggesting that in addition to the sweet-dessert scents (coffee, chocolate, honey, vanilla) I needed some savory scents as well. You still shouldn’t eat the soap.
The scent didn’t carry through as well as I would have liked so the next batch I will increase the amount of essential oils. They look fantastic though.
And here is the annatto-infused oil that I plan to use for my next batch which is also going to be a citrus-scent: Bergamot and Litsea.
I think these count toward my 365, but I don’t know what number I’m up to.