Posted on 2 Comments

Blackberries

Blackberries & thorns – ready for a soap label
Blackberry thorns alone
3 Blackberries

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.

Posted on 2 Comments

New Mexico

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.

Here’s a deep red mud puddle after a rain.

One of my favorite petroglyphs on part of Bandelier.

More petroglyphs

Friendly spider crossing the road

Albuquerque knows how to do sunsets

The color on this truck was amazing: no editing!

Fall colors in the Jemez

Final sunset with the city lights below

Mountains near the train tunnels

Posted on Leave a comment

Mold Making

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.

I have workshop envy

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Platsil 73-25 2-part mold silicone. And Nathan’s cool tray to allow it to pour more easily.

Vacuum de-gasser. We only used this once but I think it did reduce bubbles in the silicone

Some molds poured, other forms waiting to be set up.

Shapes glued down and ready for the mold form to go around it. I used cups or PVC for the round ones and foam-core board and hot glue for the rectangular one.

Lizard on a bed of clay ready for mold material to be painted on. This will be a 2-part mold.

 

 

Completed molds are trimmed and dusted with talc so they don’t pick up dust and dog hair.

Nathans epic $100 variable temperature glue gun. The glue sticks are a foot long and 1cm wide.

 

Completed chess mold after the 3D printed original was removed.

Heating wax to pour a shape that can be sculpted more

The final array. Everything I brought back with me: molds, originals, casts in resin, wax and plaster, extra wax and some new sculpting tools.

Posted on Leave a comment

3-D printing

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!!”

 

Trilobite (Girl Genius) and White Lotus (Avatar: the Last Airbender)

Trilobite on a plaster cast of a 4oz round soap.

The bat signal!

Posted on Leave a comment

Cross Stitch Patterns

I do not cross stitch myself, but I have a friend who does, and who has clever ideas, and I have images that I want to see get out into the world.

I spent about a week trying to find ways to convert images into cross stitch patterns using online tools, then GIMP, then Excel, then Gimp Plugins.  Here are some of my preliminary results.

The octo-gear needs a simpler color scheme and to be made smaller.  I think the owl needs more contrast but the rocket turned out well.

Posted on Leave a comment

Funnel Pour Test

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.

Also check out my new silicone molds from Brambleberry.

Update – the soap is now cut

Posted on Leave a comment

Paint Pour Art

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.

Spreading the paint

The initial flip

 

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).

My final painting using purple, green, light blue, and white

Youngest daughter’s final result using red, orange, purple and silver. I really didn’t think these colors would work, but now it’s my favorite.

My middle child’s effort. Sorry about the glare here, I’ll get a better photo when it’s dried. He was going for ‘space’ and didn’t quite achieve that, but it’s still cool.

They are still drying right now and will have a poly finish applied before they are ready to go.

The kids loved this so expect to see more!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Château de Chenonceau

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.

Note the person reading on the wall above the river.

View from the far side of the river, over a little drawbridge.

Just a glimpse of one of the gardens.

Hedge maze!

More of the garden visible.

e

Posted on Leave a comment

Sunday Soaps

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:

No Face

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.

Posted on 2 Comments

Soap pot this week

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.