Snow Falling on Cedars – Phase 1

In a rush of blood to the head, I decided to subscribe to three months of the Soap Challenge Club’s competitions.  January was the Circling Tiawan Swirl – a new technique for me and I thought I did okay for a first attempt.  It was certainly a lot of fun trying something new.  February however is not a new technique but rather a creative challenge with the theme ‘Winter’.

There are two categories using either natural or synthetic colours and fragrances. I immediately knew I wanted to enter the natural category – I mean, the prize is the Soap Queen’s latest book Pure Soapmaking – but what to do?  I wanted to challenge myself with a new technique but inspiration just didn’t come.  Finally I spotted a soap on Pinterest (I think?) that had small chunks of white soap embedded in a pale teal green soap.  The little chunks brought to mind falling snow and so the germ of an idea formed.

To me a snowy sky always seems to have a pale lilac grey tone to it, so I decided to colour the main soap with alkanet root infused sunflower oil.  However, just having some cubes of white soap floating in it didn’t seem that adventurous.  And when I saw Amy Warden’s snowman soap video, I knew I had to up my game.

At the same time I was playing with ideas as to what to call my soap.  Snowy Sky? Snowfall?  Snowflakes? Snow Falling?  Then it came to me … Snow Falling On Cedars!

I’m going to have a go at a kind of landscape soap with snow falling on cedars.  Of course, Googling cedar trees made me realise that they aren’t all the conical fir trees I had imagined, but some are so that’ll do for me 😉

So tonight I made my embeds.

I wanted to create triangular shapes of varying heights to look like the trees, so I’ve tilted my mould slightly so I can create a variety of heights without having a lot of left over trimmings.

The soap is coloured with spirulina which I’ve never used it before but what an amazing shade of emerald green.  I suspect it may give a finely mottled effect, as it doesn’t seem to actually dissolve, but I think that could actually give quite a nice texture.  I’ve added a thin layer of white soap which I have lightly swirled through the top – I’m hoping this will give the impression of snow lying on the trees.

I’ve also made a tray of plain white soap.  As suggested by Amy, I’ve tried to lighten this with some white clay but I’ve used virgin olive oil in my recipe and I suspect it will turn out a little creamy.  My plan is to cut out rods from this which I’ll carve so that they have a snow flake profile; well probably more like small asterisks but I hope the effect will work.  Again never tried it before and it may not work, so my fall back is to simply create shreds of soap using a lemon zester and lay these longways into the mold as I pour in my main soap.  Hopefully this will create a falling snow effect.

Fragrance wise I’ve used a natural and organic oil blend from The Soap Kitchen which contains cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, black pepper, patchouli, mandarin, orange, ginger and coriander essential oils.  It reminds me of the smell of fresh cut fir.  As it is quite a dark oil I’ve only added it to my tree embeds as I didn’t want to risk discolouring the snow.

Afterall, you know what they say about yellow snow!

PS   actually wrote this post about ten days ago but didn’t want to publish until I had figured out how to do my images, hence the fact it is being published on the same day as my ‘Phase 2’ post.

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