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Soap Challenge - May - Soap Dough

Cal Petrusma

So...apparently you can make a soap that can be moulded & used just like clay or fondant... :-D

In a former life I was a cake decorator, mainly wedding cakes, specialising in realistic sugar flowers. Below are the flowers for the cake for my son's wedding, all sugar, even the Baby's Breath.

I really do miss making flowers, so when I saw that there was a recipe for a soap that could be moulded like dough, my little eyes lit up & my little heart began beating a little faster. What if I could make flowers from soap???

The challenge was for a bar of soap, decorated with soap dough, not necessarily practical. Challenge accepted!

One big issue with soap dough is the time it needs to cure before it can be used. We were given four recipes for the dough. The first two could be ready within a week or two but contained Tallow (rendered beef fat), which I never use. The next two were vegetarian, but our lovely instructor had left them curing for several months before use, & there wasn't time for that. It would still be usable after a couple of weeks but maybe not the best texture. Oh well. Experiment time.

So first up - make the soap. All the recipes are made with Goat's Milk in place of water. When you add Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) to a liquid the reaction makes lots of heat - I once measured a solution at 85˚C straight after mixing. This temperature would definitely burn the milk, so the milk is frozen before mixing....

...then placed in an ice bath & the lye is added & mixed in gradually so the milk does not heat up too much. And then the soap can be made as usual. This batch is scented with Rose Quartz fragrance oil from Bramble Berry. It was put in a mould, left overnight to saponify, unmoulded the next day, cut into pieces & then I left it to cure for ten days.

I decided to make a 'garden' rose as I have literally made hundreds of these in both sugar & cold porcelain (which is an air-drying polymer clay used to make longer lasting flowers for display). The soap was planed into thin slices and then smooshed to get an even texture. The outside of the soap was harder so I used those bits to make a rose cone, which is what rose is built on. I made two roses & coloured one 'batch' with red mica to get a nice pink. The other batch I left white. Then I began slowly rolling it out to get it as thin as possible.

The texture was not perfect for this, it may improve with age but I persisted until I had enough for the first three layers of petals. After the petals are cut out the edges are thinned a little more with a ball tool. Then each petal is textured with a 'veiner' to imitate the texture & veins of a real flower. These are made by taking an impression from a real petal then replicated in silicone.

Then each petal is wrapped around the cone to build up the layers of the rose. After the first layers the dough is rolled out again & more petals are cut out in a slightly bigger size & textured. For the middle & outer layers some 'movement' is added to the petals to give extra realism. This process is continued until you have a rose the size you like/want.

I dusted the white rose with some pink & red mica, & the pink one with red to give depth of colour. And then 'glued' them to the top of some plain round goat milk soap. Its certainly not a practical soap, although it may be possible to peel off one petal at a time for hand washing. I'm very pleased with how they turned out. I'll leave the rest of the dough to cure & will make a rose once a month for the next few months to see if the texture improves.

Many thanks to Amy & Tatsiana for this challenge. :-D