The Topaz

Aside from being my birthstone in its blue-ish shade, there’s much more to this quietly beautiful, little acknowledged gem.  Blue topaz, yes, that’s lovely, but it’s rare.  Very rare in fact.  They are more likely to be an irradiated stone that was originally clear, grey or perhaps even yellow.  It’s also the state stone of the great state of Texas.

The Imperial Topaz may be pink, yellow or a pink-orange shade, Brazilian Imperial Topaz may be either a bright yellow or a deep, golden brown or perhaps even a lovely, shy violet.  The colours might have been a bit ‘touched up’ to enhance their depth of colour, though the colour might fade over time if exposed to too much sunlight.  If you own a topaz of any colour, keep it out of the sunlight!

The orange topaz, often referred to as the Precious Topaz is the official stone of Utah and the birthstone of November.

Mystic Topaz is a clear topaz that has been treated with a coating to give it that iridescent appearance. It is not naturally occurring.

So all in all, a topaz can be found in shades of wine, yellow, pale grey, reddish-orange or a blueish brown.  It can then be made to appear white blue, gold, light green, reddish-yellow, pink (also rare), opaque, translucent, and of course clear, which isn’t a colour.

Of course we Americans don’t like to do anything small, so take a look as this humble little beauty –

American Golden Topaz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The American Golden Topaz, housed in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.

The American Golden Topaz, a 172-faceted topaz weighing 22,892.5 carats (4.5785 kg), is the largest cut yellow topaz in the world, and one of the largest faceted gems of any type in the world. Originating from Minas Gerais, Brazil, it was cut by Leon Agee over a period of two years from an 11.8 kg (26 lb avdp) stream-rounded cobble owned by Drs. Marie L. and Edgar F. Borgatta. It was contributed jointly by the Borgatta owners and by Rockhound Hobbyists of America to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 and is displayed in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C..

She’s really something spectacular, eh?  Like all other gemstones, it’s about heat and the type of rocks that were subjected to the heat.  The type of rock required to create a natural topaz can be found in several places around the world, but here in the US, it’s found in Utah and in the Precambrian granite rock beneath Texas soil.

With all these colours possible with a topaz, I didn’t want to limit the soap for today to just one colour, so I went all out.  I have white, reddish-purple, blue-green, orange-yellow all covered in this one single batch.  This fragrance oil really left things loose and flowing freely for a very long time.  Waiting for it to thicken was not happening very quickly and some colours may have blurred together in the middle, but I hope not!  It was tough waiting for it to at least move enough to be able to finish up the layers, swirl, then apply the mica oil drizzle for the top.  Don’t know what the center will look like but here is a glimpse of the top so far –

 

Topaz Silk Soap

Topaz Silk Soap

 

This batch includes all of the usual suspects in oils, sort of.  It has coconut, apricot kernel, and almond oils, (which may account for the loosey-goosey state it wanted to stay in for so much longer than usual), Tussah silk, colloidal oatmeal, goat’s milk, buttermilk, and coconut milk, and some blended colours from The Conservatorie.  It might be firm enough in about a month to cut it  (slight exaggeration – maybe), so don’t hold your breath waiting to catch a glimpse of it’s interior any time in the next 36-48 hours.

 

Warm Teakwood

This one has a warm, mellow fragrance – a bit masculine, though perfect for either men or women.  The fragrance holds notes of vanilla, orchids, oakmoss, teakwood, orris root, sandalwood, acacia wood, amber and is so smooth, you’ll drift away on a dreamy cloud of woodland splendour.  What a bath & body wash this would make!  I’ll have to try some in some of my body wash soon.  But I digress….

The soap itself is built with the favorite oils, of almond, coconut and olive, with full coconut water, which I froze in hopes of avoiding the orangey discolouration it did just being chilled, but it still turned an odd colour.  Instead the orange, it went red being frozen.  Odd.  Still it didn’t have any effect on the colours used, though it should be stated for the record that I did use TD and some white kaolin clay.  Still once the sb started its work, the colour was nearly normal despite the vivid beginnings. It could be said that it does prevent the orange discolouration – it just goes red instead.  :/  *sigh*

This batch also includes Tussah silk, which, btw, doesn’t dissolve very well in the ice cubes & lye.  Still, I like how it turned out.  The colours were Chocolate Milk Mica, Peach Sunset Mica, & Magic Violet Mica from The Conservatorie, Hydrated Chrome Green and Iridescent Fine Glitter from Bramble Berry, and Titanium Dioxide from Soap Making Resource.  The fragrance stated it could discolour a bit, so I included a small amount of vanilla stabilizer just in case.

Had one slight hiccup in this one’s design.  It set up before I could texturize the top.  Accident.  I got distracted helping someone with their newly installed SM3 and lost track of time.  By the time I’d gotten the steps posted that she’d needed, it was already set up too much to mess with any more.  *sigh*  Computers.  Sometimes they’re too distracting for our own good.  I was able to throw a little iridescent glitter over it and it was a bit better, not quite so bland.  I dunno – what do you think….

If not, well I could brush off some of the glitter later.

Warm Teakwood

Warm Teakwood

 

Its real name from the web site is Frankincense & Teak.  It’s a wonderful fragrance to soap with – no acceleration, no ricing, slight discolouration though, but it really does give you plenty of time to let you be as playful as you want to be with the soap.  It’s a warm, mellow, easy one the senses fragrance that isn’t too floral.  More like warm woods.  The FO can be found here – the same place the Black Mission Fig is from which is also a fabulous, fruity scent for a nice departure from florals!  Stop in and check out what she has to offer.  You will NOT regret a single purchase and she truly does treat her customers like her first and only concern.     I hope to be buying quite a few more of her fragrance in the very near future, so keep tuned in and we’ll show you something new as soon as it’s ready.

As for this batch – well, it should yield 8 bars and will be ready for shipping October 22, 2013.  It will go in the web site probably around Monday afternoon under Pre-Order Soaps initially.

PS:  I still have another FO from her that has yet to be soaped as well as flat booze cubes in my freezer that needs to be used, too.    Just sayin’.  😀

 

 

The cut view – Cerulean Sea

So here she is – in better, natural daylight hours, for the photo op.  Cerulean Sea’s up on the web site now as a pre-order for now.  It won’t be shipped until after Oct 21, but a few times I’ve had batches to sell out completely and had to make more before I could completely fulfill an order, but for now this one has 8 bars available.  It’s heavy in the jasmine zone and a light watery overlayer tempers it slightly.  Not sure about what it will cure out to be, sometimes the notes shift quite a bit after the full cure date rolls along.  Time will tell.

Cerulean Sea - Specialty soap

Cerulean Sea – Specialty soap

Cerulean Sea

Today’s batch was a 3-lb loaf using my favorite oils, the original 3 I’d narrowed my soap recipes down to for use with nearly every soap batch I make now and used an FO from Moonworks Collection called Celestial Sea.  It’s described as oceanic, aquatic, ozonic, with marine notes of salt, sand & driftwood coupled with middle florals of lily rose, jasmine, and violet.  Personally I’ve never heard of lily rose before, but the fragrance, while OOB isn’t as appealing as one might think given its name, over time it slowly evolves into this heady aromatic dream of water, sea, watery flowers, and mossy banks.  The end result on a tester strip of paper left to oxidize for about four days was expensive perfume.  Very sophisticated, stylish, & quietly eloquent.   So I’m hoping that cold process will not take it over into a heavier, sharper place as a result of exposure to the high pH of soaping.

Cerulean Sea close up (800x600)

Given the name, it’s inevitable that it should have water colours, so I went with a favorite from The Conservatorie , Peacock Blue mica.  Contrasting it with a white and adding the usual delectible goodies of Tussah silk, colloidal oatmeal, coconut milk and a soothing, healthy splash of aloe juice just for an extra punch of goodness.  This fo soaped like a sweet dream – no acceleration, no ricing, no discolouration, no seizing, just pure smooth soaping all the way through from start to finish.  I even had time to tidy up a bit between steps!  I tend to soap very cool and the aloe juice was frozen so that helped prevent the floral notes from causing any issues.  (It also stopped the heat of the lye water from turning the aloe juice orange!)   If you are in the market for some truly one-of-a-kind fragrances, Moonworks is THE PLACE to go!  They have some very interesting ones, so give them a try.  Soap with small batches initially though just in case your temps run higher than mine or you use more firm oils/butters.

The tops are drizzled with a tiny bit of a mica swirl with Diamond Dust mica from Nature’s Garden and Candles and a glycerin swirl and glycerin drops with a bit more of the Peacock Blue from TC, then lightly dusted with Fine Iridescent Glitter from Bramble Berry.  The inside has the Figure – 8 swirl used in the Sweet Tea and Hot Stuff soap bars in previous posts.

On another note from the Witchy Woman soap batch run on Tuesday.  It’s very clear that the FO as is is much too strong to use by itself.  The soap is too pungent of spices and while some might like that, your skin probably won’t be so overjoyed with it.  I’ve tried out blending a few fruity notes into it – peach, black raspberry vanilla, blackberry musk or orange-grapefruit.  The top fave so far is orange, though when my ‘nose’ gets home I might have to pull him into working on that for me, if he’s up to it.  I trust his judgement implicitly on all matters olfactory because he’s never once failed to find the right blend, level of intensity or how to change it out to something altogether different and be better off for it.    Don’t know how he does it!  Love that Roman nose of his!  So to get back to the subject, that batch of Witchy Woman, since it was a very small batch , will not be going out into the ether.  It will be revised and reworked to make it much more pleasing to our noses and our skin.  You’ll see it again soon, just in a very different light.

Witchy Woman!

The first thing I learned with this fragrance going into today’s soaping batch is don’t use the stabilizer and mix it together with a frother.  It thickens up to a paste-like consistency.  Not good. Lesson learned with regard to Witches Brew from Moonworks.  It made me cough quite a bit too when mixed with the stabilizer, so that can’t be a good sign either, so that bit got tossed and I repoured a fresh amount without any stabilizer mixed into it.  The batch will have some stabilizer I just added it to the oils instead.  Also added to the oils to make up the difference in the amount of liquid was a smidge of sodium lactate.  With any kind of luck this will firm up the soap, preventing gel while it does that, and give a nice hard bar as a result without a bulls-eye.

This FO, with loads of spices, is a strong one, one that you might want to use a slight amount of, not even close to the recommended amount.  It might prevent it from darkening up too much, too, if less is used.  Being a 2-lb batch, the amount of FO is closer to 1/2 oz than a full ounce ppo due to its strength.  This version of Witches Brew is described as a dark patchouli-based scent, not a dupe of anything else, so if you’re looking for a dupe of the Yankee Candle scent, this is NOT where you’ll find it.  This one is a whole new species, a unique blend and is describe on the web site as follows:

“…a bewitching combination of sweet dark spices tossed generously with close and lots of earthy dark patchouli.  Add to the pot a pinch of resinous cedarwood entangled in a web of fiery cinnamon and sweet violets.  A lusty robust fragrance with gypsy appeal”

– so if you’re looking for something that will make you stand up and take notice, and BE noticed, this is probably a really good start.   This is a warm, earthy fragrance that would be wonderful in tart melts or candles, but definitely NOT in body wash.  Liquid soaps would stay on the skin a bit too long, and with the level of spiciness, this would be a bit too much.  It would be delicious with apple, pear or pumpkin scents plus if you throw in some pureed pumpkin, that would make it like a pumpkin pie in a bar!  Bazinga!

The colours are the Halloween faves of purple, orange, white, and green.  They are Hydrated Chrome Green from Bramble Berry,  Magic Violet from The Conservatorie, Peach Sunset from The Conservatorie, and a splash of Titanium Dioxide for contrast and to hopefully offset the discolouration that could occur.  If it doesn’t, well, hey, we’ll have a nice white bar in between the lively colours.   The bit of  SL might prevent the gel, but it might still go into the fridge for a bit anyway.  just to be on the safe side.   Plus, it’s just what I do.

This soap has all the usual yummies of colloidal oatmeal, Tussah Silk, olive, almond, coconut & avocado oil, and coconut milk, but with all those good things, it just has to be bad, so the Witches Brew will get it headed over to the Dark Side.

Witchy Woman without glitter

Witchy Woman without glitter

 

Witchy Woman with glitter

Witchy Woman with glitter

Blush Fig

The fragrance is Black Mission Fig, with a sweet fruity fig fragrance, like they’re hanging on the branches underneath a sunny clear summer sky, the bees droning lazily in the blooms above, the earthy green scent of the stems underlying the fruit’s fragrance, rounding it out just enough to give a well-balanced scent that’s memorable yet seductive.  To this lovely blend of sweet goes the wonderful extras of colloidal oatmeal, Kaolin clay, coconut milk, and a healthy heaping spoonful of shea butter and instead of the usual almond oil, vitamin-rich avocado oil was used in its place.  This is one healthy bar of soap!  The clay coupled with the silk will give it a silky smooth glide, while the avocado oil and colloidal oatmeal will pamper the skin outrageously, as it richly deserves.  There’ s also the lushness of the coconut milk to boost the lather’s creaminess, to make it a genuinely decadent experience.  I’d love to have a sample of this to try out once it’s ready.  Sadly, that won’t be until October 7th!  Nuts!  But I’ll definitely give it a try when that day arrives.

I don’t know that I’ve ever looked so forward to fall as I am this year, though even saying that deeply shocks me.  I’m a to-the-tiniest-molecule-of-my-being summer girl.  Love the warmth of the sun, the drone of the bees, the chirp of the birds and singing of the treefrogs and crickets at dusk.  That’s a balm to the soul.  Somehow though, there’s something indefinably different about this year, though what it is, I cannot put  a name to.  This leaves me more than a little unsettled, yet it’s nice to look forward to fall rather than look at it with the dread of previous years and the ensuing depression that inevitably followed.   Not severe as in the clinical sense.  Just sad to see summer coming to a close.  However, this year’s different somehow and I haven’t the foggiest what made that change.  Well, I won’t over-think it, just roll with it and see what comes around the next bend in the road life takes me on.

The soaps are getting interesting for sure.  I’ve added some earthy, decadent, subtle, rich, light, scents to the lineup for this Fall/Winter 2013 season.  I used to stick with light and floral and a bit of fruity, but not anymore.  There were the occasional ventures into wildly dangerous – case in point Black Pearl made with black tea and fragranced with Queen of the Nile FO from Nature’s Garden – but not too often.  I was in a rut.  I’ve extended my reach with regard to suppliers, too.  I’ve gone with one I know from a group in Facebook who’s taken over for another soaper who sold fragrance oils online but sadly passed a little over a year ago.  She’s fast, reliable, the prices are great and gives great customer service when so few do that well.  You can find her site here – www.soapmakingfragranceoils.com.  She has a page in the site called Gauging Interest.  This helps her to know which oils not currently in stock are being sought the most by soapers and how much is needed.  Once the interest level reaches a point where it’s viable to offer it on the In Stock page, she orders the stock and it’s offered as soon as it arrives, is bottled up, and posted to the site.  She has some fantastic fragrances listed, several of which I offer in my web site in various forms and they’ve all sold extremely well.  They stick, they rarely discolour, though that will depend on the content of the fragrance oil, and so far not a single episode of ricing, seizing, or acceleration.  I tend to soap very cool anyway, so that helps prevent those typical soaping gremlins from staging an all out attack.

Our newest acquisitions to the fragrance line are, to date:

Black Mission Fig (which I’ve called Blush Fig in the soap made yesterday and is shown in the pic on this posting)

Blackberry Musk

Blue Topaz

Frankincense & Teak

Those above are from soapmakingfragranceoils.com

The following are from another supplier I’ve never ordered from before, but her scents intrigued me, so I’m going to try them and see how they do.  Here’s my first go ’round with her fragrances:

Midsummer Night

Celestial Sea

Witches Brew

Those listed just above are from Moonworks Collection, unique fragrance oils, which I felt was perfectly suited to my tastes, which are best described as unique by those who know me best and are being diplomatic.  Her site is in Etsy and you can find her here.  She ships very quickly, has a great selection, and her prices are very reasonable.  I’m still in the plotting stages of how to use the one I plan to make first, so no further discussion on this topic until it’s set.  But if you’re in the market for fragrances, please keep these two suppliers in your short list as they’re so nice to work with and will probably have just what you’re looking for.

So, without any further ado, here’s the Blush Fig~

Blush Fig (using Black Mission Fig FO)

Blush Fig (using Black Mission Fig FO)

A quick note on redesigning packaging

 

 

Revised packaging, minimal back (800x600)Revised packaging, minimal Front (800x600)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a quick & dirty redux of the packaging for the solid soaps that I’ve been working on this afternoon.  There was little movement in a site my soaps are listed with and a fellow soaper I respect a great deal was thinking that perhaps it’s because the soap’s petty swirls and design, are covered up too much, preventing the appearance from being a big selling point.  So I pulled out the labeling & crafting supplies and came up with this design.  There’s absolutely nothing left to the imagination except for that small portion beneath the fragrance name on the soap.  The hang tag is my business card and the ingredients are listed on the back of it.  All bases are covered, I think,  If you can think of anything I’ve left out, please tell me!  I always like to have feedback on the things I make.  It allows for growth and makes me stretch a bit more, explore new possibilities.  This manner of packaging will also allow customers to be able to smell the soap better, too.  So she was right and a redesign was in order.  What do you think?