PERSEPHONE ON HER LAURELS
When I was little, I remember my mother taking a stained glass course. My favorite was a simple sunrise design she kept on our living room area for many years until I grew up and left the nest. I wonder what might have happened to it. I'm hoping it wasn't shattered or destroyed somehow.
This month's soap challenge club challenge was one I was quite excited about. I had thought about a technique like this long ago (using soap dough instead of piped soap) but never got around to doing it so I immediately signed up to participate when it was announced. This one involved piping and drawing, which are both things I know very, very well. It involved some melt and pour soap too and well, let's just say I sill feel the same way about using melt and pour. Maybe I get it a bit more after working this challenge, but thankfully a layer of cold process had to be a part of the soap so *collective sigh of relief*. Still am not a fan of melt and pour!
For this challenge I wanted to try the competitive no pattern category. Unfortunately I missed the mark not connecting the eye and eyebrow on the design so the entry ended up being for the bonus category instead. We were allowed to use an image only as reference, but we were only allowed to freehand the design straight on to the soap without the aid of tracings, sketches or dissolving paper directly on the cold process soap base. That's probably why you'll see that the inspiration and the actual soap have a few differences! Wherever the soap piping fell, that was it! All shapes must connect and must be piped with cold process. Then, all shapes must be filled with melt and pour. After all shapes are filled in single layers, we had to fill the entire mold with clear melt and pour so it resembled glass. Unfortunately I did not have crystal clear melt and pour, so I had to do a very thin layer of it to make sure the design wasn't so cloudy.
I have always been a fan of the Art Nouveau movement in art and of course, it goes hand in hand with stained glass. I was inspired by Alphonse Mucha's work for this. At first I thought about designing an all over pattern for the slab that had the same hand and feel as Mucha, but I let my emotional side get to me and decided that his portraits of female figures and goddesses were perfect for this mold shape. So I decided to just go with it and do an all over portrait regardless if the cut bars didn't have a design to fit every bar. So, I pulled an Alphonse Mucha illustration and took it over to photoshop where I very sloppily re-drew over some lines to simplify the design for soap. Habemus Persephone, the goddess of Spring! Funnily enough, I also decided to scent my soap with Persephone's Kiss from Nurture Soap. It's one of my all time fave scents and it behaves so beautifully. This loaf I intend to keep so might as well scent it in something I absolutely love. I named her Persephone on her Laurels as a nod to the original inspiration and who she represents to me... and the scent name!
I had to improvise a bit as the soap piping got consistently harder in my piping bag so in order to save the general aesthetic and feel of the design, I had to edit out a few little details (like, I totally forgot to include her right shoulder, some leaves, and some of the curls in her hair). I actually used a #2 piping tip as I felt a #3 would make thicker lines. Later on when my piping got a bit too thick for the #2, I had to switch to the #3 anyways. Har har har. Also, it doesn't matter if you have zero experience with piping, or over 16 years like I do, your hand will ALWAYS get shaky when you pip outlines. Always.
Then... the melt and pour. WAH. I don't like working with melt and pooour! But onward! *fixes big girl panties* It helped a lot to spray the surface area with rubbing alcohol as that allowed the melt and pour to smoothly distribute and even let me see some of the texture that formed on the cold process base underneath through, so it kind of resembled stained glass without having to make complicated single pours in multiple colors. I also quickly learned that too much mica in melt and pour accelerates it and turns it to soap on a stick within seconds. Let's pray for the loads of M&P I lost during this adventure.
After almost two hours and countless pipettes ruined by melt and pour, then came the heart dropping part of covering everything with a single layer of clear melt and pour. OMG. *heart pounding* So, I poured my layer and *@#! I totally ruined a corner. It got a bit cool as I poured and rippled a bit. Silly me though that I could use a heat gun to spot-melt that little corner but it just gave me even more ripples on the surface. ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! I quickly sprayed that corner with rubbing alcohol and smoothed out as much as I could and was able to semi fix it. Melt and pour... I can't.
Then came the time to just step away and accept it. Not bad! This was my fist and only try. Maybe if I do another one I could have perfected with the mistakes I learned with this one, but I actually love how I turned out. I'll definitely try this out with an all over custom design later. The print designer in me can't help it.
I want to thank Amy from the Soap Challenge Club for always keeping us creative and explorative with soap, as well as this month's sponsor Voyageur Soap and Candle. Fingers crossed, y'all! Watch the making of below: