Embedding Soap in Soap - Confetti
Embedding soap inside soap is a way to achieve a number of delightful effects. Of these, one of the most common and most festive is CONFETTI!
The wonderful thing about soap confetti is that it can be specific or irregular shapes which can be set in a pattern or arranged with artful randomness. There are numerous ways to create confetti soap. The first, and most well-known, is confetti made of an opaque soap embedded in a clear soap base. For this technique, I'm going to fall back on color cubes and will be using a small, 3-cup Pyrex, cake-type pan. I found this little pan at a consignment shop for two dollars. Useful treasures can be found in unexpected places and at really good prices.
Make the "confetti" that you'll be embedding. To do this, unmold a color cube and melt in your microwave-safe measuring cup. As you are dealing with only about an ounce of soap base, microwave in intervals of no more than 10-15 seconds. Again, over-heating the soap will cause it to burn and discolor.
Spray the Pyrex pan (or your microwave-safe, heat-safe, flat-bottomed equivalent) liberally with alcohol. This, again, tends to allow the soap to spread more thinly and evenly.
Pour the melted color cube into the Pyrex pan.
You may freezer set, but the layer is so thin it will set where poured in five minutes or less.
Using a butter knife or fingernail, lift the soap "sheet" at the edge and peel from the pan. If you prefer, you can leave the soap sheet in the pan and cut your confetti in there. I prefer to peel it out and put the sheet on one of my 12-inch, white, ceramic tile work surfaces as it seems easier to lift and move the confetti pieces I cut.
Cutting the individual confetti pieces can be done fairly easily with a sharp knife or, for specific shapes and uniformity of size, small fondant or polymer clay cutters can be used.
Though there are no "rules" for cutting confetti, I normally trim off the edges so that I am starting with a squarish sheet of soap.
As the blue was to become squarish pieces of confetti, I cut the sheet into strips and then cut the strips into roughly approximated squares. Precision is not required.
The picture above (left) gives you some idea of how thinly the soap melted out into the Pyrex pan. Above right: Once the blue is cut into squares, the process is repeated for yellow and pink. The yellow, cut into (roughly) right triangles; the pink, cut into more linear rectangles.
With your confetti cut and ready, measure your mold (or molds) for volume and melt the clear glycerin soap base, adding any liquid colorant (which, again, should be used sparingly, if at all) and fragrance. Remember, much of your volume will be taken up by the confetti.
Liberally spray your mold with alcohol and, when stir-cooled, pour the first very thin layer of clear soap. Spray with alcohol to remove air bubbles. As the soap base was stir-cooled and the layer thin, it won't take long for a substantial film to form.
After the film forms on this layer, arrange the confetti wafers, gently, on top of the clear layer. Again, this may be done randomly (as seen below left) or in a pattern.
Once the film has formed, arrange your second layer of confetti, spraying with alcohol and then covering with another thin layer of clear. Continue this process of clear/confetti layering until the confetti layer NEARLY reaches the top of the mold. Then cover with one final layer of clear.
From left to right: View after second layer of confetti is added; after third layer of confetti is added; and after fourth, and final, layer of confetti is added. Each layer of confetti (including the last) is covered with a thin layer of clear. each layer of confetti and clear glycerin has been liberally sprayed with alcohol for layer adherence and to help eliminate air bubbles. the clear base is scented with English Ivy fragrance oil and also has a pinch of prismatic soap glitter for a little sparkle.
After the soap has cooled completely (while sitting on the pouring surface, don't forget that clear soap should not be freezer set), unmold and allow to air dry. As the soap has been cooling, to some degree, following each poured layer, the final cooling process will likely take no more than 30 minutes.
Once air dry, wrap with cling wrap or store in a zippered bag until you package more decoratively for selling or gift giving or decide to use.
TIME-SAVING TIP #2
Saving yourself the steps of pouring the melted soap into the Pyrex (or equivalent) pan and the step of, subsequently, having to wash out the microwave-safe measuring cup, you can melt the color cube directly in the Pyrex pan. Make sure the pan specifies that it is microwave-safe. The only downside to this option is that you won't be able to spray the pan with alcohol prior to pouring the melted soap as the soap is melting in the pan. The alcohol would normally make the pour more fluid. Spraying the still-steaming, melted base with alcohol will help a little with the fluidity should you choose to melt the base in the pan.
In the first picture (left), the first color cube has been melted (this time in the Pyrex pan) and sprayed with alcohol and (in this case) left to counter set. As this layer melted into a nice, thin layer, it took less than 5 minutes, without use of the freezer.
Using a fingernail or thinly bladed knife, lift one edge of the soap sheet and pull back slowly and carefully so that the soap layer releases from the Pyrex pan (or its equivalent) in one solid sheet.
Though it appears a lighter color in this light, this is the same sheet of soap being gently pulled from the pan.
NOTE: Do not allow the soap to harden too much or it will lack the flexibility to peel effectively from the pan. To test it, press lightly on the surface. If your fingertip leaves no impression, remove the soap from the pan. it will likely still be a little warm to the touch.
Once removed from the Pyrex pan, place the sheet of soap on a 12-inch, white, ceramic tile work surface or other non-porous, cut-safe surface.
As you can see from the picture above and the one below, confetti in a clear base not only makes a beautiful soap, but also yields a soap with a lot more dimension and depth than some of its counterparts.
Have your confetti ready before you melt your clear base soap.
After laying out the confetti, spray liberally with alcohol and thinly cover with another layer of clear soap base (this may require re-melting of the soap base). If you had to re-melt the soap base, re-stir-cool it as well.
After pouring your second layer of clear, spray it with alcohol and cool to a sturdy film, as before.
© 2011 NORMA W. THOMAS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.