As the weather gets chilly and I wanna curl up with a good book, an inevitable wave of nostalgia always hits me as I remember the joy of opening a new Harry Potter book as a child. I was among the lucky as I was the same age as Harry et al as the books were published. I got to grow up with these characters and the final book appropriately came out right before I left my hometown for college, thus leaving childhood behind. The vivid world created in these books will always hold a special meaning for me and I wanted to honor it by created the Hogwarts Soap. I set some lofty challenges for myself with this one, using about four techniques that I had never really done before: embeds, swirls, sculpted layers and a neat squeeze bottle technique for the lake. Next time I do something like this, I will try to film it but I thought adding newfound camerawoman skills to the mix might push it over the edge into chaos territory. This soap is created "upside down" so that the sky is done first and the lake last. The sculpted layer technique was created by Claudia Carpenter and I learned this technique by reading her blog: http://www.soap.city/2016/02/winter-wonderland.html For the technique I used on the lake, I was inspired by https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/rainbow-squirty-swirls/ I decided to use bergamot essential oil to fragrance it because bergamot is the main flavoring in Earl Grey tea and what's more British than a good cup of tea? I also used Earl Grey tea to replace the water in the recipe.
I started by making a moon embed in a 1" PVC pipe. To give it depth and create the illusion of craters, I mixed a tiny bit of silver mica into the white batter. I then cut off a bit of the top. Then, I created my cardboard shaper to form the castle. I simply cut a piece of cardboard into the shape that I wanted with a sharp box cutter and wrapped it in shipping tape to make it a little extra sturdy. I made sure to leave tabs at the bottom so that it could slide along the mold evenly.
The next step was the sky. I'm not super experienced with swirls but I chose to do a "in the pot" swirl of grey and blue for a moody, magical sky. I simply separated batter into two containers, added ultramarine blue pigment to one and silver mica to the other and added the silver batter to the blue at a few points. I ran a knife through these points just once and then poured the batter on top of the moon embed in the mold. As it was poured, a beautiful cloudy sky was made.
Next came the fun part. I took my cardboard shaper and inserted into the sky layer at one end of the mold. Then I steadily ran the shaper down the length of the board to carve out a portion from the sky. I did this very carefully and ran it up and down several times while cleaning the sides as needed to make it look nice and sharp.
In the picture you can see a clear castle shape! I let this set up for about 15 minutes while I made a totally new batch of soap batter. I was originally debating if I could get away with making one batter but I didn't want to risk it getting too thick while I waited for the sky layer to set up so I decided to play it safe and make a new, thinner batter that would pour into the carved portion easily and not be too gloppy. I had a very complex system in place to organize myself involving labeling every container that I used so that I wouldn't make any stupid mistakes. In one container, I added activated charcoal for the black castle and poured it into the cavity created by the shaper.
I got out my squeeze bottles for the rest and I had this great idea to take the excess batter that had been carved out of the sky to make the lake but unfortunately, it had gotten pretty thick already. I ended up with a pretty "shallow" lake so next time I will definitely only use the second batter for the lake. In one container, I added titanium dioxide to make it white and I added silver mica in another. I poured the three colors into squeeze bottles and alternated stripes down the length of the mold, focusing on adding the white under the moon for a reflection effect.
I really loved how this technique looked and in the future I will make sure that my batter is thin because it quickly hardened and wouldn't come out of the squeeze bottles anymore so I didn't pour as many lines I had wanted to. But I still loved it and was shocked when I cut it a few days later and it looked pretty much exactly as I had envisioned! I only started making soap at all in January so sometimes I think that my ideas may be a bit too ambitious but I'm very happy that I challenged myself on this one! After planing the bottom to be smooth, I mixed gold and silver micas with 90% isopropyl alcohol and painted on silver stars and gold lights for the castle. For the stars, I pulled back the paint brush with my finger and sprayed it over the soap, cleaning up as needed with alcohol.
So there you have it! I'm very happy with the result and can't wait to keep trying new techniques! This soap is now available in our Etsy store! As Harry would say: Accio soap!