Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Great Cakes Soapworks DNA Helix Challenge

I recently discovered that Great Cakes Soapworks host a monthly soap challenge. There is a swirl technique that you are given instructions on how to achieve, then you are asked to take a photograph of your own personal attempt. All entrants are then asked to vote on which soap is their favourite.

My soap is sort of DNA themed. My original plan was to  make a completely grayscale soap, in tribute to one of my favourite scientists, Rosalind Franklin. Her x-ray crystallography images played a huge part in helping Watson and Crick work out the helical structure of DNA. (I think that's more than enough science geekiness now)

Here is one of her images

Unfortunately, my soap didn't look the way I wanted it to when I did it completely in greyscale so I added in a touch of pale blue/green mica to add a bit of extra interest.

I used a recipe that I  have found to be really slow to trace. It takes days to set hard, and wouldn't be my ideal choice for functional soap, but it allows you ages to work on swirls, and the bars are still useable.

50% Lard
30% Olive Oil
20% Sunflower Oil

I scented with 3% English Rain Fragrance as I thought it went well with the blue and grey theme.

I added titanium dioxide to the whole batch to create a white base. Then I poured about a 2cm layer of that base into the bottom of the mould. I poured the remainder into three squeeze bottles, and used two different concentrations of activated charcoal and blue/green mica to dye the batter.

I squeezed the pale grey and blue in vertical stripes down the middle of the mould, then outlined the multi-coloured strip with the dark charcoal. I then used a skewer to streak horizontal lines in between the dark lines all down the mould. I then used a fatter skewer to drag the dark lines into the helix shape. (unfortunately I have no pictures of this as I was too busy trying to get the swirl right!)

Here are some more close ups of my entry, a slightly different interpretation of the swirl, but I incorporated all the key elements so I hope it is acceptable and I hope you like it. I will add some more images of the cut bars when the soap is hard enough to unmould.