Debi Olsen entered The Great Cake Soapworks Soap Challenge with her amazing creation, made with Soap Dough. What is possible with soap dough is limitless.
By Debi Olsen
It all began with a sniff…
I have to say, supply delivery days are probably some of my favorite days of the year. Some of which I love more than my birthday and even Christmas. The best delivery days are the ones when I have fragrances delivered, especially fragrances that I have never smelled before. Each time I open a new bottle, a flurry of soap designs seemingly explode from my mind, creating whirls of inspirational ideas. I begin to imagine all the different colors the scent is calling for – the designs and swirls that will compliment it perfectly. These types of days are such happy days, full of imagination and bursts of creativity. My daughter enjoys these days as much as I do. In fact, I have been banned from opening any supply boxes without her. If she is gone for long periods, this can be absolute torture. But I wait. I keep the peace.
This past summer we had a doubly delightful delivery day. I had bought a large selection of fragrances from someone who was down-sizing her stash. The thing that made this bunch of fragrances extra fun was that they were mysterious. I never had the opportunity to do my usual ritual of pouring over the descriptions and scouring the reviews to decide which ones I wanted. Someone else picked them out. Most of them just sounded good so I bought them.
One particular fragrance was “Fruity Rings”, a Fruit Loop dupe. When my daughter and I smelled it, the whirlwind of ideas began swirling between us like a tornado. We kept smelling it and shouting out ideas, and then smelling it again. Then we had to go buy a box of Fruit Loops because of the intense cravings the scent created.
Several days and many design ideas later, we finally decided we wanted to create miniature bowls filled with cereal and milk. Sadly, as it often happens, everyday life caught us both up in its tendrils and we kept putting our project on the back burner. This time however, we ended up being very thankful for the delay. Towards the end of the summer, I finally jumped in and made my first batch soap dough using one of Bee’s recipes. I was immediately hooked and began making different creations, imagining all the amazing things it could do to enhance my soap designs. This new discovery ended up playing a huge part in our final project.
Jump ahead several months and the January challenge for Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club was announced. The challenge for this particular month was to work with a collaborator to make soap. My daughter and I immediately looked at each other and exclaimed “Fruit Loop bowls!” What a perfect opportunity to finally put our design idea into action.
Our original idea was to use a muffin pan for the individual bowls and to make our own mold from real Fruit Loops for the cereal part. Once we got down to the actual design however, we realized the full-sized cereal wouldn’t look right with the mini bowls we had planned. Soap dough to the rescue!
Our plan magically fell into place when we realized we had a connection: Fruit Loops have six colors and the the muffin pan we were using was for six muffins. Eureka! We decided the bowls would all be a different color, each the color of a Fruit Loop, and they would all be made from soap dough batter. We would then scoop out the centers of each bowl and put the excess into sealable plastic bags. The bowls would be allowed to continue on and cure as they would for a normal soap. However, the soap we put in the bags would remain pliable and become the dough we needed to create our bits of cereal.
The rest of the project was a lot of fun putting together. After we made countless little Fruit Loops, then made spoons using a silicone candy mold, and then made even more Fruit Loops, the day finally came to combine all the different components. We were ecstatic! We made a thin, fluid batter, coloring it white for the “milk” and poured it into each bowl and then allowed to set up just enough to support a little weight. Aspoon was then carefully placed on the edge of each bowl, dipping into the milk just a little bit. We delicately scattered little bits of cereal around on the surface of the milk. For the last part, we used a squirt bottle that had been filled with some of the white batter to place a very small amount on each spoon. To this, we added a few bits of cereal.
We were beyond thrilled with the results! They were so unbelievably realistic looking it was hard to believe we couldn’t just sit down and start eating them.
This was such an incredible project and was so much fun to create. Not only did it give us both the opportunity to fly with some of our crazy ideas, but it gave us a chance to spend some quality time together, just the two of us. This is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life!
Some tips we learned:
- When playing with soap dough, it is good to have some cornstarch nearby to help if it gets a little sticky. The powder usually gets blended into the dough and disappears – unless you use too much. Using too much can also dry out the dough causing it to crack in places. We used these facts to our advantage and liberally coated each tiny ball in corn starch before we shaped them. The results were fabulous! They now looked like they had the baked on sugary texture found on actual Fruit Loops.
- Water can be a good thing. It can help make a surface smooth. It can also help when you want to stick two parts together.
- Water can be a bad thing. It can act like glue, which is not good when you want to keep it from sticking to things like tools and other bits of soap dough. Water can also create a sticky surface causing unwanted things to stick to the dough itself, like dog hair and other debris, bits of paper, or as we noticed, basically anything and everything!
- Rubbing alcohol is another helpful tool. Not only does it help to keep the dough from sticking to your tools or cutters, it is also a great way to smooth a surface when you want a little less impact than what you would get using water. We kept a spray bottle filled with it nearby.
- Wash your hands and clean your work surfaces often. Thin layers of the dough can stick to your hands and work surface without you realizing it and flake off when you are working on another part.
- If you are working with Fruity Rings fragrance oil, keep a supply of the real cereal on hand. The scent triggers major cravings. Seriously. It’s not worth fighting. If you don’t, you could end up eating some of your masterpiece and who would that benefit?
And the most important tip:
- You don’t always have to have a plan. Whether it’s soap dough, regular soap, or some other creative endeavor, you don’t always have to follow a specific plan. Some of the best results I have had making soap are those where my heart took over, instead of following what was in my head. And some of the biggest “mistakes” I have made have ended up being the best things I have ever created.