After a friend's moving sale I found myself in possession of both soap making supplies and the materials needed to cast small objects. Having wanted to experiment with both, I've combined them into one fun project that is literally bursting with my favorite craft supply of all time: GLITTER!
In this Ible I'll review the simple process used to create a small object mold and then use that mold to make a three dimensional soap. In addition to mixing in suspended glitter, I also chose to tint my soap using an all natural dye that you may already have in your kitchen. Finally, the inclusion of a surprise glittery core makes these soaps great gifts or party favors for your glitter loving friends, or a good natured prank for your friends (or enemies) who hate it.
Step 1: You Will Need...
2 part mold making putty. I used "Amazing" brand.
Glycerin for soap making
microwave safe bowl
Fragrance oils for soap making or essential oils
Tumeric powder or other natural colorant. I link to a list of possibilities later in the Ible.
Cosmetic grade ultra fine glitter, or glitter made specifically for soaps. DO NOT use big chunky craft glitter --it is too abrasive to be rubbing on your skin!
De-molding spray (optional). I found my glycerin was naturally slippery and easy to pop out of the molds.
Step 2: Making the Mold
I had this little plastic grenade from a cheap-o Halloween costume and thought it would make a fun soap shape. Being cheap plastic, it also had a nice seam all the way around marking the center line, which would be helpful for making a two part mold.
Your mold putty will come in two parts, usually marked A and B.
Take equal amounts from each container and mix them together. There's no real science to determining how much you need to use. Eyeball your object and know that you have to make enough putty to comfortably envelope one half of it.
Mix until the color is even, in this case, pale yellow.
Use your thumbs to flatten the putty into an oblong pad, approx. the length of the grenade.
Begin to press the putty up around the plastic grenade, conforming to its sides.
Stop pressing when the edge of your putty meets the mid-seam. Check all the way around the form. Pay special attention to areas like the inside of the lever, which are finer and easily overlooked.
Gently press the bottom of the mold onto your countertop. This will create a flat area that allows your mold to sit level and prevent spilling and shifting when you fill it later.
Let your mold sit for 20 minutes, or as your box directs. I set mine inside a bowl so it would remain clean and undisturbed.
* At this point, I marked my plastic grenade with a small "X". This will help tell me which side I've already cast, so there's no confusion if I have to walk away from the project for a while.
After 20 minutes, work a finger tip underneath the edge of your mold. The material will be slightly rubbery and should flex a bit, allowing your object to pop right out.
Repeat all steps with the flip side of your object. In the end you should have two molds that are mirror images of each other (last photo). The putty people aren't kidding; it IS actually kind of "amazing".
Step 3: Prepare the Soap
This soap is a basic glycerin for beginners; essentially a melt, mix, and pour process. The one downside is that it starts to re-set very quickly, so you should expect to microwave your mix multiple times. For that reason, I suggest doing this part in the kitchen if you aren't there already.
Using a large knife, cut off a hunk of glycerin. I took a piece approx. 3 x 3 x 3 inches and that was enough for 2 grenades.
Place in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir with a plastic spoon and skim the sides of the bowl. I recommend plastic because this spoon will eventually get covered in chunks of soap, and you may not want the hassle of cleaning your actual flatware.
Microwave in additional increments of 15 seconds until the glycerin is melted.Do NOT boil.
Step 4: Color and Scent
While your glycerin is still hot and melty, you'll quickly stir in any colors or scents you wish to use.
There are a number of ways to color your homemade soaps naturally, including the use of spices. I used Tumeric powder because it was purported to deliver a bold golden color (and we had some in the pantry). This website lists different natural colorants and also links to where you can buy them. It is worth noting that the powdered turmeric stained my fingertips a little, but once combined with the glycerin I did not experience any further staining.
I only used half of a 1/3 tsp measure and got SUPER pigmented golden orange! If you want more delicate colors, start with a sprinkling and go from there. While I didn't get the color I expected, the advantage to such a rich color is that it helps hide my secret glitter core later.
After mixing in the turmeric I added several drops of Banana Coconut fragrance oil for soap making. When making a larger batch of soap you'll find that there are recommended measurement guidelines to follow, and even some sites that offer ingredient calculators by weight. Since I knew I was making such a small batch I figured a few drops would do the job without becoming overwhelming.Stir thoroughly to ensure even distribution. You can leave the glycerin unscented, if you wish, or use essential oils. *Be wary of oils that can create a burning sensation on the skin, such as lemongrass.
By this point your glycerin is likely starting to thicken. You'll start to see a skin forming on top, like setting Jell-O.This is the right time to add your glitter so it is suspended throughout your soap without sinking!
Add ultra fine/ cosmetic/ soap glitter to preference, then stir. I used classic yellow gold. The photos really don't do the mixture justice. It looked like magical space slime in the sunlight!
Step 5: Mold Filling
If your glycerin is starting to become too firm and chunk, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir. It does set quickly, so you need to work quickly! Again, you want it to be melted, but not boiling molten liquid.
*Depending on your materials, you may wish to use a de-molding spray on your molds before filling them. This will help release the casts from the mold. I opted not to use any for this project because the glycerin came away from the molds so easily already. If you were to use a de-molding spray, you would simply spritz the inside of the mold and let it dry before filling it.
Spoon into your molds. I found that the soap would migrate into the finer parts of the mold (pin and lever) on its own as I filled the body of the grenade higher and higher. Any drips on the counter can be easily popped off once the soap has cooled.
Stop when your glycerin level is flush with the edge of the mold.
Allow to set for 2-5 minutes before moving. The "skin" will quickly form on the top, but the soap beneath may still be liquid.
Place molds in the freezer for 10 minutes to ensure a a solid set before de-molding.
Step 6: De-Molding
Just as you freed your plastic object, you can gently work a finger under the edge of the mold to pop out the finished soap.
If you have any raw edges or excess from over pouring, you can gently clean up those bits with the tip of a sharp knife. Do this on a cutting board just to be safe.
You now have two mirror halves of a glitter grenade! If you wish to stop here, you can. These flat backed soaps are nice for guest bathroom soap trays and won't roll all over the place.
If you want your grenade to truly explode with glitter, proceed to the next step!
Step 7: Time Release Glitter Bombing!
My crude sketch details my 3 step plan for a truly memorable soap.
By making a loose glitter core within the soap grenade, you give the recipient a surprise burst of glitter when they finally wear the soap down to the center.
Using a knife, carve a small pit in the center of one half of your grenade. It may help you to think of the form like an avocado, and this is where the seed would sit. The pit does not have to be deep; 1/2 inch at the most so as not to compromise the strength of the soap.
Pour loose glitter into the pit. Pat with your finger to make it flush with the surface of the soap. I used a bold orange glitter for the surprise burst.
Re-microwave your excess glycerin for 15 seconds and stir.
Lightly baste the opposite inside half of the grenade with melted glycerin. Quickly sandwich on top of the half with the glitter core.
As you hold the halves together, you may notice you have some gaps and imperfections where the two meet. Sealing the mid-seam with melted glycerin will bond the halves and help eliminate those flaws.
I propped up my semi-bonded soap between my two molds, using them like a makeshift vice.
Use the spoon to spread small amounts of melted glycerin down the mid-seam, filling any gaps. Work your way around the form. Re-microwave glycerin as needed.
*SAFETY NOTE: Hot liquid glycerin can burn you! Take care not to use the mixture if it is steaming or bubbling. You want it to be a little viscous so you can control it. The super liquid form can easily get away from you and end up on your hands. It feels like spilling a candle or getting touched by a glue gun --OUCH!
Clean away drips and sharpen corners by carefully sculpting with your knife tip. Refinements like this can make a big difference in your final result!
Step 8: DONE!
Your weapon of glittery destruction is ready for action! Gift them to your fellow glitter freaks and wait for them to discover the hidden surprise! It took about a week of showers to work through to my glitter core for the pay off. A lot went down the drain before I could get the camera, but you can see some shrapnel remnants in the 2nd pic. Since my cast object was pretty small it didn't take very long to get results.
Just to be clear, the glitter used in this recipe is mostly for aesthetics and fun. You can wash with this soap and not emerge looking like Tinkerbell. It rinses away pretty easily, much to my boyfriend's relief.
I found that the turmeric coloring caused the soap to lather pastel yellow (3rd pic), but it did not stain my skin. If there are any experienced soapers out there, I would be interested in hearing what natural dyes you've used with good results.
If you make these to give to other people, it is worth mentioning to them that this soap can be used as hand soap, or in the shower/tub, but is NOT intended as facial soap. Even though cosmetic grade glitter goes on faces all the time, better safe than sorry!
Think you'll make some? Post your photos and send glitter grenades a vote in the Glitter contest!