Sunday, August 25, 2013

Triple L - Not so bad after all

You know, I was not exactly looking forward to slicing the soap I made last weekend, but the time had come for me to take a closer look at my handiwork.

As it turns out, the results weren't as bad as I feared.  So, with that in mind I am going to say that I don't make mistakes, I just take artistic license.....

Here are the results.

Here are the slices of the multicolored soap.  They'll take about 4 to 5 weeks to cure

A closer look - Yeah, I think I would use it!

My biggest surprise was the loofah soap.  Wow!  It looks like a flower in the middle doesn't it?

Here is a closeup of the 'top' of the soap.  If you remember from last week's blog, I didn't think the soap really soaked in.  So, this is fully functional as well.  By the way, I cut the soap with a serrated bread knife we don't use in the kitchen much.  It's now a permanent part of my soap kitchen.

So, after I cut the soap I was on a roll and decided I had time to fuse some glass this weekend.  I thought you would like to see pictures of some of my tools and how I have things organized.

Here you see my work surface.  
 I have my tweezers to pick up the small pieces of glass & my dichroic glass pieces in old Crystal Light containers.  I have my glass separated by color and by pattern.  I don't have the eye to immediately know what color I'm looking at when picking out the colored glass pieces.  You see, the color is opposite of what you are looking at, it's very confusing at times. It's simpler for me just to separate them after they are cut and put them into the separate containers by color.

The work surface is black because it shows the colors better when I am putting things together.  This is like a giant mouse pad and I have used it for so long that the edges are frayed.  The spots you see on it are hardened Super Glue.  Yes, I play with cut glass edges and Super Glue, but I am afraid of sky diving... Go figure!

Another angle of my work surface and some of the pieces I'll be firing.  to the right are some of my drawers I keep my cut glass pieces in and at the top of the picture are my colored dichroic glass pieces.

Here is a closeup of my colored glass pieces.  I have them in the drawer in rainbow order.  Believe it or not, the glass on the far left is all red, even though they look blue.  Now you see why I have to have the containers labeled!

Speaking of labels, yet another close up and you can see that all my containers are labeled with the COE, the brand and color of glass.

Here you see my cut glass 'collection.' The bottom drawer contains my dichroic pattern pieces, the middle drawer is my clear glass with some kind of pattern on them and the top drawer is just plain clear glass.  I have cut these ahead of time in various shapes and sizes. When I want to cap my pieces I just have to look for one I want.

A close up of my patterned plain glass pieces.

This drawer contains my dichroic glass pieces that have a specific pattern on black & clear glass.  These pieces actually have a ridged pattern on the glass with the dichroic coating over them.

Here are some of the cut colored glass pieces I use for my base.  I have them roughly separated by shape.

Another closeup

My dichroic pieces with the black & red base are the best sellers.  I do make pieces with other colors too.

Tools of the trade.  Here you see my welders gloves and timer.  I need the gloves because I don't want to burn my hands and arms when I am checking on my glass in the kiln.  When you open an oven that is over 1400 Fahrenheit you need to take precautions.  Also pictured here is my timer.  I need to keep track of how long things have been in the kiln so that I can check on how they are melting and fusing.  I wear it around my neck so I don't forget it if I am doing other things.

Here are my pieces before I fired them.  I need to keep them at least a quarter inch apart so they don't fuse together.  I want the fusing to be up and down, not sideways!

Here is the 'after' picture of the fused glass.  This is what I saw when I opened the kiln this morning.  Looking at them I think I let them fuse a bit too long, they are more rounded that what I like.  They are still usable though.  
Some of these I'll sell to the local bead store, some of them I'll give to my husband for wire wrap, some of them will be earrings or rings and the others will be pendants.  The best part is, I get to keep what I want.  Yeah, I'm selfish that way!

I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures, now I think I'll get back to my glass.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life's Lessons Learned or 'Triple L'

Yeah, just when you think you have something down pat and things have been going well, karma reaches up and raises it's little head.  What am I talking about?  Soap making, that's what.

So I subscribe to this YouTube channel called "Soaping 101" and it has various instructional videos on how to different soap techniques.  I had watched 2 that really interested me.

One was how to swirl soap.

And the other was making loofah soap.

How hard could it be?  Enter karma, stage left.....

I made sure to gather all my ingredients, I had my colors for my swirls, I got a tube container (Pringles can), my loofah and the extra containers to separate my soap for the different colors I wanted to use.

I knew I had to be careful with the fragrance because once it is added to the liquid soap mixture, the soap would start to solidify at a faster rate.  I added it last.

So, the loofah soap appeared to be OK, since that was the one I started with first.  Poured into the tube just fine and life was good! 

What I didn't realized was the fast solidification is like TIGER FAST.  What compounded this process was the fact that I didn't realize it was setting up so fast until I grabbed my container of colored soap to pour into the mold and the soap had the consistency of jello instead of thick gravy.  I checked my other colors and the same thing happened.  I knew my time was limited and I HAD to get the soap in the mold.

At this point I was thinking, to hell with pretty, move your ass and get this done!

The pictures you see below are a result of this 'learning' process.

Here are both soaps (above).  The rectangular log on the left looks like it has some kind of disease.  Not very eye appealing.  The round thing there is the loofah soap.  Yeah, you can see part all of the loofah here.

My soap log.  I had 3 colors, white, brown & purple.  The soap went into the mold in chunks since it was setting up so fast and the colors didn't fully mesh together.  This is why it looks like there are hole in it.  

Oh, and something else I realized when I took the soap out of the mold, the side nearest the camera (above) is way higher than the side farthest away. Not only did it come out looking ugly, but I couldn't even make the top close to even. Yep, I'm on a roll now!

I tried to put some kind of pattern on the top, that failed miserably too.  I told a friend at work it reminded me of cottage cheese in milk, but now that I think about it, cottage cheese would look better than this.

A side view

When I took the loofah soap out of the mold, it was a big surprise.  I don't know if I will every trust soap again after it played this little trick on me.  Do you see the right side of the soap where it has that ring of unblemished white?  That was the top of the can and it appeared to me that the soap had soaked into the entire loofah.  Just below that ring is part of the loofah with NO SOAP.  How did that happen?  Good question, I have no idea.  What I do know is that when I try this again, I'm using a PVC tube that is definitely bigger than a loofah.

A Close up.

Another view, now that I look at this more it reminds me of a beer with a foamy head.  Or maybe I'm just thirsty.

Let me just say that I have volunteers from work (Susan & Ingrid) who said they would make the ultimate sacrifice and try this soap out.  So I think I'll take them up on it.

I am going to let these beauties cure for a week before I start slicing and dicing.  I know the soap is good, it's just ugly.  Hey! Maybe that's a marketing technique I can use.  The Genie Bar Ugly Soap line.  I'll have to think about that.

Please note that this has not deterred me from making more, I see this as a learning experience.  How else will I get better, right?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vitamix - My new tool

A few weeks back I got a Vitamix at an estate sale for a really, really good price.  Since then I have been experimenting with it and have found a new favorite smoothie recipe called Mango Delight. It's quick to fix and tastes wonderful.  The consistency is like a thick milk shake and it stays thick!  I have a severe allergy (think anaphylactic shock) to any fresh fruit with a pit, like peaches, nectarines, cherries, etc.  So I am limited as to what I can eat.  This brings a little variety into my diet.

The recipe itself only has fresh fruit and ice cubes, that's it.  No sugar, yogurt, powder or anything else.  When I made them today I took pictures of the process and I thought I would share them with you.

You can see that I have added the fruit to the Vitamix.  Here you see 2 small oranges, 3 overripe bananas, 1/2 mango & 1 apple that has been seeded.

I've added about 2 cups of ice cubes here

I turned it on and 2 minutes later, here's the result.

A quick peek at the top of the pitcher.  The color is a little off here, it wasn't really that yellow.

Cleanup is so easy, I've added hot water and some dish detergent.

After about 20 seconds here's what you see.  All I had to do from this point is to rinse everything out and let it dry on the counter.  Easy peasy!
I've been doing some research and it will also knead dough, so I'll be trying that out this winter.  I love this machine!