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Soap Challenge Club May 2021: Column Pour

The Soap Challenge Club, hosted by Amy Warden, is a group of soap makers who come together to learn new techniques and engage in a little healthy competition each month. Amy shares a tutorial and soap makers have the month to practice the technique, ask questions, share tips, and finally enter a soap for competition. For May, the challenge was a technique borrowed from acrylic pour painting called the "column pour". The last soap challenge in which I participated was the kiss pour, also borrowed from acrylic pour painting. Inspiration for soap design is everywhere!

In the column pour, a "column" (or two or three) is placed in a slab mold and thin soap batter is poured over the column. For this challenge, just about anything could serve as a column, but all soap batter that was in the mold had to be poured over the column. For my soap, I chose inverted soda bottles as my columns. I placed two in my mold, held in place with cocoa butter. I melted the cocoa butter and dipped the cut soda bottles into the cocoa butter. I then placed them in my mold and placed the mold in the refrigerator to harden the butter. This worked great for the first half of pouring, but the bottles did detach from the bottom and shift around once about half the soap was in the mold. Next time I would use soap dough to anchor my columns in the mold, just as Amy had done in her tutorial for this challenge.

I kept my batter very fluid by working at room temperature (around 78 degrees F) and mixing only to emulsion before separating the batter into colors. I used 5 colors: bright orange, red violet, black, light green, and white. For the black I used black iron oxide instead of the usual activated charcoal. Activated charcoal can thicken soap batter and I needed this batter to stay as thin as possible for as long as possible. I scented the batter with just a little lemongrass essential oil, which does not accelerate trace. See my previous blog post for more tips on controlling trace of soap batter.  

soap column pour
After pouring, I removed the "columns" and added a little soap batter to the centers where the columns were removed (this was allowed for the challenge). I then used a chopstick to introduce a few swirls toward and away from the centers of the pours. 
soap column pour
I then placed my dividers in the mold and forced gel by using a heating pad and towels wrapped around my soap mold. I love the way each bar is unique. In the usual loaf mold, soap designs are in the inside and are only revealed when the loaf is cut. In a slab mold the designs face up.
soap column pour 
I love the colors I selected for this soap. It was my original intention to try this again using the same colors, but with smaller "pours" over the columns in order to produce thinner lines. Well, time got away from me and I'm going with my one and only attempt. In the future, it also would be better to anchor the "columns" differently by using soap dough instead of cocoa butter. The shifting columns did change my intended design, but, honestly, that doesn't bother me. Part of being creative is to "roll" with unintended shifts in plans. 
Soap column pour
Once again, I am grateful to the Soap Challenge Club for encouraging me to step out of my routine and try new designs. The community of soap makers is very supportive and creative. We love our craft! Happy soaping!

1 comment

  • I love your color scheme also!! I never would have known that your columns shifted during the pour if you hadn’t said so – well done!! Great job, Lori!

    Amy Warden

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