Good morning, everyone! :) And happy Memorial Day Weekend!
First off, I'd like to take the time to thank our servicemen and women for their service. We couldn't be 'Merica and have the freedoms we do without them. <3
Moving along, I'm guessing you can tell by the title of this post that the topic is going to be soapy cupcakes! Wheeeee!! If you're anything like me, you have likely binge watched many a YouTube soap channel, and thus have likely seen soap cupcakes. They are so freakin' CUTE I can't even handle it!! I really wanted to learn to make them myself. The biggest thing for me was the piping. Oh my lord, the piping looked sooo intimidating!
I watched Royalty Soaps' videos and got SUPER intimidated because she uses actual powdered sugar and all these other things, and whoa. That said, if there is anyone at all in the soap piping world to admire and idolize, it's flippin' Katie at Royalty Soaps. Anyway, after watching her, I decided to look on the Soap Queen blog. I remembered pinning a champagne something-or-other cupcake soap a couple of months ago, and thought I'd look there at what her piping recipe is.
Lo' and behold: a piping recipe I actually felt comfy with! It's made of coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. For the cupcake base, however, I did not use Soap Queen's recipe. I instead used my own. Thanks to my friend D, I've been looking at a "master batch" recipe and trying to formulate one I really like. So far, I've come up with one that I like the properties of, and am just tweaking percentages here and there to make the soap more fluid for longer so I can do swirls and the like.
When I pinned the Sparkling Champagne cupcake recipe a couple months ago, my sister-in-law messaged me on Pinterest and basically freaked out about how awesome they looked and "OMG YES!!" Not too long after, I noticed that she was pinning a metric butt ton of "bee" themed baby shower crap on Pinterest (yep, SIL is preggo). Suddenly I thought: why not make soapy cupcake baby shower favors? Bingo!! The perfect excuse to make soap cupcakes!
I picked up a 12 cupcake silicon cupcake mold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and away I went! Prepped the oils & lye water for the piping (which was labeled out the butt so nobody thought to drink it!) the night before, and the next day, I came home from work and soaped it up!
My first batch, I accidentally messed up a bit and left the "icing" oils out on the counter and they came to ~70 degrees during the day while I was at work. The second time, I left them in the fridge and microwaved them as Soap Queen does in her video. My first batch of soapy cupcakes was a test batch. I just wanted to see if I could do it, or if I'd totally mess up and be ashamed of my lack of skills. I'm still new at this - I mess up a lot. That's why when people are like, "Omg you should sell!" I'm like "Nope." Have you seen Zahida from Handmade in Florida's soaps? Spicy Pinecone's? Royalty Soaps'??? I aspire to be that level of talent someday, but all of those ladies have literal years under their belts of soapmaking, and I've got a whopping 5 months. Thanks, but I'll give myself 19 more months at the least!!
Anyway, off that tangent and back on topic! I fragranced these cupcakes with Bramble Berry's "Vanilla Select" for the cupcake base, and "Pure Honey" for the piping. I decided I wanted to do a gold mica drizzle on the "frosting" to look like a honey drizzle, and give it a touch of bling without GLITTERZZZZZZZZZ. I don't really like glitter. It's like that meme going around the internet that you only mail glitter to your enemies. It's just not my jam. And I think my husband would literally cry if I brought glitter into our house. So mica drizzle it was.
The first batch of soapy cupcakes came out beautifully, and despite my piping being relatively warm, it came out really well!! My husband was SUPER upset when he saw the cupcakes in the refrigerator and was informed that they were not, in fact, actually edible. Sorry, husband. I'll make you real cupcakes to compensate someday. I promise.
I pitched the idea to SIL to make the cupcakes for her baby shower favors and she LOVED it! So, a few weeks later, I made a second batch. This time, instead of allowing the vanilla FO to brown the cupcakes naturally, I used a little bit of brown oxide to give the base a rich, warm brown color. The piping was colored with Titanium Dioxide both times. The second batch of soapy cupcakes also had wee little bees on it!! I got them on Amazon from Wilton, they are tiny sugar bees. One of the reviews said they were hard as a rock and too hard to eat, which made me think - PERFECT! Nobody should be eating these anyhow!! With luck, the sugar should dissolve in the shower, and so all is well! I thought about making bee embeds, but that takes time and work, and I am a full time employee and part time college student. Ain't nobody got time fo' that.
The final product little bee cupcakes turned out even better than the first! :) I have not yet taken pictures of the cupcakes now that they've been unmolded for a few days (they have substantially darkened and look really rich and creamy!). But behold below: bee cupcakes! You can see in one of the photos below that one of the cupcakes is in a small yellow cupcake ...erm..cup? That is the final packaging SIL's cupcakes will go into once they are cured, and I've got a really great little wrapping idea all ready to go for her (it's a surprise in case she reads this blog. Can't tell her everything!). I really really hope that they survive the cross-country mailing trip!! Fingers and toes crossed!!
Making these soaps has totally inspired me to create even more cupcakes! I think my next batch will be Blueberry something or other. Bramble Berry is discontinuing their Blueberry Delight fragrance oil, much to my dismay, for I loooooooooove it! It smells just like warm blueberry pie. Unf! I love it. So I bought two huge bottles of it, along with a bottle of blueberry jam FO. I think that will be my next project, because even my coworkers were crazy about the pictures of my cupcakes. I think they will be in high demand!!
So for those of you out there wanting to try something new and different: GO FOR IT!! The worst that happens is you mess up, hot process, and try again! :) Step outside of your comfort zone and do something you will love!!
Good morning, folks!
Sorry for the lapse in my posting - I was busy with finals! Nothing says love like doing calculus exams! Thankfully, that is all over now, and I was able to catch up on some chores and make some more soap this week!
I recently received a package from Brambleberry, and one of the methods I use to try to motivate myself is to not allow myself to open any packages I receive until I finish my homework. Otherwise I'll just ignore homework and play with my soapy things! In my package was a good number of fragrance oils, as well as soaping oils and some colorants. I knew I wanted to soap in the short week break I get between classes (my classes are condensed 8 week classes with one week in between) and hopefully use up a bunch of my BB sample fragrances to free up space in my cabinet for my larger bottles! :D When I first started soaping, I had no idea what I'd like or not like, so I decided to order pretty much every BB fragrance sampler there is. Now I have a pretty crazy collection of fragrance oil bottles and about a zillion tiny sample jars. Plus, BB sends you new samples every time you order something, so I tend to collect samples pretty often.
I made three different soaps this past week, the other two of which I will be posting about shortly. Today, though, as you can see - I am talking about my honey bee soap! :) This soap was inspired by my dog, Pepper, who I call my "honey bee." She's super sweet, zooms around, and she was a bee for Halloween (yes, I'm that pet parent). She is the first dog I've had in my adult life, and I just adore her! She is a wee Pomeranian - a breed I didn't think I'd ever like after a childhood friend's Pom was such a jerk, but I am so in love with my little dog! She prances, bunny hops, gives good cuddles, and is all around adorable. I mean, hello, look at that face!
I decided I wanted to make a honey bee soap to dedicate to my dog, and wanted to make it striped like a bee. I fragranced the soap with Bramble Berry's "Pure Honey" fragrance oil, and used Yellow and Black Oxides to color the soap. I originally wanted to do a tiger stripe method but that SO didn't work - I soaped too cool (whoops!) and my oils started to thicken up on me. I ended up having to just plop the colors in the mold and I desperately tried to drag a hanger through - it didn't work too well, but I did still get somewhat of a swirl. The top was actually a lot better than the inside! I also learned that my master batch recipe (something I've been working on as my "base recipe" for almost all of my soaps) had too high of a solid oil percentage in it. I've since corrected that, and when I made my other two soaps, it performed beautifully. So this week I learned - 40% solids, and 125 degrees is where it's at for what I wanna do with most of my soap (this will of course change depending on whether or not I use milk, what fragrances I use, or if I want to make more luxury bars with more exotic ingredients, etc.).
I have also decided to move my superfatting percentage up to 8%, because the standard 5% that Soap Queen's recipes are is just way too drying for my skin. I have skin like the friggin' Sahara Desert, and it sucks. I am hoping that with all these corrections, I can totally create something worthwhile and moisturizing.
So far, everyone that has seen/smelled my honey soap has absolutely loved it. When I told Pepper that my soap is dedicated to her, she just looked at me like I was nuts, and then sat down expecting a cookie. Typical dog - can't appreciate it! But that's okay. She's still my little honey bee! :D
The Soap Bug hath bitten me once again, and this time, it was my undying devotion to one Joss Whedon that hath inspired me to create. Some of you may be familiar with the works of Whedon, but in case you are not, here is a short list of the most amazing and noteworthy things that are worth your time to watch on TV (or Netflix and Hulu if you're like me and cut the cable cord):
One binge watch through Netflix later, and I found myself on the other side of Firefly, being angry at 20th Century Fox yet again for being jerkholes and canceling the show (serious douche move: Firefly was signed for 3 seasons and they shit canned the show before the first season even finished AND they aired them out of order because reasons?). Serenity, the movie that was supposed to wrap up the show, leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. SPOILER ALERT (though I shouldn't have to give you this since Serenity came out 11 years ago), I am SO pissed that they basically just kill everyone off instead of giving a good story. Shep? Wash? Oh, fuck that shit. Injustice! Plus, the movie was designed to be for people who hadn't seen the TV series, as well as those who had, and it just...didn't work. Not for me, at least.
That aside, I figured: why not create a Firefly inspired soap? So I did! The soap is three layers and colored with yellow oxide, Tangerine Wow! pigment, and brick red oxide. The entire soap is fragranced with Tobacco & Bay Leaf from Bramble Berry. Overall, the colors and fragrance oil were super well behaved, and I am incredibly pleased with the way the bars turned out, given that it was my first time ever working with horizontal layers. :) The soap was inspired by the hat that Jayne gets from his mother in the episode "The Message." Pretty cunning, don't you think? And with a fragrance like that, any man who walks down the street after using a soap like that, people will know he's not afraid of anything!
Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for 20th Century Fox), I can never sell this cunning soap, as I'm not one to stomp all over the whole Intellectual Property thing. Some of you may remember a few years ago when Fox sent a Cease and Desist letter to an Etsy seller by the name of Ma Cobb for knitting "Jayne Hats," which stirred controversy among fans of the show. Because Fox elected to cancel the show when it was originally aired, there was never a lot of Firefly merchandise available. The show later gained a cult following, and many fans took it upon themselves to create and sell Firefly-related merchandise. Many were even (wrongly) under the impression that with the way 20th Century Fox treated the show, they didn't care about it. Given the C&D, this is obviously not true.
It does, however, raise an interesting conversation about the concept of intellectual property and copyright issues alongside of fans who make items relating to that IP, especially with the rise of sites like Etsy, and the advent of the internet, which allows fans to connect in ways they never would have been able to before. While I understand, acknowledge, and completely support the right of companies, authors, creators, etc., to protect their intellectual property and copyrights, I also feel sort of torn about the idea that fans are unable to create things (or sell otherwise unavailable merchandise) that honor their fandom due to that. Most recently, even a Pokemon fan was sent a C&D by Nintendo, claiming he was profiting off of their creation (technically he was - he threw a Pokemon party and sold tickets for an entrance fee). The line between copyright infringement and fan inspired works is generally to NOT profit on your creation, however, some creators tend to be a little more aggressive than others when it comes to protecting their works.
In addition to all of the above, another interesting (or confusing) aspect of copyright and intellectual property is that while technically companies are required to protect their creations, not many of them have lawyers who troll through Etsy, Look Human, Tee Fury, Society 6, and other related fan-based creation sites all day, writing up Cease and Desist letters. Most of the time, companies aren't even aware that these items exist until someone turns the seller in for infringement. Personally, I believe that this is confusing for fans who wish to sell fandom-related items, but are concerned about copyright infringement. While I don't know for certain, I very much doubt that everyone over at Tee Fury, Tee Turtle, et. al., have acquired licenses for everything they sell (I could be wrong, but it's more likely that they are just running with it until they get a C&D, given that it's not really worth the time/money to many corporations to try to sue them). To me, things such as that make the waters very murky and confusing for many fans who want to make or sell their own works inspired by/honoring a particular fandom.
And as if all of that isn't enough - one could reasonably argue that other people creating fan art, jewelry, knitted hats, or what-have-you that reaches other fans and brings people to the fan base are basically giving that company/creator free advertising, which essentially earns them MORE money over time. This is especially true at events such as conventions where there are tons of artists and other crafters who set up booths and sell items of their choice - have all of them acquired license to make their jewelry or sell their art? Probably not (though I wonder if the con's license itself covers these people?). Regardless, literal thousands of people go to cons, and the exposure for many companies and creators is huge at such events. They may reach an audience that would otherwise have never known they existed, all thanks to a talented artisan. The counter argument to this, however, is that some creators may see such things as lost profits as opposed to free advertising.
When it gets right down to it, from a legal perspective: profiting off of the work of another's copyrighted material is illegal, according to United States copyright law. Also, it is likely not protected under the fair use policy, so it's probably best not to put all of your eggs in that particular basket. So, alas - while my Unlikely Hero soap is cool to look at and was a fun adventure in layers, I can never, and will never, sell it to anyone. It will simply be given away to my other Firefly fandom friends who can appreciate it and want to smell cunning. And just as a CMA: I do not own nor claim any rights to Firefly or related material. All material is owned by 20th Century Fox.
For more information on Copyright infringement, check out these links below:
Elizabeth is a new to soap making, and wishes to share her journey in learning to make cold process soap with the hope that it will help other newbies who may stumble upon this site as a resource. From swirl techniques, choosing colors, combining fragrances, embeds, toppers, and textures, she chronicles her lessons and stories here.