Ahhh, cherry blossoms - that's how you know Spring has officially sprung! Or, well...sort of. Here in the Washington, D.C. area, we tend to have bipolar weather. As one of my former customers (back when I worked in the food industry) told me, "Mother Nature is going through menopause! All these chills and hot flashes! Yikes!"
This year, we had a warm spike, and then it snowed the following weekend. The poor cherry blossoms started to bloom and then got frozen! Thankfully, they still managed to bloom and peak well into their traditional month of April, and they were spectacular! I live north of DC, which is colder by several degrees, so I got to witness their blooms for a long time this season! They are truly beautiful and have a lovely, delicate scent. When they start to shed their petals, it's almost like watching a beautiful, floral snow coat the ground as they gracefully float through the air. Cherry blossom time is my favorite hallmark of Spring! (Way better than pollen!)
As you may or may not know, the Cherry Blossom Festival held in DC every year signifies, "the gift of the cherry blossom trees, and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan." People come out in droves to view the sakura (cherry blossom in Japanese) all along the mall and tidal basin. There are food trucks, street vendors, lots of swag, and even a parade! The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of my favorite things to go to DC for, and it's such a fun atmosphere to be a part of. The food is delicious, the festival is colorful and fun, and there is a LOT to do in the area!
As it happened, I have a bottle of Cherry Blossom fragrance oil from Bramble Berry! So why not turn this local favorite into a soap to commemorate the event? That's exactly what I did! And I decided to call it, "Sakura Festival."
I started out formulating the recipe with oils that I knew would be nourishing, conditioning, but also offer me the whitest bar I could make. I wanted my colors to be white with a light pink drop swirl, and maybe a lighter swirl on top. After working everything out, running it through a lye calculator, and buying myself a new (more accurate) scale, I set to making my soap!
The fragrance oil performed beautifully in this soap, and I had a great amount of time to work! My top swirl turned out great, though I think from now on I am going to go with a light pink sparkle mica instead of fuschia. I really want this soap to be delicate like the flowers it's made after, so I think lighter, more delicate colors would be a wise choice. I learned that I really DO need to micronize my Titanium Dioxide (ugh, I only have one coffee grinder and it's for coffee, dammit! I ordered another one, though. I was trying to hold out, but no longer!), and that I should probably add some sodium lactate to my soap (and increase the percentage of my hard oils). After 3 days it was still incredibly soft, and I couldn't get it out of the mold. I froze it, got it out, cut it (love itttttt!), and set it downstairs to start its cure. Alas, it was ever so slightly weepy today with some of the excess moisture from the oils, so a recipe reformulation is in order (I also decided it's that time of the year to turn on the dehumidifier in the basement).
Other than that, though, this soap turned out just gorgeous and I am so in love with it. The only down side is that as I was outside taking pictures, the wind blew the soap out of the tree I set it in, and alas, it got smooshed. Not just a little bit smooshed - SUPER smooshed. So, the pictures are lovely, but you can definitely see a little bit of dirt from the ground in the soap. That will just have to be my personal bar!
Now these lovelies are downstairs curing, and I am super inspired to perfect this recipe to be the best it can be. I absolutely love it!
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.