I've been quiet. It has been a couple of months since I last posted. My birthday is in the last third of April, and I find birthdays a bit depressing. Bob was anti any religious and consumer-driven festivity (Christmas, Easter, Valentines...) but made a huge fuss of birthdays as the day we chose to enter earth life. Since his death birthdays have been pretty bleak and lonely affairs.
Around that time I invited a friend to stay with me. It was one of those occasions where trying to help out bit me hard in the butt. It did not work out and I will blithely skip over the situation by saying it became"a little nasty" - and I found that it tipped my stress levels back into the not coping stage that I experienced with carer burnout, and I ended up with back-to-back colds and other maladies which added to my self-pity and misery.
It's been a two steps forward, one back, dance from then to now. I'm not quite back up there but I heading in that direction and I will be wiser when it comes to putting myself first in the future.
There have been a few soaping adventures and the odd hiking adventure, but the Soap Challenge Club's pointy layer soap challenge in July was a lot of fun.
The idea is to pour different colours of soap batter in layers in such a way as to create points. This done by using a fluid batter (too solid and it won't form points) and pouring each layer close to the previous later using a jug with a long spout. If you pour from higher up the new colour drops through creating a tear-like blob (or larger) rather than creating points. This is a pretty technique called a drop pour, but not the aim of this challenge.
For my first soap I tried adding small round tube embeds made of soap dough plus a fancy top, but I hadn't really paid enough attention to how I ought to pour the soap, and ended up with an unplanned Martian tentacle look, rather than controlled peaks. This called for another go...
My second attempt was in neon colours and is a reasonable example of what the technique should look like with the bottom layers reaching up into the next layer.
I probably would have entered my second soap into the challenge, except that it was reluctant to unmould the next day - and then I had a brilliant idea to try and make a soap with points in the base level and then one point reaching up through the soap... and the idea of a soap volcano was born.
The bottom green layer has nettle leaves for colour and texture, with a few not so successful points sort of reaching up. The lighter green reaches up, with the red and white lava starting as a drop pour and working its way up to being a pointed layer.
The lava part of the volcano was poured using sauce bottles, the rest was freehand from jugs, timing the blue side pours to push in and build up the volcano.
I swirled the blue and white on top and then added blobs of red and ran a skewer from the outside of the blob to the middle several times to create a volcano fire effect on top. The red from the first skewer drag through creates the red accents on the outside of the blob as you start the next drag through.
There are more than 100 soaps entered in the challenge and they are simply amazing. This link to #pointylayers on Instagram will give you an idea of the creativity and skill. I am in awe of so many of the entries; and voting (we get three votes) was next to impossible.
That said, it was a huge amount of fun making these. I learnt a lot and will definitely use the technique and the idea of controlling my pour in future soaps.