The Making of James Peak Wilderness Soap
Landscape soaps are my true passion. It's a blend of artistry, chemistry, and engineering and I find it to be incredibly challenging. If successful, it's also incredibly rewarding! I love taking a photo and breaking down the key elements and structure and then redesigning in a liquid medium.
I make what is called Cold Processed Soap. I combine familiar ingredients such as Olive and Coconut Oils with Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) and through the magic of saponification what was once food and a caustic agent becomes a luscious and skin nourishing bar of soap!
My soap is made by hand in small batches, and every bar is completely unique. Below is the simplest of tutorials to demonstrate the steps that go into creating a landscape soap.
First, I start with an adventure and a photo. I took this photo while hiking in the James Peak Wilderness - for more info on this hike, click HERE. I love the bright yellow Old Man Of The Mountain wildflowers, and I love the layers of meadows contrasting in front of the snowy peak.
Every time I make any batch, I purposefully make a little extra for my embeds. Here is some leftover yellow soap that I have cut up into small and medium sized chunks to make the wildflowers. I soaked these chunks in water while I prepared my soap.
I prepare all of my colorants and fragrances. Then I combine my oils with distilled water and sodium hydroxide and make a big batch of soap.
I take a small portion of the soap and color it bright green. I embed the larger yellow chunks. Tilting my mold I put this soap in the corner.
Next I take a small portion of soap and color it light green and then add calendula petals and mix them in thoroughly.
With the mold still at an angle, I take the calendula soap and layer over the green soap.
Next I take a small portion of soap and make it a bold, bright green.
The mold is now laid flat and using the bold green soap I make a valley on the other side of the calendula soap. Using a spoon I create texture for visual interest. I then lay a piece of wire down.
I pour alternating stripes of black and white soap over the hanger.
I put the rest of the gray soap on top in an inverted V shape.
I carefully pull the wire out to create the mountain valleys. I mix white and blue soap and fill around the mountain peak to create the sky. I add texture and a little white color to the mountain peak.
I sprinkle mica over the mountain peak to make the summit really pop.
The soap then goes in the freezer for 24 hours
4-5 days later I pull the loaf out of the mold. Looks great! Now time for slicing with a wire cutter.
The sliced bars are cleaned with a steam iron and rubbing alcohol. After curing for 6 weeks they'll be ready to use!