Update 10/26/2022: On a whim, I decided to enter my last 2 bars of this Farm in the Foothills soap in the American Dairy Goat Association Body Care Competition. The bars in this competition are evaluated and judged based on criteria from the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild. Those criteria include not only appearance qualities, but also functional aspects such as foam and feel. I am pretty chuffed to say I learned yesterday that my fancy little barn soaps won third place in their category- embracing the design so near to my heart while still offering a great lather and feel!
You can view a full list of the bath and body competition winners here: 2022 ADGA Bath & Body Products Competition
April 2022 Soap Challenge:
The objective for the Soap Challenge this month was to use the sculpted layers technique "to create a landscape or design inspired by a National park, National monument, or other famous or recognizable landmark." I knew right away that I wanted to create a soap with our barn silhouette. I had been kicking around the idea of doing a soap featuring it for quite a while, but my original intention had been to 3d print an extruder disc to make that happen. After reading through the tutorial and watching the videos, I was pretty sure I could make it happen by printing layer scrapers instead, so off I went.
Special thanks to Travis McKenzie at DesignByMcKenzie.com , who designed our farm logo several years ago. He was able to send me the digital file of our barn silhouette in record time when I asked for it, which saved me untold hours in producing the scraper for the barn layer.
The more I worked on the design, the more I felt like I was getting in way over my head. I had never 'properly' sculpted a layer before. Sure there were times that I kind of casually pulled a scraper through a layer to get a certain effect in a loaf, but the technique Roxanne had lined out for us and the overall objective of the challenge really demanded far more precision than I had ever attempted.
I put my barn design on hold and went on a quest to create a more simple design as a practice attempt. When I am at a loss for ideas, I often stand at my fragrance oil shelf and sniff things looking for inspiration. I was doing that when I realized I had this great watermelon fragrance oil that I purchased last summer and had never used because, well, life happened. That soap ended up being my Bonus Category entry and you can read more about it here.
I do not milk or raise goats any longer, but the memories of hanging out the barn aisle door on chilly spring mornings to get a glimpse of the sun rising over the Smoky mountains will forever be etched in my brain. That is why it was so important to me that this was a goat milk soap, made with some of the last Cross the Creek farm milk that I so carefully squirreled away in our deep freezer.
I went through way too many mental gymnastics trying to work out the best way to use some of our goat milk in the soap. In the end, I used a 1.1:1 lye to water ratio for my master batch calculations in the awesome spreadsheet Roxanne provided us. Separately, I calculated the recipe at 1.8:1, and subtracted the water amounts between the two. I used that difference in water amounts as goat milk, which I added to my master batch oils. To make the spreadsheet calculate correctly, I added the weight of the milk to the weight of the fragrance oil I used and entered that in the fragrance box of the spreadsheet.
The first time I poured the soap, I did not set the depth of my scrapers before starting, and I made an error scraping one layer a notch too deep, which made my loaf a bit short. That batch would have made an ok entry, but after a day of sulking, I hiked up my britches and made myself pour a second attempt. This time I was sure to set and triple check the depths for all of my scrapers before I started. I feel like my two practice runs (and an overabundance of stubbornness) paid off in the end.
As always, special thanks to Amy Warden for orchestrating this grand thing called the Soap Challenge Club! I am constantly learning because of these monthly challenges, and I can say with certainty that my soaping skills are far better because of it.
Roxanne of Caprica Soapery provided us with an excellent tutorial and an awesome spreadsheet for calculating the amount of soap needed for each of our layers. I am super excited for other sculpted layer designs in the future!
This challenge was sponsored by the incredibly talented Belinda at Love Your Suds . Belinda is always out there in front, making cool tools for other soapers!
About our barn
Clark Beyer’s story, as well as hundreds of photos of these old barns, was recounted by David Jenkins in Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. If you should find yourself a copy of the book, be sure to check out page 79. You can learn a bit more about Rock City barn history on their website.