Make Cold Process Gemstone and Rock Soaps Tutorial

Yes, these are truly easy to make. Even my very first
attempts came out great yours will, too. Heres how!

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You will need:

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  • Cold Processed Soap Base
  • Colorants micas, oxides or liquid colorants
  • Fragrance oils of your choice
  • Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
  • Melting vessels (microwaveable plastic or Pyrex pitchers)
  • Variety of molds margarine, cool whip, gladware/ziplock bowls
  • Toothpicks, silicone or rubber spatula, knives, peelers, scrapers etc.
  • At the end of this information packet, there is a list of websites that
    are suppliers of soap, colorants and fragrances.

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Colorants

I prefer to use micas in the gemstone soaps. They offer a
wide spectrum of hues and provide a variety of gem like effects including
pearlized, solid, metallic and glittering. I have over 30 micas that I use
for stones. Occasionally, I use oxides (lapis is ultramarine blue) but they
dont blend as well as the micas. Always use skin safe colorants.

Liquid colorants and dyes are used on a limited basis
because of the migrating or bleeding. There are times that you may want the
migrating colors. Take note of the black veining on the lapis picture. This
effect is created with liquid colorants. I make watermelon tourmaline by
making the layers dark green, clear and dark fuchsia. I know the colors will
migrate blurring the line of the layers. If you see real watermelon
tourmaline it has that gradient look so liquids work well for that stone. I
also use liquids if I want a clear stone like emerald or ruby. I use the
rock base, with pearlized matching mica and top off with the clear that is
colored with the liquid. The liquid color will migrate but it is not as
noticeable as the other layers are dark or similarly colored. Liquid
colorant is also used in the turquoise and jade soap as I use white base and
micas dont work as well with the white base. They need the transparency to
really sparkle and you cannot get a vibrant deep gem quality color with the
white base and micas.

Essential and Fragrance Oils

Any skin safe essential or fragrance oils can be used. Be
sure you follow the manufacturers directions for safe usage percentages.
You will want to be wary of any fragrances that will morph your colorants.
The most common offenders are fragrances with vanilla. A good fragrance
supplier will tell you in the product description if the color will cause
browning. There are vanilla color stabilizers on the market that work most
of the time.

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Step 2 Creating the master block

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I suggest starting with a basic gemstone rather than the
more elaborate crystal museum type of stones.

You can use just about anything for a mold as long as it
is flexible enough to remove the finished soap. I have custom-made silicone
molds that I use, but I started with cool whip, margarine, zip lock/gladware
type containers. You will have a little more waste with these types of
containers as you will have to cut away the edges to get rid of the shape of
the bowl. With the smaller square zip/glad containers you will get 3 to 4
small stones.

You really cant go wrong with these so use you creative
side to make each stone unique. The following directions are just a
guideline. Feel free to experiment.

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Cold
Processed Soap Rocks/Gemstones:

I really didn’t do the CP soaps as a demo at the Mid
Atlantic Lights & Lather Symposium. I only had an hour of speaking time. I
took the CP soaprocks just to show, but here are the basic instructions for
CP rocks:

What I do is a rebatch without adding any extra oils or
liquids. I make one of my usual CP soap recipes and separate the batch
leaving some uncolored, and do some in several shades of the rock. I use
ultramarines and oxides for colorants in my CP, I dissolve them in glycerin
to avoid speckles.

Once the multi colored soap is removed from the molds, I
grate it on a cheese grater to make shreds, fresh out of the mold so it is
still soft. Then, like making soap balls, I just hand form the soap using
the various shades and white soap kneading it to create the marble effect.
To make the one in the picture with the green and black cubes of soap
embedded in the rock, I just cut up pieces of soap into chunks and worked
them into the softer soap. The soap is very malleable so I form it like
making a snow ball; I added things like coffee grounds, raspberry seeds,
cornmeal, oatmeal etc to get the stone like look. I stop a few times and
flatten the ball of soap, dust on a layer of metallic mica, and fold it over
that made nice copper, silver, gold veins. I then let the soap cure as
usual. Before it gets too hard, for my recipe I wait about a week or two, I
simply cut and beveled the ball into the rock shape. If I have any crevices,
I dust metallic mica into the whole to make a fissure. If there are not
imperfections to dust with the mica, I just take the point of a peeler or
chopstick and make a crevice. (I take the carvings and spray them with a
little water and repeat the process to make more rocks with the leftovers)

I finish by spraying with alcohol to bring out the shine
and allow the soap to finish curing.

Note:

You can make individual rocks by using paper cups. This is a good procedure to use
when experimenting as you can do lots of different colors without using a
lot of soap. Use a pan filled with rice or beans to act as a support for the
cup while cooling the layers. Start with a small amount of your top layer in
the bottom of the cup. I usually use colored, clear for my top layer. You
can tilt the cup to create a slanted soap by supporting the cup in the rice
pan. Allow to cool until firm enough to support the next layer. The next
layer can be the same color family but pearlized or sparkling. Spritz with
alcohol and pour the next layer. It is best to use cooler soap so as not to
melt the first layer. You can tilt it in the same direction or reverse the
tilt for interest. When set up enough, spritz and fill the cup with rock
base also spritzed and cover with melted clear MP. Allow to cool. You will
tear the cup away to unmold when you are ready to carve.

Step 3: Carving

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Once your master block is completely cooled, you can
unmold it. Decide how many stones you can get from this block and make your
first cuts with a large knife. I usually cut on an angle to create more
visual interest.

The next step is to use a paring knife to carve away the
basic shape. You dont want to have any signs of the original container.
First, decide if you want a crystal like cut or something rougher. For the
rough cut just cut away the container shape at random angles. Carve away
until you are satisfied with the shape.

For the crystal cuts, I start by making angled cuts on the
edges to get beveled edges. Cut and bevel all the sides. You can be as
elaborate or simple as you like with the facets. Fine-tuning can be done
with a peeler.

The carved soap may be a little dull from handling, if so,
spritz it with alcohol to bring back the sheen.

If you have any tiny holes in the stone, highlight them by
brushing metallic mica into the crevice. You can create crevices with the
point of the knife, peeler or chopstick. Use a good paintbrush with a chisel
point to paint the crevice with mica. If the mica doesnt want to stick to
the soap, spray the brush with alcohol before dipping it into the mica. One
tip for getting a clean edge on your metallic mica fissure is to paint in
the color, then using the peeler or knife slice away a very thin layer of
soap. You will end up with a striking sharp edge with the gold/copper
sparkling inside.

Advanced techniques – Museum pieces

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Crystal formation soaps that replicate museum quality
gemstones can be made using the same techniques as the basic soap rocks.
These are not really user friendly as soap goes but they are fun for the
Wow factor.

To make the aquamarine stone, I made sheets and sticks
of MP by pouring a layer about 1/8 inch. I colored it with mica and used an
eyedropper to drop in tiny amounts of darker colors to get the shading. I
unmolded it and cut it into strips then filled a cup with the sheets and
sticks. I then filled the cup with melted MP (slightly cooled so it didnt
melt the sticks) unmolded and carved out the shape I wanted. Then you just
place the finished crystal into a bed of quartz MP. The quartz is just
clear MP colored with snowflake or pearl mica, shredded in the food
processor and cut in to shards with a dough scraper. I used a small round
mold, poured in hot MP to act like glue to hold the pieces together while
letting the sharp soap shards to stick up out of the melted MP. After
cooling, remove and roughly carve so it does not have the bowl shape.

The amethyst and emerald and ruby formations are done the
same way. Carve the crystal elements separately and hold together with
shards and hot mp. The Tiger Eye & Malachite are done one layer at a time.
Malachite is dipped in layers. The veined lapis rock was made by using a
large fork to chop up the component chunks creating the craggy edges.
Another layer of dirty soap made with cornmeal, seeds, etc can be added to
the outside to add another dimension by melting MP with the additives and
dipping the piece into the slurry until the desired effect is reached.

The geode is a great way to use up all the scraps you will
have after the hand carving. The center is the same shreds used for the
quartz held together with melted MP, like making a snowball. I melt the
other scraps to get the colors for the layers. It is messy but I use my
hands to dip the center in the melted MP, smoothing and dipping over and
over again until you get the desired effect. Takes a while but uses up
everything so there is no waste.
I finish by dusting metallic mica on the outside and when cooled completely,
cut in half or quarters. I use a fork or chopstick to roughen up the quartz
center to give a more crystal like appearance.

I wrap my MP soaps immediately using a stretch food wrap.
I use Sams Club AEP wrap or the Sams Club premium stretch wrap from
Walmart. Stretch tightly and pull the wrap to the back of the stone then
trim off the excess. I package the wrapped soap in a crystal clear cello bag
for retail sale. For retail stores and craft shows and markets I display one
of each type of gem in a treasure chest lined with gold or velvet fabrics as
sniffer/samples.

Have fun and email me some photos of your finished gems!

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round soap mold