Blending Natural Colors

Blending Natural Colors

This month's Soap Challenge Club was to color soaps naturally using only botanicals - right up my alley since all of my soaps are already naturally colored! However, there was a bit of a twist. First, no clays could be used for color and I sometimes use clays alone or with another natural colorant to achieve my colors. Second, for the advanced category, the requirement was to have a minimum of three colors and one of those colors had to be a blend of two other colors in your soap. So this was the perfect opportunity to try some new things!

Our guest teacher was Kandra Churchwell from Alo Goods and Soapy Friends. I had purchased her book last year and had been studying it and dabbling in some experiments in between everything else happening on the farm. I was especially intrigued by her ideas of combining colorants to achieve better, longer lasting colors. Such a simple, basic concept in art, but it somehow never crossed my mind while experimenting with different plant colorants in soap all of these years!

I had recently viewed the diagonal sliced, striped soap design video from Soapish again and since I have always wanted to try this technique I felt like the requirements for this challenge fit just what I was looking for.

I always have at least a few infused oils going in the workshop, so the decision became what colors to use. I decided to use a yellow, blue and green color scheme. I already knew that I could get a great yellow with annatto infused in my sunflower oil and the navy blue I had in mind with indigo added to my lye water. French green clay had been my go-to green color for years, but it was pale and clay was not allowed for the challenge. I had experimented with layering colorants the last few months, and had some really good success with that around the holidays to obtain green, but with the challenge requiring a blend of your other two colorants, it was time for some more experiments.

annatto infused oils


I made a test batch of the blue and yellow stripes to understand my base colors better. Now, I've been super busy with the new farm and not making as much soap as usual, so my annatto powder infusion had been sitting for months and got me a beautiful orange color - LOL! My blue was lighter than I wanted, so I tried a second batch with much less annatto and more indigo. I wanted a navy blue and had that figured out, but my yellow layers were still orange.  I was perplexed, as I regularly get yellow from my annatto infusions, but after a bit of troubleshooting, I realized the problem was that super long cold infusion. I pulled a more recent infusion of annatto seeds off the shelf and the third time is the charm! And I actually love the orange I discovered and have something else in mind for that - coming later this year! ;-)

blue and orange striped soap


Now for the diagonal cut - after much searching for ideas, I decided on a wire clay cutter used in pottery making. Let's just say that Tania makes this look soooooo much easier than it is in the video! My cut was not nearly as straight and even as I thought it would be, but not entirely horrible either. Nothing a little smoothing out couldn't take care of!

diagonal cut soap


With the diagonals placed in their molds now it was time to obtain green. I'm a system analyst by trade, so with pen and paper in hand, I did a ton of calculations to figure out the amount of annatto infused oil and indigo to add to my lye water to get a good representation of combining my two colors. Navy blue would certainly give a darker green, but I did want to make certain that you could tell the green distinctly enough from the blue. After mixing up my batch, I was thrilled with the color and have my new go-to green!

lemon mint diagonal stripe soap


So, here we are with our newest wylde soap - Lemon Mint! Blue from Indigofera Tinctoria powder in the lye water, yellow from sunflower oil infused with annatto seed (Bixa Orellanna) and green colored with both. This will be available on the site and at our stockists soon, along with the prototypes in denim blue and orange. Thanks so much to Kandra and the Soap Challenge Club for inspiring me to reach beyond my daily practices and introducing me to new ideas!


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1 comment

This is fantastic, Kim! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your process and following your progress! The orange from annatto will likely fade to a nice yellow eventually, but it seems a bit crazy at first. So glad you enjoyed this challenge as much as I did! Great job all around!

Amy Warden

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