Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's

Silver Dapple: Bespoke Soap

posted in: Auntie Clara's Blog, Blog Post | 28

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to make her a grey soap. This friend is a lovely lady passionate about nature conservation and animals, horses in particular, and she has a large, immaculate and very tastefully decorated home. She has a great eye for style and she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like. Being a great lover of animals she wanted a sustainable soap made without any animal derived ingredients – obviously with all-natural fragrance.

The beauty of handcrafting soap in small batches is that I’m able to accommodate a request like this: I can design and formulate a bespoke product to the unique needs and wishes of a specific customer. Since I love a good challenge I really enjoyed planning and creating this soap.

Grey is not a shade that I normally try to achieve in soap. Grey tends to be the outcome when things go wrong in soapmaking. Grey is what you get when you don’t use enough colourant, when you don’t mix colourant properly, when you overdo swirling or when the colourant you use cannot handle the high ph and heat of saponification and morphs from its original colour. Grey is a shade that nature gravitates towards but it’s seldom valued in the world of soapmaking. So to now make grey on purpose was a welcome break from my normal soaping pattern – every once in a while it’s good to take the path less traveled.

I still wasn’t comfortable just churning out a solid grey soap – baby steps here – and as I was looking for ideas of what to do with the grey I found this pic of a dappled Silver Islaender horse:

Here was my inspiration! The colour contrast between the blonde mane and the darker, dappled coat was just what I needed to add interest and definition to my grey soap. And since my friend loves horses I had a good feeling about this.

A grey with a dappled effect was what I wanted. But how do you create dapples? You could just whisk in some air bubbles or add shreds of a slightly lighter coloured soap, but that doesn’t give quite the haloed effect of a dappled coat. I came across the answer to this question by accident about a year ago when I made this soap:

Jaws Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's
‘Jaws’. Shark soap made with hydrolyzed mermaids’ purses for a young friend aspiring to be a marine biologist

Back then I had added a small amount of fine sea salt at trace and much to my surprise each grain of salt took on a ‘halo’ – creating a very dappled effect. Knowing that, I could now put my ‘accident’ from a year ago to good use in my grey soap by adding about a tsp of fine sea salt ppo at trace and making sure that the soap went through a full gel phase.

Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's
Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara’s

As far as the oils are concerned I often chose to use tallow as a sustainable ingredient to add hardness to soap and make it longlasting. By using tallow I make use of a by-product that would normally go to waste, I source it locally and tallow has excellent soaping properties being both mild and gentle – and very hard in soap. But since I wasn’t going to use any animal derived ingredients in this soap I formulated a beautiful and luxurious oil blend with shea butter, avocado oil, castor bean oil and a row of other goodies – and it feels wonderfully creamy!

The fragrance brief was clear: a big yes to lemongrass and florals and a no to anything smoky. The essential oils blend I created has a body of rose, geranium and bergamot, lemongrass and a little neroli for brightness and just a suggestion of patchouli to tie it all together. I’m deeply in love with it now and luckily I have it well recorded for future reference.

The only colourant I used in this soap was a small amount of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has natural detoxing properties and in soap it can be gently exfoliating depending on particle size. For a bit of extra definition I added a charcoal pencil line between the grey and white layers.

Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's
Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara’s


To top it off I gave it a little zig-zag river of grey poppy seeds that match the grey but provide an interesting contrast in texture.

Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's
Silver Dapple Top



Now I just hope my friend will like it once she receives it after cure!

Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara's
Silver Dapple Handcrafted Soap by Auntie Clara’s




28 Responses

  1. Vicki

    Beautiful soap Clara! I was really interested to read how you get the dappled effect – it’s really effective, and the design on the top give it real sophistication – I’m sure your friend will love it!

    • Clara

      Thanks! I hope she will. I thought it was rather cool to be able to make use of my salt ‘discovery’ like this.

  2. Silvia

    Hi Clara. Your Silver Dapple soap is beautiful and elegant, just like the rest of your soap creations. I have only recently discovered your blog and I simply love the finesse of your soaps, the ease of your writing, and your gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing your soaping tips and for being an inspiration. πŸ™‚

    • Clara

      Thanks Silvia! I really appreciate your kind words. I also just recently came across your blog and I love your style, both in soap and photography! πŸ™‚

  3. Cindy

    Clara – I, too, am a new follower – thanks to a fellow soaper in my area here in Arizona. Since I never made a “mistake”, I would never have known about the sea salt! I have to tell you right out that I will have to try this just to see it up close and personal. Those who believe no mistakes are ever made, but happen for a reason understand why soapers, in particular, NEVER make mistakes!! Thank you, Clara for your wonderful blog and exciting posts!

  4. Maja

    Where have you been so far? I see I’m not the only one who recently discover your blog. Now, I need to take a gooood look here, I know there is much to see.
    It’s good that you can recreate the things you got unintentionally. Your friend will love this soap and I would like to smell it.

  5. Gordana

    As all your other soaps this one is also pure elegance. I really admire simplicity of your creations turned into stunning soap designs! I am so glad that I found your blog and I really enjoy reading it.

  6. christina

    I discovered your blog after a fellow soaper posted it on our facebook community. u have done such an excellent work here

  7. Danee

    Let me cut to the chase….I don’t soap. Ok, so I have made a few batches of melt-and-pour but the last time I did it I used some fragrance oils that I still gag just thinking about the smell…I’m more of an essential oil kinda gal. I digress-typical- i found a few soapers on YouTube and have been hooked on watching soaping ever since. I am an avid and experienced crafter of all sorts of media and soaping just seems to hit my creative nerve hard.. Anyway, I found you via a Pinterest pin and am in LOVE with your gorgeous soaps and after having read only a few of your blog posts can honestly-and with certainty -say that I LOVE your blog. You blog to teach…to share your knowledge, insight, mistakes and successes. For me, blogging is about teaching and sharing experiences. Sadly, I have a lot of trouble finding blogs and bloggers who inspire me and who teach me something NEW. More and more I am finding bloggers- big time bloggers with lots of followers- showing tutorials for projects that aren’t done well and rarely does anyone teach the concepts but rather a specific project. I love that you do both teach and inspire.. I thoroughly enjoyed your glycerin rivers experiment and am thrilled to finally understand what “water discount” means and why it is used. Enough babbling…. I just wanted to let you know that I find your blog fascinating and your soaps beautiful and unique. There is something about how you pay attention to the details that gives you such a beautiful end product. I love the way your cut soap looks- so much more interesting and graceful than the horrific pipping I see so often on soaps…or the spoon swirly ploppy top that often is added when the soap accelerates and the soaper still wants to add something “decorative”. It usually ends up looking less “artsy sophisticated” and more “hot mess”. Oh yeah, and this grey soap you made your friend is STUNNING. I am in the middle of a passionate love affair with grey that has been going on for 5 or 6 years and I can’t get enough of it. Can’t wait to read your next post.

  8. Laurie

    Clara, your techniques, presentation and calm joy/grace attitude really shine through your words and photos here. Elegant is how I’m describing your site to my friends. I look forward to everything you say about Africa and your work with soap !

  9. Hilda

    Wonderful , I am still learning a lot , haven’t found my style yet , but I know what I like , thanks for all the knowledge you share it is very valuable to me and to many others .

    • Clara

      Glad you find my blog helpful! Stay true to what you like and you’ll find your own style.

  10. Anna

    This soap is just absolutely gorgeous. I am a hot process soaper and I am going to give this a try the HP method and see how it comes out. I just found your blog and am looking forward to spending some time here. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Clara

      It will be interesting to see how it works with HP and if you can get the halo effect without the high pH environment of saponifying soap. Hope it works!

  11. Deb

    How do you ensure gel phase through the whole batch? Especially when using lower temperatures. I read one blog that instructed on using the oven. Do you do this?

    Warm regards,
    Massachusetts, USA

      • Deb Hohenstein

        Thank you for responding! Question. When you work with a low-water soap don’t you already then have a hotter batter? You will still put it in the oven at 170 degrees F (that’s the lowest my oven goes to) to ensure gel phase? … and for how long if that is not asking too many questions. Deb

        • Clara

          I ovenprocess low water soap not so much to ensure full gel, as to ensure quick and even saponification without risking glycerine rivers or soda ash. A low water soap may well go through full gel at 170F, but will only go through partial gel at 60C. Partial gel here refers to a phase where crystallized and uncrystallized soap is mixed throughout the soap. Low water soap will get warmer, everything else equal, but any given temperature will have less effect on a low water soap because there is less volatile water content.

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