Below are the other soaps I made as I honed my skills on the way to a July 2019 Landscape, not Seascape challenge entry. My ability to produce an entry was challenged by my lack of skills, the vagaries of natural colorants, my inability to control trace in small portions of batter and my slow, slow, slow recipes... Landscape #1 - the indigo for the sky was a success and I liked the mountains, but is that the Red Sea and a beach where I was hoping for fields of flowers??? Trace stage/speed and color matter... Also, what are those weird zebra stripes doing in the bottom where the rows of corn should be? Adding annatto and paprika powder from the bottom of my infusions was not enough to give me the bright golden yellow I hoped for in the final soap. The green is sad, just sad. The madder, rose and red clays did not produce the brighter orangey red I wanted. The blue piping worked well, but the batter for the white cloud was too soft. I used a slow moving recipe created by Kapia Mera as my base recipe. It has a small amount of palm in it and I am beginning to suspect that palm is a problem with natural green colorants. This run also turned out to be a bit of a nail biter because the batter turned orange at the very beginning when I added ROE in a little Jojoba oil. Altogether, it took almost 12 hours from beginning to end to make this soap. This is the concept drawing for the soap (in my dreams ) Landscape #2 - I was mostly focusing on getting the greens right, wanted to refine the cloud technique a bit, and hoped for clean layers. I portioned my soap based on Fibonacci numbers (8, 5, 3, 2, 1) and also used color intensity to create the feel of a receding horizon. I built from the top up, meaning I started with the sky because I thought that would help me with the cloud. Look at the lovely smooth top on this soap! But also notice my smooshed cloud, which is a result of not having a firm enough trace given the eventual weight of the overlying batter. The greens here are from matcha tea powder and powdered parsley flakes. The sky color is from indigo powder and the cloud has TD added. Once again, I had little luck getting the soap to reach the desired level of trace and then set up at a reasonable pace and abandoned the idea of clean layering. In the end, I love the way this soap turned out. It reminds me of my MIL’s homestead in South Dakota (see pic). For that reason, I’m calling this soap “South Dakota.” This was the same recipe as above, and it was distressing to watch my bright greens as they started turning brown after I cut the soap. (ETA I kept this soap from gelling in the hopes of holding on to some of the brighter green color. You can’t tell from the pic, but the parsley powder stayed green while the matcha powder went brown despite the loaf mold going into the freezer for a few hours and then the frig overnight. W/ thanks to relle and cmzaha on how to keep a loaf from gelling!) I wrapped the reassembled cut loaf in plastic wrap for a week, which slowed down the discoloration compared with the end piece I left out in the air. (With thanks to Earlene for letting me know I could do that). Landscape #3 - the day I tackled clean layers and got there! Once again I used Fibonacci numbers to portion out my batter. To increase the intensity of a green base color, I used matcha tea infused OO, lightened the batter with TD and darkened it with AC. I’m finding that an infusion gives the best colors for matcha and annatto, but there’s a practical limit to how many different batters you can make, especially when the amount of batter needed for a layer or section is very small. For this run I decided not to make a separate white batter for the sky and just tweaked the colors with TD and indigo. It’s not blue, but it still feels like the sky to me (perhaps during a dust storm ). The pencil lines are cocoa. The “hills” in the top layer are soap seeping up at the sides of the mold. I like the way they look and will probably try to sculpt that top layer if I ever make this soap again. To keep the greens from fading, I reassembled the cut loaf, wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it for a week, which definitely helped to preserve the green color. Alas, I was unable to replicate the lovely green shade I achieved in my very first matcha tea infusion soap (pre-challenge). I noticed that the powder is getting darker with time and I’ve started wondering if maybe the manufacturer packs it with carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases in the bag (like they do with the bagged salads) in order to slow down any oxidation. I’m calling this soap Fibonacci’s Field of Dreams: Landscape # 4 (crazy, right?!?) - A re-run of Landscape #1 with some newly acquired skills and using my lard based recipe, with clove and ginger EOs I had on hand to help with accelerating trace and the set up in the mold. This is one funky smelling soap... I made one portion of batter with annatto infused oil, one with matcha tea infused oil and one plain and then added powders (Spirulina, madder, paprika, indigo) to changed the base colors. The colors are better, except for the wimpy indigo. Of all things, I thought I had indigo down... It was going to be my entry, maybe, but I still wasn’t really happy with it. Skill building interlude - Next up, I played around with trace in a couple of soaps that I don’t show here. That practice led to my sculpted madder soap, which isn’t a green landscape by any stretch of the imagination. I made soap shapers and used a medium to firm trace after reading (very late in the game) about how Claudia Carpenter made her landscape soap, as well as discussions of her technique here on SMF. The simplified version of her technique that I used works well as long as you can keep the bubbles out of the batter! AND THEN THE MICAS ARRIVED!!! Landscape #5 - my challenge entry, described here. Landscape #6 - this one was just for fun! With micas in hand, I went back to a pouring technique I’ve used for my series of “mud soaps” and again used the KM recipe that I used for those soaps. The wonderful Ginger & Lime FO (Nuture) I recklessly used for the first time many have caused a little acceleration in the batter. But, oh it smells so nice... It wasn’t a huge problem until I got to the upper third of the soap, where the light blue and yellow layers wouldn’t spread across the top of the batter in the mold. I ended up plopping the remaining batter into the mold and making giant swirls. Without the lighter layers, the top third of the soap looks more like ocean than sky (which I filed away for the future). My surfing nephews are going to love this soap! Here’s the rough cut. I can honestly say that I enjoyed [almost] every minute of making these soaps, even washing up the dishes. There were a couple of late nights, but it did get faster, especially once I gained some control over the speed of trace.