But what Irene is really known for in the soap making community is her easy-to-learn techniques on marbling soap. For years, Irene’s marbling techniques have been passed along in the soap making community from soap maker to soap maker like an old time oral tradition. I’m happy to report that Irene has put four of her marbling techniques onto a DVD so that now everyone can learn from Irene. Just like the soap rocks, you’ll want to make and marble some batches of soap right away.
The DVD, simply titled, “Marbling Techniques” gives step-by-step instructions on different ways to create vibrant color swirls in your cold process soaps. Irene says, “I love playing with the color and design movements in the soap. There is an endless variety of patterns you can achieve and I never get tired of seeing what beautiful designs just seem to burst out afresh with each batch I make…Together we will unravel the mystery of marbling while having fun at the same time.”
Now, Irene states at the beginning of her DVD that this is “an advanced course” and that you will need to understand the basics of cold process soap making. (She has another DVD entitled “Basic Soapmaking.”) I agree with her. If you are going to be successful at these techniques, you will need to understand the basics of soap making and also the general concepts of trace, soap making safety, and the qualities of soap making oils. Once you mix your oils and lye together and start to swirl, you need to move quickly, so a solid understanding of all of these basics will be important.
Irene's Soap Making Recipe
With this technique, she mixes one color into a measuring cup full of soap that’s been separated from the main batch. Then the base soap (which has had goat’s milk and titanium dioxide added to it) is poured into the mold, and the colored soap is poured (from two different heights) into the base mold.
Then Irene works her magic using her trademark modified slimline spatula. (It’s a rubber cooking spatula that has had the sides trimmed off.) It’s magic not only because she does it so well, but also because she shows just how easy it can be if you follow the techniques she shows.
In the next batch, she uses a “Squirt Bottle” marbling technique. In this three color batch, she separates out three portions of mixed soap and mixes three different colors into about ¾ cup of soap each. These colors are then put into squirt bottles. Then, after pouring the base soap into the slab mold, she drizzles and squirts the colored soap into the mold using the bottles. Using her spatula, she then marbles the color through this batch. “Can you tell I’m having fun? I love marbling!”
In the third section, she demonstrates "Marbling in the Pot". (This is the first technique I ever learned and is the technique I use in my soap making basics tutorial.) In this batch, she mixes two colors in cups of separated soap, and instead of pouring the colored soap into the slab mold, she pours it into the soap pot that she mixed the main batch in. Then the whole pot is poured into the mold and (using the super spatula) swirls it marvelously.
Her fourth batch uses a technique that all of the soap makers I know who have seen this video have been really amazed by. In this batch, she marbles in a loaf mold. As she shows in the first three batches, marbling is pretty straightforward in a slab mold. But how do you do it in a loaf mold? In a loaf mold, the bar is situated sideways. You can do a layered type soap, and do some mixing like I did in this blue and white swirled soap, but you can’t quite get the lovely intricate marbling that she made in the other batches. Well, Irene solves this with a tool just as innovative as her trimmed spatula and shows that intricate marbling can be done in a loaf mold!
In this DVD, it feels like you’ve brought a long time friend into your kitchen who is sharing some of her soap making recipes and techniques with you. Irene is charming and funny, with not a bit of pretention, and her teaching style is very clear and easy to follow. She makes marbling look so easy – and if you follow her techniques, it really is. I know this first hand – I have learned how to swirl from Irene, and from soap makers who learned from Irene. (Many of you who have learned how to swirl from articles on this site have in effect learned from Irene as well - the soap making tradition does indeed get passed on from soap maker to soap maker!)
Irene's real gift is that she makes marbling (and soap making in general) look so fun! I don’t recommend watching this DVD unless you’ve got the ingredients and time to immediately go make some batches of soap!