Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Like all, I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I had my hobbies and what I liked to do as a kid such as: building legos, making and painting models, running outside in the woods with a stick that I would imagine was a lightsaber and pretend I was on some grandiose jedi adventure in the lush woods of Endor. Going through school with the pressure of figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I had no clue. I still have no clue to be honest. My father made models and prototypes for the Franklin Mint. He was making a living doing (what I didn't realize at the time) the things that I considered as a kid, a fun hobby. He was building models.
A long and ongoing story made short, I will just hit the important highlights here. I ended up going to school for industrial design, product development. Now we are making soap. There nice and simple! I love the process of making soap because it uses one of my favorite aspects of what I went to school for which is mold making. Molds are so important in production so that you can achieve a consistent looking product quickly. They can also be used to make individual, single cast items as well. For Essence of Old Woods, we make square or rectangular bars of soap so the molds don't need to be that complicated. You can see on our reels on instagram, the process we use and the various molds we use to accomplish those shapes.
The other day, I met a woman at one of our local supply stores who makes candles. She makes these amazing looking candles in the shapes of pastries. They look so real you want to eat them, but unless you want a mouth full of wax, I wouldn't suggest taking a bite. She told me to go to Reynolds Advanced Materials in Macungie, PA and just check it out. So we went just to check it out and it woke a sleeping dragon. Literally, as you walk in the door, there are massive sculptures of dragons climbing down towers and Golem hanging from a chandler while trying to catch the falling ring from the lava floor that you are standing on. It was incredible. All the intricate and delicate details put into making each piece. I looked at it all and thought to myself, "how cool would it be if I could make that out of soap?" So it begins.
Now I want to unleash what I've been working on. If you've already been following @essenceofoldwoods on instagram, you have already seen a bit. I started with a simple figure that I thought would make not only a cool casting but also a nice size usable bar of soap. Cue the music and enter Darth Vader.
I had this plastic Vader helmet that I used to be my start. I was worried about many of the undercuts and small details becoming traps for air, but more on that later. I added clay to the inside to make the base of the helmet flat. I placed it into a plastic cup and poured the rubber around it. I then cut the helmet out of the mold and started up a batch of soap. To accomplish the color, we added activated charcoal.
This being the first attempt, there were a number of factors that I hadn't considered. The bottom hardened because it was exposed to air but the insulation of the mold didn't allow to rest to cure so it came out looking like Vader's helmet after being burned with fire.
The activated charcoal, also makes the bar of soap softer so features of the helmet were lost. I could also see where there was bubbles that were caught in the finer details. So I opened up the mold on the bottom and decided to do two things. I poured the soap at a thinner trace and started to place the mold into the freezer for a couple of hours just like someone working with chocolate would have to do.
This was much more successful. I dropped the activated charcoal for this casting and it worked well but that's not the color we recognize for Vader! So I did it again.
I was so excited that each time it got better and better. Sure it's not perfect yet, I still have some bubbling issues, but it is the nature of the mold making process. Besides, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve... a pressure tank and a vacuum tank. I've been excited to share with you this project and let you see what has been going on behind the scenes here at Essence of Old Woods. There are a number of other things as well so stay tuned because we have a couple of new updates coming down the pipeline that we are excited about.