Funnel Swirl Modification
Dancing Funnel Soap is a faux funnel swirl technique that uses squirt bottles as the "funnel" to create a pattern of two-tone circles throughout the entire bar. Using the squirt bottles allows you to have more control over the placement of the colors and the flow of the batter. While this is not a difficult technique, I find it a finicky technique and have included tips and tricks at the end of this post.
This fun technique can pack a big visual impact using just two colors. You can make it more complex by using more than two colors. Whatever you are comfortable with!
Let's start with a little soapy inspiration to see the work of other soapmakers.
Claudia from Om Nom Soap at www.Soap.City made this amazing soap. The bubbles are small so this soap took an amazing amount of patience to complete. I love her monochromatic color scheme in this soap too.
One of the neatest things about this technique is that the swirl is throughout the entire bar. Tops, bottoms and sides all have a great look. You can see the different sides in Tatsiana Serko's Dancing Funnel Soap below. With this technique, you can change things up by changing the size of your circles or by changing how you cut it. It can be cut either horizontally or vertically.
The Dancing Funnel Swirl Technique
I recommend a slab mold for this technique. A loaf mold will work also, but you want to hold the tip close when you are placing the dots of color in the mold. The slab mold will give your wrists and hands more room to work. You can also put your mold on a lazy susan to easily turn your mold letting your hands have easy access to all sides of the mold. If you don't have a small slab mold, find easy directions to make your own from cardboard here. The amounts in the recipe below will fill the cardboard board nicely.
For this technique I prefer the squeeze bottles with the long tips. This may be a personal preference, but I found I could control the flow better with these. My "ketchup bottles" tips had too big of an opening for using soap batter at such a thin trace.
Let's Make Soap!
Note: If you have never made cold process soap before, stop here! These directions assume that you are familiar with cold process soapmaking. You will find an excellent beginning soapmaking pictorial tutorial here that will get you started on your first soapmaking adventures.
Since you are literally pouring one dot at a time, your recipe needs to be slow moving and kept at a thin trace for an extended period of time. Your fragrance cannot accelerate trace and be leery of water discounts. Soap Queen's list of non-accelerating fragrance oils is a great resource for finding fragrances that behave in soapmaking.
Below I've included a recipe that will be slow moving. Lard is a great oil to slow down trace in addition to making a hard creamy bar. The water:lye ratio is 2.4 : 1 (water % of oil weight is 34%) and super-fat is 7%.
288 grams Olive Oil (35%)
247grams Lard (30%)
205 grams Coconut Oil (25%)
82 grams Avocado Oil (10%)
280 grams Water
113 grams Lye
25 grams Fragrance
Follow basic soap making steps outlined quickly here.
Step 1 - Wearing safety gear, weigh the lye and weigh the water into two separate containers.
Step 2 - Pour the lye into the water while stirring. Set aside to cool.
Step 3 - Prepare Mold.
Step 4 - Weigh the hard oils/butters and melt.
Step 5 - Weigh the liquid oils and add to the melted oils/butters.
Step 6 - Take the temperature of both the oil mixture and lye solution. Both should be around 100 degrees before proceeding.
Step 7 - Add the fragrance to the oil mixture
Dancing Funnel Technique
Step 7 - Slowly stir the lye solution into the oil mixture.
Step 8 - Give a few pulses with the stick blender and then stir using the stick blender until there are no free standing oils (emulsification stage)
It is, however, possible to have it too thin. If your circles don't form precise circles or the colors just mix together, your batter is too thin. Ideally, the batter should be thick enough so that the inside color can rest on the outline color and expand the outline color as you squirt into it. You can correct thin batter once we start pouring into the mold.
Step 9 - Pour into squeeze bottles and add color.
- Color 1/4 of your soap batter with the color of your desired outer ring.
- Color the other 3/4 of the batter with yourdesired inner ring color. It can be a single color or multiple colors.
- Design will work best when there is a high color contrast between the inner and outer circles.
Step 10 - Using your base color add small dots of color to your mold. When adding the contrast color, hold the tip very close to the center of the initial dot and squeeze about 3-4 times of contrasting color to the center watching it push out its borders. Repeat this step, filling in design until batter is gone.
Step 11 - Lightly tap mold and insulate.
Step 12 - Unmold, cut and cure soaps for 4-6 weeks.
Tips and Tricks
If your batter is too thin and difficult to create circles, briefly shake your squeeze bottles.
Your task isn't to merely put color on top of the dot, but to push out the base color by squeezing the contrasting color into the center. Using the contrasting color to push out the base color is similar to other funnel techniques where adding additional colors expands the colors underneath.
If you merely layer the colors by placing a smaller dot of color on the larger base color, you will run out of base color.
The trick to this technique is using the contrasting color to enlarge the base dot. Think of it similar to blowing up a balloon using air to expand the size of the balloon. Here you are going to use your contrast color to "blow up" your base color into a larger dot. For that reason, it works best to hold the tip of the contrasting color right in the center of the dot and steadily increase the size of the dot but don't try to go too fast. Squeezing too fast, will prevent you from controlling the border that you are working so hard on creating!
This technique isn't difficult, however, it can be finicky. Click each picture to learn from other soapmakers' experiences.
Do you prefer to learn by watching videos? I've included a link for the Dancing Funnel Soap Technique below.