10/24/15

A Ghost (Swirl) Story




It was a dark and stormy night... 

Actually, it was a sunny and clear autumn afternoon when I tried Clara Lindberg's Ghost Swirl

Not to start another Salem, but I think Clara Lindberg is enchanted. She's a soap witch. Just take a look at the soap on her blog. Even her 'ugly' soap is beautiful. No mortal made them. They're other-worldly. Even the name she usesAuntie Clara. You know, from the TV show Bewitched

Her Ghost Swirlwhich she admits was 'conjured' in the very first sentence of her postuses two lye batchesone with a water reductionto create an absolutely stunning contrast of shades.

Visit Clara's site. But beware: No mortal can create soap the way she does. 


Looking at Clara's Ghost Swirl hexed me. I became obsessedno!posessed with it. So delicate and magical. And even though I'd never dabbled in the dark art of water reduction, I decided to try it. But I used Ghost River Oktoberfest instead of water.

I simmered off the alcohol, reduced the beer to about half of its original liquid and froze it. Next two lye solutions: one with 38% beer and one with 26%. A simple bastille recipe and a blend of patchouli and dragon's blood for fragrance. A plastic divider in my mold. Everything at room temperature.

Then the demons brought about a plague.

The batch with the reduced amount of beer went from emulsification to medium trace faster than the heartbeat of a bat. I plopped some into my mold. It pushed its way under the divider like a mad viper. I did my best to fix it, then poured the well-behaving batch on top. Tried to make some sort of design or swirl, but the reduced batch was now too thick. Like mud in a graveyard swamp.

At this point of the process, Aunt ClaraHigh Priestess of All Things Saponifiedtucked her creation into the oven to gel. I couldn't do that since the sugars in the beer would've overheated and caused fire, brimstone and possibly zombie brains. 

So I left it on a windowsill and hoped the undead would find their way to the mold.

When the first light of dawn shone above the hi-rises of the Eastside, I hurried to my mold, popped out my soap and sliced off an end.

Behold! The Ghost Swirl was there! Not very swirly, mind you, but it there were two distinct colorsthe lighter one from the 26% solution and the darker from the 38%. It worked without going through the gel stage!

I did it! I channeled a specter into my soap!


Alas! As the clock ticked through morning and into the night, my Ghost Swirl began to disappear. 

By midnight, a mere ghost of a Ghost Swirl remained. Only visible in certain light. And only during a full moon. And only if you have wolfbane in your pocket.


I will try the Ghost Swirl again using a liquid that can be gelled. That's the real secret.

And of course, being part of Auntie Clara's coven.




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