How-To: Pencil Lines
If you’ve ever used handcrafted soap, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen soap with a pencil line, or a thin line of mica or other colorant that separates the soap either in the middle, or even in a marbling pattern. What you may not know is that this is actually a very simple technique that can be used with any process of soapmaking, although there are certainly tricks to each; all you need is a tea strainer and some imagination!
Cold process soapmaking is a treasure trove of creative design opportunities when it comes to soap, and the pencil line is no different! To create the pencil line effect in your cold process bar, follow these easy steps.
- Measure approximately 1-2 tablespoons of your pencil line colorant into a tea strainer or other small strainer of your choice; be sure that whatever you are using will fit through the mesh.
- Bring your tried and true recipe to trace and add any other colorants and fragrances as you normally would.
- Pour half of your batter into your prepared mold and tap the mold gently to eliminate bubbles.
- Hover the colorant-filled tea infuser over your half poured soap and gently tap the side of it, moving back and forth over the soap to produce an even coating of colorant. Avoid making too thick of a layer! If your pencil line is too thick, your soap will separate at the line. Think of it as a dusting instead of a blanket.
- Using a towel or paper towel, wipe the inside walls of your mold just above your pencil line to avoid unwanted colorant getting on the top of your soap.
- Pour the remainder of your soap into the mold by deflecting it with a spatula or spoon, and keep it close to the surface of the pencil line to avoid scattering the colorant.
And that’s it! Cure your soap as you would any other time; we’ll discuss cutting it at the end of this article.
Hot Process Pencil Lines
Doing a pencil line in a hot process soap can be a little more tricky, but it is still completely possible.
- Measure approximately 1-2 tablespoons of your desired pencil line colorant into a tea strainer or other small sifter/strainer and set aside.
- Prepare your soap batter as usual, complete with colorants and fragrances if desired.
- Fill your mold halfway with your batter, mindful to tap the mold when you have done so to create an even surface.
- Hover your strainer over the surface of the soap and tap the side of the strainer gently to produce a light, even dusting over top as you move it back and forth. Avoid layering the pencil line colorant on too thick, as this can cause your soap to separate. A light dusting will do the trick.
- Clean the inside walls of your mold above the pencil line to avoid unwanted pencil line colorant mixing with your top layer of soap.
- Carefully spoon the remainder of your batter into the mold directly and somewhat quickly; avoid spreading the soap with a spatula. Tap your mold once it is filled to be sure that it is completely settled.
As with the cold process method, allow your soap to fully cool and cure.
Melt and Pour
Melt and pour can be a bit more difficult when it comes to creating a pencil line, but it can be done. Although simple sprinkling a colorant on as we do with cold process and hot process will most likely make your soap break at the pencil line in melt and pour, you can also take a small amount of melt and pour batter and color it with the desired pencil line colorant for a similar effect. If you choose this method, be sure to deflect your pour with a spoon or spatula close to the surface of your first pour to avoid splashing and unwanted mixing.
Time for the Cut!
Your soap has cured and you are ready to see that pencil line! Before you cut your soap, tip it on its side; this will help any bleeding colorant to travel along the pencil line instead of mixing into your bottom layer of soap.
Pencil lines can create symmetry or when used asymmetrically, can create a beautiful marbled look for your product. Experiment with colors and designs to incorporate this elegant method into your current line!