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Naiad Blog

Getting Back to the Art of Soap

Erin Pikor

naiad_monstera_soap.JPG

Inspired by Nature

Monstera Deliciosa soap, molded from a hand carved clay sculpture.

When I started Naiad Soap Arts in 2007 I used soap as a new medium to express my creativity, designing complicated compositions in soap and experimenting with new techniques. Over the years the product line and vision has evolved and most of the creativity goes into formulating or packaging, but I’ve been wanting to reincorporate that creativity and design into my process! This is the first in a series of soaps inspired by my love of nature - Monstera Deliciosa Soap

Final molded Monstera Delicious soaps. now available  here .

Final molded Monstera Delicious soaps. now available here.

I’ve always loved gardening and tinkering with the care and propagation of plants, but like all hobbies I get obsessed with, I’m beginning to have more than I can manage! The bulk of my free time currently is growing and propagating plants, trying to procure new plants, researching how to keep them pest free and happy, and when that isn’t satisfying enough I’ll paint or photograph “plant portraits”. I blame instagram for showing me all that I can have, and human nature for greedily wanting more. On watering inspection day it takes between 2-4 hours to water, prune, de-bug, and dote on my over 50 house plants, and probably 20 more succulent arrangements that I have outside, plus the herb and vegetable garden (which is pretty lacking this year due to afore mentioned house plants).

Just one shelf, in one corner , covered in plants.

Just one shelf, in one corner , covered in plants.

The darling of house plants, the Monstera Deliciosa, had eluded me every time I looked for one at my local home improvement and garden stores, and the price to buy a clipping online as always beyond my comfort zone. To satiate my longing, I created the Monstera Delicious Soap! There’s something intoxicating about the strategically tattered, green glossy leaves which nature has so carefully crafted to allow air to pass through without damaging the leaves, and the fenestrations (natures windows) to allow light to pass through and nourish leaves below. It’s pretty amazing engineering in my opinion - good job nature!

From left clockwise: stencil, soap carving, and first attempt at a clay sculpture.

From left clockwise: stencil, soap carving, and first attempt at a clay sculpture.

First I drew the stencil and tried carving it in a block of soap - that didn’t work so well! The second version which I used to create the mold is made from bakeable clay that I carved and sanded smooth. There were many rounds of sanding and molding, testing, then more sanding, molding and testing. Here is a quick overview of the molding process:

To learn how to make your own custom molds you can purchase my handout through the Nova Studio!

It was hard to get that deep vibrant green color without over saturating the soap so I compromised and did a plain white version and a “variegated” version - green gold and white are one of my favorite color palettes! White is just clean, simple and shows off the shape really well.

My new Monstera Deliciosa plant - I finally found you!

My new Monstera Deliciosa plant - I finally found you!

Mini Succulent Arrangements Project

Erin Pikor

teenie tiny echeveria

teenie tiny echeveria

I love all tings tiny! After buying a few hundred pumice stones, that I never used in those gift sets I was going to make, I decided on a new use for them! These tiny succulents arrangements are easy to make with a few simple tools and supplies.

You can use found stones and wood bark pieces, or buy items found online or at your local craft store.

Finds on black background

Let’s get started!

You’ll need:

  • a hot glue gun and hot glue

  • baby succulents, air plants, dried preserved flowers or artificial plants/flowers of your choice.

  • a base for the arrangement such as stones, branches, or bark chips. Make sure the surface is porous or hot glue won’t stick very well.

  • sphagnum moss

  • Butter knife or something made of metal that will dig into a pumice stone. I have used old wood carving tools that were dull, or small spoons. The process will dull whatever you use, so it is best to find something that you won’t use again for food, or need to keep sharp.

Teenie tiny succulents

Optional:

  • decorative items such as preserved moss, sand, glitter, mini sea shells or starfish. Really anything you like and have around the house.

  • toothpicks or wooden sticks (chopstick, popsicle, you get the idea) to pack moss around plants delicately, and to press decorations into hot glue so it doesn’t burn your fingers!

  • rubber gloves for handling anything that has not be disinfected.

  • fishing line - it is great to tie off moss that won’t hold together by itself.

Finds on Box Top

Steps:

1) First you want to make sure your base and sphagnum moss are disinfected.

  • To disinfect stones and sphagnum moss boil in water for 15 minutes and let the water cool to a manageable temperature before removing stones or moss to avoid burns

  • To disinfect wood bark or wood branches I soak for an hour in water then bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for an hour. Always monitor anything flammable in the oven! You can also boil the wood but it will take longer depending on the thickness, as the internal temperature must reach 180 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Get those baby succulents! Here are some ideas:

  • If you have any growing in your yard or in planters check for fallen leaves that have started growing baby plants. They do that! So Cool! The baby succulents don’t need to have grown roots yet, but if you do find little pink roots shooting out from the new plant, try and keep those in tact as you remove the baby from the mother leaf. Don’t forget to ask your succulent enthusiast neighbors or friends!

  • You can take a clippings of an existing succulent that might have an offshoot growing from a stem.

  • If scavenging for them isn’t an option, then call your local plant nursery to see if they sell tiny succulents.

  • If you are having a hard time finding baby succulents, artificial plants and airplants make an excellent alternative. You can also use dried preserved plants or just make a pretty moss arrangement!

3) The rest is just a matter of gathering your items, seeing that they look nice together, and gluing! For the pumice arrangement specifically here is my method - make sure you are in a well ventilated area, or outside!

carving pumice and inserting plant
  • Decide which side is going to be face up, and slowly and gradually scrape off layers to dig a crater in the pumice stone with your butter knife, or other tool. This will create dust that you won’t want to breathe in so again be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. Make the crater gradually by scraping off many layers of stone and apply more pressure where you want the crater to be deepest. Be sure not to apply too much pressure as it can crack the pumice stone. Some stones will crack regardless so it’s good to have a few for backup!

  • Wrap the base of you clipping with damp moss. It is easiest to work with the sphagnum moss when its damp, but if you are having trouble keeping it together, here is where that fishing line comes in handy.

  • Apply hot glue liberally to the crater in your stone and push in the plant moss side down. Use a chopstick, popsicle stick - whatever you have around to push it firmly without breaking any delicate succulent leaves.

And that’s it! To care for your new mini arrangement keep it misted regularly or place in a dish with water and pebbles. They require less misting in moist environments like terrariums or at the base of any water loving house plants you might have.