Over the last few months, I have been wrestling with an age-old question that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time. Seriously. I have lost sleep looking for the answer. I have examined my ruler in excruciating detail, turning it sideways and back again as I hold it at arm's length with one eye closed. Does an inch make a difference? What about a half inch? What is the ideal proportion of length to width? Somebody please tell me...does size matter???
Well, not size exactly...more like shape. Do you prefer them shorter and fatter, or longer and skinnier? Which one feels better in your hand? Which one do you prefer to have with you in the shower? I am talking about bars of soap, of course! If you were thinking of something else, I happen to have a lovely bar of handmade soap you can use to wash out your mouth. I know it might look yummy with it's pretty swirls, fancy piping, and sugary sweet fragrance, but I guarantee it doesn't taste quite as yummy...so get your mind out of the gutter. Sheesh! :)
Okay, back to my dilemma. For years, I have been using standard soap molds that produce traditionally shaped bars of soap that are wider than they are tall. Most of my bars have always been 3.5 inches wide and a couple inches tall, depending on the design. When I first fell in love with soapmaking, these were the beautiful bars that stole my heart.
And then, without warning on some idle Tuesday, I saw one for the first time...and I was forever a changed soapmaker. If you hang out in soaping circles, you know what I mean. Yep, I'm talking about those sexy, tall, skinny bars! I don't know what it is about them, but they have cast a sudsy spell over me. I just can't stop looking. A tall, skinny bar of soap is beautiful. Exotic. Stunning. Sexy. Oh man, I just had to have one!
Since temptation had clearly gotten the better of me, I kicked my traditional soap mold to the curb and asked my husband (and resident soap mold craftsman) to make me a tall, skinny mold. Oh my, it's dimensions looked awkward and disproportioned, with a narrow interior width of 2.5 inches and a depth like nothing I had ever seen before. I could barely fit my hand inside this dark abyss...how was I supposed to create a beautiful hanger swirl, or even line the darn thing with freezer paper for that matter?! My tall, skinny soap mold was a foreign object in my once comfortable soap studio, and it was messing with my soaping mojo big time.
Despite my reservations about its awkward size and handling, I was determined to see this sordid love affair through to the end. After all, I was entering this relationship with eyes wide open, right? I knew that I may very well end up with a nothing more than a failed loaf and a broken heart. But it was a risk I was willing to take to experience the thrill of the tall, skinny bar...if only just once. And so I suited up with goggles and gloves, ready to embark upon a night of soapmaking with wild abandon!
Well, let's just say it was everything I had hoped it would be...and more. Not only was I able to do a lovely hanger swirl, but it actually turned out better in my new mold, as I was able to achieve the elusive "Butterfly Swirl" technique.
And there I found myself again...spending an inordinate amount of time staring at bars of soap with stars in my eyes and a smile on my face. I was absolutely smitten with my new mold and the sexy, tall, skinny bars it had just produced. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but from a functional standpoint, they just fit better in your hand than the traditionally shaped bars (especially with embeds, such as raspberries, on top).
Despite my new love interest, I soon found myself feeling a bit guilty about abandoning my traditional soap molds. After all, these were my first true loves of soapmaking. They were with me for my first "soap on a stick," they weathered the dust storm of my first pencil line of activated charcoal, and they graciously delivered my first perfectly gelled soap. Indeed, they have been good to me, and for that I am a grateful soapmaker.
Please, tell me...does size matter??? What do you see when you compare the bars of soap from a traditional mold versus a tall, skinny mold? Do you find differences in their beauty or aesthetic appearance? What about their functionality in the bath or shower? I would love to know your thoughts, because I'm afraid this soapmaker's heart is torn between the familiar comfort of her traditional molds and the exotic allure of her new tall, skinny molds. Which do you prefer?