Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shaving Soap

It is harder to get the soap in the mold when it is
this thick.
Thanks to Bramble Berry Soaps I have a new fragrance oil to try out.  I received a sample of Shave and a Haircut in my order this month.

I couldn't think of anything more appropriate to use it in than men's shaving soap.  I decided to use some bentonite clay to give it slip.  I also used activated charcoal powder for coloring.  I added the charcoal powder to about 1/2 an ounce of glycerin to make it easier to mix into the soap.

Definitely clamp
I had a little extra  ;)
I made the mistake of soaping at a higher temperature so my soap thickened up really quickly.  Next time I will add the lye at a much lower temperature to make a nice swirl.  This time it will probably be pretty clumpy color wise.  I think it will still be a pretty soap.  I also learned that when using a PVC pipe as a mold not only do you need to line the pipe ( which I did) you also need to clamp that mold to the top edge of the pipe.  This I did not do and as I tamped the mold to get the soap all down in the mold, my liner slipped too.  When I unmolded my soap I found rather deep ( 1/4 inch ) lines in the soap where my freezer paper had slid down in the mold.  Next time I will cut off all of the excess and clamp before I start filling, instead of midway through.

All sliced and the color is definitely clumpy.
I unmolded and sliced after only 12 hours.  Since this recipe has beeswax in it I didn't want it to get too hard to slice.  As for the pipe, I got mine from my dad's scrap pile.  It was a piece that had been cut off of an new pipe and they saved it just in case.  You should be able to get a piece at a home improvement store or call around to your local plumbing companies.  I also used what is called a test cap for my bottom end.  These fit tightly and are really cheep.  If you are calling a plumber ask for this too, they usually throw them away.  ;)

This scent smells like what I imagine an old fashioned barber shop would smell like.  I like it a lot although I wouldn't use it myself since I am not a man.  ;)  It is a smell I would enjoy on my husband.  Now I just have to think up a fun name for it.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Natural Soap Colors Reveal

Oil colors
I am getting a little low on soap and I decided to make another batch for my personal use and test my natural colors to see what I happens.  I started by making a batch of soap with no superfatting.  Since all of my colors are already using oil with my botanical additives.

My list of colors:
Alkanet root
Madder root
Gelling in the pot
Black Cocoa
Yellow Dock root pieces
Beet root

Creativity is rarely neat in my world
Some of these I don't know what to expect, but this is the fun of soaping.  Experimenting with color and swirls and discovering new things is part of the attraction for me.  As a side note, beets do not share any of their color if you infused dried beets in oil.  Since I had tried this with my beets I decided to grind them into a paste instead.  This should still work and I won't have to worry about clumps of powder either.   ;)  After grinding them up I found that a great deal of the color appeared to be in the oil.  We will see what happens with the soap.

Heart mold
I started my soap and was mixing each color sample in a 3 oz cup.  I had 12 colors to check, so lots of little cups.  I stirred the colored oils into the soap, added a little more soap and then placed it in the mold.  Each one of these mold openings hold about 3 oz by volume.  As you can see, by the time I got to the snowflake mold I was dealing with soap that had already gelled in the pot.  I don't know how this will effect my colors.  I am looking forward to seeing how all of these turn out.  I will add  pictures after they come out of the molds.

Snowflake mold

Since I had extra I filled my mold.

 After filling all of my molds with color samples, I decided to color the rest and use my log mold.  I used the alkanet, mace and madder to color layers and then attempted to swirl it with a skewer.  We will see what the result it when I slice it.  I am looking forward to seeing the results.

The only issue I can see is the darkness of the alkanet.  Although it didn't color the suds, which is the main concern with dark colors.
Suds on the alkanet

My log mold layers

The snowflake mold

Heart Mold

I am linking with the following blogs:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Picture Perfect

I need new business cards.  I have almost run out.  Yikes!!!  Thank goodness I have a brother-in-law who can help me set them up professionally.  My dilemma is choosing the picture for the background.

I am looking for a picture that conveys serenity and energy all at the same time.  I know it's a tough one.  I also want it to look professional without looking like I just picked a picture out of a book.  This is the reason for using one of my own pictures.  Now I just have to make a decision about which one to use.  I am asking for some assistance with making that choice.

As a little bit of a plus one person (to be randomly picked) who picks the winning picture will receive a one free 3 ounce minimum bar of handmade soap worth $5-6 from my shop.   I have a list at the bottom of the page to chose from or you can go to my shop.  Do be aware that some soaps may still be curing.  In this case I will ship your soap as soon as it is cured.

Giveaway Terms

  • Leave comment with your preference of scent and the number or the picture of your choice.  Each person may only enter once.
  • Giveaway is open to all 18 or older.
  • This giveaway is open to international entrants.  
  • Void where prohibited.
  • This giveaway is open until August 30th at midnight central time.
  • Be sure to leave your comment with OpenID or on my contact page so that I will be able to contact the winner.  E-mail will only be used to contact the winner and will never be sold.  If I cannot contact the winner within 48 hours of the contest ending for your address to ship your prize another winner will be chosen. 
  • The winning picture will be the one with the most votes.
  • No purchase necessary to win.




To choose your picture choice leave me a comment with the picture number.  Thank you for your help.                  
  • Chai Delight
  • Lavender Bliss
  • Rooibos Vanilla
  • Chamomile Soother
  • Southern Sweet Tea
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • White Tea with Peach
  • Earl Grey
And the winner is Linda Bouffard.  I will be contacting you by e-mail today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Natural Soap Colors

The last batch of oils
I have posted before about natural soap colors, but I have some new additions.  I have received the alkanet root powder and the madder root powder that I ordered.  So I am using them for oil infusions.  I have also dried some comfrey out of my mom's garden and infused it in oil as well.

Madder root

With the madder, I used 2 mounded spoons of madder powder and added a little under a cup of olive oil.  I shook the jar vigorously to make use that the powdered madder got completely dispersed into the oil.   This will make sure that as much color as possible gets dispersed into the oil.

Alkanet root
With the alkanet root powder, I used a little more powder.  I made the 2 spoon fulls a little more mounded than the madder root.  I added olive oil to the same level as the other jar.   I also shook this jar thoroughly to fully disperse the powder into the oil.

Both jars went into a crockpot filled with water to just under the rim.  I turned the crockpot to low and ran it for about half an hour for 2 different rounds.  This will speed the color absorption of the oil.

Oil added

As you can see the oil colors are very nice.  I will add pictures to this post tomorrow as soon as it has had some time to absorb color.

I have learned to not only mark the coloring medium,
but also the oil used
I have already learned a few things.  For instance I have learned that it pays to write more than the coloring medium on the jar lid.  The oil needs to be noted also.  Without doing this it is difficult to remember which oil was used and then adjust for the various saponification values.  The only option without possibly over superfatting your soap is to figure the coloring oils into your superfatting amount.  Needless to say this involves more math than I am interested in doing.  So from now on I will be marking which oil I add to the coloring medium.

All shaken up

Never fear, I will show you how these look in soaps.  I have a whole line-up in the works.  Coming soon:  Southern Sweet Tea, Gingerbread man embeds, Homemade Melt & Pour and others.  Hang on folks, it's going to be a wild ride.  ;)

The colors alkanet and madder produce in oil
I am linking with the following blogs:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Scratch Off Coupons

Finished cards
I saw a post on pinterest linking to  I thought it would be a great idea for my shop, but also for fun notes for my family.  After all everyone enjoys a good surprise.
A full sheet of cards

I started with the design I created for the labels on my soaps.  I changed it a little bit to put my information over the letter design.  Next I added the information to be discovered underneath.

The tape

The information is then covered with a piece of scotch tape.  I put the tape on before I cut the cards apart.  This gave me a nice clean edge on the tape.

Cutting strips

Next I cut strips along the width of the page.

Cutting individual cards

After that I cut each strip into individual cards.

Covering with paint

After cutting the cards apart I mixed 1 part dish soap with 2 parts paint.  I put 2 coats on each strip.  A single coat actually cover the wording fairly well, but I used a second coat just to be on the safe side.

As you can see the scratch off strip works great.  And this will be a wonderful thing to add to any orders that ship from my shop.
They scratch off nicely  ;)

I am linking with the following blogs:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making a Soap Cutter

All the wood cut and ready
I have really needed a way to cut my soap bars evenly.  Up til now, I have used a wire stretched between 2 dowels.  Needless to say some of my bars have been terribly uneven, downright crooked even.

Since I have all of the wood I need and it was free, it makes sense to make my own.  After looking at a variety of designs, I have settled on a design that is fairly thin when closed.  This design will be adapted to the type and sizes of wood that I have available.  ( My father gets lots of pallets that his company burns if they can't find a use for them.)  So I have taken apart several pallets to scrounge the wood for this.

My cutter will have 21 wires at 3/4 of an inch with one wire spaced evenly in the remaining opening.  I have re-sized my molds to be 5 inches wide.  This will allow for me to cut each piece in half doubling the number of bars that I can make in each mold.  The wire centered in the remaining space will allow me to cut these blocks into 2 bars.

Using my new toy Thank you Live Laugh Rowe!
I started by making a platform for the cutting frame and the base for the soap to rest on.  This platform will be formed by planks laid across 2 cross planks on both sides.  The base for the soap is raised off of the platform further to facilitate cutting.  There is also a stop bar to keep the soap from sliding out of the cutting area.  There is also the frame to hold the wires for cutting the soap.  This frame is attached to the base with 2 hinges.  These hinges allow the frame to be held stable while cutting the soap.  

While putting the frame together, I found that it needed re-enforcement on the top as well as the corner brackets that I had already planned to use.  So I used my new saw to make some decorative curved corner pieces to mount on the top side of the frame.

Corner detail

For the grooves in the wood to allow the wire to descend below the level of the soap, I used my saw on the stop board, although I had to cut each slit more than once in order to make it wide enough to accommodate the wire.  For the wider boards I used a circular saw set at about an eighth of an inch depth. This was a fairly simple to do, but my back was definitely sore by the time I was done cutting all of the grooves.

The soap cutter closed
For right now, the wire will be stretched between eye screws on either side of the frame.  Hopefully I will be able to tighten them as needed to keep the wire snug.  I may end up using screws on one side and the eye screws on the other.  Only time and use will tell how well my current configuration will work.

With the frame raised for cutting
I will post again to show how it works after I get some bar soap made.  It will be interesting to see what modifications I need to make to the design.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy.

1/22/14 - Couple of notes - 1. Don't make the frame for the wires out of pine.  It is too soft to support the tension that you need to have on the wire.
 2. You need something more like music string tension devices to keep tension on the wire.  I haven't figured out where to get these yet.  If you find a source for something that might work I would be very grateful if you passed the information along.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Butterfly Beauty

I found butterflies perched on some thistles by my house the other day.  They were so pretty.  So with all the rain we have had recently and are expecting this week,  I thought I would share my pictures.  So here is a little slice of sunshine for you to enjoy.

And a bumble bee for good measure  ;)

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making a Soap Stamp

Finished tea pot stamp
Handle ready to attach to stamp
I need a stamp for my soap and even though I have found a few I liked they are not cheap.  Since I don't have a lot of spare money right now, I thought that I would make my own.  This will also allow me to make what I want.

The attempt in hot glue
I decided that I wanted to use my "trademark" for it.  I may make another one if I can get this one to turn out the way that I want it to.  I started by printing out the letters in the desired size.  After my glue gun heated up I started to layer the glue over the paper.  BTW, I covered the printed area with packing tape so the glue would come off of the paper.
First finished stamp

After getting several layers of glue together, I tried to carve the glue and let me just say that the inside edges were less than easy to carve.  After several attempts, I figured that there had to be a better way.  So I started trying to think of anything that would last and hold up, but that can be carved.  I came up empty for several hours, then I thought of using oven baked clay.
Ready to go into the oven

I worked up the clay and got it nice and smooth.  Next I took a printout of the figures that I wanted to use and cut around all of the edges.  I cut into the clay to leave an outline.  This gave me the beginnings of my design.  The clay was easy to carve, but I had to be really careful not to smoosh ( I know it's a highly technical term.  ;) ) my design in the process.
Sanding the surface of the stamp smooth

 After getting the carving done, I then shaped a handle out of clay.  This was the easy part.  After that I placed all of the pieces in a cake pan, placed another cake pan upside down over the top and clipped it with flat metal clips.  Then I put the entire thing in my toaster oven for half an hour.

Trimming edges
After the pieces came out of the toaster oven, I put the handles on the backs of the stamps.  I looked at the stamps surface and saw that the surface was irregular.  I knew that you could sand the clay after it was baked, so I pulled out a piece of sandpaper.  Be aware that sanding the clay produces a LOT of very fine dust.  This is not good to breathe so be careful if you do this.  After sanding, I took my Exacto and trimmed the edges that needed trimming to make them smooth.  After getting everything smooth and trimmed, I went to make an impression on clay.  The letters were backwards.  ARRRGGGG!

Re-make due to backwards orientation

So I used the stamp to make an impression on a thick chunk of prepared clay.  Then I cut out the design using the stamped image as a guide.  After I got everything cut out I used a small paintbrush handle to smooth out the inside areas.  After I baked the second stamp, I finished it the same way that I finished the other one.  As you can see, the stamp works nicely on clay.  I hope it works half as well on freshly cut soap.  I don't currently have any freshly cut soap at the moment, but as soon as I do I will show you the results.

Stamp in clay