Monday, October 28, 2013

My First Craft Show

I am sorry for going AWOL for the week last week, but there are limits to what a body can manage sometimes.  Unfortunately last week blogging was over the limit of what could be accomplished.  I was incredibly busy last week getting ready for a fundraiser/craft show.  It was a fundraiser for HLH which is rare and therefore not studied as much as some of the other more prevalent diseases.  (For more information go to

I had lots of soap made and ready to go, but it still needed to wrapped, weighted and labeled.  So I spent a lot of my time weighting and wrapping soap.  And of course, there was the inevitable changing of plans that is pretty par for the course in my life right now.  Among other things I went to a ladies meeting on Friday night and didn't get home until 11 PM.  It was definitely worth attending, but definitely crowded the schedule.
My soap table

Saturday morning started out COLD.  It was 28* when I left my house to pick up the friend who went with me.  You have to understand that this is a marked difference from the 50's lows that we have been used to.  Mind you I am not really complaining, just noting that it is a shock to the system.

My other table
It had warmed up to about 38* by the time we made it into Crossville, TN.  We found the courthouse where we were supposed to be, unloaded and started setting up for the day.  Unfortunately it was also fairly breezy so we had to make some accommodations for the wind that I had not counted on.  I took almost my full line of products.  The only things that I did not take were my hats and the pacifier clips.  I totally forgot about grabbing the pacifier clips.  OOPS!

My 6' and 5' tables were not enough space.  I used my totes to put my samples and baby blankets on.  Unfortunately we were there on the same weekend as the last car show of the year.  Just about the time we got everything set up and situated, the guys from the car show showed up to set up the speakers for their thing.  Unfortunately we were right in the path of where they put their speakers, and they refused to move them at all.  I was really tempted to go and ask them if their mother's would approve of their manners, but I restrained myself.  Maybe, I got so upset because I am working very hard to instill in my children the same manners that they did not use.  It was very frustrating, but such is life.  We were also informed that the spot we had set up would be loud.   ARGH!  

So we moved to a spot down the block that did not have any speakers.  It ended up being a better place, but the process was frustrating.  As you can tell from the soap table picture, we ended up set up along the front edge of the bouncy house people.  We didn't block them we were just squished onto the edge of the lawn.  However we had sunshine and we were far enough away from the music that it wasn't too loud for customers to converse with us.  After about 2 PM it started getting cloudy so we started packing up a little early.  Needless to say, my product line would not do well in the rain.

Home and unloaded
Now to get everything put away.
After getting everything packed up, driving back to Cookeville, dropping off my friend at her house, dropping off my mom's table at her house and driving home, I was absolutely whipped.  R, my ever so sweet husband, was in the middle of making dinner, so my son, P and I unloaded everything into the living room.

It may take me a week to figure out where to put everything.  I didn't realized I had this much in the way of stock.  WOW!  I didn't make a lot of money, but I made enough to cover the donation with a little left over.  I did however make some good contacts, and that is equally important.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Maple Pumpkin - Awesome

Finished Bars

My favorite part of fall for the last 10 years or more has been going to pick apples at an apple orchard in Michigan.  They make awesome doughnuts too.  My favorite is pumpkin with a maple glaze.  I decided to try to reproduce it in a soap.
With everything but maple syrup

I started by mixing up my oils and adding the pumpkin puree to the oils.  I have discovered that I really like to use un-melted oils.  I mix the oils with my stick blender to break them up this way the oils get broken up and the pumpkin gets thoroughly mixed with the oils.  I then add the lye water to  my oils which melts them.  I have found that it seems to work really well unless my lye water gets too cool.

After getting the lye water mixed in I realized that I had forgotten to discount the water from the pumpkin and the maple syrup.  Oh well, live and learn.  The soap did trace well though.

Adding maple syrup
After I got the soap to trace, I added the maple syrup to the mix.  After I mixed the syrup in and got the soap to the thickness I wanted I poured it into the pre-prepared mold.  After the soap was all set in the mold I mixed cappuccino mica with some glycerin for a glycerin swirl.  Unfortunately, I added a little too much glycerin and so it didn't absorb completely into the soap.  I did have to do a little cleanup afterwards.

I added a brown mica swirl since the
maple syrup won't show up color wise.
I didn't have to deal with any soda ash on my soap bars, but I did get some on my sample pieces.  I half expected to get some due to the extra water in this batch.  Soda ash is not a huge deal to fix though.  I will just have to scrape off the ash before I wrap them.  I did however get some partial gel on the bars.  Fortunately it only effected about 6 or 8 bars.

This soap smells very, very mildly.  There is literally only a hint of scent.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Desperation Leads to Results

A wonderful addition

I have been desperate for a better way to organize my soap recipes as well as other things in my creative area.  To start with since I have samples of my various soaps I needed a practical way to store them.  Since they are small and numerous I also needed a cheap option.  Thank you Lord for clearance buys.  I found pencil boxes for $0.33 each on clearance.  I don't even know off hand how many I got ( a lot! ).  They are wonderful for storing all of those little sample slices, as well as my shaving soaps.  This allows me to store each scent separately so that the scents do not combine.
$5 yard sale find - Thank you Mama!!!!

I started dressing up the bookshelf by giving it a good sanding.  After I sanded the bookshelf, I wiped everything down so that there was no paint dust to mess up the new paint.  I used the paint from the table to give the bookshelf two coats of paint for good coverage of the rough spots.  Now it looks all "spiffy" to quote a friend of mine.  It's amazing how much of a difference a coat of paint makes.

Another area that I was getting a bit desperate in was storing my recipes.  I started out keeping them in folders divided into categories.  This arrangement worked just fine for a while, but it got rather cumbersome pretty quickly.
My less than stellar original storage for recipes

After carrying around the file folders and dropping them once or twice it became pretty clear that I needed to find another way to keep all of my recipes organized.  The idea of using a three ring binder was a pretty easy solution.
As you can see I have a lot of papers to deal with

I started by sorting all of my recipes and my sketches out.  This was not any easy thing, but definitely doable.  I had stacks all over the place before I was done.  It doesn't help that I have multiple sizes for most of my recipes.  This allows me greater flexibility in my soap making, but keeping up with the papers is complicated.

After dividing up the recipes into sections, I started putting recipes into page protectors.  I put all of the recipes for each soap into the same page protectors.  This way when I need a recipe I can go to the soap and pull out the right size recipe.  The new arrangement is definitely saving me a fair amount of time.  It is much easier to find what I am looking for.

New solution
All in all, these changes have definitely helped me to stay more organized.  As much soap as I am making, being organized is a necessity.  Since I have sketches for most of my soaps I put the sketches in the front and the recipes behind.  This also makes it a little faster to flip through the binder and find the desired soap recipe.

All together 
I am linking with the following blogs:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How Things Work

So I have been soaping for almost 10 months now.  I have had to make some changes along the way.  I have also discovered a whole new world of creativity.  I thought that I would share my production process with you.  Not that I have a huge production or anything, but I thought I would share.

Soap cut into logs

Cutting bars with cheese slicer
To start with I have a bunch of recipes already worked up through the lye calculator on  I keep them in folders so that they are ready to go when I have time to make soap.  I even have them separated into categories since I make several different styles of soap, among them tea and bakery style soaps.  I write each date when a batch was made in a list on the bottom of the sheet.  This helps me keep track of which soaps were made when.

After I get a batch of soap made and it has hardened enough to un-mold, I let the soap sit for a couple of hours with the liner off of the soap.  This allows the outside of the soap to dry enough so that it is not so sticky to the touch.  If you have never made soap before, I assure you that this is normal as the soap still has a fair amount of water that still needs to evaporate.

"Icing" applied
When I have time to cut the soap, I start by cutting the soap down the length of the soap.  After I get the soap cut into 2 logs, I trim the ends and clean up the sides.  At this point, with my bread soaps, I use my homemade melt & pour (tinted with titanium dioxide) to pour over the top to look like icing.  After the "icing" sets up, or if there is not "icing", I use a cheese slicer to cut the soap into individual bars.  For those of you who follow my blog, no I am not using my soap cutter that I made.  I need to make some modifications to it.  In the meantime I have a cheese slicer with a blade that I am using to slice bars.
Bars sliced

 After the bars are cut, I trim the edges and add a slight bevel to them by hand with a paring knife.  Next I put them on the curing rack for a few days.  This allows the cut sides to dry enough for the soap stamp not to stick to the soap.  I usually try to allow between 3 and 5 days between cutting and stamping.  I have stamped up to a week and a half after cutting though.  After I stamp the soap it is returned to the curing rack for the remainder of the 4 weeks needed for curing.  Although I will admit that if I get busy it sometimes stays for a little longer.
Trimmed, stamped & ready
for curing rack

After the curing period is over, it is time to wrap the bars.  During the curing period I prepare all of my labels so that they are ready for me to use.  I also have a stack of paper cut and punched for wrapping.  As you can see from the picture at the top, I use a simple kraft paper to wrap my bars.  As you can see I have made little hanging tags from pieces of milk carton.  I use these to make the cure date on so that I don't forget.  Also I found a bow paper punch as someone recommended and I am now using it on my soap wrapper.
The curing rack

The bow detail on my wrapper

I have to send my laptop in for repairs and I don't know how long it will take to get it back.  So if I disappear for a while don't worry.  I will return.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Soap Class

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl
This last Saturday I had the pleasure of showing a group of girls and ladies how to make soap.  We have a group of girls that are learning all sorts of life skills.  They are learning to cook, sew on buttons, repair hems, crochet and other things that could help them be more self sufficient adults.

I started by giving them a base of terminology.  This way I didn't have quite as much to go over while we were in the middle of making a batch of soap.  I explained the basic terms and how to get started when making a batch of soap.

I had pre-measured all of the oils so that we wouldn't have to slow down for that.   We started by mixing our lye water and mixing our oils together.  We added the pumpkin to the oils as well as adding a little bit of cinnamon.  I started mixing the lye with the oil mixture showing them how it looked at each step and having them take a step back from the table in between.  After I got to a light trace, I added some fragrance oil.
Our Cupcakes - everyone got to take one home

After we got everything to a medium trace, I started filling cupcake papers with the soap.  We then put all of them in the oven at 170* for about 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, I put all of the cupcakes in the freezer.

After I got enough cupcakes for everybody that came, I wanted to show the girls how to do a swirl.  I reserved about a cup and a half of soap and added enough cinnamon to change the color.  I poured the pumpkin soap into a lined mold then I poured the soap that was colored with cinnamon into the mold on top of the other soap from about a foot and a half height.  Next I used a skewer to swirl the soap in the mold in a figure eight pattern.

 I really wanted the girls to have some soap to take home with them.  The oven made sure that the soap had completed saponification and the freezer helped to firm the soap back up.  I am a firm believer in the hands on approach.  I also think that trying something new is a very important thing for kids to do.

I am linking with the following blogs:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dinosaur Eggs

Measured soap with dinosaurs
I decided to make some dinosaur eggs with all of the soap trimmings from the last several months.  Since I have a little boy that I have a hard time getting him to wash his hands, I thought that this was a wonderful idea.
Weighting the soap

I started by gathering all of my trimmed edges.  I have trimmings from the ends of the logs as well as from bevelling the edges of the bars.  The soap is the same as the bars except it is in smaller pieces.  I started by putting the bits in the crockpot a couple handfuls at a time.  To this I added a little bit of water.  I kept adding as the trimmings melted down little at a time until the crockpot was full.

After I got the soap all melted down, I added peppermint oil for scent.  After I got everything mixed I started measuring out the soap.  Since the dinosaurs aren't all the same weight and I wanted each of the eggs to have the same amount of soap, I weighted the soap on a cupcake liner for convenience.

Spread out the soap 
I had more soap than I thought.  I ended up with 29 eggs.  Because of the number of different colors of soap the soap for the eggs is wonderfully mottled.   I spread the soap out on the cupcake liner until it was flat.  I put the dinosaur in the middle of the soap.  Then I started by filling the crevices on the dinosaur before wrapping the soap completely around the dino.

After getting the dinosaur completely enclosed in soap, I made sure that the soap was fairly smooth, regular and egg shaped.  This was somewhat complicated because it took a while to get the soap to cool enough to handle and work with (i.e. hold it's shape).  I started with the tops.  I finished all of the tops before scraping all of the soap off of the cupcake liner and finishing the bottom.

After I got all of the eggs nice and rough shaped, I coated them with cocoa powder.  This contributed to the rustic look of the eggs.

Coated with cocoa powder
Formed eggs
The next morning I put the eggs on a rack outside my back door.  I put a fan in front of them and turned it on high.  I did this to blow off any excess cocoa powder.

Unfortunately, our dog was outside.  She had been eating eggs she found while she was at my folks house.  She snatched one of the eggs off of the rack and ran.  I managed to catch her before she actually ate it.  But of course I can't sell that egg.  I can use it for my kids though.  I managed to put her on her run line before she grabbed any more.  It just goes to show life is never dull and boring when you have kids or animals.

I am linking with the following blogs: