In my last post I gave a little hint of what was to come in the two subsequent posts, so here, without further ado, is (the first half of) what was shared in the 2015 International Soap Swap.
Six out of the twelve participants are based in Europe, and they are the ones I’m showcasing in this post. We had one soapmaker from Ireland, one from Austria, one from Germany and three (including myself) from the UK.
First up were these bars from Celine of i am handmade If you’re a soapmaker, or a fan of handmade soaps, you may well be familiar with her gorgeous work. I was incredibly lucky that Celine sent an extra bar as a little thank you to me for hosting, and these were the two that I ended up with:
And here they are unboxed:
I chose not to use a single bar until I knew all the participants had received their soapy packages, but as soon as that happy moment arrived, the first one I opened was Celine’s Love + Kisses:
I didn’t think I was making a conscious decision when I picked up one of Celine’s first, but I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time – more or less since I first started to make soap – so perhaps subconsciously I was draw to them.
Love + Kisses is divine to use. It’s super hard, creates a lusciously abundant lather, and the fruity fragrance lingers softly on the skin. I can’t wait to start the second bar 😀
You can buy Celine’s via her website or checkout her FB page If you enjoy watching soapmaking videos (and there are an awful lot of us that do :-)) then you should definitely check out Celine’s Youtube channel.
Next up is this beauty from Vinvela, of Dandelion Seifee:
Vinvela really is an absolute master of swirls, and creates beautiful, fine patterns that I can only dream of. This bar is scented with a blend of amber and lemon which give a deep and complex fragrance which is also refreshing and bright. It’s SO lovely.
She also creates her own packaging – how cute is this? The soap nestles perfectly within the box, and the box is surrounded by the colourful outer band which details the fragrance, ingredients etc.
If you’d like to see more of Vinvela’s skillful soapmaking, just take a look at her blog here
The third soap I received from my European colleagues was ‘Bite Me’ from Wendy of Heavenly Bubbles in the UK.
I just love this packaging. There’s often a compromise between protecting the soap while ensuring that the design can be seen and the fragrance experienced, but Wendy appears to have achieved the perfect balance here.
Bite Me is part of the Heavenly Bubbles luxury silk collection, and the fragrance is delicious. It’s described as citrus, berries and cherries on a vanilla base and to me it’s a sophisticated, grown up twist on cherryade. Finding a true red colour for soap is a bit of a holy grail for soapmakers, but Wendy has cracked it in this bar. Topped with a fine sprinkling of glitter and a perfect little cherry on each bar, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of Bite Me. I love it!
Coincidentally, our second British soapmaker is also a Wendy. Wendy Jones runs Soapy Jones, a handmade soap company based in the Midlands. She created this fabulously appropriate packaging for our international soap swap:
It’s just perfect, even down to that postage stamp on there!
The soap inside continued the theme – take a look at this amazing landscape (or, more correctly I think, seascape soap)
I LOVE the creativity that’s gone into the design. Unless you’ve ever tried to create a landscape soap you probably don’t know how difficult it is to do, and how much skill is involved it getting it just right like this. The fragrance, a fresh green scent called Earl Grey & Cucumber, is the perfect complement to the design.
The fifth European participant was Zacil of Soap & Soap based in Germany. Zacil doesn’t currently sell her bars so I consider myself very lucky to have had this opportunity to try her soap. And not just one bar. Oh no. Zacil was incredibly generous and sent me FOUR to try. This was the bar that all participants received:
Each bar’s packaging was handcrafted and personalised with each participant’s name, and was really well designed to protect the soap whilst allowing a tantalising glimpse of what was within. Here it is unwrapped:
Just look at those amazing colours and swirls! This bar was made with some really interesting ingredients including Babassu, Argan and Cottonseed oils which I’ve not used in soapmaking. There were also one ingredient of which I’ve never even HEARD before – Konjak flour. Turns out it’s a starchy flour popular in Asia. I can’t wait to try this bar out for myself!
The three other bars which Zacil sent me are pictured below, named, from left to right, Midori cocktail, a fruity melony fragrance (with a dinky little soap fruit on top), Juicy Hearts (the colours are amazing) and Century, which has white wine listed as an additive.
You can see more of Zacil’s work on here on her Facebook page
The last participant from Europe was of course myself. Now, I’ve wittered on enough on this blog about my own soaps, so I’ll keep it very brief here – these were the two bars that I sent out for the swap – each participant received one or the other of these:
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back to share the north American participants soon!