The 2017 Christmas Line Up

There are three Christmas specials this year, Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree & Warm Gingerbread:

The Christmas Line Up 2017

The Christmas Line Up 2017

Candy Cane is fragranced with a buttery/vanilla-y peppermint, and smells just like the Candy Canes that decorate the tree at this time of year:

Candy Cane Handmade Soap

Candy Cane Handmade Soap

Frosted Christmas Tree is a cooler, ozoney scent, with hints of pine & fir (of course!) and green leaves, topped with a star, just like the real thing 🙂

Frosted Christmas Tree Handmade Soap

Frosted Christmas Tree Handmade Soap

And finally we have Warm Gingerbread.  Smells mouthwateringly as you would imagine – freshly baked ginger, cinnamon and notes of vanilla:

Warm Gingerbread Handmade Soap

Warm Gingerbread Handmade Soap

Each bar will be decorated with a festive ribbon and will be available from the end of October.

 

 

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The Week in Soap: 20th Nov ’16

Despite the enforced slow down recently (update on the building work coming soon), there’s still plenty of great stuff going on.

1. The third and final stockist of our Christmas bars will receive their order tomorrow. They can be found in:

  • Glosters, Bank Place, Porthmadog
  • Lotti & Wren, Palace Street, Caernarfon
  • Woodcraft, Beddgelert
Christmas Soaps

Christmas Tree, Three Kings, Candy Cane

I have a limited number available for my local / Facebook customers – I’ll be posting them on the page this week.

2. I’ve finally got my bath bomb assessment – woo hoo! This means that I can now officially (and more to the point, legally!) make and sell handmade bath bombs. That’s one of my goals for the year ticked off too 🙂

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

3. The Dinosoaps are cured and will be posted for sale over the next couple of days. I’ve already received a few pre-orders and I’m confident they’ll sell pretty quickly.

Dinosoaps

Dinosoaps

4. I managed to make a few restocks this week. These are Boho Baby, Delicious & Botanica:

Boho Baby, Delicious, Botanica

         Boho Baby, Delicious, Botanica

5. This week, I hit the 5K followers mark on Instagram. I know I bang on about it but I do luurve Instagram, and this week I was lucky enough to be featured by HandmadeintheUK.  They reposted one of my photos, and if it received more than 125 likes (which it did), then I go forward to the grand final on Sunday (tonight!) At time of writing I’ve not idea how that will work, but I’m excited to see what happens this evening.

6. And finally, you should notice a few more posts coming through from me in future as I’ve committed to post at least twice a week (see this afternoon’s post here), probably on a Sunday and a Wednesday.  Having successfully completed Blogtober I rested on my laurels for a little too long, but I’m back 🙂

Wrapping Gift Sets – A Tutorial

Much of today has been spent putting together gift sets for Saturday’s craft fair:

Gift Sets

Gift Sets

For my Blogtober 2016 Day 26 post (just 5 more to go – hurrah!!) I thought I’d take photographs of the process and share it with you.

  1. Take a (fully cured & bevelled) bar of soap, a co-ordinating facecloth and a wooden soap stand:

Gift Set Step 1

Step 1

2. Fold the facecloth twice to create three layers:

Step 2

Step 2

3.  Fold one third of the length over, and open up the end to create a little pocket:

Step 3

Step 3

4. Fold the other half of the facecloth over into the pocket:

Step 4

Step 4

5. Place the wooden soap stand onto the facecloth:

Step 5

Step 5

6. Place the soap onto the soap stand:

Step 6

Step 6

7.  Take a longish piece of string, ribbon or raffia – I use raffia – and place it under the the facecloth (apologies for the quality of the photo here):

Step 7

Step 7

8. Cross the raffia over like so:

Step 8

Step 8

9. Turn the set over and tie the raffia securely:

Step 9

Step 9

10.  I then slip an information card under the raffia

Step 10

Step 10

11. The secured set, ready for cellophane:

Step 11

Step 11

12.  Place the set, face down, on a large square of cellophane, bring up opposing sides and roll over and secure, as if wrapping a gift:

Step 12

Step 12

Step 13:  Fold up the other two sides – again just like wrapping a gift:

Step 13

Step 13

14.  Cellophane wrapped gift set:

Step 14

Step 14

15.  Take a length of co-ordinating ribbon and labels – I have two labels – one for the soap name and one for the ingredients:

Step 15

Step 15

16. Using sticky tape, stick the ribbon in FACE DOWN on the top right corner of the set, and thread on the labels:

Step 16

Step 16

17. Tie a knot in the ribbon – this makes it much easier to create a half decent bow:

Step 17

Step 17

18.  The finished set – Ta-da!

Step 18

Step 18

The Christmas Specials

This year I’ve made three seasonal bars especially for the Christmas period.  These are limited edition soaps – there are only 29 available of each fragrance – but they’re made with the same luxurious base recipe of highest quality, food grade oils and butters that all our bars are made of.

It still feels rather early to many to be thinking about the holiday period, but these bars need a good 6 weeks curing time, so won’t be ready to buy until mid-November – just in time to start shopping 😀

Without any further ado – here are:

Christmas Tree (Cool herbal fragrance of pine, mint, green leaf and ozone, hints of jasmine and lily and supported by notes of precious woods, amber and patchouli)

Three Kings (A resinous, woody-oriental fragrance with citrus top notes mingling with warm base of frankincense, myrrh and amber), topped with gold mica.

Candy Cane (Buttery peppermint and spearmint with hints of vanilla)

Christmas Soaps

                 Christmas Soaps

Dinosoap!

I rarely make novelty soaps, but I spotted a great dinosaur mould and thought the kids – my kids that is – might like some dinosaur shaped soap.  They were a HUGE hit so I’ve made a few more batches to sell as stocking fillers at the Christmas fairs. Made with exactly the same base recipe that I use for my regular bars, some are scented with a Christmas Tree FO and others with a Jelly Beans FO which is always popular with children.

Hopefully they’ll go down as well with my customers as they did with my children:

Dinosoaps

                         Dinosoaps

This was Day 16 of Blogtober – hanging on in there  😀

Holidays are coming… Blogtober Day 9

There’s no point pretending any different by this point, Christmas IS coming 😀

I’m waiting for my holiday soaps to harden up a little so that I can get them bevelled and generally tidied up before I take some decent product shots, but here’s a first look at what I did with those stars I posted three days ago.  Nothing fancy, but I rather like the simplicity of this one:

Christmas Tree

                      Christmas Tree

Christmas 2015 Soaps

Last year I made just one batch of soap specifically for the holiday season.  I swapped the usual raffia for a seasonal ribbon, and it sold out within a couple of days.  I posted at the time that it was a case of bad planning, but by then it was too late to do anything about it, and I vowed to do better this year.

I was super-organised, and ordered my Christmas fragrances in August (!!). I decided to make four different Christmas soaps. Four different designs made with four different fragrances. If I’m totally honest, I have mixed feelings about this lot, but judge for yourselves:

First up was Candy Cane – a mouthwatering fragrance which blends peppermint and vanilla. I liked this one so much I made a second batch, and good thing too, as it’s proving very popular and the first batch is already sold out.

Candy Cane

Candy Cane

Next I had a plan to create a stylised Christmas Tree design, complete with baubles. My main disappointment with this one is that I somehow had a brain freeze while rolling the ‘baubles’ and I made them two small. To me they should be the same diameter as the baubles on the top of the soap. I also tried to get clever and create some variation in the colours/designs of the baubles themselves by rolling different colours together, but it didn’t work as well as I hoped. Perhaps they would have looked better had they been larger. Anyway, they may look a bit quirky, but they certainly smell like a Christmas tree – the fragrance oil has top notes of pine needles and and spicy, woodsy middle and base notes.

Christmas Trees

Christmas Tree

The third fragrance was called ‘Yule Log’ which, predictably, is a sweet chocolate scent, with notes of bitter almonds, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. I planned to use this fragrance oil to make my ‘Clyde Slide’ entry for the September Greatcakes Soapworks challenge and used colours which are reminiscent of a Christmas Yule Log:

Yule Log

Yule Log

Sadly I was focusing so much on mastering the technique that I forgot to add the fragrance oil – arrrgghhhh! Never mind, I made it again and now have a scented and an unscented version 😀

My final Christmas design for 2015 is a second Clyde Slide – Moonlit Mistletoe – in grey, silver and green. It’s a true unisex fragrance, the top notes are herbal, green and fruity, balanced with spices, amber and patchouli.

Moonlit Mistletoe

Moonlit Mistletoe

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back again soon!

The ‘Clyde Slide’ Challenge Soap

This month’s challenge for Amy Warden’s monthly Soap Challenge Club over at Great Cakes Soapworks is to create a soap using the  ‘Clyde Slide’ technique.  The Clyde Slide is named after Clyde of Vibrant Soaps, who uses this technique to create beautiful (and exquisitely coloured) soaps –  do check out his videos on YouTube if you get the opportunity.

As I’ve just started production of this year’s Christmas soaps, I decided to design my challenge soap around a fragrance oil called ‘Yule Log’. It’s a chocolately, almondy,  cakey fragrance, with notes of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and musk and is delicious out of the bottle.  How does it smell in soap? I’d love to tell you but, um, well, I forgot to add it. Oh well, sensitive noses deserve pretty soap too don’t they?

I used a light brown mica as the base colour, to represent the sponge, and dark brown mica, titanium dioxide (white) and red liquid colourant for the cream, chocolate and holly berries elements. I did consider using a little green too for the holly leaves, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t.

I prepped the soap batter and added the colours, making sure I kept the batter at a light trace:

Coloured soap

Coloured soap

Then I poured the white, red and dark brown soap batters into the bowl containing the lighter brown soap.  I completely forgot to take a photo of this stage, but I used exactly this pattern (this was my second attempt):

Clyde Slide in the Pot

Clyde Slide in the Pot

Usually, when I use the ‘In the Pot’ technique, I would now give the pot a quick stir, just once or twice, but I always stir before pouring.  For a Clyde Slide, you DO NOT stir. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to stir!!

Here it is mid-pour:

Clyde Slide mid-pour

Clyde Slide mid-pour

Then I swirled the top:

Clyde Slide top swirl

Clyde Slide top swirl

And two days later, Ta Da!!  My unscented Yule Log Clyde Slide:

Clyde Slide, The Cut

Clyde Slide, The Cut

And here’s a close up to show the trademark ‘Clyde Slide’ feathering – it’s not a blurred photo, honest :-D:

Clyde Slide Close Up

Clyde Slide Close Up

Many thanks to Amy for her major feat of organisation (apparently there are over 180 entrants this month!), I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other entries. Good luck if you’ve entered!

A Planning Failure

If there’s one thing I’m learning, as the business slowly grows, it’s that planning is everything. Actually, I hope I’ve learnt a lot more, but planning IS crucial. I like to cure my soaps for a full six weeks before releasing for sale, and trying to work out potential demand a good month and a half ahead of time isn’t always easy.  Last year I made two Christmas soaps, and I had a good deal more left after the Christmas rush than I would have liked. How popular do you think a soap called ‘Christmas cake’ is in January? Yup…

This year, I was determined to avoid the same mistake again, and decided to make just one Christmas soap. I chose my fragrance carefully, and opted for ‘Jewelled Cranberry’, described as a ‘festive berry fragrance of juniper berries, elder berries and cranberries with supporting notes of pine nuts, orange peel and crisp apple’ and supplied by Gracefruit.

Jewelled Cranberry

Jewelled Cranberry

I gave it the usual six weeks cure time then posted it on my Facebook Page stating that it was a limited edition. The response was as amazing as it was unexpected – all 15 bars were sold within 24 hours. So that was it, my whole Christmas offering sold out before the end of October!  I was thrilled of course, but also a bit frustrated, at myself, for not foreseeing this possibility. Yes, I could have made more, but by the time I’d ordered the fragrance, made the soap, and waited the requisite six weeks, I would most likely be too late for the Christmas shopping period, and would end up with a surfeit of holiday soap in January again.  Very poor planning from a business point of view, but a valuable lesson learnt for the future!

Oh, and that Christmas Cake soap? I changed the name and it sold rather nicely, thank you very much 😉

Have you made Christmas soaps this year? Please share your links in the comments – I’d love to see them!