Throwback Thursday (Blogtober 26)

As the Blogtober juggernaut trundles on, I thought it would be interesting (and easy!) to make the most of the fact that it’s Thursday and do a quick #throwbackthursday post. I’ve kept photos of every single batch I’ve ever made so I dug out the earliest incarnations of some of the varieties that are still in the current range to compare them to today’s version…

Original Bewitched

First Bewitched

Current Bewitched

Bewitched

Original Blodau (Flowers)

First Blodau (Flowers)

Current Blodau (Flowers)

Blodau, tidied up

Original Clarity

First Clarity

Second Clarity

Second Clarity

Current Clarity

Clarity (lemongrass & clary sage)

First Delicious

First Delicious

Current Delicious

Delicious

Original Luscious Lavender

First Luscious Lavender

Current Luscious Lavender

Original OMH

First Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Current OMH

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Original Serenity

First Serenity

Current Serenity

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

Phew! It’s becoming clear that I can’t keep this ‘blogging every day’ business up for much longer – I’ve gone from writing posts a few  days before (organised huh?) to posting them less than an hour before deadline…

Just 5 more days to go, I can do this 😀

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

 

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A Name Change (Blogtober 8)

For the last few months I’ve been working on a mountain design. I live in the heart of Snowdonia, practically at the foot of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) itself, and wanted to make a bar of soap that might appeal to the many walkers and climbers who are drawn to the area.

The last version of Yr Wyddfa looked like this:

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa

Although they proved to be really popular (and I sold all 30 bars in record time) I wasn’t happy with the design.  Firstly, Snowdon doesn’t look like that. Secondly, (faint of heart look away now) it looked like a big ole pile of dog s**t. Not what I want people to be thinking when they look at a bar of my soap!!

So, anyway, a few weeks ago I made another attempt using the sculpted layers method. (I need to make another batch soon so I’ll try to do a tutorial at that point, but in the meantime there’s a great tutorial here by Danica of Seife & Anderes.  I had thought that this method would give me uniform bars, all with a similar looking mountain scene, but nope, I think I need a fair bit more practice for that to be the case…

New version, to be renamed 'Eryri'

Yr Wyddfa reinvented…

Although these mountains look much more realistic, they still don’t look like Yr Wyddfa, and are clearly not uniform.  Pondering this dilemma I had a lightbulb moment.  I’ll just change the name of the bar from Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to Eryri (Snowdonia).  We have so many mountains in Snowdonia, why limit myself to trying to reproduce one peak when I could potentially represent them all? 😀

The colours aren’t quite right in these, I think I need to revert to my dog s**t colours!!

So, introducing Eryri (Snowdonia). It’s fragranced with a blend of peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, patchouli and lime essential oils – a fresh, outdoorsy scent.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vickx

The Week in Soap: 24th Sept, ’17

Just a quick catch up this week. Posts have been fairly few and fair between over the last couple of weeks because I’m gearing up for Blogtober – every time I think ‘Ooh, that might make a good blog post’ I decide to save it for next month…

I was waiting for supplies to arrive last week so I only made one main batch of soap – a remake of ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (Snowdon):

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

I’ve been trying to find a better way to create this design – this was the previous version which, while it sold really well, has, to me, more than a passing resemblance to *ahem* dog mess :-/

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa

and when I saw the lovely designs created and document by Danica on her blog Seife und anderes, I realised that the sculpted layers technique might just be the way forward. There’s a great description of the technique on Danica’s blog, so I won’t go into details here (and anyway, I forgot to take any photos of the process, I was so anxious to get on with it – next time I will definitely document it better) so here’s the final result:

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

The colours aren’t quite right this time – the mountain needs to be more grey, and the greenery needs to be more, well, green… but I’m getting there.  It’s fragranced with a blend of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and patchouli.

I also made another batch of dinosaurs and more stars for the next batches of Frosted Christmas Tree (which I still need to photograph to show you – oops!)

Star Embeds

Star Embeds

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a selection of green mica samples from U-Makeitup and this week they arrived – a lovely collection:

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples - labelled

Green Mica Samples – labelled

Oh, and the Christmas ribbons have started to arrive – I know it probably still feels a bit early but I’ve already had a wholesale order for my Christmas range for delivery by 22nd October, so there’s no time to be to complacent…

Christmas Ribbons

Christmas Ribbons

Thanks for reading – my next post will be the first of this year’s Blogtober posts on the 1st of the month (next Sunday – eek!)

 

Makeovers (5. Lavender)

New Year is generally a time for looking forward for me (I’m still working on those 2016 business goals I touched on in my last post) but last week I was browsing and sorting (supposedly – I’m easily distracted 😉 ) through my HUGE collection of soapy photographs and I came across some from the early days.  I can remember being SO proud of this one – my first every straight lavender essential oil soap:

Luscious Lavender

Luscious Lavender #1

Note the rounded corners – I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of silicone liners lol… You can also see the signs of a partial gel here too.

It wasn’t long before I began standardising (and simplifying) the swirls, and this was the next incarnation – an In The Pot (ITP) swirl:

Luscious Lavender

Luscious Lavender #2

I went through a phase of experimenting with mica in oil swirls on the top of the bars – though I’m not sure why I thought this was a complementary colour for the top-swirl…

Luscious Lavender #3

Luscious Lavender #3

When it came to developing a cohesive range I decided to make all my essential oil soaps with a drop swirl, and so came up with this two colour lavender drop in a white base:

Luscious Lavender #3

Luscious Lavender #4

The colours have remained the same ever since – I use titanium dioxide for the base and two micas called ‘grape’ and ‘lilac beauty’ for the drops:

Luscious Lavender #4

Luscious Lavender #5

Luscious Lavender #5

Luscious Lavender #6

Thanks for checking in – I really do hope to be back soon with those 2016 goals!

Makeovers (4: Delicious)

One of my best sellers is, quite literally, ‘Delicious’.  It’s fragranced with a dupe of the DKNY fragrance ‘Be Delicious’ which has the fresh scent of apples blended with floral / woody fragrances.  To date I’ve always made it with a simple ITP swirl (with apologies for the lighting on the bottom bar):

Delicious - ITP Swirl

      Delicious – ITP Swirl

When I’m against the clock and frantically trying to get my stock levels back up, an ITP swirl is mercifully quick to execute. But, for me at least, they are unpredictable, and the colour distribution isn’t always as I would like. So I decided to try using the same colours but with a drop swirl, and this is how it came out:

Delicious - Drop Swirl by The Soap Mine

           Delicious – Drop Swirl

I LOVE it! So that’s me with one less ‘quickie’ during busy stocking-up soapmaking sessions, but I reckon it’s worth it 🙂

It has though brought to mind an ongoing dilemma I have about what’s most important when it comes to the soaps that I create. I put a lot of thought into what oils and butters go into my bars to give them skin-loving, super-lathering properties, but then I hear people say that they look too pretty to use. It’s a phrase I’ve heard at every single craft fair / Christmas market I’ve ever sold at.  I know people are being complimentary but – Noooooooooooo! Use them! Use them, then buy more 😀

 

 

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!

Soap in the Mould

Freshly made soap, in the mould, has such a vibrancy and gloss about it, I can’t help but take a photograph every. Single. Time.  Here are some of my recent favourites:

‘Delicious’ is fragranced with a dupe of a DKNY fragrance and is described as ‘A fresh, green floral fragrance of crisp green apple, watermelon, cassis and a hint of cucumber’ and underneath those green waves is an In The Pot swirl.

'Delicious' Handmade Soap in the Mould'Delicious' Handmade Soap in the Mould

‘Delicious’ Handmade Soap in the Mould

I wrote about the redesign of Tutti Frutti in my last post here. It’s scented with a very fruity Jellybeans fragrance oil, and this time I’ve kept the same design but have tried to intensify the colours somewhat so that they’re brighter in the finished bars. The soap batter was very slow to trace this time (not sure why – same recipe, same fragrance :-s) so rather than attempt to texture the top I just swirled the colours together, and I love the effect it gives.

'Tutti Frutti' handmade Soap in the Mould

‘Tutti Frutti’ Handmade Soap in the Mould

And last (for now!) is a batch made with a new-to-me fragrance – a zingy, citrussy scent with pink grapefruit, kumquat, orange, and cranberry –  I’ll soon be running a little competition to come up with a fitting name so get your thinking caps on…

Cold Process Soap in the Mould

Soap in the Mould – name yet to be decided!

Cut pictures to follow just as soon as I get round to taking them 😀

 

Makeovers (3: Tutti Frutti)

Tutti Frutti is one of the soaps from my fragrance oil range and is particularly popular with children and young people   Scented with a fruity fragrance oil, it has both berry and citrus notes on a sweet vanilla base and is reminiscent of jelly beans. When I first started using it in soap, I wanted a design that reflected the complex fruity gragrance, and came up with this four colour bar:

1st Incarnation of Tutti Frutti

1st Incarnation of Tutti Frutti

When I decided to standardise my designs last year, I chose the In The Pot (ITP) swirl from my fragrance oil soaps. I wanted to keep the multicoloured idea, and so this is what happened:

2nd Incarnation of Tutti Frutti

2nd Incarnation of Tutti Frutti

It sold ok, but to me it looked messy, and not particularly appealing, so I had to think again.  This is the current Tutti Frutti design. I’m much happier with it, despite it being a little more time consuming to make, and doesn’t really fit, design-wise, with the rest of the range (but rules are made to be broken eh?!).

3rd incarnation of Tutti Frutti

3rd incarnation of Tutti Frutti

My Soap Mountain is Growing

Well, I said I wouldn’t leave it so long next time and I’ve been as good as my word – only a month has passed since I last posted and I’ve awarded myself an end of term grade of C- for consistency. I think that’s usually considered a ‘Must Do Better’ grade 😀

I’ve not been idle though. The Soap Mine soaps are now being stocked in THREE retail outlets, and I’ve got my eye on another.  I’ve also been accepted to sell at a local monthly craft fair – the first of which is in just over 2 weeks time.  Soooo, I’ve been soaping like a demon. Originally it was to make sure I had enough for the launch of the website (and before you ask – nope!) but now I also need to make sure I’ve got enough for the three shops and the market – eeek!  I’m finding it quite hard to plan how many bars to make, given that I always work with a 6 week cure time, and I have no idea when, or how much, the retailers will reorder.  I suppose it’s not ‘Best Practice’ business-wise to work in such a way, but all three retailers are quite small concerns, and it would be difficult to get them to commit to taking, say, a set number of bars a month, until they’ve at least got some idea of how well (or otherwise!) they sell.

So, as the title says, my Soap Mountain is growing! My poor mum’s dining room (nope, we’ve not moved either!) has become a soapy storage area, and I’m constantly on the lookout for more storage crates, boxes and anything suitable I can get my hands on.

Anyway, these are some I made a few weeks back – I’ve got a lot more to share once I get round to photographing them!

Blackjack:

Blackjack CP Soap

Blackjack – Aniseed & Spearmint EOs

Chocolate:

Chocolate FO ITP Swirl

Chocolate FO ITP Swirl

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs:

(I’m struggling to come up with a name for the one so if anyone has any ideas I’d appreciate suggestions)

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs

Orange & Ylang Ylang EOs

Serenity:

Notice the similarity between this one and Blackjack above? My mistake – I didn’t expect the darker blue in this one to be quite so dark, so the two bars are more alike than I wanted them to be.

Bergamot, Patchouli, Red Mandarin and Ylang Ylang EOs

Bergamot, Patchouli, Red Mandarin and Ylang Ylang EOs

Finally, just because I love it – a mica swirl on the top of my last batch of Luscious Lavender. Cut pictures to follow – eventually 😀

In the mould Lavender Mica Swirl

Lavender Mica Swirl

Thanks for checking in – especially those of you whose blogs I’ve not had the chance to catch up on for what feels the longest time – I’ll get back to you soon I promise!

 

A Quick Catch Up

So my poor blog has been sorely neglected again – six whole weeks since my last post!! I think that’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without posting, so I’ve had a word with myself, am suitably chastened, and will not be leaving it so long again 😀

Ok, lets get the inevitable out of the way.  No, we’ve still not moved into our new home, and no, the website isn’t ready yet. Both still trundling along though, so I should be able to share good news on both fronts at some point 😉

The great news is that two local retail outlets have now agreed to sell The Soap Mine soaps. Woop!  They’ve each taken a dozen soaps to display in their shops, and if they sell, they’ll take more. Fingers crossed!!

I’ve been busy building up stock levels again – sticking to the plan of ITP Swirls for FO soaps and Drop Swirls for EO soaps I wrote about last time:

Welsh Rose

Welsh Rose (ITP Swirl)

Welsh Rose is actually made with an FO called English Rose, but living in Wales, what else could I call it?!  Coloured with TD and pink mica.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey ITP Swirl

OMH (ITP Swirl)

OMH (or Oatmeal, Milk & Honey) FO is so popular in the soaping community, but this is the first time I’ve used it. To me it smells very sweet, almost like marzipan, and I LOVE it.  Coloured with TD and three different brown micas.

Wake Up! (Drop Swirl)

Wake Up! (Drop Swirl)

This is a restock of my very popular Wake Up! soap.  Fragranced with Rosemary and Peppermint EOs and coloured with TD and green / blue micas

Parisian Flora

Parisian Flora (Drop Swirl)

Another redesign / restock. Parisian Flora proved very popular in its last incarnation, so although the fragrance is exactly the same (a blend of Lavender, Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang EOs), as are the colours (TD and three pink micas), it’s now made using the drop swirl technique

Luscious Lavender

Luscious Lavender (Drop Swirl)

Luscious Lavender, simply fragranced wth Lavender EO, is by far my biggest seller. It really surprises me to be honest, but there’s no doubt about it, when I look back over my records, Lavender is definitely the one that I’ve made the most often over the years. This one thickened up on me a little quicker than normal, so the drops aren’t quite as delicate as I would have liked.

I also have a Marshmallow FO soap that was cut this morning, and isn’t yet ready to meet its public 😀 and tonight I made Black Jack – a blend of Aniseed and Spearmint EOs. That one’s still in the mould, so pics to follow sometime soon.