The Week in Soap: 23rd April ’17 – A rainbow, a birthday and a rather good read

After a lovely couple of weeks off for Easter, the kids went back to school today and we’re almost back to normal.  I say almost as today was the little one’s fourth birthday, so nothing normal about that :-D. We threw a party for her and her friends yesterday (Sunday) so today was a little more low key.  I picked her up after her two hours at school this morning (she won’t be full-time until next September and neither of us can wait haha!) and went into town for some mum/daughter time and a BIG bowl of ice-cream. Do you think she enjoyed it?

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl

I usually get to go to work for an hour or two at four o’ clock when my husband finishes work, but today my mum came over with a birthday gift so we had some birthday cake and played with kinetic sand (that stuff is AMAZING – I wonder if the recipes on Pinterest are any good?). We’ve had lots of fun but tomorrow is definitely ‘back to normal’ day and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of work again.

I only managed one evening of soapmaking this last week – a double batch of Tutti Frutti.  It was these batches that I photographed to use in my rainbow drop swirl tutorial:

Tutti Frutti ready to set up

Tutti Frutti in the Mould

Tutti Frutti mid-cut:

Rainbow Drop Swirl mid-cut

Rainbow Drop Swirl mid-cut

In other news, I’ve finally found a novel to end my reading drought and I think I’ll actually be able to say I’ve read a whole book by the end of the month.  Now this is a big, huge, MASSIVE deal for me given that I’ve been whingeing on to anyone who’ll listen about how much I miss reading, but what’s at the back of my mind? Oh, only the fact that I didn’t bother with that perennial ‘read a book’ goal this month – gah!! Anyway, I’m a bit late to the The Girl on the Train party, but I picked up a copy for pennies at a table-top sale recently and I’m LOVING it.  It’s an easy read, but it has me hooked, and I find myself glancing over at it at various times of the day, wondering if I could get away with hiding in the corner for half an hour for another fix…

Thanks for reading, back soon!

 

Rainbow Drop Swirl – A tutorial in pictures

Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti

There’s been a lot of interest in my rainbow drop swirl (Tutti Frutti) soap recently, so I thought I’d put together a little pictorial tutorial for anyone who’s interested in how it’s done (I really, REALLY should start making videos shouldn’t I?).

Many of you will already know how big a fan I am of the drop swirl technique. Almost all of my core range is made using either a full or partial drop swirl, and Tutti Frutti is no exception.  I made another couple of batches recently, and took some photographs along the way…

**Please make sure you’re familiar with the basics of soapmaking before you try any advanced swirls (Soap Queen is a good place to start) and always wear protective clothing / gloves / goggles.  Safety first!!**

I generally make soap at room temperature, so I’ll mix up the lye solution in advance and put it to one side to cool down (I don’t discount the water for this one). I’ll also melt the hard oils and butters and combine them with the liquid oils and butters and allow them to cool down to room temp.

Next I measure out the seven different micas straight into the pouring jugs (actually here you’ll see six different micas and one liquid colourant.  It’s notoriously difficult to get a good red in CP soap, but I use a liquid colour from Gracefruit which is rather good.  They appear to be out of stock of the red at the moment, but hopefully it’ll be back in soon.)

colourants ready for mixing into the soap batter

colourants ready for mixing into the soap batter

Next I add my fragrance oil to the room temp oils and butters.  Many people add their fragrance AFTER adding the lye and tracing the soap, but my preference is to add it before.

I then add a couple of teaspoons of the fragranced oils to each jug of mica and get them well blended.  I know it’s common practice to skip this stage and simply add the traced lye batter directly onto the powdered mica (or add the powdered mica directly to jugs of traced batter), but I don’t always use a stick blender and this way I know I can get the colour incorporated well just by giving it a good mix with a spatula.

Pre-mixed colourants, oils and a jug of lye water

Pre-mixed colourants, oils and a jug of lye water

I get my moulds ready – notice my high-tech method of stopping the mould sides from bowing inwards 😀

Moulds prepared...

Moulds prepared…

And then we’re ready to go…  I mix the lye water into the tub of (already fragranced!) oils and butters, and share the soap batter out equally into the seven prepared jugs.  It would appear I forgot to get a photo of that stage – sorry!   What we’re looking for is a really light trace as the soap will thicken up during the pouring process. Personally I don’t stick-blend this soap AT ALL.  I find that by the time I’ve mixed up all the colours thoroughly it’s already at a light trace, but this will very much depend on how quickly your particular soap recipe traces and which fragrance you’re using. I’ve even found that certain micas can inhibit trace, so there are many different factors involved. It’s a case of using your judgement and, to be honest, trial and error.

Next comes the pour.  First in this time was yellow:

First pour - yellow

First pour – yellow

What’s crucial for a nice drop is the height from which you pour the soap in to the mould. At the early stages my jug is quite close to the bottom of the mould as I pour a line of soap along the length of it. Here’s the next couple of pours:

Red and orange poured next

Red and orange poured next

Once the bottom of the mould has been covered with soap, I start to raise the jugs a little higher as I pour, so that the soap drops into the previous layer, rather than sit on the top of it.  It’s very hard to give a precise height as it very much depends on how thick your soap batter is (the thicker it is, the higher you’ll need to drop it from)

More colours poured

More colours poured

I try to make sure I pour from the jugs in the same order on each round of pouring, and also try to make sure I’m not pouring a colour on top of the same colour in the mould.

I keep pouring until the moulds are full:

Filling up the mould

Filling up the mould

Almost full...

Almost full…

Full!

Full!

By this stage the batter is quite a bit thicker than when I started to pour, and looks none too tidy, but it doesn’t really matter once I start adding texture to the top:

Mid-texturing the top

Starting to tidy up the top

And the finished item:

Tutti Frutti ready to set up

Tutti Frutti in the mould

I generally leave soap in the mould for 48 hours before I unmould and cut:

Rainbow Drop Swirl mid-cut

Rainbow Drop Swirl mid-cut

And that’s it.  It’s cured for 4 weeks, bevelled and tidied up, cured for another 2 weeks then released for sale.

Some time ago I started using the Instagram hashtag #dropsaretops for some of my photos – please use the tag to share your own drop swirls and make this drop swirl junkie very happy 😀

 

Happy Easter!

Hope you’re all having a happy and peaceful holiday weekend.  This week has been fairly quiet on the soapy front – not an awful lot going on other than restocks, blah blah… Don’t get me wrong, I adore making and cutting soap, restocks or otherwise, but it’s not so exciting for you dear readers to be seeing the same thing over and over again 😀

I took the children to visit friends over night on Tuesday, which is generally soaping night, so I brought it forward and made two double batches on Monday instead. These are First Kiss & Luscious Lavender:

First Kiss & Luscious Lavender Handmade Soap

First Kiss & Luscious Lavender Handmade Soap

I’m in the process of trying to rename ‘First Kiss’. It was so called because it’s so sweet (groan!!) but I’m pretty sure that some people are put off buying it as a gift because of the name.  If you have any thoughts pleeeaaase share –  it’s a dupe of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar, and is a a rather delicious sweet, vanilla-y / caramely fragrance.

My second soapy session was today – two double batches of Scrubby Peppermint and Botanica.

Scrubby Peppermint & Botanica in the Mould

Scrubby Peppermint & Botanica in the Mould

 

I’ve said before that Botanica’s blend of Lavender, Lemon & Lime is my current favourite, and today the fragrance of the essential oils together was literally making my mouth water, they blend stunningly well together.

This week we finally got to make a start on the EPIC project that is our back garden.  It’s pretty big, but as we’ve been focussing on doing up the house since we moved in, the garden’s not had a look-in. It’s been totally neglected for the last 20 (30?) years and making it beautiful is going to be a real labour of love, but we’ll get there.

Here are a few ‘before’ photos to give you an idea of the hard work we have ahead of us!!

The Garden - Before

The Garden – Before

The Garden - Before

The Garden – Before

I’ve called these ‘Before’ photos, but believe it or not these photos were taken after  we’d done a fair bit of clearing already.  We did take some photos when we first moved in, maybe I’ll try to hunt some out for a future post – I’m sure there will be regular updates as and when we make progress 😉

That’s it for now. It’s Easter Sunday evening and I really must go and spend some time with my (mostly) ever-patient other half!  Thanks for reading, back soon!

The Week in Soap: 9th April ’17

A day late, but better late than never eh? Anyway, this weekly update will be super-short.   The kids are off school for the Easter break, and I have even less time than usual to get all the things done…

I only managed one night of soaping in the last week – I made double batches of Boho Baby and OMH. I tried using a mica called ‘Arctic White’ instead of Titanium Dioxide for the white portion of the OMH, and I really wish I hadn’t, but hey ho, it’s good to try something different occasionally (shan’t be trying that one again though!):

Boho Baby / OMH

Boho Baby / OMH

Last week I  also managed to hastily put together a post outlining the core range of soaps.  It’s a poor substitute for a website, but at least now when I’m asked what I have it’s all listed in one place and I can just send a link.  It has however highlighted the fact that I need to do some work on product descriptions and on photography (though luckily my husband just bought a DSLR camera so that might happen soon) before I launch the website.

The second bit of news is that I made facial soap – finally! It was on the goals lists for the last two months and while I’ve been working on the recipe for quite a while, I just never got round to actually making it.  I put a lot of research into this one, and while it’s colour and fragrance free,  it’s chock full of some other amazing ingredients. I’ll post separately about it soon.

Now I’m (kind of) back on track goals wise, I should be thinking about April’s goals but you know what?  We’re already 10 days in and I’ve got 14 days of school holidays to get through – I’m cutting myself some slack and not setting goals for April.  I’ll just keep on building inventory (starting to feel a little more comfortable with the numbers on the rack now), wrapping / labelling, fulfilling orders and doing my weekly soapy presentation / monthly market.

Thanks for reading, back soon!

 

The Week in Soap: 2nd April ’17

Excuse me… where did that week go? March flew by in the blink of an eye, and this last week seems to have done so too. Thursday evening saw the first of this season’s weekly soaping presentations at Craflwyn Hall. I’ll be there every Thursday evening from now until the start of November, describing the process of soapmaking and enthusing about my obsession. It’s always a pleasure to get out and spread the word about handmade soap.

That was really the only remarkable thing about this week in soap.  I managed two soaping sessions – firstly making a double batch of Welsh Rose and a double batch of Castile:

Welsh Rose & Castile

Welsh Rose & Castile

and secondly making double batches of Blodau (Flowers) and Delicious:

Blodau & Delicious

Blodau & Delicious

And a closer look at the Castile in its mould, just because…

Castile in the Mould

Castile in the Mould

Tutti Frutti has been out of stock for a couple of weeks thanks to a couple of large wholesale orders a last month, but this week it came off the curing rack and I made a start on wrapping and labelling. Not before taking this photograph though –

Tutti Frutti, fully cured

Tutti Frutti, fully cured

which proved to be the most popular of all the photos I posted to Instagram this week.

You may have noticed a few recipe / review posts sneaking onto the blog occasionally, and you’ll definitely see more in the future. It’s just my way of expanding the focus of the blog a little, to include more of my day-to-day life, but don’t worry, it will remain predominantly a soapy blog 😉

And that’s it for today.  I’ve got quite a few posts lined up (in my head) so I hope to be back very soon. Thanks for reading!

The Week in Soap: 26th March ’17 – BATHBOMBS!!!

Yesterday (Saturday) brought the first craft fair of the year, and a lot of last week was spent wrapping and labelling in preparation.  It also saw the first outing for my bathbombs, which are FINALLY available for sale. I’ve been so busy dispatching wholesale orders and restocking the curing shelves that creating labels for my bathbombs was never a priority – until the night before the craft fair 😮  I took just four varieties – Clarity, Serenity, Lavender and Bewitched (was LoveSpell):

Bathbombs, all wrapped up

Bathbombs, all wrapped up

I was busy Mon, Tues, Wed evenings this week, so couldn’t make soap until Thursday night, and then realised that I was so low on Olive Oil I could only make a two batches of Boho Baby (fragranced with Patchouli & Orange essential oils):

Boho Baby (Patchouli & Orange)

Boho Baby

Friday evening was spent wrapping bathbombs for the fair on Saturday, so I wasn’t able to make more until this evening, but I made up with it with two double batches of Serenity (Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Orange & Lemon essential oils) and Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime essential oils):

Serenity (left) & Botanica

Serenity (left) & Botanica

I now officially a yellow belt kickboxer!  I went through my first ever grading on Monday evening. I had no idea what to expect and it was intense – I arrived home bruised, exhausted and ravenous, but I absolutely loved it, and I’m ridiculously proud of my yellow belt:

Kickboxing Yellow Belt

Kickboxing Yellow Belt

Orange belt, I’m coming for ya!!

 

 

 

The Week in Soap: 19th March ’17

I missed last week’s weekly update completely, so this is me, trying to do better 😀

It’s been another busy week.  I dispatched boxes of soap to not one but two new wholesale customers and delivered another order to a more local ‘new yet old’ customer.  More on them all in a ‘Stockists’ update coming next week.

My new, double batch system of soapmaking is working really well.  Last week I made soap on Tuesday evening last night, Sunday, making 8 batches, or 120 bars in all. This my absolute minimum for a week, and I’m still struggling to get stock levels back up to where I’m comfortable:

Scrubby Peppermint & Bewitched

Scrubby Peppermint & Bewitched

Luscious Lavender & Clarity

Luscious Lavender & Clarity

The lucky winner  of the Facebook giveaway was announced earlier on this evening. I was overwhelmed by the number of entries and the lovely comments left on the page.  I’ll be running another giveway at some point, so make sure you like and follow the page if you’d like to win some of my soap.

This was my most popular post on Instagram this week, with a whopping 473 likes. We got a bit of sunshine on Wednesday, so I took full advantage.  It’s rained almost non-stop ever since 😦

Welsh Rose in the sun

Welsh Rose in the sun

On Saturday I spent all day in the office wrapping and labelling while my other half took care of the kids, so today was more of a family day, though I did manage to fit in a 5km run. (we’re not having February happen all over again, ohhhhh no!!)  This evening I cooked a traditional roast dinner, including Yorkshire puddings. I’m kind of proud of my Yorkshires, but I’m guessing they’re not eaten (or even known about?) much outside of the UK so I thought I’d share a quick snap:

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings

They are, I promise you, delicious, and if anyone wants to know how I make them (and my recipe method will give you perfect ones EVERY TIME) then just let me know and I’ll happily share 😀

Coming up next week I will (of course!) be making more soap, and testing and reporting on the Castile I made a couple of months ago. I need to write a new ‘Stockists’ post as there are now a few more on the list, and I also have the first craft fair of the year coming up next Saturday, so bathbomb labelling needs to be a priority.  Add into the mix my first ever kickboxing grading on Monday evening (the next time I post, I may well be a Yellow Belt – eek!!), and a pre-school committee meeting on Tuesday evening, and suddenly the week doesn’t feel so long arrgghhhhh!!!

Thanks for reading, back soon!!