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 Рfirstly 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 ūüėČ

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: 22nd Jan ’17

The holiday period is well and truly over, and things are starting to pick up again business-wise. ¬†I’ve started receiving orders for Valentine’s themed bars, and the first one was delivered to a local retailer yesterday. Here in Wales we¬†also celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day, considered to be the Welsh St Valentine’s Day) on the 25th January, so there’s a double whammy of love related promotions at this time of year ūüėÄ

On the making front I’ve only made two batches this week – a restock of Welsh Rose and an as yet unnamed project for a swap I’m participating in soon. Can’t say too much about that one yet, but all will be revealed eventually ūüôā

Welsh Rose & 'No Name' in the mould

Welsh Rose & ‘No Name’ in the mould

So basically I’ve only made one batch for general sale this week –¬†I think I’m going to have to increase the production rate PDQ!

I also cut last week’s Castile soap. Having read so much about how long it can be before it’s hard enough to be unmoulded, I left it a full eight days before unmoulding and cutting, and I was really surprised at how hard it already was. ¬†I had to be very careful and cut slowly, I was so concerned that the wire on my Bud Cutter would snap, but all was well. This was the finished bar:

Castile Soap, first attempt

Castile Soap, first attempt

It’s a lot whiter than I expected it to be when it was first poured, though I’m not too happy about the streaks in it – we’ll see how it looks as it cures.

One of my goals for January was to research facial bar recipes with a view to hopefully making some in February. ¬†During my research I came across a blog/website, Lather Lass, which collects and collates soap recipes from all over the web – it’s worth having a browse¬†if you’re looking for something in particular.

On a personal note, did I mention that I’ve started going to a kickboxing class? Every Wednesday evening, 6-7pm, and it’s amazing. Seriously hard work but I’m hoping it will do wonders for my fitness levels and be a good complement to the running (another of those goals!)

Anyway, talking of goals, it’s time to start thinking about what I want to get done in February, it’ll soon come round! ¬†Thanks for reading – back soon!

The Week in Soap: 27th Nov ’16

Last week was a pretty quiet one on the making front. On Tuesday evening I made three batches – Luscious Lavender, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) & Blodau (Flowers):

Soap in the Mould

Soap in the Mould

The Lavender restock has a slight twist as I’d run out of one of my micas and had to improvise. I’ll share a picture very soon – I did take one of the cut but I seem to have deleted it – gah!

I shared the cut and the story behind Yr Wyddfa in this post last week.

And this is the cut of ‘Blodau’. ¬†Blodau is Welsh for ‘flowers’, and the fragrance is a lovely blend of lavender and ylang ylang essential oils, balanced with a touch of rosewood ¬†to give depth. Please forgive the rough and ready appearance – this was taken five minutes after it was cut:

Blodau - freshly cut

Blodau – freshly cut

Much of the week was spent preparing for the Porthmadog craft fair on Saturday. This is the only regular market/fair that I do. I could easily do more – I’m often asked – but to be honest I started this business to be able to work from home, and spend more time with the family, so I’m really not inclined to spend every weekend away from them. ¬†Nevertheless I do happily join my crafty family on the last Saturday of every month, and I get a lot of pleasure from catching up with my fellow stallholders and regular (and new!) customers.

The Dinosoaps proved to be very popular¬†(this was the basket I transported them in by the way, they weren’t displayed like that!)

Dinosoaps wrapped

Dinosoaps

The other soapy highlight of the week was a fabulous mica delivery from the awesome U-MakeitUp in Spain:

Mica samples

Mica samples

This was the second lot I’ve ordered from them, and I’m so impressed with their range of colours and great customer service. This was the first selection I received, a few months back:

More mica

More mica

Lots and LOTS of colours to play with!

In other news, this week the children wrote their letters to Santa, and I made a start on the Christmas shopping. This coming weekend we head down to south Wales for the weekend to visit my husband’s family, so we need to have all their Christmas gifts wrapped and ready to take with us.

I’ll leave you with this view from my office window last Saturday morning, 8am, just after loading up the car for the fair – gorgeously clear and crisp.

A room with a view

A room with a view

Banishing Soda Ash – the easy way…

I see a lot of discussion on line about how to deal with soda ash on soap tops. Freshly poured soap is so glossily glorious – it can be a disappointment when you come back to it a day later to find it dulled and marred by an ashy deposit:

Ashy Soap Top

Ashy Soap Top

The ash is formed when the lye (Sodium Hydroxide, NaOH) in the soap reacts with Carbon Dioxide CO¬≤ in the air, and is totally harmless; the soap is no less effective. Nevertheless many find it to be aesthetically displeasing,¬†and I’ve seen many methods used, some fairly elaborate, to eradicate it. ¬†In my early soapmaking days I was advised dip each individual bar into a pan of boiling water. ¬†Yes, this removed the ash and resulted in wonderfully glossy bars, but wow, it was tedious. ¬†I then read that could simply hold each bar in the steam that came from a boiling kettle. Only kettles these days don’t boil continuously – and flicking that switch 20 times a minute was….tedious. ¬†Then I had a lightbulb moment – I could hold the soap in the steam that came from a pan of water at a rollling boil. ¬†Yes, I am FULLY aware that I could have easily missed one of those steps out… That worked too but was still pretty longwinded and let’s be honest, tedious. ¬†There was also the ever present risk of scalding myself trying to use these methods. I came perilously close, believe me.

These days my ash removing regime is simple, fast and effective. I use an ordinary steam iron, on steam setting, to remove the ash from the soap tops before I’ve even unmoulded them. Half of this loaf has already been steamed:

Half Steamed

Half Steamed

My old, but trusty, Morphy Richards…

Steam Iron

Steam Iron

Holding the iron just a couple of inches above the top of the soap, I press the steam button continuously to cover the soap in steam, moving the iron back and forth. This is the result

Steamed top

Steamed top

Easy peasy!  And absolutely zero chance of scalding myself.  It looks freshly poured but is actually fully set up and ready to be unmoulded.  I usually leave it for about 10 minutes to dry off, and then unmould:

Unmoulded batch

Unmoulded batch

And cut – notice how glossy it still is:

On the cutter

On the cutter

After the cut, before the tidy up – perfectly dry and glossy:

Cut Soap, Still Glossy

Cut Soap, Still Glossy

I’ve made a video of the steaming process, but¬†I’m struggling to upload it :-S Once I figure it all out I’ll add it to this post ūüėÄ

 

Soap tops revisited

As I was putting together yesterday’s ‘Wet Soap Wednesday on a Friday’ post, I was thinking about how much I like soap tops, and remembered that I’d done a post a while back about them. ¬†When I went looking, I was surprised to find it had been almost two years ago: Soap Tops from November 2014. I was also struck by how different those tops were to the way I do things now.¬†So today’s post is a quick round up of my favourite soap tops from more recent times.

First up is a dupe of the DKNY fragrance, Be Delicious – appley, cucumbery and absolutely….Delicious:

Delicious

Delicious

Then there’s a recent batch of Clarity which turned out just beautifully (last night’s batch didn’t look quite as good as this in the mould!)

Clarity

Clarity

The top of this Oatmeal, Milk & Honey batch swirled really nicely:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

And this batch of Florida Sunrise (now discontinued) looked gorgeous as it started to gel:

Florida Sunrise

Florida Sunrise

Another recently discontinued fragrance – a custom blend called Enigma, looked luscious freshly swirled:

Enigma

Enigma

Finally I just LOVE how this batch of Serenity looked in the mould:

Serenity

Serenity

I’d be lying if I said every single batch looks like these, but I do tend to add a lot more texture to the tops than I used to, and I think I prefer them that way. I guess it’s about time I revised my header photo!!

 

 

Wet Soap Wednesday……on a Friday

Today was the first chance I’ve had to make soap in a while, so this week’s Wet Soap Wednesday is a little late! I made three batches:

Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH

Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH

Clarity is fragranced with lemongrass and clary sage essential oils, and coloured with activated charcoal, green mica and titanium dioxide:

Clarity

Clarity

Welsh Rose is made with a rose fragrance oil, coloured with titanium dioxide and two pink micas:

Welsh Rose

Welsh Rose

And finally Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, made with an OMH fragrance oil and coloured with titanium dioxide and mica:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Three more days left of Blogtober 2016 – relief from this incessant posting is imminent ūüėÄ

Makeovers (7. Love Spell / Bewitched)

The soap that I’ve long called ‘Love Spell’ is scented with a fragrance oil that is a copy of the designer perfume ‘Love Spell’ by Victoria’s Secret. Having recently applied for my bath bomb assessment, which includes bombs fragranced with the same fragrance oil, I was reminded that I can’t call them (or my soap!) Love Spell as it contravenes copyright. I knew this, and I should have changed it ages ago, but to be honest I just didn’t spend the time to come up with a replacement. As it was, when I received the message from my assessor, the new name came to me within a minute or two. Typical! Anyway, it will henceforth be known as Bewitched.

I first made it back in the summer of 2014. You can clearly see where the top portion, coloured with titanium dioxide, shrank more than the rest of the bar during the curing process. The top was simply spattered with leftover soap batter:

Love Spell V1

Bewitched V1

Soon after that I got into tiger stripe pouring, which I initially made with a flat top (and experimented with some black stripes):

Love Spell V3

Bewitched V2

Love Spell V3

Bewitched V3

And later with a textured top:

Love Spell V4

Bewitched V4

Finally I brought it in line with the rest of the range i.e. with a full bar drop swirl:

Love Spell V5

Bewitched V5

Day 23 of Blogtober 2016. I’m starting to believe I can actually do this ūüėÄ