Monthly Archives: June 2012

Necessity’s Children

It’s amazing the kinds of things things that leap out, grasp our attention, and say IT MUST BE MINE.  I’ve just seen a silicone mold liner available, and despite the fact that it will almost certainly not fit my existing molds, I really, really want one. Well, no, I want about six of them; there’s no point in only lining one mold, right? But obviously if I buy these, I’d have to buy the molds they fit, and then what would I do with my existing molds? Throw them away? Use them in addition to the new ones but lining them with paper every time? Stick them on a shelf somewhere where they’ll look at me every time I walk into the soap room with the reproachful air common to all tools abandoned before their time?

No. I need a different solution, and the obvious one is: Make my own silicone liners!

So, Project: A Mold For Molds is slated to begin brainstorming this weekend, though actual action will probably not commence for a while, yet. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Fragrance Profile: Energy

It’s Midsummer (summer solstice) today, and so it seems appropriate to profile a particularly summery fragrance: Energy!

First the listing-text: “A stimulating blend of citrus, including grapefruit, lemon and lime, with hints of fresh cucumber and jasmine, and a touch of pineapple, blackberry and champagne. Energy is an exciting mix that’s perfect for spring and summer.”

This fruit-filled, fresh fragrance matches well with the blend of colors in the soap in this scent:

Four-color marbled swirl.

I love this fragrance so much. It’s bright, fresh, and invigorating; the perfect way to wake up in the morning and get ready to face the day. It’s very versatile, too, suiting itself wonderfully to every product we’ve ever tried putting it in – the current list of which is available here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Custom Labels

One of my favorite things in this business is working with someone to create just exactly the thing to put the finishing touch on an event. Custom-labeled soaps to give out as wedding favors are a favorite:

…but the possibilities are huge. Weddings, anniversaries, graduations, employee or customer gifts at company parties. Lip balms with your company’s information on the label can be much more memorable than a business card, too, particularly at trade shows. If you have an event in the upcoming months that would benefit from a custom-labeled product, drop us a line and we’ll work up a proposal for you. We need at least two months notice to produce fully customized bar soap. Other products are generally available in a shorter time frame.

Show Prep

Last year, Foam on the Range was at a show or farmers’ market virtually every Saturday (and some other days) from April until Christmas. This year, we’ve toned it down quite a lot, because, quite frankly, that nearly killed us. One show per month is our target this year, at least until the Christmas season approaches.

This month’s show is tomorrow: The Artisan Market at Wichita’s LIV Fest. It’s been busy, busy, busy around here, getting soap, lip balm, and solid perfumes packed up to take along, and lotions, spa soaks, body mists, shower gels, foaming soaps, and perfume oils ready to finish up and fragrance to customers’ specifications at the show!

I really love doing shows, but in the day or two right before one, I always get a bit twitchy, and my attempt to make sure nothing whatsoever is forgotten quickly gets to the point at which I’m making lists of my lists. Bowls to mix things in, sanitizing solution to rinse things in, paper towels to keep spills in line; stirrers, gloves, measuring spoons, pipettes, packaging for this, labels for that, and so on. And of course the mundane things, such as chairs to sit in and weights to make sure the canopy doesn’t decide it would really rather prefer not to be in Kansas any more and fly off in the wind.

Stack o' soap

…but mostly, stacks and stacks of soap.

But come show-time, the flurry and frenzy of the prep is entirely forgotten, and it’s just a huge rush and I have an absolutely fantastic time talking to customers and all the other crafters. So come out and see us tomorrow, if you’re in the Wichita area – and we’ll mix you up a custom-scented lotion or perfume oil, while you’re there!

Fair Warning

I may have mentioned this before, but: I don’t follow recipes. Even when I’ve never cooked a given dish before, or indeed when I’ve never eaten a given dish before, I seem entirely incapable of just following the path someone has laid out to prepare it.

This sums up the way I do more or less everything, really, but the relevant aspect of my life is of course the making of soap and other products. I’ve read hundreds of recipes for soap. I read dozens of them before I so much as contemplated in earnest making a batch myself. I even, in fact, followed one – once. My very, very first batch of soap was made from tallow I had rendered myself from suet I’d bought from a local free-range butcher shop, based precisely on a recipe from one of the books I’d bought to learn this new craft. My second, third, and fourth batches were variations on this recipe, and by the fifth batch I’d thrown it out entirely and was designing recipes from scratch based on characteristics of various vegetable oils, leaving the smelly tallow-rendering process behind as well.

I don’t bring this up in order to brag about how I don’t need recipes or anything silly like that. Someday I’ll tell the story of the dozens of hideous failures I had before I finally hit upon a successful way to make lotion, for instance; sometimes this don’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude can send me off down some crazy blind corners.  No, the intent is to point out that for my purposes, a good “recipe” is more a map than a set of directions: It outlines the territory, points out hazards, and shows you the intended destination without going into excessive detail about the One True Way to get there from here.

Which is all by way of saying that, I’m intending to write up a product recipe or two in the weeks to come to share with all of you, but please, if you decide to give it a whirl and try to follow along, don’t think you have to do things just the way I tell you. If something shouldn’t be varied, or should be varied only with caution, I’ll let you know. Other than that, go wild!

(…and yes, I do generally follow my own recipes, at least when making product for sale. After all, once something is tested and may have customers who really like it the way it is, it wouldn’t be right to go tinkering with it excessively without warning! Every now and then, though, I have to head off into the tall grass and do something entirely different – and write down what I do, of course, in case it turns out to be awesome and I want to do it again.)

Roses Are Swirly

The vertical mold I ordered a while back came in last week, and I made the very first batch of soap in it last Sunday (a couple of variations on a theme, one at the top of the mold and one at the bottom), and sliced it today.

Rose Garden’s new look(s)

As a first-run test, I’d say that went pretty well indeed. I’ll be sure to announce later when this soap is cured and ready for sale – but in the mean time, Rose Garden in any other look will smell as sweet!