Monthly Archives: March 2013

Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge: Tiger Stripe!

Another Amy, from Great Cakes Soapworks, is doing a series of Soap Challenges, which I obviously couldn’t resist. The first week’s challenge was Tiger Stripe – watch her make soap using this method here. Well, I’m never one to follow the rules all that well, so I blithely ignored the bit about using “high contrast” colors, and here’s what I came up with:

Tiger Stripe Saffron & Honey

Tiger Stripe Saffron & Honey

I’m really pleased with the look of it – the subtle stripe is just what I wanted to complement the warm saffron scent – but I’m also looking forward to playing with this technique with some wilder, crazier colors.

Next week: Elemental Swirl. Oh, but in the mean time, go here and see what everyone is coming up with for tiger stripes!


Time to Focus

As we approach the end of our third year in business, we’ve been doing a lot of looking at our processes and evaluating them for ways to improve. You know, boring business stuff. One conclusion we have reached is that we really needed to stop talking about streamlining our fragrance lineup, and actually get it done. We’ve known for some time that we really had Just Too Many scents, but we love them all so much (and keep finding new ones to love!) that we just kept putting it off, and off, and off.  Oh, we’re too busy this month, let’s talk about it after Christmas. Oh, we’re tired from Christmas, let’s talk about it after we take a bit of a break.

Well, we’ve done it now. Finally.

So: We now have 20 “core” fragrances which we will (try to!) keep on hand at all times, and the rest of the scents will rotate in and out seasonally or just periodically, as Limited Editions. If you really, really love a scent which is now a Limited Edition not currently in stock, by all means, let us know! Input like that will help us decide what fragrances to make next, after all. Limited Edition scents will also be available year ’round for special order in lots of 15 bars or as 5 lb uncut logs.

The immediate effect of this is that all fragrances which will be Limited Editions from now on are 30% off online (soap for $3.95! Wow!), while we transition toward our new lineup. So head over to our Etsy shop and stock up on discounted soap!

What are the core scents, then, which will be available all the time? Here they are:

  • Back in the Saddle: The rich, compelling aroma of leather dominates in this fragrance, with a bit of patchouli and frankincense to anchor it and just the tiniest hint of citrus at the top to keep it from being too heavy a scent. Absolutely perfect for the manly man!
  • Black Tea: This smoky, sexy and sophisticated fragrance is reminiscent of roasted tea leaves with strong overtones of tobacco. With surprising top notes of Italian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, and Southern orange, the blend winds down with black tea Leaves, star jasmine, white cedarwood, amber crystal, and a rich musk.
  • Blackberry Sage: Berries galore, with a subtle undertone of sage: A glorious combination!
  • Cold Water: Fresh and cool, the delightful scent of Cold Water is the perfect men’s fragrance, and yet manages to be fantastic for women, too! Its complex notes are compelling but not overwhelming.
  • Energy: 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.
  • Eucalyptus Spearmint: The synergistic combination of revitalizing spearmint and clarifying eucalyptus provide an olfactory experience like no other. One of our favorite scents! Works well as a masculine fragrance, but is popular with both sexes.
  • Grass Stain: This scent is fresh, clean and vibrant. It’s a single note fragrance smelling of … fresh cut grass! Remember your childhood, frolicking in the grass, rolling down grassy hills and playing on the swing set at the park? This is the fragrance to bring it all back. It’s crisp, sweet and green. You’ll love it!
  • Kitchen Soap (SunSoap ONLY!): One unpleasant aspect of cooking is that one can end up coming into contact with garlic, onions, or other pungent aromas much more welcome for what they bring to the plate than for what they leave behind on the cook’s hands. Kitchen soap to the rescue! Peppermint, lemon, and lemongrass essential oils come together in this blend to create a crisp, clean effect. The finishing touch: Coffee grounds – coffee is fantastic at absorbing odors, and it provides a gentle exfoliative effect in this soap, as well. The perfect combination!
  • Lavender: Simple and timeless, the fragrance of lavender essential oils is sure to bring a feeling of relaxation after even the most tiring of days.
  • Linden Blossom: A unique floral blend which combines the musky notes of linden blossoms with citrusy overtones for a bright and bold effect. Not your grandmother’s floral!
  • Nothin’ But Soap (SunSoap)/Unscented (other products): No scents, no colors – perfect for the fragrance-sensitive customer.
  • Oatmeal, Milk & Honey: Straight from Grandma’s kitchen! Warm oatmeal flavored with creamy milk and honey. Delicious.
  • Patchouli: Luxuriate in the deep, rich earthy musk of patchouli essential oil, beloved by generation after generation for its sensuality.
  • Peppermint: One whiff and you’ll want to take a bite! This fragrance is every bit as cool and crisp as a stick of peppermint candy.
  • Pomegranate & Black Currant: This blend has tart pomegranate notes, enlivened by citrus zest and intertwined with juicy black currant notes with just some light hints of soft florals and leafy greens to give the fragrance depth.
  • Saffron & Honey: Sweet and spicy, almost like an exceptionally rich chai with a hint of musk. Incredible! Must be sniffed to be believed.
  • Sandalwood: Woodsy and alluring, rich and inviting, sandalwood is a classic fragrance and sure to please.
  • Vanilla Sugar: Sweet and rich, this dark vanilla fragrance is reminiscent of an Italian soda or a high-grade vanilla ice cream.
  • Waste Not (SunSoap ONLY!): Colorful and random, the chunks studding this soap showcase the breadth of the variety of our soap line. Every bar is unique! The embedded pieces are made up of trimmings and off-cuts from various other soaps, and the embedding soap is itself fragranced with a different blend for each batch.
  • White Tea & Ginger: This fragrance has a delightful warm and comforting smell. With top notes of bergamot, lemon peels and green daylilies, this fragrance is brought back to its roots with a base of ginger, nutmeg and warm musk. White floral notes, such as hyacinth, freesia and peony complete the mix. This fragrance is unique in many ways and it is difficult to pick out individual notes when you smell the soothing blend.

The full product and fragrance list, as always, is here.


Busy!

You guys, I am STILL all jazzed up from the conference I attended this past weekend. It was two days jam-packed with fascinating talks, gorgeous and informative demonstrations, and more soapy conversations than I had ever imagined having in such a short span of time. I got to talk shop all I wanted and no one’s eyes glazed over! It was the first time I’d ever been around a group of other soapers, so the experience was quite a revelation for me. The whole weekend was awesome, and I’ve come home all a-twitter with new ideas and things to try and wheeee!

But tinkering with new ideas will have to wait a bit, because after all, day-to-day work didn’t magically get done while I was away, so there’s some catching-up to do, and there’s the Bluebird Arthouse show this Saturday to get ready for once I am caught up. But I have faith that my notes will still make sense when I’ve got the deck cleared off enough to be able to come back to them, so the new things will get played with sooner or later.

Meanwhile, I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!


Photo Roundup: Soap Edition

Time for a whole bunch of pictures! Lately I’ve been shaking things up a bit around here, changing the “look” of several old favorite fragrances. Look out below!

White Tea & Ginger. Previously a cream/peachy swirl. I really like the stark effect of this one. It makes a nice contrast to the smooth, rich, warm scent.

White Tea & Ginger. Previously a cream/peachy swirl. I really like the stark effect of this one. It makes a nice contrast to the smooth, rich, warm scent.

Green Garden. Previously a green and yellow soap. I brought in a spring/early summer floral palette to liven this up. I really like the effect! Still a fresh/green/light floral scent.

Green Garden. Previously a green and yellow soap. I brought in a spring/early summer floral palette to liven this up. I really like the effect! Still a fresh/green/light floral scent.

Lychee Red Tea. Previously red and white. Getting back to its citrussy roots!

Lychee Red Tea. Previously red and white. Getting back to its citrussy roots!

Blossoming Cherry. Previously layered shades of pink. This has actually been out of stock for a while, but now it's back and with a whole new image!

Blossoming Cherry. Previously layered shades of pink. This has actually been out of stock for a while, but now it’s back and with a whole new image!

Apple Orchard. Previously solid red. Green apples, red apples - how do you like them apples!

Apple Orchard. Previously solid red. Green apples, red apples – how do you like them apples!

There are also several new bar soaps which have been added in the last week or two. There are more new soaps in the upcoming queue, but we may as well catch up with what’s already made!

Bitter Orange Orchid

Bitter Orange Orchid. More spicy than either sweet or floral, Bitter Orange Orchid is an intriguingly complex scent but not too heavy. Delightful!

In addition to lavender, mandarin, lemon leaf and hearty fern blend in perfect harmony in this scent. Beautiful floral nuances layer on top of crisp citrus notes to help balance out the darker, earthier tones of forest and fern. Fascinating!

Lavender Forest. In addition to lavender, mandarin, lemon leaf and hearty fern blend in perfect harmony in this scent. Beautiful floral nuances layer on top of crisp citrus notes to help balance out the darker, earthier tones of forest and fern. Fascinating!

Heliotrope. This scent has a sensual musky note that is under the top layers of vanilla, powder and floral. Fresh, springy, and delightful.

Heliotrope. This scent has a sensual musky note that is under the top layers of vanilla, powder and floral. Fresh, springy, and delightful.

Waterlily Orange. This beautiful watery floral fragrance is a harmonious blend of fresh herbal greens, lotus and water lily. The top has light peppery twist of bergamot, the heart is a crystalline watery flower and the finishing accord is a graceful woody amber. Despite its floral notes, it is bright and cheery.

Waterlily Orange. This beautiful watery floral fragrance is a harmonious blend of fresh herbal greens, lotus and water lily. The top has light peppery twist of bergamot, the heart is a crystalline watery flower and the finishing accord is a graceful woody amber. Despite its floral notes, it is bright and cheery.

Ocean Rain. Ocean rain is a very refreshing mix of crisp ozone top notes, with frangipani and muguet blossoms drifting with seafoam greens in a sheer base of amber and musk.

Ocean Rain. Ocean rain is a very refreshing mix of crisp ozone top notes, with frangipani and muguet blossoms drifting with seafoam greens in a sheer base of amber and musk.

Green Clover & Aloe. Bright and green and sassy and cheerful and delicious - who could ask for more! Spectacular for springtime (especially for Saint Patrick's Day!) but I can't imagine a season this wouldn't fit.

Green Clover & Aloe. Bright and green and sassy and cheerful and delicious – who could ask for more! Spectacular for springtime (especially for Saint Patrick’s Day!) but I can’t imagine a season this wouldn’t fit.

So, that’s what’s new around here in the world of soap! I’ve got a whole bunch of balls in the air at the moment, so be on the lookout for more new things! Perhaps not this week, though, I’ve got a conference to get ready for…


Nail Polish Parties

A few days ago I mentioned nail polish parties and said I’d explain them later. Well, it’s later!

A nail polish party is the polish-fan’s dream: an opportunity to dive in, get hands-on, and blend up nail polishes yourself, in any color you can concoct from the hundreds of shades of powdered pigments I have on hand. All it needs is a table big enough to seat everyone (or a space big enough to set up tables), well covered in case of spills and also in a well ventilated area as nail polish fumes can get pretty potent. Plan for it to take about three hours to allow time for both experimentation and socializing. The first nail polish mixed up by each attendee costs $10 (normal price), and subsequent polishes will be $5 each.

Sound like fun? It is! If you have half a dozen or so friends who love nail polish and want to host one, e-mail me! I’m in the market for venues to host public parties as well, so if you have a store or other space and think this sort of event would suit your clientele, I’d love to hear from you, too. And I can’t wait to see the colors people come up with!


Exciting!

Guess where I’ll be next weekend.

Go on, guess.

…yeah, I hate guessing games, too. I’ll be here! The first ever soapmakers’ conference in this part of the country is taking place March 9-10, and I’ve got my registration right here in my hot little hand. Well, OK, hot little e-mail inbox, whatever. Still, it’s going to be awesome. I’ll get to talk shop for TWO WHOLE DAYS without boring the pants off anyone. Theoretically. Possibly, anyway? Oh, work with me here. It could happen.

Shop-talk networking aside, there’ll be workshops and talks to attend and soap labs to play in and suppliers to shop with, and I’ve been looking forward to it since the first of the year. Good times!


Look! Soap is Cool Now!

I am a devoted and whole-hearted fangirl of Felicia Day. Aside from just being an incredibly multi-talented woman, she’s got a determined streak in her that the entrepreneur in me can’t help but admire. The industry as it stood wasn’t an ideal fit, and while she does do (and very well!) traditional acting work, she has also refused to let herself be limited to the conventional. Her YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry, is home to a number of geek-friendly shows, and in one of them, Felicia’s own showpiece, she recently made soap.

Those savvy about soapmaking methods will notice that she is using the melt and pour method to make this soap, which is suited to this purpose for several reasons – first, it’s tricky to cut an hours-long from-scratch soapmaking method into a four-and-a-half-minute segment; second, the learning curve for other methods, while not insurmountable, is a bit steep for a single-afternoon process; and third, melt-and-pour is ideal for making a cameo-style two-color molded single bar like she wanted. So while I could wish to see cold process soap in the geek-mainstream, it would not have been suitable in this context, and I’m overjoyed to see one of my favorite people making soap!