Friday, August 17, 2018

A Love Affair with Lemongrass

I've had an entire week off and almost nothing has gone according to plan, not that that's a bad thing. I always try to take the second week of August off as my way of celebrating my birthday. In the past, we've taken that week as our road trip week; that didn't happen this year. It ended up being ME time. I was pampered and spoiled and have done pretty much whatever I've wanted. And now, it's Friday.

I did make one batch of soap this week and, in reading through recent blog posts, managed to copy a scent combination I've already done. The combination of Green Tea fragrance oil and Lemongrass essential oil has, apparently, become a favourite. I love the freshness of the lemongrass in combination with the lightness of the Green Tea.

The swirl is a hanger swirl and almost a Secret Swirl; the white and the green were poured at the same time; when the mold was about half full, I poured the pink down the center, then continued in the same manner. I'm very happy with how it turned out!

If I can manage to create a true Christmas Green and a Christmas Red, I might try something like this as a "Christmas-y" soap.

Years ago, I used to really enjoy making my own bath products. Honestly, I still do. Wanting some diversity on my market table, I'm slowly getting back to making bath products. I've been told that bath bombs haven't really been a big seller at the market but I'm willing to give it a try. I've been using Moon Cake presses to make some really pretty bath items.

Keeping with the theme of "lemongrass", these are scented, again, with Green Tea and Lemongrass. They also include a packet of Matcha green tea powder. Bath bombs can be challenging. If they have too much moisture, they'll start to fizz and you'll be left with a mess. If they're too dry, details from the press will be lost. There's a fine line and finding it isn't always easy... or successful. This batch was a touch on the moist side and I was afraid they'd activate. Thankfully, they puffed up a bit but stabilized quickly.

Each "bomb" is about 50 grams. They fizz but not as explosively as some do. It's more of a slow, satisfying fizzing. Next time I make these, I'll use more colour, in layers, to see how the colour plays out in the tub.

Playing with the moon cake presses really is fun. Each press comes with 4-5 plates and you can swap them out at any point. They're great for bath products like Shower Steamers, Bath Bombs, Foaming Bath Melts, lotion bars... all kinds of things. The shower steamers have already proven quite popular at the market.

Shower steamers - scented with Menthol (white ones) and Citrus Menthol (creamy ones)
Foaming Bath Melts - a little like a bath bomb but made with skin-loving oils that turn your bath water into silk
Epsom Salt bars - all the benefits of an epsom salt bath with colour and scent
Bath Bombs
More bath bombs



Saturday, June 30, 2018

Green Tea and Lemongrass

There are those rare times when everything falls into place, just as you'd hoped and planned. It doesn't always happen but when it does, it's exciting. For me, it happened yesterday.

The Green Tea fragrance oil is such a lovely, gentle scent that I thought would work well with Lemongrass essential oil. Once I decided on my combination, I mulled over the design in my mind. It had to be green. And white. With an accent colour of some sort. Then, I knew just what I wanted to do... a pencil line swirl. I could see it in my mind's eye.

The recipe, a low coconut recipe, came together beautifully; I had just the right texture to do all the swirling I wanted. For my pencil line, I used Aztec Gold mica, an almost coppery-looking mica that perfectly accentuated the green in the batter.

I am so pleased with this soap. I love the scent. I love the colour, I love the swirl. I love the mica lines. Of all the soaps I've made, this one is way up there on my fave list.






Friday, June 29, 2018

Tobacco Leaves Soap

Yesterday's soap is out of the mold and was hard enough for me to cut right away. Seriously, it was so hard that when I tried to shave off the end, I ended up with crumbles rather than a slice. I will take that as a sign that it will be a nice, hard, long lasting bar of soap.

I'm pleased with the final soap. I did have one (minor) issue. See the yellow spots/streaks? They're supposed to be white. I even added Titanium Dioxide (a whitener) to that batter. I'm not sure why it turned yellow but I do know it's a cosmetic issue and not a flaw.

The Tobacco Leaves scent is really nice, not overpowering. From the vendor's description: "the Tobacco Leaves Fragrance Oil is a fresh aroma possessing notes of orange, vanilla, and amber".


The circular bits near the bottom are the embeds. The larger ones, with pink and black, are left over from the All Sorts soap, made with soap dough. The moon shaped bits are made with melt & pour soap coloured with copper and gold micas.

I'm pretty happy with this one, all in all. The idea for this one has been rattling around in my brain since I made the All Sorts soap. It finally came together.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

So Much to Tell You

Right now, I'm almost halfway through Day 1 of a five day long weekend. John and I are celebrating fourteen years of marriage and, since today is the day before the Friday before a long weekend (July 1, Canada Day), I decided to take both days off, giving me a very rare five days off.

Soap was made today.



There's nothing new in that. I've been making plenty of soap over the last while. The thing is, I now have a reason to make soap, other than the fact that it's just plain fun! I am now a vendor at a local market, the East Kelowna Sunday Artisan Community Market. I'm not there every weekend but will be there twice in July and twice in August. I've already been once and it was fun! I'm looking forward to the next market.

So, you see, soap must be made!










These are a few of the soaps made within the last two months or so. I've also added Bubble Scoops to my repertoire. What are Bubble Scoops, you ask?





These are Bubble Scoops. They're a solid bubble bath. Each of these scoops (just over one ounce each), is enough for one regular bubble bath. Each is scented quite strongly (my house smells amazing, sometimes a bit overpowering) but it's diluted in a full bath. I'll be making a few more batches before my next market, just to see how they'll sell. I have a feeling they could be quite popular.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sometimes, It's the Simple Things

As a soap maker, I often find myself browsing Pinterest for ideas. There are some amazing soap makers out there... swirls, colours, techniques. Really, some of the soap they make would qualify as pieces of art. I'm serious! Check out this woman's soaps - From Grace to You. She even has a bar of soap that she sells for $300 (US) per bar! I wouldn't be able to decide whether to use it or hang it on the wall, to be honest.

I'll stick with the simple soaps I make. I don't want anyone to be so intimidated that they refuse to use my soap because "it's too pretty". It's meant to get you clean, with some enjoyment thrown in for good measure. Call it an affordable luxury, if you will.

This week, I did simple. We have a small challenge going on in the Ravelry soap makers group, making soap with natural colorants. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while but just haven't gotten around to, never had the push to just do it. This week, I did it.

A month or so ago, I infused two jars of oil with natural colorants, one with Annatto seed powder and one with Turmeric powder. The jars of oil have been waiting for me to put them to some kind of use. Incidentally, the oils can also be used in food making. Both herbs are also food herbs. Annatto is most commonly used in rice dishes, giving it a gorgeous yellow colour (from my reading) and I'm sure everyone is familiar with turmeric, widely used in Asian food.

Annatto on the left and turmeric on the right
I chose a low coconut oil recipe and made enough to fill my mold, plus a little extra. I haven't taken pictures of the main soap yet (that will happen later today) but here's a picture of the mini loaf, coloured with annatto and turmeric. Oh, I added a little bit of turmeric into the soap batter as well.




It's very lightly scented with sandalwood fragrance oil and there are calendula petals on the top. Calendula petals can also be used as a soap colorant and it's one of the very few botanicals that doesn't discolour in soap. This picture doesn't show the colour very well. It's much more obvious in the following picture. The scrap that the mini bar is resting on is the end cut of the loaf; some of the batter was left uncoloured to make the natural colours "pop".


I've already said that I'm always on the lookout for techniques I can implement in my soapmaking. I came across another, very simple, one that I will definitely be using. It was inspired by a pin that lead me to this website - Forest & Fauna - and a way of making your own chocolate chips. I had no intention of making my own chocolate chips but I could immediately see a way of implementing this in soap.


When I made another batch of "My Poop Don't Stink" this week, there was a little bit of batter remaining that wouldn't fit into the molds. Instead of letting it go to waste, I spread it on to one of my silicone trivets, one with a honeycomb mesh. This morning, I unmolded my little chocolate soap chips. Aren't they cute?


I intend to use them as confetti in a soap batter or as decorations on the tops of future soaps, once I have enough to do something with. They won't all be chocolate, as these are, but multi-coloured. And they're SO easy!



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Some Of These Things

Weekends are play time for me. It's my time for soap making. This weekend has been no exception. First up is a long planned Lemon & Poppyseed soap. Whenever I've made it in the past, it has gone over very well. It has just the right amount of "scrubby" and the scent of lemon, orange, and peppermint just smells so yummy!

This one was made yesterday and unmolded and cut this morning. The weather was actually nice enough, finally, to take pictures outside.

The only (very minor) critique I have about this soap is that the yellow could have been a little more... yellow. It's the first time I worked with Voyageur's concentrated neon colours so I was very light handed. I know for next time, I can use more.

Today, I made another batch of a soap that has become my most popular soap to date, Java Jumpstart. The scent is intoxicating - a blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger, patchouli, and sweet orange - and the addition of cocoa, ground coffee, and oatmeal gives it a scrubbiness that makes it perfect as a kitchen soap. I have a bar of this one in my bathroom at all times.

It's still in the mold (I just made it this morning) and should be ready for cutting by the time I get off work tomorrow.

After I took this picture, I decided to change the top up a little. We'll see how it works out when I cut it.

Remember the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other, some of these things are kind of the same..."? (Do they still sing it?) Well, in this next picture, some of these things are not like the others.

I came across a pin on Pinterest on how to make river rocks with soap shavings and odds and ends. This was a fun little distraction and something I'll do again. There are always bits and pieces that end up in the scrap basket. This is one way to use them up; that and the fact that they're the last piece in a future project idea.

So, which are real and which are soap?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Soap Gremlins

I'm not thrilled. It seems I've been tempting the soap gremlins and they've showed up. As pretty as the Ice Queen soap is, it isn't perfect.


Don't get me wrong. I'm happy with the soap itself. I love the concept of this soap. This particular batch, however, didn't play nice. Once hardened, it was nearly impossible to get out of the mold. Seriously, I had to lay the mold on the floor, put my foot on one edge, and tear the mold apart! Perhaps I should have waited another day or so. I ended up cutting about 1/4" off one edge. So much for not lining that particular mold. Why tempt the soap gremlins more than necessary, right?

Then there were the sugar pearls. I don't think they like the gelling process.


Do you see the orange-y halo around some of the pearls? They seem to have started melting and reacting with the soap batter. I think I'll try another batch, possibly this weekend, to see if not gelling them makes a difference.

I also need to remember that soap does NOT have to be unmolded within the first 24 hours. I was a little impatient with the poop soap. I really wanted to see how it looked so I unmolded one before it was fully saponified. Part of it was left in the mold. Oops.

Patience, grasshopper, patience. Now, how do I appease the soap gremlins and send them on their way?