Monday, February 17, 2020

To Market, To Market

Yesterday was the first of my market Sundays for this year's season. It was great to see all my market family again! A good crowd came out to our little market in the country and even the regular customers were happy the season has started back up.


I'm not totally thrilled with my setup this time; it's looking a little...... blah. The gift sets (on the boxes, top center) get lost against the white background and I'm really not liking the soap in the organza bags. They're great in that they can be picked up and easily smelled but the soap isn't as easy to see and people don't really notice them. 

Last week, I ordered a pattern for a shelf unit that John will be putting together for me. We'll see how that goes; he's really not the handyman type. If the new shelf works, though, I think it could be a good addition to my table. I also think, though, that if I'm going to be in a similar spot (against the wall and out of the sunshine that could affect some products), I'm going to have to go up with my display and I'll need more colour. Any opinions are welcome!

Speaking of the gift boxes, they finally came together and the general consensus is that they look amazing. I don't think this was the right time to introduce them (only two days after Valentine's Day) as only one sold but Mother's Day is coming in a few months and I think they will be a more popular item at that time.

Here's how the sets look (everything is labelled in the actual boxes): 


The Bath Lover's Gift Set
From left to right: Lots of Bubbles Bubble Bath (scented with Salt Water Mermaid fragrance oil, Raspberry Lip Scrub and Lip Serum, Salt Water Mermaid Bath Salt, Foaming Facial Mud Masque (top right), Cocoa Butter & Peppermint Lip Balm, and Vanilla Rose Face & Body Moisturizer
The Shower Lover's Gift Set
From left to right: Foaming Bubble Scrub Bars, Cocoa Butter & Peppermint Lip Balm, Foaming Facial Mud Masque, Raspberry Lip Scrub and Serum, and three Shower Steamers (Menthol Eucalyptus, Menthol Lemon, and Menthol Lime)
When I posted the picture of the Bath Lover's Gift Set in one of the Facebook groups I'm in, I had a number of people ask me for the recipe for the Lots of Bubbles Bubble Bath. After conferring with the owner of the group, I was asked not to share the recipe in the group. I also conferred with Voyageur Soap & Candle, where I had originally obtained the recipe. The recipe is no longer available through Voyageur but all of the ingredients are available through them. 

Because I didn't have permission to share with the Facebook group but did have permission from Voyageur Soap & Candle, I've decided to post the recipe here. It comes together quickly and really does make "Lots of Bubbles"!

Lots of Bubbles Bubble Bath
Yield: 1 kg
  • 50 grams BSB Surfactant
  • 200 Grams Amphosol CG Surfactant (aka Cocamidopropyl Beetaine)
  • 230 grams Bioterge AS40 surfactant
  • 500 grams distilled water
  • 10 grams Glycerin
  • 5 grams Aloe Vera Extract
  • 5 grams Germall Plus
Mix all ingredients together. Because all ingredients are liquid, there is no need to use hot water. Preservatives and fragrance can be added at the same time as the other ingredients. Colour as desired.

If you want it thicker, add salt in small amounts, stirring to fully incorporate until the desired thickness is achieved.

If desired, you can also use Crothix to thicken at approximately 2% in place of the equivalent amount of water. You would then add this at the beginning, to the surfactants, heating to melt. You would then have to wait until cool to add the preservative and fragrance.

Note: I don't thicken mine. I don't think it's necessary but you may like your bubble bath with a thicker consistency.

Enjoy!


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's a busy day here in the Mission Meadows Soapery kitchen/lab. Over the past two years, I've made some amazing products that aren't soap, per se. I've introduced them to my market customers but the products simply haven't moved at all so I've been trying to come up with a way to get customers to try them. I've decided to put together a few gift boxes, each with a variety of products that are not in my current line but are items I think people will love once they try them.

To that end, I found some boxes I think will work for a simple gift box. Items in this one are for sample purposes only. I've decided to make two kinds, one for those who love baths and one for those who prefer showers.


Today has been spent making some of the products I'll be including in one or both of the boxes. For the time being, I'll only be making three or four of each box and each will have five or six products.

First up is a product especially for those who love their showers... or who don't even have a bath tub in their homes (inconceivable to me... I love my baths!). These are Shower Bubble Scrub Bars. When you rub these over your wet skin, they begin to foam with a lush, fragrant foam. They're almost like a bath bomb for your shower!

They're made with coffee, almond flour, and sugar for scrubbiness and a combination of cocoa butter and mango butter for moisturizing. They smell like a cup of mocha with a shot of vanilla, the perfect thing to wake you up in the morning. Each bar is enough for 2-3 showers. I know they look edible but don't.... just don't.


The second product I made today is Vanilla Rose Moisturizing Cream. I made a similar cream, scented with a combination of rose, patchouli, and sandalwood and coloured a very pale pink, a couple of weeks ago (I don't think I blogged it). This is the same recipe but is uncoloured and scented with Vanilla and Rose fragrance oils. The vanilla fragrance may cause the cream to turn a light tan colour; that's what vanilla does in time. It's made with wonderful ingredients like Colloidal Oatmeal, Argan oil, and Aloe Vera Extract. Seriously, this stuff rivals some of the high end creams you can find at your local department store.

When John smelled it, he said it smells a bit like Pond's Cold Cream, a scent I've always liked. Seriously, this stuff smells really nice!


Next up, I made a batch of another of my favourite products. This is a Foaming Facial Mud Mask, made with Canadian Glacial Clay, bentonite clay, kaolin clay, and Activated Charcoal. It also contains Cocamidopropyl Betain, a very gentle coconut based surfactant. It can be used as a facial masque, allowed to dry on your skin, or as a facial cleanser. When you use water to remove the masque, it begins to lather and becomes a foaming cleanser. Seriously, this stuff is amazing. And you don't have to use it just on your face. It can be used as a Spa Bath Treatment; it isn't like a bubble bath but it does bubble and the minerals in the clays are so good for your body.

It can be used in the shower as well. A dollop in your bath puff can be used as a body wash. It can be used as a scalp treatment and shampoo; it can be used as a spa foot soak or a manicure soak. It can even be used as a foot and hand masque. Seriously amazing stuff!

I couldn't let even a little bit of this product go to waste so I scraped out the pot as well as I could and applied it to my face. There wasn't much left, not even enough to do my entire face.

Mud on my face... HA!

And lastly, I made another batch of liquid bubble bath. I've tried many bubble bath products over the years and I have to say that this is my favourite bubble bath ever. Each bottle contains about 4.5 ounces and should be enough for 4-5 baths depending on how bubbly you like your baths. This is, again, scented with Salt Water Mermaid.


All that's left to do now is to make labels, package everything, and figure out my pricing.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

All Signs Point To...

Fun! I've been having fun.

Last weekend, I made another batch of soap, which I think is enough to get me through the first half of the market season. This time, I wanted to use some of the Green Apple fragrance oil that's been languishing in my stash. I do use it for shampoo and conditioner bars but I thought it would be really nice in a soap, too. I wasn't wrong.


It smells so fresh and so clean! My entire (albeit small) house smelled of green apples. I'm ambivalent about the mica on the top but it's too late now. If you've been checking out my gallery page, you will already have seen the cut of this soap. I'm very pleased with the result.


I probably could have coloured more aggressively but I'm pretty happy with this. The swirls are subtle and the fragrance is perfect. I have a feeling this one will be sold out quickly.

I HAVE been having fun this week. It's been a week of reflecting and planning for the upcoming market season. One of the things that has been a bit of a frustration is my table signage. I don't mean the main signage (I have a small banner which I love) but the product signage. I've been using small wooden blackboard signs that are handwritten as needed; I want to get away from handwritten signs and have been looking for ideas to that end.

Pinterest has been a source of inspiration many times and this time was no exception. I came across several pins with cement/concrete crafts and, suddenly, inspiration struck. What if I were to use concrete and paper clips? The concrete base would ensure stability; the signs wouldn't easily be knocked over (as I am wont to do) and the paper clips would hold my printed signs in place. I decided to give it a try.

Home Hardware carries Quickrete in buckets (rather than buying a 50 lb. bag) so, armed with that, a square silicone ice cube tray and some large paper clips, I got creative.


Each cube holds about 1/2 cup of the cement mix; I added more water than the 1:5 ratio recommended because I wanted to be able to pour it rather than "glop" it into the molds. John suggested bending the end of the paper clip that would be sitting in the mix to give it a little more stability - a good suggestion. Because of the added water, I put the tray in the oven, with the light on, for a couple of hours, then let it set overnight. By the next morning, I was able to unmold easily.

The one on the left looks a bit wonky but it's the concrete, not the clip. Apparently my oven isn't level.
I let them set up for a day then decided to paint and seal them. I love the look of the finished bases and I think they'll work well on my table, on which I use an olive green table cloth over a black table cover. I used a dark gold/bronze spray paint and sealed them with a clear coat. From what I've been reading, they'll probably lighten up somewhat after about a month, by which time they'll be fully cured.


I like them so much that I decided to go ahead and make the rest of my bases this morning. I figure I'll need about a dozen for all the signs I'll need, maybe a few more. This time, after more reading, I decided to add some water soluble titanium dioxide to the mixing water, to help lighten the colour of the natural cement. I'm hoping that will give more of a contrast between the gold and the concrete.

As well, this time, instead of using the plastic coated paper clips, I used the plain steel clips. I like them better than the plastic coated clips; they just feel stronger.


This has really been a lot of fun and far easier than I thought possible. There's just one "problem". I still have more than half a bucket of the mix left and nowhere to store it. That means I'll have to make something with it; I've seen a lot of amazing ideas. Now, I just need to decide.

Yup, all signs point to more fun on the horizon!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Anticipation

One of the things I love about making soap is the anticipation of making that first cut into a fresh loaf of soap. You never know for sure if the soap turned out the way you'd envisioned it. In the case of the Salt & Pepper soap, it turned out exactly as I'd hoped it would, glycerin rivers and all.

Salt & Pepper Soap, January 2020
See the crackled appearance in the white part of the bar? That is what's known as glycerin rivers. I'm by no means an expert but here's one explanation from soapmaker extraordinaire, Auntie Clara, explaining glycerin rivers: "...when soap goes through gel phase, particles of colour pigment added to the soap seem to gravitate and stick to the greasy, water-repellent tails of the soap molecules while leaving the water-soluble heads of the molecules without pigment. This happens sometimes when soap coloured with titanium dioxide and other colour pigments goes through gel phase." 

Titanium dioxide is what I used in the white part to make it more white. I know that when I make this particular soap, I get glycerin rivers and I love the look in this case.

The Charcoal & Lavender Castile was, shall we say, educational. With the first cut, I realized it had gone through partial gel. The gel phase of soap making is the heating stage of saponification. Once you pour your soap into its mold it will start to heat up. Gel phase starts with the soap turning translucent in the middle and then spreads out to the edges. ... The biggest difference between gelled and un-gelled soap is the color of it. (From Lovinsoap.com)

You can recognize partial gel instantly. There will be a ring spreading from the center but not to the outer edges of the soap. That's what happened with this one; there was a pale grey ring in the bars. I didn't take a picture of it because I was, if I'm honest, a little disappointed. John, however, thought it was pretty cool and was disappointed when I planed each of the bars, which helped to diminish the very obvious ring.


Partial gel in no way affects the quality of the soap; like glycerin rivers, it's purely cosmetic. Both of these soaps will be amazing once they've cured, in about 4-6 weeks. Next time, however, I may force gel in the charcoal soap, for cosmetic reasons only.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Salt & Pepper

With work being a bit slow at this time of year, my boss suggested that my co-worker and I each work half days for the remainder of this week. I hate to say it but we both jumped at the chance. Since I do the daily cash out, I suggested he take the mornings and I'd take the afternoons. Today's the first day we're doing this and I've taken advantage of the opportunity to make another batch of soap.

This one is called Salt & Pepper; the white side has poppy seeds in it, to resemble pepper and the black side has coarse kosher salt in it to resemble..... well, salt. I've scented it with Salt Water Mermaid from Candora.

I've made this one a few times before and it's always been popular. I haven't had it in stock since early last year so it's about time I made it again. Inside, it has a side to side hanger swirl and the salt in the dark side will give the soap a somewhat mottled appearance. The recipe also includes lard, which makes a very nice skin loving soap. I've topped it with a little kosher salt and some poppy seeds.

Salt & Pepper Soap
Made Jan. 22, 2020
I should be able to cut this loaf some time tonight. Once it's cut, I'll take the "official" picture. Now though, it's time to get ready for work. 

Hmmm... what shall I make tomorrow?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Black is Beautiful

One of the soaps that sold out at last year's market was my Charcoal & Lavender Castile soap. It's a basic castile soap, with a little coconut and castor oil for bubble support. Then, I added a good dose of charcoal and some lavender essential oil. It's also made with sea water. Real sea water from Canada's West Coast. My daughter's partner brought it to me from Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.

Charcoal and lavender have both been used throughout the centuries for skin care, especially for those with oily or break out prone skin. That said, soap is soap. In itself, it doesn't cure anything as it's a wash off product but it certainly won't damage your skin (unless you're allergic to any of the ingredients, obviously).

One of the things I've been working towards with my soap is to have several "lines". One of them is Basic Soap; this soap, along with unscented and uncoloured Castile soap are a part of that line. One other line this one qualifies as is Vegan Friendly. It's made with plant oils, Activated Charcoal (which is made from wood) and essential oil.

I think it's also one of my most dramatic soaps, dark and a beautiful!

Charcoal & Lavender Castile Soap
As a side note, two posts in one day after almost a one year absence... talk about jumping in with both feet, right?

I Haven't Disappeared.... yet

I'm almost embarrassed to be posting again after so long. It's been almost a year since my last post; soaps have been made and sold; possible new products are being made and tested. Life keeps going on.

I now have two market years behind me; it's been educational and a lot of fun. My fellow vendors, and the people who run the East Kelowna Sunday Artisan Market are wonderful people and I've made some lovely friends. I missed one market out of the entire season because we do take an occasional vacation.

At this point in the calendar year, I'm gearing up for this year's upcoming market season. Over the last few weekends, soaps have been made. This one was made for a Soapmaking Forum challenge or, rather, an unchallenge. It wasn't an "official" challenge as December is a very busy month for almost everyone. Instead, the challenge was to create a soap using a new-to-you technique, or something that you've wanted to try but never got around to trying.

In my case, it was mica marbling. I've seen a few soapmakers make soap using this technique and I love the look of it.


I coloured it with Silver Sparkle mica (which turned the soap a really nice pale green for some reason) and used Copper Moon mica for the swirls. It's scented with Lemongrass Verbena fragrance oil. To show the marbling effect best, the soap needs to be cut horizontally rather than the usual vertical cut. I love the look of the bars but I'm not sure how much the mica will "shed". The bars aren't quite ready to be used yet but once they are, I'll be picking the messiest (the one with the most mica showing) and giving it a good try. I'm concerned that the mica may rub off on a washcloth or skin. The small bars, with the heart embeds were made with the leftover batter and a couple of mini hearts I had left from last year's Valentine's soap.

If you're in the Kelowna area, the East Kelowna Sunday Artisan Market will have their first market of the season on Sunday, February 16, from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. I'll be there; will you?