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Market Set Up

September was my first month of regular markets, and it seems I’ve neglected my blog a bit – apologies!

I’m currently committed to three monthly markets – there are more out there that I could do, but I think I’ll wait until it all becomes a little easier (as it surely will when I’m more organised and the preparation becomes second nature) before I agree to do any more!

I did a bit of Pinterest research on the best way to set up my stall, but please tell me I’m not the only person to pin, pin, pin and then fail to go back and read it all, let alone implement any of the advice!! 😀 Still some work to do on that score  I think…

Anyway, I thought I’d post some pictures of my set up at the last two markets.

This was my stall last Saturday.  Tables were provided,  and were smaller than I expected, so I was careful not to make it look too crowded.  Notice the rubbish bin to the right of the picture?  Arrgghhh!! I persuaded the organiser to cover it with a tablecloth soon after this photo was taken!

1-Pictures 150The following day was a different market, and I had a dedicated gazebo area and a larger table. I tried to keep my booth as uncluttered as possible with boxes and other paraphanalia out of sight (those you can see in the picture belong to my neighbours):

1-Pictures 185The display stands are simply cardboard boxes covered with random fabric, but they do the trick:

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I know there’s probably a lot I could do to improve the look in general – some kind of backdrop would be good as a start.  Time to get back on Pinterest I think!

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It’s challenge time again!

This month’s soaping challenge over at Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club is a multi-coloured gradient soap. Now I’ve made gradient soaps before, but all of my previous gradient soaps have been one colour plus white, where the base is the main colour and subsequent layers gradually get lighter by adding increasing amounts of white soap batter.Ocean MistFor the challenge, Amy stipulated that we should use three colours (and no white, gulp!), so this was definitely stepping outside my comfort zone.  I decided to go with the primary colours, blue, red and yellow (though my red turned out decidedly salmon pink, but never mind….)

First I prepared my three colours – ultramarine blue oxide, lemon drop mica, and deep red mica (hmmm!), and tragedy struck!  OK, so that’s a bit of an overreaction, but my coffee frother, which I use to disperse the powdered colours, fell apart on me:

Picture 065Fortunately I’d already done the yellow and red, so I finished off the blue with a spoon and hoped for the best.

I then mixed the oils and butters with the lye, added the fragrance (a zesty lemon fragrance oil) and brought the mix up to a light trace. The main difficulty for me with this one was knowing how much of each base colour to start with.  I watched Amy’s video a few times, and realised that I had no idea how much a ‘cup’ was 😀 I decided just to eyeball it:Picture 066Then I started the pour.  A layer of just blue went in first – about a third of the ‘blue’ jug. I then added about a third of the red into the ‘blue’ jug, gave it a good mix and poured another layer. I added another third of red into the ‘blue’ jug and poured the lot into the mould to form the third layer.  The aim each time was to have straight layers which didn’t break into the layer below – I was partially successful I think…

I then poured a layer of just red from the ‘red’ jug. This was the fourth, or middle, layer:

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I added about a third of the yellow soap in with the red, mixed and poured a layer. Then another third of yellow into the ‘red’ jug and poured again. The seventh and final layer was pure yellow – no wastage – yey:

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After 24 hours I unmoulded and cut. I’m really happy with the result:

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I did find this one pretty challenging – I was working against a fast thickening batter towards the end, and wasn’t certain that I’d get all the layers done before the soap seized on me.  It was a great experience, but I’m not sure I’ll be making a multi-coloured gradient soap again any time soon :0D

As always, thanks go to Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks for planning and organising the whole shebang!

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Soap flowers and cupcakes

I made some cupcake soaps this week. It’s been a looong time since I’ve made any, and I was fretting about how to decorate them.

My very first soap cupcakes were decorated with non-soap, regular cake decorations. They looked pretty, but not really practical 😀

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I moved on to piping decorations with leftover soap from other projects. Much more appropriate for bathing with, but I still wasn’t happy with the result:

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So I had a root around Pinterest and found a tutorial for making soap roses here on the French SoapSession blog. I have a bit of French (but to be honest the pictures speak for themselves) so I gave it a go. I didn’t think to take any photos (oops!) as I made them but here’s what I came up with:

Picture 046As it turned out I felt my cupcakes looked good enough ‘naked’ this time, and so chose not to add any extra decoration:

Picture 048But I did use a couple of flowers on some ‘leftover’ soaps – so called because the bases were made from leftover cupcake batter (I’d run out the round cupcake cases and so dropped the leftover batter into a couple of heart shape moulds) and the tops were made out of leftover cupcake frosting (just glooped and swirled on top) I thought a couple of pink flowers would look cute on top. What do you think?

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Stocking up for market

I’m still busily building up my stock levels for the fast approaching farmers’ markets.  The first is only a fortnight away now, so the deadline for that one has passed  (I cure my soaps for a good 4-5 weeks before they’re ready to use) but there’s still plenty to do for the one after that.  I’ve committed to three markets a month for the time being, and I’ve no idea how many soaps I’ll need or how many will sell, so I’m stocking up and time will tell!

Here’s a round up of the last week or so:

Pink Matilda – Pink Musk Fragrance Oil

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Smiling Zebra – Tangerine Fragrance Oil

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Rosemary & Peppermint Essential Oils

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Second attempt at the Holly Swirl, Maraschino Cherry Fragrance Oil

Picture 054Vanilla Cupcakes – Vanilla Fragrance Oil (in base)

Picture 048The second and third markets are at the end of September, so I’ve got a few more days to squeeze in another soaping session or two :0)

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Yet another confetti soap

I liked my first confetti soap so much that I think I got a little obsessed with making them. This was the second, and here’s the third, and final (for now!) confetti soap:

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This one was made with brown coloured gratings from amber glow and chocolate vanilla truffle and fragranced with a blend of cinnamon, patchouli and bergamot essential oils. It smells gorgeous 🙂

Here’s the full set of three:

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Now to crack on with stocking up for the upcoming farmers’ markets – more of which soon!

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A second confetti soap

The second in a series of three confetti soaps:

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These were inspired by the need to find a use for some really ugly soap – see the first one here, and I think they look really pretty.

This version is made with shades of pink and purple and is fragranced with a blend of Lavender essential oil and Marshmallow fragrance oil.

On sale 8th September from www.facebook.com/TheSoapMine

The final soap in the series will be posted very soon.

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Challenge Soap – Holly Swirl

Who wants to learn the Holly Swirl? I have to confess that up until very recently I’d never heard of the Holly Swirl – it’s a ‘swirl within a swirl’ and so called because it was first created by Holly Bailey of Missouri River Soap Co. It’s also the technique featured in this month’s Soap Challenge Club (the results of last month’s challenge can be seen here). This is one of Holly’s beautiful soaps:

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Having registered and watched the online tutorial I set about creating my own version.

Starting with a batch of my basic soap batter, I took out just under a half, coloured it with a pink oxide and poured it straight into the soap mould. I then split the remaining half of batter into two and coloured one portion with blue ultramarine oxide and the other I whitened with titanium dioxide. I put a small amount of the blue and white to one side to create the top of the soap later.

Now for the first swirl.  Using a jug I poured the blue soap batter into the bowl holding the white soap batter, holding the jug up high and slowly moving it around. No stirring, no mixing – that was the swirl done. I didn’t take a photo of this stage so I hope that bit makes sense!

And the second swirl: I poured the combined blue and white batter along the length the mould, from a height. This was a little tricky as I wanted it to penetrate deep into the pink, but not so much that it settled on the bottom of the mould.  It was, to be honest, an educated guess 🙂

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I then carefully topped the soap with the remaining white batter, drizzled over the blue, and gave it a swirl:

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After 24 hours I took the soap out of the mould:

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And cut it:

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I’m really happy with how it’s turned out.  If I did it again I’d probably use more vibrant colours to better show off the lovely swirls, but not bad for a first attempt I reckon!  Oh, and it’s fragranced with Vanilla Bean from Gracefruit – it’s supposed to be non-discolouring so hopefully the colours will stay true…

Thanks are due again to Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks for setting up and hosting the challenges – I’m having a ball 😀

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Ugly soap come good

Remember the failure (or two!) I had a few weeks back while making the Mantra Swirl soap? I wanted a way to use up some of that not-so-pretty soap and this is what I came up with:

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First I grated up a whole load of the red and green portions of the ugly soap, then made up some soap batter and fragranced it with a blend of Patchouli and Red Mandarin essential oils. I then split the batter into two equal halves, then split one of those halves in half again to give me three portions of soap – one half and two quarters.  I added all the soap gratings to the larger half portion, mixing it gently but thoroughly to make sure there were no air pockets in there:

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Next I poured one of the quarters of soap batter into the mould, then slowly started to add the gratings mix:

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Finally I added the last quarter of soap over the top of the grated mix, and gave it some texture:

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This is the soap immediately after cutting.  The small bars at the front are the two end pieces cut up for samples:

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I’m so pleased with it that I’ve decided to make it the first in a series of three. The second has just been made and will be revealed very soon. The third is still in planning stage but will be made this week.  Keep an eye out for updates!

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A new mould (and its christening)

This week my fab new mould arrived, and I LOVE it:

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To date I’ve been using a  wooden mould that my husband made for me.  It’s served me well BUT I have to line it with freezer paper each and every time I want to use it.  This not only takes up valuable soaping time (it always seems to take ages) but I never seemed to be able to get the corners of my soap square – here’s a particularly good (bad?!) example <blush>

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So what luxury to have a mould already furnished with a silicone liner!  I used it for the first time this week and it was such a pleasure to be relieved of the tedium of mould lining, not so mention the time saved (at least 20 minutes) – hooray!

It was christened with a batch of Wild Berries:

Wild Berries Mould

Cut pictures to follow soon