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The Spring Specials, 2023

April’s weather is so changeable isn’t it? One minute the sun’s out, lulling us into a false sense of security and tempting us towards sandal wearing and planning barbeques, then next it’s absolutely pouring down. Like today…

Ah well, it’s undoubtedly warmer, and the days are definitely getting longer, so I can safely declare it’s SPRING, and time to talk about this year’s spring specials. This year I made four bars and each one is the return of an old favourite from a few years back, albeit with different names and designs. In an ideal world I would prefer to have at least a couple of new scents for each season release, but the run up to Christmas was so busy I didn’t manage to do any fragrance testing, so old faves it had to be, this time round…

Sakura

First up is Sakura. Sakura is the Japanese term for Cherry Blossom, so you won’t win any prizes for guess what this one smells like. It’s a sophisticated floral blend of cherry blossom with jasmine, rose, lily of the valley and freesia on a base of musk, precious woods and crystal amber.

This one has proven to be the bestseller so far, with one happy reviewer saying:

“So pleased to find this one has returned….the scent is just like walking through an orchard in full blossom. Can’t beat it on a spring day!”

But don’t take my word for it, check out all the five star reviews for Sakura HERE

Two bars of pink and white Sakura handmade soap and a white facecloth
Sakura Handmade Soap

Persephone

Next up is Persephone. This one was simply Pear & Freesia last time it made an appearance, but I wanted all the spring bars to have a seasonal name this time round, and as the Greek goddess of spring, she seemed like a great source of inspiration. (Let’s just gloss over the fact that she also later became the wife of Hades and queen of the underworld – that wasn’t her choice to be fair!)

Persephone is scented with a sparkling fruity/floral scent, reminiscent of the Jo Malone fragrance English Pear & Freesia. Click HERE for reviews.

Two bars of yellow, purple, white and green Persephone handmade soap and a  facecloth
Persephone Handmade Soap

Aloysia

The third bar is fragranced with a scent I’m pretty sure I once swore never to use again. It’s a gorgeous lemon verbena scent, a crisp and sparkly herbacious/citrus fragrance that smells amazing. As one customer says:

“Tangy, fresh and a wonderful soap for the morning to get you up and out enjoying the springtime”

But BOY does it misbehave in soap! This means that as soon as the fragrance is added to the soap batter, it almost immediately starts getting thick. Then, VERY quickly, it becomes too hard to do anything with. Soapmakers have a phrase – ‘soap on a stick’ – for when this happens, and it’s extremely frustrating when you’re trying to make pretty soap. That’s why this one looks quite different to the other three. The first bars I made looked, quite frankly, like a dog’s dinner so I grated them up and very quickly mixed them into some plain white soap batter. I do really like the ways these bars look, but they’re definitely the odd ones out 😀

Oh and the name? Aloysia is simply the latin name for Verbena. Click HERE for reviews

Two bars of white and green Aloysia handmade soap and a white facecloth
Aloysia Handmade Soap

Zephyr

The lasf of the spring specials for 2023 is Zephyr. Zephyr was the Greek god of the warm west wind, considered to be the gentlestof the winds and the harbinger of spring. Whilst it’s not necessarily a masculine scent, it definitely leans more towards typical ‘male’ scents than the other three. A warm, woody, unisex scent beginning with top notes of fresh citrus and forest herbs. The heart is a spicy blend of black pepper and maple, rounded off with base notes of cedar and sandalwood.

Click HERE to see reviews for Zephyr

two bars of Zephyr Handmade Soap and a white facecloth
Zephyr Handmade Soap

Click on any of the photos above to take you directly through to the listing on the website, or click HERE to take you to the spring specials category where you’ll see the full range on one page.

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Weekly Round up w/e 22nd Jan 2023

It’s been a productive week, with four big wins to shout about.

I finally made the Spring Specials, having intended to get them done last week (release date still be be decided, but March sometime). I may make some more – so far I have 50 of each and now I’m doubting myself and cosidering making another 50 of each like I did last year. Sales are down, people have less money to spend on luxuries like handmade soap, but I don’t want to regret NOT making more. I suspect I’ll make more 😉

Here’s one in the mould:

And another (Sakura – Cherry Blossom) freshly cut:

Sakura handmade soap

The second big win was, miracle of miracles, finally setting up my mailing list. It’s been on my to-do list for literally years. Social media is great but not always reliable for getting information out to the customer – reach seems to be decreasing all the time – and so being able to email customers directly is becoming more and more important.

Everyone signing up to the newsletter will receive a 20% dicount code for the website, and you can unsubscribe at any time – just click here to subscribe.

Thirdly, I got my tax return done, woo-hoo! I always say I’ll get it done WAY before the 31st Jan deadline, but never seem to manage to get it done before Christmas. Next year will be different. I’ve set myself a goal to get it done before the end of July. To (hopefully!) facilitate that I’ve committed to do accounts and paperwork every Friday morning. It’s in the diary and everything! I did consider just putting it in the diary once a month and do a whole month’s worth in one go, but it’s proving to be far quicker and less daunting to do a week’s worth at a time, and so I’m far more likely to stick to it.

Last in my list of successes this week is getting another category of the website updated with new photographs. The haircare category has now been completely re-shot on a white background – much better no?

A busy week coming up – lots more soap to make and more new photographs to take, so there should be plenty to share in next weeks round up post. I’ll be back!

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Weekly Round up w/e 15th Jan 2023

Two bars of Fresh Linen Handmade Soap

This was the ‘proper’ 2023 first week back at work. The kids went back to school on Monday, and I was able to work full time again – woop! I made the most of it on Monday with a productive day dispatching weekend orders and making a double batch (128 bars) of a new addition to the core range – Pineapple. This has twice been a seasonal special and as Sugar Drops and Cucumber are both being discontinued this year, I’ve decided that Pineapple will take their place. It’s a fairly selfish decision, I absolutely love the fragrance and can’t wait to be able to bathe with Pineapples any time time I want to!

Other than making a HUUGE batch of Conditioner Bars on Wednesday, the week was fairly uneventful, and I spent some time taking new photographs for the updated website (coming soon *crosses fingers*) with my fancy new lightbox. I’ve decided to ditch the patterned backgrounds for good, and all product photos will now have a clean white background, like these below. Photography really isn’t my forte but I think they look a lot better than they did. What do you think?

That’s it, I’m not going to waffle on for the sake of writing, maybe I’ll have more to tell you next week, or maybe there’ll be a little ‘non-round up’ post midweek (but don’t hold your breath!). It’s enough, for the time being, for me to get back into the swing of posting regularly, however briefly that may be 😉

Thanks for reading – back next week!

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Blogtober Done and Dusted – Woop!

Blogtober 2021 – Day 31

Happy Halloween! Hope the weather is better with you than it’s been here today – heavy rain and gale force winds mean that any plans for Trick or Treating have been binned. We did however spend some time carving pumpkins:

We have plenty of Halloween treats in for the children and I’m planning on making some spiced pumpkin soup later on this week so it’s not been a complete washout.

So, that’s thirty one days of successive posting done, and Blogtober 2021 completed. Truth be told there were times it was a bit of a chore resulting in a teensy bit of blogging fatigue. Given that the main reason for doing Blogotober was to get back into the habit of writing posts, this is not an ideal outcome :-D. I really will make more of an effort though. I still have some post ideas – perhaps the lack of time pressure will make it a little easier in future. Ooh maybe there’s a blog post right there once I’m done…

Thanks for reading – until next time!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Noel

Blogtober 2021 – Day 26

The first of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Noel, and I’m sharing it first because I think it’s my favourite of the lot. Noel is fragranced with a blend of rich festive fragrances including citrus fruits, spicy clove and cinnamon, and notes of sweet vanilla, patchouli, cedarwood and amber which round off the scent. This is a gem of a fragrance, and is especially wonderful for soap because:

  1. It’s a fragrance that contains vanilla that does not discolour to brown and
  2. It’s a fragrance that contains spice elements that does not accelerate (thicken up too quickly) during the making process.

A bit of a soapmaker’s dream come true really!

Available from the 13th November

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

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A Return to Posting?

How long has it been since I last published a blog post? It was before last Christmas certainly, and I don’t think I’d been particularly prolific for a while before that either. SO much has happened since then, as we all know. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way most of us live our lives, and has affected us all to a lesser or greater extent (high five to all the parents out there who’ve been homeschooling!). My soapmaking has remained constant however. Increased, if anything. My customer base has changed of course – wholesale orders dried up completely as soon as the lockdown was announced, and all craft fairs and markets were cancelled. This website however has been my saving grace. It was still under construction last time I posted here but we managed to get it launched last February and thank goodness we did – that’s where more or less all my sales have come from over the last 4-5 months. If this is your first time visiting do have a look around before you go and let me know what you think!

With the new website came this new blog. All the old posts have been transferred over to here, and fingers crossed all the subscribers have too, but nothing’s certain so I’ll press publish with bated breath and see what happens.

The best thing to happen (soap wise!) since I was last here is the change of packaging. I’ve been wanting to upgrade my packaging for a long time but couldn’t settle on what it was I wanted to do. When I started making soap for a local company and saw that they were selling it in beautifully simple paper wrappers, I realised that I could do something similar. I approached a local printers and they designed and printed my current packaging. It’s a fantastic solution and as an added bonus, it’s fully bilingual, which I’ve wanted for a while.

Watermelon Handmade Soap
Watermelon Handmade Soap

Another big change since I was last here is the design of the fragrance oil bars. They used to be all done using the drop swirl technique which, while pretty and distinctive, wasn’t something I could keep scaling up as I made more and more bars. I routinely make 6kg batches now, poured into four loaf moulds, and the drop swirl design is just too time consuming to do effectively. I now make all my fragrance oil bars using the ‘In the Pot’ technique.

Bewitched

There have been two limited edition releases since I was last here – the Spring Specials and the Summer Specials (no surprises there :-D) –

Spring Specials Montage
Clockwise from top left – Lemon / Pepper, Maple & Cedar / Pear & Freesia / Fresh Linen
Left to right – Jasmine / Black Tie / Cucumber / Very Cherry / Pina Colada

I’ve just finished making the tester bars for the Autumn Specials:

And started gathering together options for Christmas. Well, it is July after all 😉

So there we go – a whistlestop tour of the last 9 months or so. My goal is to get back to weekly posting if possible – maybe something along the lines of the weekly updates that I was doing last year, but it may take me a while to get back into the habit, so bear with me.

Please join me on social media for way more regular soapy updates – just seach for The Soap Mine on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. We also have an active (and very friendly) facebook community here https://www.facebook.com/groups/841016452928421 where you’ll find competitions, giveaways, sneaky peeks and the occasional bit of sillyness 😉

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The Week in Soap: 20th October, ’19

I can’t be the only one who’s incredulous that there’s only a week and a half left of October? They say time flies when you’re having fun so I guess I must be having a whale of a time 😉

I didn’t manage to get a weekly update out last week, I posted the info about the solid conditioner bars (here) and that, it would appear, brought me to the limit of my available blogging time. However, you really didn’t miss much. I made soap. I wrapped soap. I labelled soap. I dispatched soap to retail and wholesale customers. I read about soap and talked about soap soap – in person and online.  Oh, I took the dog for a few walks as well.

Seriously though, I am living and breathing soap at the moment (with the odd foray into solid conditioner bars). I’m running out of space in my rented office space (a 20 second commute over the road above the village Tourist Info Shop – I should share some pics sometime), and I definitely need a larger making area at home.  It feels like I should be expanding my space, but there isn’t really anywhere local I could move into, and the children are still too small for me to travel too far afield.  We’ve talked about the possibility of building a workshop in the garden, which would solve the studio space issue, but I’d still be struggling for curing / wrapping / packing space. It’s one of those things that’s on the back burner, but always there, niggling at me to find a solution, so I’m trying not to fret about it too much during the run up to Christmas, and will give it some more thought in January / February (supposedly my ‘quiet’ time, but it didn’t quite work out that way this year so we’ll see).

I’ve had a big run on guest bars this last couple of weeks. The guest houses and holiday lets around here continue to be occupied throughout autumn and are always full over Christmas and New Year, so I think everyone’s getting their orders in now to be sure they don’t run out over the festive period.  I have 250 of these mini bars to cut and bevel over the next two or three days. Thankfully customers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and don’t always want them fully wrapped – the ‘naked’ option is becoming more popular, and I always provide a full ingredients list and other mandatory info for the customer to pass on to their guests.

Lavender Guest Bars

Ooh, and I’ve added a new fragrance to the FO range… During the summer I released four limited edition bars, one of which was Watermelon, which proved to be extraordinarily popular. And justifiably so – it smells utterly delicious.  When I dropped Tutti Frutti from the core range I had room for a new regular fragrance and adding Watermelon was a no-brainer.  Here’s the very first batch of 60 in the mould:

Watermelon in the Mould

I said in my last weekly update that I would share a bit more about the Christmas range soon but I’ve STILL not managed to take any photos. I hereby undertake, no, I PROMISE, that I shall reveal the Christmas range in my next update post. *Adds another thing to this week’s to-do list*

I’m still working on my HUGE order that I alluded to back on the 22nd September.  The first batch are now all fully cured and are bevelled and ready for wrapping. There are almost 800 bars just in this first delivery to get labelled up with a cigar band wrap, and I’m so grateful that my lovely friend has been willing to come round and help me in return for a cuppa and a chat.  Now these are new to me, but I love the way they look, and I’m edging more and more towards doing my own this way. They’re eco-friendly, look great, and are quick to wrap once you get into the swing of them.  However my customer is an online only company, so these bars won’t be sitting on a shop shelf for any length of time, whereas mine would be, so I’m not sure whether it would work for my wholesale customers? I think I’m going to give it a go though. Here’s a sneak peek of some we’ve wrapped already:

Custom Order Packaging

And finally, here are some pics of cut soap and soap in the mould from the last couple of weeks…

Triple Coffee Scrub

Luscious Lavender in the Mould

Thursday Night’s mega-making session

Serenity Essential Oil Bars

Thanks for reading, back soon!

Vicki

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Fragrance Oil Testing – Blossom Oils

Back in August I was contacted by Blossom Oils and asked whether I would be interested in testing some of their fragrance oils in return for feedback. I didn’t need to think about it for long – I don’t often get the opportunity to experiment and play with fragrances these days. There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, I have a core range of fragrances which I have to keep in stock for my wholesale customers – it would be way too confusing and time consuming to keep switching out fragrances. Secondly, fragrance oils are expensive, and especially so when buying in small quantities to trial.  I bulk-buy my fragrance oils for the core range to keep costs to a minimum.  Thirdly, there’s always a risk involved in trying a new fragrance oil – it might accelerate trace (soap on a stick anyone?), it might discolour, and there’s always the chance that you just might not like the smell. Years ago I bought a dupe of Lush’s Karma fragrance and OMG it was vile. Horrible. I can still remember it. I really wish I couldn’t….

Anyway, I digress.  I happily accepted their kind offer, and received eight, EIGHT!!! samples of fragrance oils in the post very soon after:

Blossom Oils FO
Blossom Oils FO

Oooh the joys of new fragrances to sniff.  Anyone else an inveterate sniffer?  I can’t help myself.  Shampoos, perfumes, and of course, fragrance oils. I was in scenty heaven. Here’s what I was sent, in alphabetical order:

  1. Amaretto Nog
  2. Dove
  3. FBomb  (Similar to Flower Bomb perfume)
  4. Lavender
  5. Opulence (Similar to Decadence perfume)
  6. Sea Breeze & Mint (Similar to a men’s shower gel)
  7. Warm Mulberry
  8. Wild Berries

I had cheekily asked whether one of the samples could be FBomb as Flower Bomb is one of my favourite perfumes, and I also suggested that they include a Christmas fragrance or two.  Unfortunately their Christmas fragrances weren’t yet available, but they did send the Amaretto and Mulberry as options that could be considered ‘wintery’.

So. First thoughts, sniffing from the bottle:

  1. The Amaretto was LOVELY, but then I do like a little glass of Amaretto over ice at Christmas.  Almondy and sweet, I really liked it.
  2. Dove.  I’ll be honest, I thought this was a strange one to have included in the eight. I can’t bear Dove ‘so-called soap’. (It’s not soap, it’s a beauty bar, because they’re not allowed to call it soap. Rant over).  So anyway, the last thing I would choose to put into my soap is something that would make it smell like Dove. But in the interests of fairness and honesty, I’ll treat it like any other FO, and it DOES smell like Dove.
  3. FBomb.  This definitely reminded me of the perfume straight out of the bottle. So far so good.
  4. Lavender.  I usually use lavender essential oil for my lavender soap, and I found this fragrance to be slightly more ‘powdery’ and slightly sweeter than the EO.
  5. Opulence.  This smells really  good out of the bottle. I’m not familiar with the original perfume, but this was lovely, a nice blend of floral and spice.
  6. Sea Breeze and Mint. Again, I’m not familiar with the inspiration for this one, but it’s a nice unisex fragrance, and the mint definitely came through without taking over.
  7. Warm Mulberry  Definitely warm, definitely fruity, a real winter scent.
  8. Wild Berries. Another fruity fragrance, but ‘clearer’ than the previous one, juicy, sweet and berry-like.

Every single one was good out of the bottle. Even the Dove, which I would never choose to use, did in all fairness, smell of Dove.

So I made some soap.  I made a single batch of my regular recipe, with full water, because I wanted all the fragrances to be tested under exactly the same conditions, so it made sense to make all the testers out of the same base batch.

I added my chosen colourant to eight different containers, brought my batter just to emulsification, and then split it between the eight containers:

Soapmaking in Progress
Soapmaking in Progress

I gave them all a quick stir manually, then added 3% fragrance oil to the first jug.  I gave it a thorough stir, made sure it was traced, then poured it into the mould. I did exactly the same with the other seven fragrances.

Testers In the mould
Testers In the mould

The testers are the ones with letters above them, just in case I forgot which was which. Ignore the bottom four on the right hand side, they’re leftovers…

The Sea Breeze & Mint (blue one above) caused some acceleration, but not too much, and the Lavender (lavender one above) caused slight acceleration. That surprised me somewhat as, although florals are known to cause acceleration, if anything I find that Lavender essential oil inhibits trace. But it really was only slight acceleration.  None of the other FO’s caused noticeable acceleration, which was pretty impressive.

They were unmoulded after 36 hours, and this photo was taken a couple of weeks later:

Unmoulded soaps
Unmoulded soaps

It was around this time that I realised that I’d made a mistake by using colourants as it’s much harder to tell what discolouration is going on if the soap is already coloured. Regardless, it seems to me that only one of the fragrances caused any discolouration at all, and that was the Amaretto Nog.  To be fair, the fragrance description  is “A creamy blend of almond and vanilla”  and any fragrance containing vanilla is guaranteed to cause discolouration, so it was only to be expected.

So the big question. How do they smell after a few weeks cure time? Here’s my thoughts:

  1. Amaretto Nog. This smells lovely, but it no longer smells, to me at least, of amaretto.  The almond aspect seems to have faded but it’s still a warm fragrance with vanilla notes and I would definitely use it again.
  2. Dove. This smells exactly how I remember Dove smelling!  A strong, fresh soapy smell which will please any Dove lover.
  3. FBomb. This still reminds me of the designer fragrance on which it’s based.  It’s not identical (which would be pretty impossible anyway) but similar enough to be recognisable I think. I’m looking forward to using my tester in the shower! Interestingly this was my husband’s favourite (in blind testing)
  4. Lavender. Oddly this no longer smells of lavender at all to me. It’s a floraly fragrance, less powdery than it was out of the bottle, but definitely not lavender. I asked a couple of other people what they thought it smelled like, and nobody got lavender.
  5. Opulence.  I’m not familiar with the perfume on which this is based, but I did like this one. It’s quite a complex fruity/floral fragrance with notes of something more spicy too.
  6. Sea Breeze and Mint.  This is a more masculine fragrance, with definite sea-side / ozone-y overtones. I don’t get much mint, but I’m not familiar with the original shower gel so perhaps it’s exactly how it should be. To me it smells a bit synthetic – not one of my favourites.
  7. Warm Mulberry.  I was surprised to discover that this is probably my favourite of the lot.  It’s not one I would have necessarily chosen from the description (fruits with vanilla) but it’s delicious. It is fruity, but it has a warmth and a depth to it which is hard to describe.  I used a fairly dark colour for this one, so didn’t notice any discolouration, but it might discolour in a white/light coloured bar.
  8. Wild Berries.  Last, but definitely not least, comes Wild Berries. This was my husband’s second favourite after FBomb, and I really like it too. It’s a juicy, fruity uncomplicated fragrance, and would make a really nice smelling bar of soap.

Out of the eight there are at least four that I would definitely consider buying when I need a new fragrance for my range, and another two that I like but probably wouldn’t get round to purchasing.  There were only two that I wasn’t particularly keen on, which I think is a pretty good percentage given that everyone’s tastes are different and it was the luck of the draw what I received.

I’d like to say thank you to Blossom Oils for giving me the opportunity to sample some of their fragrances. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to try some new and different fragrance oils. Their website is easy to navigate, and provides you with all of the technical data required (MSDS, IFRA certs and allergen declarations) if you sell your products. Oh, and they’re suitable for candles / wax melts too!

Check out the Blossom Oils website and find them on Facebook and Instagram too

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Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter everyone, I hope you’re having a fabulous weekend. I didn’t post last week as I didn’t get round to making ANY soap at all (gasp!), but I’ll be back to the usual routine tonight / tomorrow with a weekly update…

In the meantime I just wanted to let you know about a giveaway I’m holding over on Twitter to celebrate the launch of this new three large bomb set. Just follow me and RT the competition post to be in with a chance of winning – easy peasy!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Vicki

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The Wall (Blogtober 29)

After a really busy week, I’ve hit the blogging wall. I’ve utterly lost my blogging mojo today and if I’m thankful for anything it’s that there are only two more days of this to go… I had thought about writing a post about time management today, and perhaps if I wasn’t sitting down at 9.30pm to start thinking about it, I might just have done so – guess my time management was a bit off today 🙂

Anyway, yesterday was Porthmadog Craft Fair (about which a post STILL hasn’t been written) but today was a much needed family day. We took the kids out on a Halloween themed train ride followed by a rare trip to McDonalds.  Not one of my favourite places, and we’ve managed to avoid it for years, but somehow the younger members of the family have discovered it and we occasionally give in :-/  I took no photos until, on the way home, we passed by the classic view of Snowdon that I’d been trying (and failing) to recreate in soap:

Snowdon
Snowdon

See – for the highest mountain in England & Wales it doesn’t look particularly impressive or majestic does it? No wonder I couldn’t make it look good in soap. Perhaps I need to choose a different perspective?  To drive around it and find the most iconic aspect and try to recreate that in soap? Or perhaps I’ll stick to my plan of simply calling it ‘Snowdonia’ instead.

I sense I’m straying into the waffle zone, so I’m going to stop right here, get a good night’s sleep and I’ll be back tomorrow with my weekly round up and a better attitude.  Thanks for reading!

Vicki

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Social Saturday #4 – Instagram (Blogtober 28)

The fourth and final Social Saturday, at least for a while, features my current favourite social medium –  Instagram.  I was a bit of a latecomer it and if I’m totally honest I couldn’t initially see the point of it. That soon changed once I jumped in and started sharing photos and following other accounts, and believe it or not I’ve gained most of my wholesale customer through Instagram. I’ve found that there is a lot more interaction on IG than other social media – follow, like and comment on other accounts/photos and it’ll often be reciprocated.

It’s undoubtedly the best social medium for soap porn.  Follow the right accounts and you’ll get photo after photo of beautiful soap (or whatever floats your boat, lol). Using the right hashtags to search (eg #handmadesoap #coldprocesssoap #soapshare) will help you discover new accounts to follow.

If you don’t yet have an account, this article is a handy guide to getting started. If you’re already all set up, there are more advanced tips here and this page is really useful for finding craft based hashtags.

Follow me here: The Soap Mine, and if you share your account in the comments section below I’ll follow you (and others might too :-D)

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vicki

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A New Stockist – Siop Ogwen (Blogtober 27)

I’m so excited to be able to share today that I have a brand new Stockist – Siop Ogwen in Bethesda, Snowdonia.  I delivered a selection of bars and gifts sets there this morning, and by the time I’d got home they’d already shared a pic on social media:

Soap!
Soap!

They started out as a book shop (my other passion):

Books, glorious books
Books, glorious books

but they’re diversified their range and now have some lovely, locally made gifts like this jewellery:

Jewellery by Ann Catrin Evans
Jewellery by Ann Catrin Evans

and these utterly glorious Welsh lady prints and bags by Twinkle & Gloom:

Twinkle & Gloom prints & bags
Twinkle & Gloom prints & bags

I’m honoured to have been asked to supply this lovely shop, so if you’re not near enough to be able to pop in and check it out (33 High St, Bethesda), then please take a look at their website or social media:  Twitter, IG and Facebook.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vicki

 

 

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International Soap Swap, 2017 (Blogtober 24)

The Soap Swap Haul

Earlier this year I hosted a second International Soap Swap (You may remember the last one, back in 2015, which I wrote about over three posts: Post 1, Post 2 & Post 3).  We had fewer participants this year (we started out as a group of 14 but unfortunately a few had to drop out and the final count was 9 participants in total) but they are all wonderful, highly respected soapmakers, and if you have an interested in the soaping world I’m sure you’ll recognise at least some of them.

Here we go – the final haul. This was a truly international swap, with participants from Europe, the USA, Canada & Australia, don’t they look amazing?!

The Soap Swap Haul
The Soap Swap Haul

I’ve been procrastinating over this post for quite some time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you probably just want to see the bars, and the packaging, and to know who made them. You don’t really need me to wax lyrical too much about them. Suffice to say that as well as looking stunning, they all smell flippin’ wonderful too.

Heavenly Bubbles

Wendy of Heavenly Bubbles is based here in the UK. I love the unique cuboid shape of these bars, and the utterly fabulous packaging.  You can find Wendy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on her website.

Wendy of Heavenly Bubbles is based here in the UK. I love the cuboid shape of these bars, and the fabulous packaging.            You can find her on  FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and on her website

Heavenly Bubbles
Heavenly Bubbles

Heavenly Bubbles
Heavenly Bubbles

Kangaroo Apple Soap

Lisa of Kangaroo Apple Soap is based in Australia, and sent these beautiful rainbow bars.  Sadly Lisa’s return parcel with all her soapy goodies was lost in transit  🙁  Some of us sent extra little parcels individually in an attempt to make up for her disappointment.  You can find Lisa on Facebook.

Kangaroo Apple Soap
Kangaroo Apple Soap

Kangaroo Apple Soap
Kangaroo Apple Soap

Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda is based in the United States, and is currently on a break from soapmaking, so we were really lucky to get ourselves a bar of Blossom Dreams when we did. Perfectly natural and scented with a sweet frangipani fragrance.

Melinda's Naturals
Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda's Naturals
Melinda’s Naturals

Melinda's Naturals

Mimi & Boo

Look at this gorgeous packaging!  Linda is the face behind Mimi & Boo, and these wonderful bars are scented with her own custom blended fragrance.  You can find her on Instagram, and also on her website.

Mimi & Boo
Mimi & Boo

Mimi & Boo
Mimi & Boo

Shieh Design Studio

Emily of Shieh Design Studio was a soapmaker who’s blog I devoured when I first started making soap – she’s a really innovative and interesting soapmaker. Sadly her blog hasn’t been updated for a while but if you’re not familiar with it out you really should check it out.  She’s also on Instagram and Facebook.

Shieh Design Studio
Shieh Design Studio

Mimi & Boo
Shieh Design Studio

Mimi & Boo
Shieh Design Studio

Sienna Lily Soaps

Carolyn of Sienna Lily Soaps is based in Spain, and has the most amazing imagination.  These ‘Sailor’ themed soaps each came with their very own maritime based quote and hand decorated packaging. Find her on Instagram, Facebook,Twitter, and her website

Sienna Lily Soaps
Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps
Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps
Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps
Sienna Lily Soaps

Sienna Lily Soaps
Sienna Lily Soaps

Soap & Soap

Zacil once made and sold soap commercially under the ‘Soap & Soap’ company name.  She no longer makes soap to sell, so again we were so lucky to have her as part of the swap group.  The photos don’t really do justice to her bars – the piping on the top is exquisite!

Soap & Soap
Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap
Soap & Soap

Soap & Soap
Soap & Soap

Soga Artisan Soaperie

Louise, the owner of Soga Artisan Soaperie, is based in Canada.  She sent these gorgeous ‘Frozen’ themed bars, who’s cool scent was a perfect match for the design and colour. You can find Louise on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Soga Artisan Soaperie
Soga Artisan Soaperie

Soga Artisan Soaperie
Soga Artisan Soaperie

What do you think? Aren’t they gorgeous? A huge thank you goes out to each of the participants, it’s a real honour to be able to experience the creations of all these amazing soapmakers.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow

Vick

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Social Saturday #3 (Blogtober 21)

Happy Saturday guys!  I’m now officially two thirds through this blogging marathon, and I seem to be noticing more articles online about why you shouldn’t post on your blog too often (like this one!)  I’m committed, I’m not giving up, but there’s no doubt that I can’t find the time to write in depth, well rounded and well researched pieces at the moment, so my writing does feel a little superficial.  I guess it’s all part of the challenge 🙂

This is the third Social Saturday of Blogtober17, and today it’s Facebook’s turn. Ah Facebook.  Is it losing popularity?  Is it becoming the social medium for an older demograph? My number of FB followers has grown slowly but steadily over the years and I get more engagement on there than I do on Twitter, but less than I do on Instagram. Insterestingly I have more business followers on Instagram – that’s where I’ve connected with most of my wholesale customers / stockists, and Facebook is the place where I find I have the most personal, individual customers.

Today’s post is a real quickie.  For the last couple of months I’ve been organising the second annual Beddgelert Craft Fair. It happens today (woop!) and I have an awful lot to do, so, with no further ado, this is my Facebook Page. Do pop over and say hi, or share your link in the comments field and I’ll come to visit you!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a run down of the Craft Fair – keep your fingers crossed for me today!

Vickx

2nd Beddgelert Craft Fair

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Social Saturday #2 Twitter Trouble (Blogtober 14)

IT’S THE WEEKEND! It’s also time to celebrate day 14 of Blogtober – another full week completed – phew!

Last week’s Social Saturday was all about sharing soap / bath & beauty blogs (you can still add yours in the comments section here), but this week I’m all about Twitter.

Twitter is the social media (medium?!) that I’ve found hardest to crack.  I just can’t seem to gain any momentum and I’ve been stuck in the mid 400 followers for the longest time ( you can find me here )

I’ve Googled for advice and found a few posts that share hints and tips such as:

Top 10 Twitter Tips from Computer Hope

Twenty top Twitter tips by Marketing Donut

50 Tweetable Twitter Tips by Hubspot

so I guess I should just put my focus onto Twitter for a couple of weeks and put some of these ideas into action.  In fact you know what? I think I’m going to start a bit of a Twitter challenge for the second half of October – see if I can ‘up’ my followers / engagement and attempt to tame the Twittersphere 😉  I’m currently at 434 followers, let’s see if I can increase that by any significant amount by the end of the month. 

Do you use Twitter?  Do you LIKE Twitter? Do you have any helpful tips to reinvigorate my Twitter love? I even have problems finding accounts to follow, so if post your Twitter name below I’ll happily follow you (and maybe learn a thing or two in the process)

Thanks for reading and sticking with me thus far – nearly halfway through Blogtober already!!

Back tomorrow

Vickx 

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13 Top Tips for Making Bath Bombs (Blogtober 13)

bath-bomb-tips

When I put out my appeal for Blogtober topics here, Jo asked for hints and tips for making bath bombs. Now, I’m absolutely not an expert but I did learn a few things while I was knee deep in frustration trying to crack the bath bomb enigma.  Everyone else seemed to be effortlessly cranking out these beautiful bath bombs, while I was crying into my bath bomb mix, WILLING the two sides of my balls to stick together…

Here’s a few points that might help you if you too if you find yourself in bath bomb purgatory…

  1. While you only need baking soda and citric acid as your dry ingredients in bath bombs, it helps to add extra dry ingredients which can help prevent the premature reaction between those two main ingredients. I use both cornflour (cornstarch) and kaolin clay in my recipe. (Don’t use more than half the weight of the citric acid)
  2. Use POWDERED anhydrous citric acid. You can buy the coarser citric acid and grind it yourself, but to be honest it’s a right faff.  Just buy the powdered version.  Also, be careful not to buy monohydrate citric acid, you definitely need anhydrous citric acid.
  3. If you’re a beginner, or having problems with your recipe, don’t use Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts in your bath bombs. I have seen recipes using them, but they’re high in magnesium, which is a humectant (i.e. it attracts moisture from the air), and  can prematurely set off the fizz
  4. Sieve, sieve, sieve all your dry ingredients.  Never, ever try to make bath bombs with ingredients that haven’t been carefully sieved to remove all and any lumps.
  5. If you plan on making a lot of bath bombs, consider investing in a dedicated kitchen aid type mixer.   Get it mixing all the dry ingredients, then combine your oils (cocoa butter and rice bran in my case), your fragrance and your colourant in a separate container, then drizzle it into the mixer and get everything really well combined with minimal effort.
  6. Citrus essential oils can prevent bath bombs from hardening.  I made three big batches of bath bombs using my ‘serenity’ essential oil blend (that contains both sweet orange and lemon essential oils) and couldn’t understand why the bath bombs never got hard. I suspected that the essential oils might be to blame but a lengthy Google didn’t come up with anything.  I finally got my answer after posting in a bath bomb Facebook group.  Citrus EOs can be problematic in bath bombs.
  7. Use a water soluble colorant specifically designed for use in bath bombs.  I use these from Soaposh.  Mica in bath bombs aren’t recommended and can lead to a hot mess in and around the bathtub unless to you use Polysorbate 80.
  8. Once everything is combined, spritz with a little Witch Hazel. Really, just a very small amount.  For a recipe that starts with 900g baking soda I only need one or two spritzes of Witch Hazel. You really don’t want a ‘wet sand’ texture (certainly not the wet sand that I’m familiar with anyway) If you squeeze some mix in your hand it should hold together, but it doesn’t look or feel wet.  This bit is notoriously hard to explain, and really, trial and error is the best way to become familiar with it (but it’s like riding a bike, once you’ve got it you’ve got it for life :-D).  Too much moisture (of any kind) in your bath bombs can lead to lumpy, warty or cracked bombs as they dry out.
  9. Don’t put any water anywhere near your bombs.  Despite seeing plenty of recipes advocate a quick spritz of water, you don’t need it, and you’re risking setting off the fizzing prematurely.  Also make very sure that your kit, implements and moulds are completely, utterly dry (be especially careful when you wash your moulds between making different varieties – dry them well)
  10. Fill the two sides of your mould then press them down a little to compact it. Then pile more mix loosely on top of each side and press them together really hard. Don’t twist! I then use a teaspoon to tap all around one side of the mould, and the bath bomb then drops out into my hand.  Turn it over, tap, tap, tap again, and the other side of the mould should come off.  It’s taken me a while to get to the point where this works 99.9% of the time.  If it doesn’t work – empty out the mix and give the mould a good wipe on the inside before trying again.
  11. I never leave the bath bomb in the mould for any length of time.  Soap Queen has a great Q&A on bath bomb making here, but while she recommends leaving the bomb in the mould for a few hours, I’ve never found it to be necessary with round  bombs, but it might well be necessary for different shaped moulds.
  12. I don’t mind a little bit of a flat bottom on my bombs, but if you’d like to avoid one then placing them on bubble wrap that’s been covered with some kitchen roll works well.  (The wetter your mix, the more likely you are to get a flat bottom, so consider that angle as well if you want to avoid flat bits)
  13. It’s worth considering the humidity of the air in your ‘making’ area.  I live in a notoriously wet area and I genuinely haven’t had a problem making bath bombs when it’s raining. However, if you live in particularly humid area, or your kitchen is particularly steamy, then you might find bath bomb making becomes troublesome.

There you go, those are my tips for bath bomb making.  If you have any tips to add please comment below!

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

Vickx

Bath Bombs
Bath Bombs

Bathbombs
Bathbombs

 

 

You Baby Me Mummy
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Social Saturday (Blogtober 7)

Welcome to the weekend folks!  I’m not only celebrating the fact that it’s SATURDAY but also that I’ve got to the end of the first week of Blogtober without too much difficulty.

Hooray

As well as writing and posting, I’ve also been doing a little blogosphere housekeeping this week. I’ve been working my way through the list of blogs that I follow and have stopped following anyone who hasn’t posted since the beginning of 2016.  I was REALLY surprised, and a little saddened, at how many there are were.  Saddened because some of these blogs were people that, at one time, I absolutely loved following and reading, but I hadn’t even noticed how long it had been since they last posted.  Circumstances change, lives move on, and I do wonder what happened to those people I admired so much. I hope they’re all ok…

Anyway, I realised that the number of active soapy / skincare bloggers that I follow has seriously diminished, and wondered how to plug that gap.  As ‘Social Saturday’ (the concept of inviting people to share their profiles / accounts via your own) seems to have become a bit of a thing on various social media recently, I thought I would offer up this post as a place where anyone with a soap / skin care / bath & beauty type blog could share their blog and perhaps find new ones to follow themselves.

So! Don’t be shy – even if I already follow you, please share your blog in the comments below so that others can find you and hopefully follow you too.

And don’t forget there is also a dedicated Facebook group for soapmaking (and other types of skincare) bloggers here 

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow 🙂

Vickx

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It’s Here! Blogtober 2017

It's Blogtober!Yikes!! It’s the first of October, and that means it’s the first day of the annual blogging challenge, Blogtober. Because I managed it last year (by the skin of my teeth), I seemed to think that I would have no problem repeating that success this year… until this week. This last week has been crazy busy, and I’m not sure how I oculd have fitted in seven (!!) blog posts as well. But more about that in the next post…

Anyhow, a few of us in the Soapmaking Bloggers Facebook Group have taken up the challenge, and will be sharing our posts using the #blogtobersoapers hashtag on social media. Keep an eye out for us – a bit of cheerleading is always welcome 😀

A lot of my posts will be soap related, but by no means all (even complete soap obsessives do other things sometimes). I have a vague idea of various topics I could waffle on about, but if I’m honest, I’ll mostly be winging it. Good grief, did I get a bump to the head?

Back tomorrow,

Vickx

Posted on 9 Comments

Blogtober’s Fast Approaching…

I’m in the process of building a list of blog ideas to keep me going throughout this year’s Blogtober blogging bonanza.  For those who don’t know, the goal of Blogtober is simply to post on your blog at least once a day during October. I did it last year and didn’t find it too difficult, but I don’t think I can re-hash all the post from last year, I need some fresh inspiration!

And this is where you come in my soap-loving readers.  I’d welcome any suggestions for posts that you might have, but, more importantly, I was wondering whether you would be so kind as to throw some questions at me? Anything at all (well, kinda, lol)  I thought I could then do a post answering them, and then I’ll only have to think up another 30 blog ideas… :-/

If anyone out there has their own Soap and/or Bath & Body  blog and would like to join in the fun, there are a few of us in the Soaping Bloggers Facebook Group taking part, using the hashtag #BlogtoberSoapers.  It’s a bit of a challenge if you don’t normally post regularly, but it really is doable, especially if you do a little prep beforehand so you have ideas to hand, and maybe even have some posts ready-written and saved for emergencies.

So pleeeaaaase post me some questions – anything you like – and I’ll answer them next month – pinky promise 😀