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Designing, designing…

As winter inexorably approaches, the tourist season here has more or less come to an end for the year.  The only visitors we’ll see for the next few months will be hardy, well wrapped walker and mountain climbers, and many of the gift shops have closed or drastically reduced their opening hours while the owners take a well earned rest.  A good time, then, for me to take stock and consider what sold well during this last year.  It’s clear to me (and it’s no real surprise) that the bars which sold the best here in the village were those with a Welsh element to their name (eg Welsh Rose and Blodau (Flowers)) or a link to the local area (eg Black Rock Sands and Traeth Criccieth (Criccieth Beach)).

I’ve decided that there needs to be a few additions to the regular range – soaps which reference the local area – and the first of those will be Yr Wyddfa, our name for Snowdon, the highest mountain in England & Wales.  Yr Wyddfa has always been close to my heart. As I child I lived literally at the foot of this majestic mountain, and now I live just 10 minutes away from the bottom of 4 different routes up (depending on which direction I drive). I’ve walked (and run, with a team of women, carrying (an occupied!) wheelchair – but that’s another story :-D) to the top many times, but I’ve never taken the train up… Anyway, I digress…

On Tuesday night I made my first attempt.  Even while it was still in the mould I knew that there were things I would do differently next time:

Yr Wyddfa in the mould
Yr Wyddfa in the mould

See that blue on the top? That’s supposed to represent the sky, but sadly it’s the wrong shade of blue. Easily fixed – next time…

And the cut:

Yr Wyddfa, cut
Yr Wyddfa, cut

Clearly I’ve not gone with one of my regular drop swirls here –  I’ve gone a little more literal, with greenery (two colours of green), rock, snowy mountain top and sky.  I need to alter the colours of the rock and the sky, and perhaps have a little more greenery than rock, but I’m really happy with it as a first attempt.

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Makeovers (2: Wake Up!)

Wake Up! was the first soap that I ever made using a blend of essential oils, way back in early 2010. Up until then I’d used fragrance oils in soap but, despite having an interest in aromatherapy, I’d never tried blending oils myself. Oh how things change! It’s a simple but refreshing mix of Peppermint and Rosemary essential oils – perfect for waking up the senses in the morning shower. While the fragrance blend has stayed the same since that time, it was a couple of years before it got its true name. Up until some point in 2012 it went by the predictable, if uninspiring, ‘Peppermint & Rosemary’.

This is the very first :

1st Incarnation of Peppermint & Rosemary - now known as Wake Up!
1st incarnation of Peppermint & Rosemary – now known as Wake Up!

I quite like the sprig of mint used there as a prop, but the least said about the background the better!

It wasn’t long after the above photo above was taken that I acquired my very first loaf mould (from The Moulds Shop – highly recommended btw), and my soaps became a more uniform shape and size.  For a while I was obsessed with the Tiger Swirl, and Wake Up! looked like this:

2nd incarnation of Wake Up!
2nd incarnation of Wake Up!

Interestingly, it’s only now that I realise that I hadn’t started bevelling the edges at this point – something I always do these days.

These days Wake Up! looks something like this:

Wake Up! from The Soap Mine
3rd incarnation of Wake Up!

Currently all my essential oil soaps are made using the Drop Swirl technique, as I wrote about here. Sometimes they have textured tops, sometimes mica swirls, but they are always (for now!) Drop Swirls.

I’m really enjoying looking back over old designs, so please bear with me in the short term while I indulge myself with these makeover posts – I will try to intersperse them with some other stuff as well 😀  Thanks for popping by!