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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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Wet Soap Wednesday (Blogtober 18)

As another Wednesday comes around, I give a little cheer (yey!) because I can use #wetsoapwednesday as an excuse to share more of my favourite soap in the mould pics!

Bewitched in the mould (Love Spell type)
Bewitched in the mould (Love Spell type)
Serenity & Oatmeal, Milk and Honey in the mould
Serenity & Oatmeal, Milk and Honey in the mould
Luscious Lavender in the mould
Luscious Lavender in the mould

Clarity in the mould
Clarity in the mould
Bewitched in the mould
Bewitched in the mould
Christmas Tree in the mould
Christmas Tree in the mould
Serenity in the mould
Serenity in the mould
Blodau in the mould
Blodau in the mould

Welsh Rose & Clarity in the mould
Welsh Rose & Clarity in the mould
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Introducing… Sugar Drops

One of my soaps used to make me a little sad. It smelled divine (no, I know I say that about all of them, but trust me on this one…) but it just didn’t sell well.  It’s fragranced with a dupe of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar perfume: think candy floss, caramel, vanilla blended with strawberry jam and musk with top notes of lemon drops and brown sugar. It really is lovely.

The high vanilla content in the fragrance oil means that it will naturally turn the soap brown, so while I use my regular drop swirl design, I only add FO to two thirds of the soap batter (one third with Titanium Dioxide, one third with no colour) and leave the pink portion fragrance free:

I became convinced that the reason it wasn’t selling was because of its name: First Kiss (so called because it’s so sweet, *groan*)  It was cheesy, and the feedback was that it wasn’t something that older people would want to buy as a gift, even if they liked the scent.

I needed some help to come up with something better, so I asked the good folk of Instagram, and was lucky enough to be given load of great suggestions.  The one I went with was Sugar Drops, suggested by @nightwingbeth.  I liked that it still implied sweetness, and also referenced the Drop Swirl design.

So there we go – First Kiss has been relegated to history, step forward Sugar Drops.

Thanks for reading, back soon!

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When Fragrance Oils Go Rogue

My hands-down-most-popular summer special last year was my Lemon Verbena Confetti, so obviously I had to make it again this year.  It has a white base colour, is crammed with multi-coloured soap shavings and is fragranced with an amazing smelling Lemon Verbena fragrance oil.  I LOVE lemon verbena – it’s fresh, crisp and citrussy with herbaceous notes, but sadly, this particular lemon verbena fragrance does NOT behave itself in cold process soap.

I knew from my experience using last year that it was a fast mover, so I thought I was well prepared this time. The soap shavings were ready to go, the oils and lye were at room temperature, I didn’t discount the water, and was prepared to work quickly. It wasn’t enough…

Soap shaving ready to be added...
Soap shaving ready to be added…
I added my titanium dioxide AND the Lemon Verbena FO to to my oils, added the lye water and KAPOW!  it solidified immediately. I refused to be beaten.  I splodged the stick blender in and loosened it up a bit before adding all the soap shavings. How much soap shavings you use is entirely up to you – I don’t measure it out, I just mix in more and more until it looks like enough <not helpful sorry>:

Soap shavings added
Soap shavings added
I mixed as far as I could with a spoon but in the end I had to plunge in my (gloved!!) hands to give it a thorough mix. It was the only way to get everything properly combined without breaking up all the soap shreds with the blender.  I also used my hands to get the whole lot into the the moulds (one benefit of making confetti soap – two batches with added confetti makes enough soap to fill three moulds – yey!)

Moulds filled with confetti soap
Moulds filled with confetti soap
It was only then that I realised that one of my gloves had split and I had the beginnings of a lye burn on the end of one of my fingers – ouch 🙁

Two days later I unmoulded and cut, and the result wasn’t too shabby:

Confetti soap, the cut
Confetti soap, the cut
It has a few small air holes here and there, trapped during the mould filling, but it’s pretty good, considering!

Incidentally, the company from whom I bought this FO claim on their website that it causes no acceleration in CP soap, but when I asked in a FB group whether anyone else had had an issue with this particular FO, it seems to be fairly common. Ah well, forewarned is forearmed eh?!

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The Core Range – Soap

This is the core range of soaps.  Each bar retails at £4.50, please contact me for wholesale prices.  I have two main core ranges – soap fragranced with pure essential oils only, and soap made with fragrance oils.

Each bar weighs minimum of 100g, but in reality most are around the 110 – 120g mark.

Please be aware that as these are handmade items and no two bars will look alike. Fragrances will remain constant, but designs may vary slightly from bar to bar.

Essential Oil Soaps

Clarity

Fragranced with Lemongrass and Clary Sage essential oils, Clarity is a real unisex fragrance, and one of my best sellers.

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)
Clarity

Blodau

A feminine, floral scent comprising of a blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang and Rosewood essential oils.

Blodau (Flowers)
Blodau (Flowers)

Botanica

The newest variety in the essential oil range, Botanica is fragranced with a gorgeous blend of Lavender, Lemon and Lime essential oils. A fresh scent, reminiscent of summer days.

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)
Botanica

Luscious Lavender

Simply fragranced with pure Lavender essential oil, loved by all ages.

Serenity

‘The one that smells like a spa’. That’s how customers describe Serenity, and with good reason – the heady blend of Patchouli, Lemon, Orange and Ylang Ylang essential oils will have you relaxed in no time.

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange
Serenity

Peppermint Scrub

Fragranced with pure Peppermint essential oil, and chock full of oatmeal (to soothe) and ground apricot stones (to scrub),  this soap is PERFECT for gardeners or mechanics who might need a bit of extra oomph to get their hands clean. Also great for feet which need  a little attention before sandal season!

Peppermint Scrub
Peppermint Scrub

Fragrance Oil Soaps

Sugar Drops

A sweet,  warm, caramel, vanilla fragrance, reminiscent of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar designer perfume.

First Kiss
Sugar Drops

Bewitched

A fruity, floral fragrance with notes of peach, cherry blossom and white jasmine. Reminscent of Victoria Secret’s Love Spell perfume.

Bewitched
Bewitched

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (OMH)

The ultimate comforting scent, OMH has strong almond notes with honey and creamy oats.

Oatmeal Milk & Honey
Oatmeal Milk & Honey

Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti is fragranced with a juicy jellybeans scent. Loved by children and adults alike.

Tutti Frutti
Tutti Frutti

Welsh Rose

A classic fragrance, the luscious scent of fresh rose petals.

Welsh Rose in the sun
Welsh Rose

Locally Themed Soaps

Eryri (Snowdonia)

A stylised representation of the hills and mountains of Snowdonia, under blue skies and whispy white clouds.  It’s fragranced with my own blend of pure essential oils, including rosemary, peppermint, lime, patchouli and a touch of eucalyptus, which give a fresh, outdoorsy scent to the bar:

Eryri
Eryri

Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands)

As well as the mountains, Snowdonia has plenty of coastline and beaches too.  Traeth Craig Du is named after the beach closest to where the soaps are made – Black Rock Sands.  It’s scented with a marine, sea-salty fragrance, with hints of ozone and salt encrusted driftwood.  The bottom third of the bar contains ground apricot stone, to replicate the exfoliating benefits one gets from walking barefoot on sand:

Traeth Craig Du
Traeth Craig Du

 

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A Belated ‘Week in Soap’ – Tutti Frutti Cut…

I almost didn’t post a weekly update this week as it’s been a strange one, work-wise. The children have been off school for half term, and although the youngest only goes for two hours a day, I’ve still missed that time to ‘get stuff done’. Days have been spent entertaining the children, and evenings have been mostly spent wrapping and labelling for a couple of BIG wholesale orders I have going out this week.  Then we had a weekend away visiting family, so I have very to share on the soapy front.

But then I remembered that I needed to show you the cut of the Tutti Frutti that I made last week:

Tutti Frutti - freshly cut
Tutti Frutti – freshly cut

Coloured with micas from U-Makeitup and Happy Olive, they didn’t let me down 🙂

The children start back at school tomorrow, so I’m hoping this coming week will be far more productive on the soaping front, and keep an eye out for my February update coming up in the next couple of days.

 

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The Week in Soap: 15th Jan ’17

It’s been another fairly quiet week in the soapmaking cave this week.  I cut the bars that I made last Sunday, and I made another three batches, one of which was the Castile that I’ve been promising myself that I’ll make for many months. (It would seem that this monthly goals malarkey is working!) I also did a full stock check and tidied up the soap store. I haven’t yet found a fool-proof stock control method, and I don’t always keep proper track of what’s been sold (*red face*) but I’m back on track now and have a good handle on what needs making next.

Of last Sunday’s three batches I only photographed two immediately after cutting. I didn’t bother with the Clarity that got a little too thick to make pretty drops – still great soap but not worth sharing lol.  First up is the soap made with a new-to-me fragrance oil called ‘Flora’.  It still doesn’t have a name, though I’m leaning towards Daisy or something…  Despite the fast acceleration it’s not as ‘ploppy’ (apologies, but it’s as descriptive a word as I can come up with for this effect :-D) as I expected it to be – this is a good thing!

Spring soap
Spring soap – ‘Daisy’ perhaps?

And the First Kiss:

First Kiss
First Kiss

Due to the high levels of vanillin in the fragrance oil the white drops will discolour to tan, and the brown drops will discolour to dark brown, but the pink should stay pink as I didn’t add any fragrance to that portion.  I’ll post it again in a few weeks time to show you the full effect.

On Thursday evening I made another three batches, Boho Baby, the aforementioned Castile, and Delicious:

Boho Baby, Castile & Boho Baby
Boho Baby, Castile & Boho Baby

And  a close up of Delicious, because I love it so much – this FO always behaves itself so well…

Delicious in the mould
Delicious in the mould

Oh and guess what?! Halfway through the month and I’ve already run 50km – I’m rocking those goals!!

Thanks for reading – back soon!

 

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The Week in Soap: 8th Jan ’17

Where did the week go?  The first week of January has come and gone, and it’s time for me to get back into the habit of weekly updates – it’s been a whole month since I last did one of these!

It’s been a fairly quiet week, but I have managed to make a start on restocking the shelves – last Monday saw me making the first two batches of the year, Oatmeal Milk & Honey (OMH) and Serenity:

Oatmeal Milk & Honey / Serenity
Oatmeal Milk & Honey / Serenity

I had this crazy idea that I’d try the Thermal Transfer method for the OMH, and as I could have predicted had I thought about it for longer than a couple of seconds, it didn’t go so well (keep an eye out for another post on that little adventure very soon).  These have now been cut but I’ve not got round to taking any photographs yet (and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to take photographs of the OMH – seriously, it’s a bit of a hot mess…) but there’ll be some up on my Instagram (@thesoapmine) account soon enough.

Tonight I made another three batches. The left hand one is a brand new (to me) Fragrance Oil called Flora, which I’ve done in white, yellow and green (thoughts of spring already…), then we have restocks of First Kiss and Clarity.

Soap in the mould
Soap in the mould

The soaping gremlins were well and truly out to play tonight. The only one to behave properly was First Kiss. Clarity really surprised me by thickening up super-quick. Not sure why – same recipe, same colours and same ratio of eo’s, although the lye water was possibly cooler than usual so it’s likely that was the cause. Anyway, I can usually get wispy drops in this one, but tonight it was a bit, hmmmm, ‘ploppy’.  And Flora…well, it’s a floral fragrance, notoriously bad for acceleration, so I wasn’t entirely unprepared. I used extra water with the lye, and tried not to over mix but it was still thicker than I would have liked, so my dropswirl was a bit, well, ploppy again.  Ho hum, these two won’t be perfect but they WILL smell flippin’ gorgeous!!! 😀

In other news I’ve confirmed a new customer with a sizeable order for my mini guest bars, and I’ve taken a booking to do one of my soap talks in a few months time, so all in all it’s been a productive week.

Hope you’ve all had a great week. Thanks for reading – back soon!

 

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And Relax…

Relaxing. It’s not something I’d normally be doing much of in the run up to the holiday period. This is usually my busiest time of year – the two months during which I attend innumerable Christmas fairs and sell shedloads of soap. But not this year. The building work on the house as made soapmaking difficult, and I realised at the beginning of October that there was no way I would be able to keep stock levels anywhere near as high as they needed to be for the Christmas rush. I made the difficult decision to cancel all my seasonal fairs, and will only be attending my usual monthly craft fair in Porthmadog on the 26th November and 17th December.

I’m still working though. I still have my wholesale customers to keep stocked, and my wonderful local customers who’ll be knocking on my door looking for last minute gifts (if last year is anything to go by :-D) and so the soapmaking continues, just on a much smaller scale.

This are last week’s makes:

Sandalwood & Serenity
Sandalwood & Serenity

I’ve been asked a few times now for a sandalwood soap, so I finally made one (on the left) and the one on the right is a restock of Serenity (fragranced with patchouli, ylang ylang, orange and lemon essential oils).

The sandalwood moved REALLY quickly and nixed my regular drop swirl.  I was pretty sure I’d created something pretty fugly, but you know, it’s ok:

Sandalwood Soap
Sandalwood Soap

Here it is just cut, still needing to be bevelled and cleaned up. It’s really not so bad and I’m happy.

So apart from wrapping and labelling my holiday bars and gift sets and some gentle soapmaking I’m really not that busy at the moment.  It’s rather nice 🙂

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Wet Soap Wednesday……on a Friday

Today was the first chance I’ve had to make soap in a while, so this week’s Wet Soap Wednesday is a little late! I made three batches:

Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH
Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH

Clarity is fragranced with lemongrass and clary sage essential oils, and coloured with activated charcoal, green mica and titanium dioxide:

Clarity
Clarity

Welsh Rose is made with a rose fragrance oil, coloured with titanium dioxide and two pink micas:

Welsh Rose
Welsh Rose

And finally Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, made with an OMH fragrance oil and coloured with titanium dioxide and mica:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey
Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Three more days left of Blogtober 2016 – relief from this incessant posting is imminent 😀