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The Christmas Range 2021 – Santa’s Cookies

Blogtober 2021 – Day 29

Last (but – of course – not least) in the Christmas 2021 limited edition line up is Santa’s Cookies. It smells just like Ginger Snaps – a bit of biscuitty sweetness but leaning more towards the ginger, rounded off with nutmeg, molasses and vanilla. Just don’t leave one of these out for Santa to nibble on – he won’t thank you for it ๐Ÿ˜‰

There we go, four days, four Christmas specials. Which one’s your favourite?

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow with the penultimate Blogtober post – hooray!!

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The Christmas Range 2021 – North Pole

Blogtober 2021 – Day 28

The third of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is North Pole. This one’s a bit of a departure from the norm, but the fragrance is perfect for a winter soap. It’s a fresh, cool menthol/eucalyptus blend with a touch of camphor, pine, lemon and spice. Oh so invigorating!

Thanks for reading! Back tomorrow with the fourth and final limited edition Christmas special for 2021.

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The Christmas Range 2021 – Snow Fairy

Blogtober 2021 – Day 27

The second of this year’s limited edition Christmas specials is Snow Fairy. This fragrance was the runaway favourite amongst my customers last year, so it had to come back for a second appearance this year (with a new look, of course!)

Snow Fairy is fragrance that’s difficult to describe, so I’m going to break my unwritten rule and just copy the supplier’s description. Let’s see what you make of this:

“A captivating blend of sparkling pink snowflakes laying gently on opulent velvet moonlight rose mingles with zingy black raspberry to complete on a seductive base of warm dark smooth ambers, earthy patchouli and sheer musk”

What do you think? Any the wiser? If you know what pink snowflakes smell like, please do share! All I can tell you is that it smells absolutely gorgeous, as a great many of my customers from last Christmas will testify….

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow!

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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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Rainbows for Christmas

Blogtober 2021 – Day 25

I promised a photo of the cut bars of Enfys (Welsh for ‘Rainbow’) that I made yesterday, and here they are ๐Ÿ™‚ Fragranced with a sweet and fruity berry-like fragrance.

Just over 90 bars of Enfys, freshly cut and still a little tatty around the edges. Please forgive their current rought and ready appearance – once they’ve dried a bit they’ll be bevelled and generally tarted up, but they’re a little too soft to be titivated at this stage.

They’re currently out of stock, but when they’re ready – around the end of November, you’ll find them here.

I had thought to tack this photo on the end of a completely different post today, but Blogtober exhaustion has hit, and I reckon as long as I get SOMETHING posted every day, that’s good enough. We’re also going away for a few days tomorrow, and so today has mostly been a day of washing and packing, rather than composing an interesting and constructive blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰

Speaking of which. When I first decided, on a whim, to take part in Blogtober this year, I completely neglected to consider our little trip away. It’s just a few days in Fishguard, on the Pembrokeshire coast, but it’s a few days away from work, to enjoy time with the children, and I’m not taking my laptop. So over the next four days I’m going to introduce the four limited edition Christmas special for 2021, and I’ll be back with a ‘proper’ post on Saturday. Which, in all honestly will probably just consist of photos of our trip.

So, short and sweet, but thanks for popping by anyway. There will be a post tomorrow, and the following three days, but I’ll be back in person on Saturday.

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A Busy Weekend

Blogtober 2021 – Day 24

It may be the weekend, but I’ve still been busy making soap. I generally try to avoid working on the weekend, but it’s half-term this week and we’re going away for a few nights, so I’m getting caught up in advance ๐Ÿ˜€

Yesterday I made 180 bars of soap – 60 Cysur, 60 Fresh Linen and 60 Rose:

And today I cut all the loaves into bars:

Yesterday I also cut the loaves of Luxury Facial Bar that I made on Friday. If you’ve never considered washing your face with soap, then this might the thing to change your mind. It’s cleansing but super-gentle, and won’t leave your skin feeling tight. Just check out the reviews on the website listing here

Today I’ve made 88 bars of Enfys (the Rainbow bar) – the most I’ve ever made in one go. These are currently sold out but are a great seller at Christmas, so I was really keen to get these made before we went away. Hopefully I should be able to get them all cut tomorrow (Monday) and then I can forget about them for a few weeks. All being well I’ll share a photo of the cut bars in tomorrow’s post.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow!

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Musings on the Nature of Soap – A Guest Post

Blogtober 2021 – Day 20

When it was suggested to me that I could include guest posts as a ‘Cheating But Not Really’ way to help with this daily posting palaver, I could have jumped for joy. Of course! Great idea! The one flaw in the plan was finding someone to actually write a guest post. Haha!

I need not have worried. Within the hour I had a guest post on the nature of soap! Lovely LOVELY Laura, a customer and friend who’s also a moderator in our FB group, came up with the goods in record time. I absolutely love this piece of writing ,and I’m very happy to be able to share it with you today. Thank you Laura!

Anyway, enough from me. Read, and enjoy.

Soap. What is soap? Itโ€™s an everyday necessity, a regular occurrence, our familiar friend. To some a status of the divide between poverty and power, to others a luxury treat, a revelation that is transformative in its magic as it takes you from a hard days work or sleepless night to a new being, fresh and filled with promise.

Yet to most itโ€™s still just a lump of lather that encapsulates cleanliness, soft scented and subtle but mostly thoughtlessly forgettable as bubbles disappear down a gurgling drain along with the unseen nasties of daily life and it deserves far more recognition!

There are so many layers and complexities to soap, endless forms and shapes carved by its creator. A gorgeously hand poured chunk, lovingly cured and embraced with bevelled curves, a bland boring bar complete with the stamp seen a world over, anonymous blocks in hotel bathrooms and the luminescent liquid beside every unknown public sink. You see it, touch it, invite it into crack and crevasse; every stretch mark, hidden scar, palm lines and fingertip whorls unchanging as soap prepares hardened skin for what is to come and gives it a moment of unadorned peace.

Soap can be sensual, caressed onto a partners back at the beck and call of a shared shower, or loving as you rub between your childโ€™s fingers over the sink in rushed seconds before the oven timer signals a family meal. It can be gifted, cherished in neatly cut wrapping and passed along from friend to companion at birthdays, Christmases, special occasions. It can be treasured, adored, used daily or hourly then lost for months down the side of the bathtub and re-found in a fit of joy; bubbles and aroma untouched where other goods would have perished. Soap is reliable, sturdy and honest, shrinking softly over time as you take what you need and it gives unrelenting to you, silently contented to fulfil its only purpose.

Soap makes its mark creeping onto lifeโ€™s calendar unseen; regularity with a nightly shower or the final chapter on a bathroom break visit. It gives its tender touch to the first bath taken by a wailing red newborn and the final gentle wipe of the mortician. It is universal, everyday mundane and yet more often than not made with love, blood, sweat and tears, an unseen seal of dedication by its maker, yet it is unassuming in itโ€™s simplicity setting, a brown paper parcel box waiting to be torn open and enjoyed.

The shy, unseen side of soap is that itโ€™s essential yet humble, and if you take a single thought from these words just know that your soap is much more a part of existence than you could ever imagine and will continue to be, so give it the admiration and recognition it deserves. Choose well with what you invite into your skin for its scent will become synonymous with your own.

It is beautiful, it is basic and itโ€™s a bargain for ยฃ5 bar

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The Purity Range

Blogtober 2021 – Day 15

I LOVE good smells. I’ve always been the one who has to sniff every variety of whatever’s on offer, and of course as a soapmaker, fragrance plays a huge part in my daily life. Not everybody feels the same though, and over the years I was often asked whether I offered a fragrance-free soap. It surprised me, actually, how regularly the subject came up. For a long time the only unscented soap I could offer those customers was Castile. Castile – pure olive oil soap – is a wonderfully gentle and mild bar but it doesn’t have the fluffy, abundant lather of my regular bars. Finally, last year, I decided to create a fragrance-free bar with that same fabulous lather.

That was was when Purity (Purdeb in Welsh) was born. I chose to make it uncoloured as well as fragrance free, and while I love my fragrances and colours, there is definitely something beautiful about a plain white bar in all it’s glory

Purity Handmade Soap

Purity proved to be a popular choice as soon as it was launched. It seemed to make sense to create a new category on the website for all the uncoloured/fragrance free options, and so the Purity range was created. If you’re not a fan of fragrance for whatever reason, you can now find fragrance-free soaps, solid shampoo, solid conditioner and a facial bar all in one place on the website.

Thanks for reading, back tomorrow when I’ll be halfway through Blogtober! Hooray ๐Ÿ˜€

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The Cut of Serenity

Blogtober 2021 – Day 7

A quick and easy post today in the shape of the cut of Serenity made on Monday – 120 bars cut on my ancient single string soap cutter! It’s quite a so process and I’m getting very close to ordering a fancy-pants multi-string cutter – yey! (Maybe it’ll be here before the end of the month so I’ve got another easy blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

So anyway here they are, some quick snaps of Serenity taken today, literally seconds after they were cut from the loaf:

I love how there’s never, ever, two identical bars. These particular ones have now been put down for their 6 week nap, but there’s plenty available on the website – get yours here.

Thanks for reading, almost a quarter of the way there now! Back tomorrow with Day 8

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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰