As the Blogtober juggernaut trundles on, I thought it would be interesting (and easy!) to make the most of the fact that it’s Thursday and do a quick #throwbackthursday post. I’ve kept photos of every single batch I’ve ever made so I dug out the earliest incarnations of some of the varieties that are still in the current range to compare them to today’s version…
Original Blodau (Flowers)
Current Blodau (Flowers)
Original Luscious Lavender
Current Luscious Lavender
Phew! It’s becoming clear that I can’t keep this ‘blogging every day’ business up for much longer – I’ve gone from writing posts a few days before (organised huh?) to posting them less than an hour before deadline…
Just a quick catch up this week. Posts have been fairly few and fair between over the last couple of weeks because I’m gearing up for Blogtober – every time I think ‘Ooh, that might make a good blog post’ I decide to save it for next month…
I was waiting for supplies to arrive last week so I only made one main batch of soap – a remake of ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (Snowdon):
I’ve been trying to find a better way to create this design – this was the previous version which, while it sold really well, has, to me, more than a passing resemblance to *ahem* dog mess :-/
and when I saw the lovely designs created and document by Danica on her blog Seife und anderes, I realised that the sculpted layers technique might just be the way forward. There’s a great description of the technique on Danica’s blog, so I won’t go into details here (and anyway, I forgot to take any photos of the process, I was so anxious to get on with it – next time I will definitely document it better) so here’s the final result:
The colours aren’t quite right this time – the mountain needs to be more grey, and the greenery needs to be more, well, green… but I’m getting there. It’s fragranced with a blend of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and patchouli.
I also made another batch of dinosaurs and more stars for the next batches of Frosted Christmas Tree (which I still need to photograph to show you – oops!)
A couple of weeks ago I ordered a selection of green mica samples from U-Makeitup and this week they arrived – a lovely collection:
Oh, and the Christmas ribbons have started to arrive – I know it probably still feels a bit early but I’ve already had a wholesale order for my Christmas range for delivery by 22nd October, so there’s no time to be to complacent…
Thanks for reading – my next post will be the first of this year’s Blogtober posts on the 1st of the month (next Sunday – eek!)
New Year is generally a time for looking forward for me (I’m still working on those 2016 business goals I touched on in my last post) but last week I was browsing and sorting (supposedly – I’m easily distracted 😉 ) through my HUGE collection of soapy photographs and I came across some from the early days. I can remember being SO proud of this one – my first every straight lavender essential oil soap:
Note the rounded corners – I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of silicone liners lol… You can also see the signs of a partial gel here too.
It wasn’t long before I began standardising (and simplifying) the swirls, and this was the next incarnation – an In The Pot (ITP) swirl:
I went through a phase of experimenting with mica in oil swirls on the top of the bars – though I’m not sure why I thought this was a complementary colour for the top-swirl…
When it came to developing a cohesive range I decided to make all my essential oil soaps with a drop swirl, and so came up with this two colour lavender drop in a white base:
The colours have remained the same ever since – I use titanium dioxide for the base and two micas called ‘grape’ and ‘lilac beauty’ for the drops:
Thanks for checking in – I really do hope to be back soon with those 2016 goals!
One of my best sellers is, quite literally, ‘Delicious’. It’s fragranced with a dupe of the DKNY fragrance ‘Be Delicious’ which has the fresh scent of apples blended with floral / woody fragrances. To date I’ve always made it with a simple ITP swirl (with apologies for the lighting on the bottom bar):
When I’m against the clock and frantically trying to get my stock levels back up, an ITP swirl is mercifully quick to execute. But, for me at least, they are unpredictable, and the colour distribution isn’t always as I would like. So I decided to try using the same colours but with a drop swirl, and this is how it came out:
I LOVE it! So that’s me with one less ‘quickie’ during busy stocking-up soapmaking sessions, but I reckon it’s worth it 🙂
It has though brought to mind an ongoing dilemma I have about what’s most important when it comes to the soaps that I create. I put a lot of thought into what oils and butters go into my bars to give them skin-loving, super-lathering properties, but then I hear people say that they look too pretty to use. It’s a phrase I’ve heard at every single craft fair / Christmas market I’ve ever sold at. I know people are being complimentary but – Noooooooooooo! Use them! Use them, then buy more 😀
Freshly made soap, in the mould, has such a vibrancy and gloss about it, I can’t help but take a photograph every. Single. Time. Here are some of my recent favourites:
‘Delicious’ is fragranced with a dupe of a DKNY fragrance and is described as ‘A fresh, green floral fragrance of crisp green apple, watermelon, cassis and a hint of cucumber’ and underneath those green waves is an In The Pot swirl.
I wrote about the redesign of Tutti Frutti in my last post here. It’s scented with a very fruity Jellybeans fragrance oil, and this time I’ve kept the same design but have tried to intensify the colours somewhat so that they’re brighter in the finished bars. The soap batter was very slow to trace this time (not sure why – same recipe, same fragrance :-s) so rather than attempt to texture the top I just swirled the colours together, and I love the effect it gives.
And last (for now!) is a batch made with a new-to-me fragrance – a zingy, citrussy scent with pink grapefruit, kumquat, orange, and cranberry – I’ll soon be running a little competition to come up with a fitting name so get your thinking caps on…
Cut pictures to follow just as soon as I get round to taking them 😀
Tutti Frutti is one of the soaps from my fragrance oil range and is particularly popular with children and young people Scented with a fruity fragrance oil, it has both berry and citrus notes on a sweet vanilla base and is reminiscent of jelly beans. When I first started using it in soap, I wanted a design that reflected the complex fruity gragrance, and came up with this four colour bar:
When I decided to standardise my designs last year, I chose the In The Pot (ITP) swirl from my fragrance oil soaps. I wanted to keep the multicoloured idea, and so this is what happened:
It sold ok, but to me it looked messy, and not particularly appealing, so I had to think again. This is the current Tutti Frutti design. I’m much happier with it, despite it being a little more time consuming to make, and doesn’t really fit, design-wise, with the rest of the range (but rules are made to be broken eh?!).
So my poor blog has been sorely neglected again – six whole weeks since my last post!! I think that’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without posting, so I’ve had a word with myself, am suitably chastened, and will not be leaving it so long again 😀
Ok, lets get the inevitable out of the way. No, we’ve still not moved into our new home, and no, the website isn’t ready yet. Both still trundling along though, so I should be able to share good news on both fronts at some point 😉
The great news is that two local retail outlets have now agreed to sell The Soap Mine soaps. Woop! They’ve each taken a dozen soaps to display in their shops, and if they sell, they’ll take more. Fingers crossed!!
I’ve been busy building up stock levels again – sticking to the plan of ITP Swirls for FO soaps and Drop Swirls for EO soaps I wrote about last time:
Welsh Rose is actually made with an FO called English Rose, but living in Wales, what else could I call it?! Coloured with TD and pink mica.
OMH (or Oatmeal, Milk & Honey) FO is so popular in the soaping community, but this is the first time I’ve used it. To me it smells very sweet, almost like marzipan, and I LOVE it. Coloured with TD and three different brown micas.
This is a restock of my very popular Wake Up! soap. Fragranced with Rosemary and Peppermint EOs and coloured with TD and green / blue micas
Another redesign / restock. Parisian Flora proved very popular in its last incarnation, so although the fragrance is exactly the same (a blend of Lavender, Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang EOs), as are the colours (TD and three pink micas), it’s now made using the drop swirl technique
Luscious Lavender, simply fragranced wth Lavender EO, is by far my biggest seller. It really surprises me to be honest, but there’s no doubt about it, when I look back over my records, Lavender is definitely the one that I’ve made the most often over the years. This one thickened up on me a little quicker than normal, so the drops aren’t quite as delicate as I would have liked.
I also have a Marshmallow FO soap that was cut this morning, and isn’t yet ready to meet its public 😀 and tonight I made Black Jack – a blend of Aniseed and Spearmint EOs. That one’s still in the mould, so pics to follow sometime soon.
So, as work continues on my website (I know, I know, that’s another thing I’ve been banging on about for ever) my Web Designer and trusty assistant (aka my husband) has informed me that I need to develop ‘A Range’. Apparently I can’t keep making random batches of whatever I want to, with whatever ingredients / fragrances / colours I fancy trying and using a near infinite variety of design techniques. Nope, I need ‘A Range’…
Now I’ve read enough on Soap Business Best Practice over the last couple of years to know that this is true. The main reason I guess is that I’ll lose business if I don’t have a range of bestsellers which are always in stock. I also think the website’s going to look a little crazy if there’s too much choice (and of course keeping a website up to date with an unlimited number of different products will be (I was told, sternly) a ‘nightmare’).
So, despite my misgivings, I’ve had to narrow things down a little and make some decisions. I’m still going to make both Essential Oil soaps and Fragrance Oil soaps, though they’ll have their own separate categories, with no more than eight in each category to begin with.
To simplify things even further, Essential Oil soaps will all be made using the ‘Drop Swirl’ technique:
And Fragrance Oil soaps will be made using the ‘In The Pot’ (ITP) Swirl technique: (this first one is the soap that was in the mould in my last post – my first ‘post-move’ soap!)
The two techniques can sometimes look quite similar, and I might decide in time that that’s not such a good idea, but I’ll wait and see.
I’ll should still be able to indulge my creative streak as I’m hoping to make more seasonal soaps – I’ve missed a trick in the past by not making specific (for example) Christmas, Summer or Valentines Day soaps so that’s where I think I’ll be able to try out different fragrances and designs.
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