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Interview with Beth Cold Byrne

Soap and Garden

There is a kind yet elusive person in the ethers of the soap community on-line… At least for me. Beth Cole Byrne. You might know her from her works with Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild or her work with Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazinebut did you know about her soap making business? I didn’t either! Along with all the other colorful details, here is Beth Cole Byrne’s interview with Sorcery Soap.

 

Was there a moment you knew soap making was for you?  

Beth Cole Byrne
Beth Cole Byrne

Interestingly enough, I started making bath and body products, but was firmly against making soap. You see, I began reading about soap making before the stick blender was in use and so many soap makers were flying by the seat of their pants, reporting their results, which were not always good! Well, after reading about it enough, I knew I had to make it myself, but I was nervous. I saw a demo at the New York State Fair and thought, “That’s what I was afraid of? I’m going to make cold process soap!”

I did and as hooked from the first batch.
Were there creative endeavors in your past that you can see contributed to discovering soap making? What do you see in hindsight prepared you for your soap endeavors? 

I have always been a creative and artistic person, but never an artist. Therefore, I was interested in a number of crafts and other endeavors. The one that got me into soap making was gardening. Early on, I discovered herbs, which led to my bath and body product making and then soap.

Are there any aspects of soap making that others might not know about you?  Probably not, I’ve been around so long, lol. I guess the fact that I am not a soap artist might not be well known. I am too impatient.

Does your activities with the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild influence your creations?

My activities with the HSCG do indeed influence my creations and not because it gives me less time. It makes me more focused on my goals so I don’t follow all of those wonderful rabbit trails that pop up. In addition, I am more focused on business and safety, correct procedures and so on, than I would otherwise be.

What prompted you to specialize in body care products for gardeners?

Soap and Garden
Soap and Garden

Gardening is in my blood. Like a dog on a scent trail, I am in the garden as soon as weather allows. It’s hugely enjoyable and rewarding, but it is hard on the body, particularly the hands. Who better to develop products for gardeners than a gardener?

You attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Las Vegas this year. What were your favorite aspects?

Ah, so many things come to mind. . . the people, first of all. As part of the Board of Directors (for a few more days) I worked with an amazing team getting ready for and running the conference. I was able to see friends I only see at conferences and meet new soap makers I previously communicated with online. It was so much FUN!

After that, I have to say the lotion making seminar I led was the next best thing because I love teaching, especially when I have interested and engaged students. They were incredible.

I also enjoyed the soaps entered in the Soapers Showcase; seeing the beautiful creations in person is a feast for the eyes. Catching a few seminars is helpful in motivating me to be the

Soap and Garden Body Scrubs
Soap and Garden Body Scrubs

best I can be. Meeting vendors face-to-face and sampling their wares is a treat! That is what the conference is about.

What do you want to for the future of your soaping endeavors?

I want to finish my book, first of all, but I will also work on my wholesale side and work at teaching more. 🙂

If you could change something about our industry, what would that be? 

In my many years in the industry, I have met many soapers and bath and body makers who are knowledgeable, yet kind and helpful. For the most part, people do well. Unfortunately, a

few are not quite so accommodating. If I had the influence to change that, I would. I would also like to be an influence for good practices in manufacturing, labeling and so on to continually raise the (dare I say it?) bar.

Soap and Garden Soap
Soap and Garden Soap

What is your favorite part of soap making?

I cannot decide. It is either when the oils and lye water emulsify or when I cut the soap to reveal a bar that usually looks better than I imagined it would. I am obsessed with emulsification, but a cut bar of soap is truly beautiful.

What makes you laugh about soap making?

For me, it’s how my soap rarely turns out as planned! I have illusions of grandeur, but accelerating soap or soap that won’t accelerate or colors that disappear or morph force my sense of humor.

Is there something not many know about you? Another activity that supports your soap making and endeavors indirectly?

I am Managing Editor of Making Soap, Cosmetics and Candles Magazine, I make candles, I write and copy write and edit on the side. I can’t help it; it is a compulsion.

What do you want others to know about you?

I am happily married, the mother of six and grandmother of 12. I have two grand-puppies and love animals, especially puppies and kittens. My second ideal career would be as a puppy

Soap and Garden Lotion
Soap and Garden Lotion

cuddler (I don’t however, want to clean up after them or house train). Spending time with my grandchildren is the best thing ever and is why I put up with my kids as teenagers! My husband recently sent me a meme that said, “Grandmas don’t babysit; they have play dates.” That describes me perfectly.

Ways to find Beth Cole Byrne’s soap works:

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Interview with Linda Gracey of Lucy Blues Soap Company

Linda Gracey might not be a name you know right away, but I’ll bet you know her soaps. That is the very reason I chose Linda Gracey of Lucy Blues Soap Company for the interview series, to put a name and face to her amazing and creative soaps. I, for one, want to encourage

Linda Gracey
Linda Gracey

Linda of  Lucy Blues Soap Company to continue on her path, with not just words of support but actions. This interview is my action in support of Linda to continue to share her artistry with us.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

Trying new mica colors and fragrance oils, mixing fragrance oils and essential oils to make my own unique scents and trying new recipes; reading about and watching other creative soap makers videos and techniques are always something to look forward too.

Linda Gracey Voodoo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voodoo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voo Doo Doll soap
Linda Gracey Voo Doo Doll soap

How did you come up with the idea to make your Voodoo Dolls and Hearts Soap?

The Idea for this soap came to me as I was browsing youtube. I love to make a playlist of songs to have on while I’m working. I came across an album cover The Voodoo Dolls and I thought the little Voodoo doll was so darn cute – I’ve always loved them! I mixed some copper and white mica colored soap dough for the dolls and created little slits that I painted with brown mica and rubbing alcohol to create the look of the doll being stitched together and the red stitched hearts to accompany them. I was so thrilled with the results! 

Where do you find your inspiration for your unique soaps? 

Linda Gracey Baby Sea Turtle Soaps
Linda Gracey Baby Sea Turtle Soaps

Inspiration for me can come from anywhere really: my favorite movies or Tv shows, nature and wildlife friend and family’s suggestions. When I made my Alice in Wonderland soap I was inspired by my niece who adores Alice in Wonderland. When an Idea comes to me I get to work on it immediately because I never know how long my muse will be with me for that particular creative influence. I do write ideas down and refer to them later but it seems that the ones I get busy on right away while I am feeling that strong creative influence often turn out to be the best-finished creations. There are times when I’ll be out somewhere and I’ll tell my guy, we have to hurry home, I’m feeling so charged with inspiration right now! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own creativity is that I need to pursue it in that moment.

What is your favorite part of soap making?

First and foremost SOAP DOUGH! I absolutely love sculpting all sorts of things for my soaps.  Your (Bee Iyata) soap dough creations have inspired me and motivated me so crazy much! The dough is so amazing to work with. I’ve always loved working with polymer clay so when I discovered your soap dough, well what could be better? It has really enabled me to bring expression  to my soap making.

What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking? 

Linda Gracey Starry Night Version Painting
Linda Gracey Starry Night Version Painting

Painting is my other love for creativity; oil, acrylic painting and watercolor. I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. I adore Van Gogh and Claude Monet paintings…  Their use of color and brush stroke, the depiction of figures and light is so emotional and really impacts me. I’ve attempted to recreate a few of my favorites Starry Starry night and Cafe Terrace at Night – pure exhilaration when I’m painting

What do you want people to know about your work?

I want people to know that I am been so overwhelmed with encouragement and kindness from the soaping community.  The openness and willingness to help others to learn the craft is awesome! These are truly an amazing group of artists. I will always pay it forward.

What have you done that surprised you?

Made Soap. Really, I didn’t expect my soaps to evolve the way they have. The first soap I made,  ( a milk and honey soap)  was awful  I would like to say I took the huge fail with a grain of salt, but that wasn’t the case.  I got so annoyed –  it looked bad and it smelled bad. I didn’t touch soap making for a few months after that but, I did continue to watch videos and learn from other soapers. I eventually tried again and had a successful outcome.  The encouragement I gained from that positive experience really gave me the motivation to build off of that. 

Linda Gracey Painting
Linda Gracey Painting

What makes you laugh about making soap?

I get a kick from other people’s interpretations of my soaps and soap dough creations. What was intended to be a butterfly looks like a bird to some no matter how clearly you think you’ve told the story, others may see something very different. I laugh at this in a good way! You can’t be offended…  Anyones take on something is always welcome. As far as Im concerned it’s great that someone is taking the time to give me their view on my project.                                

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

I am relatively new to cold process soap making. There’s still so much to learn, I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. I do love sharing and helping people with what I have learned. I hope to have a website in the future until then you can find me on Facebook.  

Creativity is contagious, pass it on. – Albert Einstein      

Linda Gracey Bed of Roses Soap
Linda Gracey Bed of Roses Soap

                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                      

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Interview with Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

If you’ve done a Google search for handmade soaps you have probably seen Zahida’s specialty soaps from Handmade in Florida. 

Handmade in Florida
Handmade in Florida

If you are anything like me Zahida’s soaps – their elegance, the fine photography – made your breath catch. It’s easy to see the impression Zahida’s signature Feather swirl and Butterfly swirl have made on many soap makers psyche, our community. Zahida, as a person, like her work, to have a quiet elegance; because her soap works have made such an impact, let’s get to know her a little more through her soaping work.

 

What piqued your interest about soap? 

It’s said that “necessity is the mother of invention”, and this rings so true with my soap making journey. I started making soap shortly after my son was born (almost 10 years ago). My hands were painfully dry and cracked with all the excessive hand washing that comes along with being a new parent. I went through every “sensitive” commercial soap on the market and nothing eased the sting. Finally, my husband remembered making soap in his high school chemistry class and suggested we give it a go.  Although the internet was obviously around back then, there wasn’t this plethora of readily available information on cold process soap making. We managed to get our hands on a few books, then supplies (the basics) and went to town making our very first batch of cold process soap with lavender essential oil. It was not the prettiest soap, but it sure was the best I had ever tried at that point. No more painfully dry skin.

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you: That very first batch. Watching and waiting for that first batch of soap to cure was agonizing. I didn’t want to

Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida
Zahida Map from Handmade in Florida

make any more until I knew whether or not this experiment was successful. And of course, I was too paranoid to cheat and try a sliver before it was fully cured. It was worth the wait and I cherished that soap and the relief that it brought along with it 🙂

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap and why?

I love everything about making soap. It’s my passion. A labor of love. From selecting the oils and butters, formulating the recipe, watching the transformation of oils, stirring the rich, creamy batter, pouring raw soap into molds, putting them to rest, un-molding, cutting… Everything… I even enjoy lining my wooden molds.

Do you do other hand crafts? 

Yes, I’ve always enjoyed arts and crafts and dabble in as much as time permits. I paint, bake, sew etc. One thing’s for sure, I’m never bored (unless physically stuck somewhere and unable to create).

How did you create your signature style soaps, your soaps are so well designed.

Thank you 🙂 I think when you do something… Anything repeatedly, you naturally find your groove. What feels right and comfortable to you. I’ve doodled those designs and swirls on the corners of my school work, napkins, notes etc., for as long as I can remember 🙂 I love looking at soap and immediately knowing who made it based upon their signature design.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

My son. He’s almost 10 now and is a connoisseur of everything soap lol! He knows all the swirls and can also identify a maker based upon a soap he sees! Probably most impressive, is his ability to pick out any scent accurately! We have a game we play, where I hand him a bar of soap and say “what does this smell like”? He’ll think for a moment then say “mmm, it smells like lavender, peppermint, spearmint and a hint of rosemary”. Seriously blows my mind! I ask my husband the exact same question and he laughs then says, “mmm, it smells like something fresh, like clean laundry?” After getting my son off to school in the morning, I go to my studio. Even if I’m not actually creating something that day, I just enjoy being there. If I have some nice batches of soap waiting to be cut, that’s a bonus.

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? Are there other things you do that support your love of soap making?

Yes, pretty much everything supports my love of soap making. Inspiration is everywhere and it can be so random…morning tea/coffee, colors of the sky, the smell of freshly cut grass, rain, food, people, places etc. If I’m in a creative rut (we all have them from time to time), I usually reorganize my studio. At some point along the way, I’ll either come across a fragrance I MUST soap that very second or decide it’s more fun to go make something instead of organizing.

What were your hopes for your soap business? 

I started making soap out of necessity, I continue out of love. I am blessed and grateful that people enjoy my soap as much as I enjoy making it.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry? I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made within the soap industry over the last decade. The sharing, friendship and mutual respect in this community has made soap making more accessible than ever. If we take pride in our work and maintain high standards of safety and ethics, then we’re good, otherwise, we’re regulated.

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

What do you want people to know about your work? 

I take pride in my work and have set some pretty high standards for myself. If I don’t love it, chances are, you’ll never see it lol.

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

I love it all. I love how scent can conjure up memories, I love getting creative with colors, I love experimenting with exotic oils, butters, clays and waxes. Yet, even if you take away the colors, scents, exotic oils, butters, clays and waxes, I still love the creamy texture of raw soap batter, that distinct scent of pure soap. I love it all.

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

My soapy friends make me laugh. It’s not every day that you find a group of like minded people who obsess over soap as much as you do!

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

I’m known for my Butterfly swirls and delicately sculpted tops, but first and foremost, I’m known for good soap. I don’t skimp on ingredients. I make soap that I enjoy using. It’s an affordable luxury and functional indulgence. My goal isn’t to make the cheapest soap with the highest profit margin, my goal is to make the best soap.

Handmade in Florida Soap
Handmade in Florida Soap

YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/user/HandmadeinFlorida

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/handmadeinflorida/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/handmadeinflorida

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Interview with Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary

Interview with Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

Maybe a year ago I saw a video of Annie, Arachne’s Demise; A Modern Apothecary, molding soap dough where Sorcery Soap was mentioned. Her highly creative design was hindered by not have simple hand tools. I

Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary
Annie of Arachnes Demise A Modern Apothecary

knew nothing about her, but saw she needed something that I could provide so I sent her a Sorcery Soap Dough Kit.

It seemed logical to spotlight Annie of Arachnes Demine Modern Apothecary with her fairy-like alchemy yet grounded in a warrior goddess determination.

What piqued your interest about soap? 

My journey into soap making has been a long and drawn out one. I first started my Etsy shop in 2012. I had a wide, and frankly quite random, assortment of offerings. Embroidered pillows, coin purses and hair bows, but also soap, other bath and grooming products and eventually mineral makeup. All I knew at that point was that I wanted to make stuff, and if people bought the stuff, well that was a bonus. I thought the idea of making my own soap, specifically Castile soap, would be not only fun but something that would treat my skin well, too. 

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you.

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

Before I made my first batch I had read every book at the library on soap making. I researched essential oils, carrier oils and butters, and various herbs and natural ingredients, but, cold process still intimidated me so I bought the Castile shreds from Bramble Berry. I decided I would make milled Super-fatted Castile soaps. I was in love with my plain looking soaps.

I finally tried cold process about a year and a half later. Of course, it was no where near as scary as I expected it to be. I altered my line up of soaps to reflect my new technique. At that point I was not selling any sewn items, but  still struggled with an over extended inventory and really had not settled into where I wanted my shop to go. I was attempting to take my uncolored “boring” soap and take it to another level.

I was making cold process for over a year I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a nice tall and skinny mold with a silicone liner. I had been using mostly individual cavity molds. That was truly a game changer for me! I was able to try out new designs and techniques; most of all I was having success that I hadn’t experienced in all my years of soaping and attempting different designs. I really began to enjoy the challenge of a new technique. It forced me to understand my soap on a deeper level. The more I learned, the more fun I began to have. 

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap and why? 

I love the challenge because it’s incredibly satisfying for me to achieve something. So, when it goes well and my soap turns out just how I want it to, it makes up for all the attempts along the way. I also love that I have a functional piece of art, even with the ugly ones! 

Who or what do you look to for inspiration for your unique soaps?  

I can find inspiration in practically anything. Whether it’s the cup of tea I’m drinking, the colorful pile of clothes hangers on the floor, or a Design Seeds color scheme, it can be as simple as that. Sometimes a soap is planned out for a year before I even attempt it and other times I am so struck with inspiration that I drop everything to make that soap. Lately I’m really inspired by Mama Bass Handmade Soaps, Euphoria Soap Works, and L3O Soaps. I find that when someone is inspired you can feed off that creative energy and come up with something all your own. All of their soaps just put me in the mood to create! 

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap galaxy
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap galaxy

Are there any aspects of soap making that others might not know about you? 

There isn’t much about my soap making life that I keep private. Let’s see… I’m somewhere between 150-200 batches under my belt. I didn’t start making soap that was not Castile until last year. I also really enjoy making liquid soap and cream soap paste and have been doing it a lot more often lately. 

How often do you make a youtube video?

I had stopped making videos there for a while, but I’m trying to get back into it again. I don’t have a schedule to it, but it would probably be beneficial to implement one. Typically I make a video every time I make a soap that I feel is worthy of sharing. My goal with getting back into YouTube would be to make more tutorial style videos, actually going into my recipe creating process and hopefully teaching the viewer something new. I’m hoping I can publish at least four videos each month.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

I’ve gotten up early to cut into fresh loaves many times; the customers that keep coming back for more, stocking up when I have sales, and constantly supporting me – those people make getting out of bed to make soap pretty awesome, too. 

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? Are there other things you do that support your love of soap making?

Annie of Arachnes Demise Shea Butter
Annie of Arachnes Demise Shea Butter

Living in such a connected world, it was a combination of soap making and the internet that happened to have me cross paths with a woman in Ghana by the name of Ajike. She’s the founder of a women’s center in rural Savelugu, Northern Ghana where they produce unrefined Shea butter by hand. I knew I just needed this Shea butter for my soaps so I ordered 50 kg. I shared this news with my followers on Instagram, a lot of which are soap makers, and many people were interested in this Shea butter as well. I took a risk and bought another 500 kg.

Shea Queen Fuseina was in charge of my order. The Shea nuts are sun dried, crushed and roasted, then ground into a paste and boiled. The paste is then kneaded by hand for several hours adding only water to remove the bits of Shea nut from the butter. After the butter has been separated from the impurities it is heated again and strained, then stirred by hand again until it becomes creamy. Having the luxury of seeing my Shea butter created from start to finish, by hand no less, was absolutely incredible. The Shea Queens working at the center were able to purchase books, pencils, and other learning materials for the school in the village with our groups purchase, too. Every product I make with this Shea butter and every order I get from fellow soap makers and crafters helps bring it all full circle and I’m really grateful to have been a part of that. 

 What were your hopes for your soap business?

I did start this business with the hopes that it would create livable income… Eventually. I quit my day job in January 2014, which in hindsight was too early. While I’m certainly no millionaire, I have heat, electricity, a reliable car and a full tummy so I’m not complaining.

I will say that the majority of my income isn’t even from soap. I manufacture beard products for a company called Mr. Rugged.  I make a mud mask for a company called Spa’s Premium. I work with the same guy for all of these

Mr Rugged Pump Beard Oil Conditioner
Mr Rugged Pump Beard Oil Conditioner

products. He came to me with a few comparable products in mind and asked if I could create something similar, but not exactly. He wanted to chose the ingredients. Mr. Rugged Bold Beard Balm was born and I’ve produced over 5,000 units since December 2014. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and in a serious financial dilemma. It’s hard to say what this business would be today if it weren’t for that opportunity that has blossomed into many others. If I had to guess I’d probably be making ten bucks an hour in a dead end job while I paid the equivalent on eight bucks an hour to a day care facility with zero time or energy to spend on Arachne’s Demise. I am truly and deeply grateful for what I’ve been able to build this business into and my ability to do it all while staying close to my daughter! 

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

I hope the soap community continues to flourish and build each other up. Most (99%) of the people I’ve come into contact with over the internet through soaping are true gems and I’m happy to be a part of that community. I don’t have a group of people like that around me in the real world.

If anything were to concern me it would be the quality and source of our ingredients. One of the many things that importing Shea butter has taught me is that I really have no idea where the rest of my ingredients come from. It’s hard not to assume the worst when I find a great deal on something. I learned the hard way, it is very very expensive when done ethically and in small batches. That being said, I’m really taking a step back and reevaluating where I purchase my ingredients. I still have a budget to mind, but utilizing things like local animal tallow have made a big difference. 

What do you want people to know about your work?

I’d love for people to know that by supporting me you really are making my dreams come true and quite literally helping me dig myself out of poverty. Every purchase, review, nice comment and is noticed and appreciated! It fuels me to push my boundaries and try new things.

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap
Annie of Arachnes Demise Soap

I love a good fragrance oil! My favorites are the ones that just scream out a color scheme when you smell them.

I’d have to say my favorite part is planning out a specific soap. For example: every now and then I get an inquiry about a custom loaf. These are my favorite! I will immediately go down and see what I have in stock, asking what sort of scents they like, color schemes, any skin sensitivities or allergies. I absolutely love these custom batches! 

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

I’m at a point where I feel like every disaster has already happened, until a new disaster happens. Luckily I’m also at a point where that makes me laugh now, instead of scream. 

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

I’ve got one potentially huge idea, and a few little ideas bouncing around my head and at least one of them is almost guaranteed to happen so stay tuned!

Instagram @arachnesdemise 

YouTube 

Etsy 

Amazon

Instagram handles for soapers I mentioned as inspiration Mama Bass Hand Made Soap @soapgirl62 @l30soaps

More on the Ajike Shea Centre 

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Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

Choosing to interview Tedi was an easy choice. A causal observer of Small Acre Farm is to see only goat milk soap, a slightly deeper look is to understand Tedi is also a fiber artist, but digging deeper is to know how truly dedicated, sincere and light hearted Tedi and her family are about caring for all their animals and staying in the creative flow. Small Acre Farm not only creates sustainable and usable products but models an honorable and admirable lifestyle. I’m proud to call Tedi a friend and introduce another view of her heritage crafts.

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Goat
Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Goat

What piqued your interest about soap? 

It was the goats!  Seven years ago we decided to add goats to our farm.  I think we had two that had babies that first year.  All of the sudden we had about 3 gallons of milk a day.  We tried cheese, kefir, cajeta, everything we knew we could do with milk but still had an excess.  We had a couple of goat mentors, now very special friends.  One of them told me about how his mom made goat milk soap.  We made the first batch together.  It was ugly and smelled weird and I was captivated!  

What is your favorite part(s) of making soap?

I love the planning process, plugging the oils into the calculator, sketching the designs, spending hours searching out scents…  When I am planning, anything is possible in my head.  I get much of my inspiration from my surroundings so a walk around the farm or a hike in our local mountains often inspires a soap or concoction.  My second favorite part is the cut, getting to see if that planning, scheming and dreaming comes through in the design.

 

Do you do other hand crafts?

I do!  I live on a farm and we have sheep as well as goats.  I’ve been a fiber artist even longer than I’ve been a soap maker.  Don’t tell the goats, but the sheep are my favorite.  They are skittish and shy but curious about me.

Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm
Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm

 When they trust me enough to let me touch them and move among them with ease my heart melts.  

I am a spinner, dyer, knitter, weaver and felter.  The only thing I don’t do is shear the sheep.  I just recently launched a separate brand of fiber goods and I am so excited.  I am starting with woven scarves.  Sometime in the summer I plan to add felted and woven purses.  I’m working with the African Community Center in Denver who have a sewing training program for refugees to sew the bags. It’s going to be a wonderful collaboration!

The soap/lotion and fiber are all tied to the farm.  I’m really a farmer first, but what started as a hobby to use excess milk and an excuse to have a few sheep in my pasture has turned into a way to help the farm survive and now thrive after I lost my long time job 3 years ago.  

 

Describe the moment when you knew soap making was for you:

I was hooked after the first batch but the passion about the creative process has grown slowly over the years.  I was in the middle of my first farmer’s market season when I lost my job.  Soaping gave me a needed reason to get up in the morning and however small at first, a way to contribute financially to my family and the farm.  What started as a way to survive and keep the farm has turned into a passion and thriving business.

Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Fiber
Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Fiber

 

How did you create your signature style soaps?

Our farm is our brand so I have always kept my soaps and labeling pretty simple and straightforward.  I’m usually looking for a color or two that represent the fragrance.  Our goats and our farm story are really the star of the show and I would rather have a conversation about the farm or something that connects that customer to our farm than fancy design elements.  That being said, I just cut my regular soap line in half so that I would have the time, and creative energy to make periodic limited edition soaps this year.  I’m having a blast creating more complicated (for me) soaps that I don’t ever have to make again unless I want to.  I’ve developed a real interest in natural colorants and these new soaps have given me an excuse to pick up some new ingredients and experiment.

 

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

I’m weird but I love the routine of making those soaps that are familiar to me.  There is a sense of rhythm and routine to the farm and those familiar processes that really appeals to me.  I’m also enjoying mixing it up with the limited soaps.  I sometimes get an idea in the wee hours and then can’t go back to sleep until I have at least sketched it out.

 

What do you do that supports your soap making, creatively? 

Life's a Beach Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap
Life’s a Beach Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap

I love photography.  I do farm photography and often find a color, pattern, texture that inspires a design.  I also love doing product photography.  Sometimes when I am behind the camera I notice a nuance in a soap that I hadn’t noticed before that inspires some other design.

 

What were your hopes for your soap business?

My fondest desire is for my business to make a difference. I know that sounds cheesy and self serving but it’s really true.  We had great mentors when we started with the goats and I love having folks out to the farm who want to learn about the goats, the other animals, farming, soap making, fiber…  Recently I had someone I mentored start her own farm and business. I couldn’t be more pleased!  I’ve just started teaching soap making classes and that been great too!  The soap business is really just a part of a bigger plan for the farm and my long term goal to help people make conscious and informed decisions about what goes on their body, skin care and clothing included.

 

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry? 

It's Sedimentary Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap
It’s Sedimentary Interview with Tedi Jansen of Small Acre Farm Soap

Being a rule follower, I try really hard to label correctly, be honest and upfront with my customers, research thoroughly.  I’m frustrated about competing with soap businesses that make wild medical claims and post those kinds of testimonials.  I am Not for more regulation for sure but I’d like an even playing field.  I love and try to support people and businesses that broadly share and educate about soap making and the business of soap making.

 

What do you want people to know about your work?

I’m deeply passionate about small farming.  My life’s work is to set an example for making a small farm business successful and to share that knowledge and experience generously with others so that they can be successful too.  I am a crusader for community over competition.

 

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

Definitely the research and design. Right now I’m particularly inspired by natural colorants.

 

What makes you laugh about making soap?

Mostly I laugh at the failures, those Hail Mary batches that seize or the design element techniques where I end up with a fair amount of batter on the wall or my apron.  There’s enough heartache in farming that I can’t take too much else seriously.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  I might have to throw a batch away.  If I weigh that against a lamb that didn’t make it or the time my dog got bit by a rattlesnake it’s just not that big a deal.  Everything in perspective.

 

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business i.e. other products, ingredients, research… Anything you’d like to mention here.

 

There are lots of places you can find Small Acre Farm:  .  Farm  – soap, lotion, farm stuff, animals

Small Acre Farm –  Don’t miss the baby goats in the video on the about page!

Instagram and Facebook:  smallacrefarm

Pinterest:  namastemamma (don’t judge me!) 

Sprig and Wick Fiber:  Instagram and Facebook:  sprigandwickFiber – sheep, llamas, alpacas, spinning, weaving, dyeing…

Tedi’s Photography- Instagram:  tljsnaps

 

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Interviewing Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella

Willow Bella Soap
Pure and Simple Soap Willow Bella Soap

I am delighted to share with you this talented soap maker. In this interview Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella shares wonderful insights and a beautiful spirit with you this week. Sharon is a friend, but she didn’t get a spot just because she’s a friend… Sharon is highlighted because of her generous nature, her deft use of color and her skill with the alchemy of bath products.

Questions: 

When did you know soap making was for you? Describe the moment you knew soap making was for you.

Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella – Bath Truffles

For as long as I can remember I have loved the art of creating. When I was a little child I would spend hours, day after day, mining red clay from our backyard to make pottery out of it, or mud pies, or whatever my little mind could dream up. I remember sometimes painting it on the skin of my arms and legs and letting the sun dry it. I would sit quietly watching as the texture would turn and start to crackle. I was fascinated with how it would make my skin feel. And I loved the experiences that clay gave me. It planted a seed.

When I became a teenager I found one of my Mom’s old cosmetology books in a stack of books in a box in the back of a closet. Not the kind they have now, but home remedies. It would seem that back in the late 50’s and 60’s that they made a lot of their own masks and treatments. At least this was the time period this particular book came from. I was once again that little girl playing with textures and ingredients. I’d pour over that book and run to the kitchen and make “recipes” that I’d find within the pages. I can look back now and see I was maybe a bit of a handful. My Mom let me have the book and experiment so long as I cleaned up my mess.

It remained one of my favorite books for years until it was destroyed in a water leak. I still remember a lot of the information in that book. Like buttermilk will help with age spots and lemon juice is great to lighten the skin. Most of those recipes found a home in my thought process, somewhere in the back of my mind.

As I grew up I found different jobs (not all of them, but several) that would allow me to express myself by things I could make. One of these jobs was making and selling dreamcatchers, pottery, and ceramics. We sold to several small businesses around the D.C. area. One of these was in a small eastern 

Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella

town in West Virginia. Next door to the shop that wanted to buy my things was a soap shop. I remember to this day wandering in. The breathtaking beauty of those soaps and the smells that danced around captured me that day. It was the first soap shop I’d ever experienced. I think I was hooked then, but it wasn’t the time. But that seed was growing, I just didn’t know it.

What are your favorite part of making soap, bath and body products and why?

That my inner child and the artist get to come out and play, along with the mad scientist. I love creating. I love the science and the research that it takes to come up with recipes. I love putting the puzzle pieces together. And then making those come to life with color and scent. And I love creating usable art.

What prompted you to make soap and bath products?

I used to bake and make candies and I ended up with too much sugar one year around Christmas time. I was at a family gathering and had asked the question “What am I going to do with 50 pounds of sugar?” I had a cousin say “Maybe you should make sugar scrubs?” So the research started and that little seed grew into the beginning of something bigger.

From there it was glycerin soap/melt and pour, lotions, much simpler things to make than cold process soap. I started making more and more complicated things. And designing products that weren’t already in the market; fusion type products. 

Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella

My body mousse came from my need for something very moisturizing that would have the effect of body butter without making me feel as if I were suffocating. It is a cross between whipped body butter and a body lotion.

Sort of like a cream, but not heavy.

I found that I really enjoyed mixing different elements to create something new, or, at least, different.

How did you create your signature style?

At the request of someone special to me I tried my hand at bath bombs and it was a miserable failure, over and over again. I just couldn’t get them right. So I decided if I couldn’t make bath bombs I’d make something similar to bath bombs. Bath bombs that didn’t have to look like bath bombs.

I searched around the internet and found a recipe for bath truffles. It was from a website called Meg’s Made It. And a recipe for bath melts by Spicy Pinecone. So I started with these two recipes, started being the key word. I spent a very long time adding this ingredient and that ingredient, taking some out, replacing with others, and adding even more ingredients until I got the recipe just where I wanted it to be. It took about 3 years to get the recipe right and another year to get the colors to do

Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella
Sharon Boyd Chapman of Willow Bella

and look the way I wanted them to.

I know that I am actually still evolving; in my soap making, my truffles, everything I make – I strive for that next step. I honestly hope that I never stop evolving. Being stagnant in anything is one of my greatest fears.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making and bath products?

I get very excited when I am working on a new concept. Or when a mystery is solved in my mind and I want to test the theory. Or when things are going very smoothly. And when the colors come out just right…

Okay, honestly it is easier to tell you when I’m not happy to come into work. When things go bad, and I mean really, really bad – oils spill and colors are ick, nothing works and batches are unusable, over and over again. Those are the only days I just pack up and do something else or hide out in the office and do something else for a while. Because I have found it will not work when the gremlins take over and it is just best to take a break and let them be. They do go away if you ignore them.

When did you know you would open a physical store?

It actually came down to having to find space to work outside my home. I had outgrown the house and my husband mentioned that maybe it was time to find some more space. After looking around for a warehouse type place to move to I found a perfect spot that actually allowed me to use some of the front of the space for a small shop as well as a lovely room to teach classes and host parties one day. It’s very close to my home and the school so it works perfectly for us as a family.

One of the most difficult parts of having a shop vs. working from home is that, even though we are a brick and mortar shop, we aren’t always able to keep regular hours since the kids do get sick and things like field trips and dance recitals come up. However, we have learned a way to make this work to the benefit of our customers. We offer shopping by appointment when it is convenient for them. So everyone wins. Being creative and flexible has allowed me to keep the doors open when otherwise I would have had to go back to working at home.

What were your hopes for creating your soap business? 

That I can make a living doing something that brings me such joy. It sounds like such a simple answer, but it isn’t.

I had been searching for a while for something I could do to create and make some extra money that would allow me to spend time with my daughter and granddaughter. And maybe something they could help me with one day. They both have health problems, not major, but enough that it oftentimes can complicate life. So I needed something with flexibility and something I would love to do without getting bored. A much bigger feat than it would seem.

I had tried woodworking, baking, painting; a lot of things. I jumped from one thing to the next, leaving chaos in my wake. Lots of half-finished projects still laugh at me in the garage and the attic.

But when I started making bath products it was like coming home from a long journey. There is a peace when I am at my lab, a part of me that only comes alive here. All the pieces of my life kind of fell into place and finally made sense, and I am so thankful. I could not imagine doing anything else.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

One of my biggest concerns is that, as a cottage industry, we can be very vulnerable to big businesses and lobbyists that feel threatened by us and wish to close us down as a whole. And, on the flip side of that, those in our industry that don’t follow proper procedure and practices, ingredient usage, etc. that could give those that wishes to shut our industry down the leverage they need.

One of my hopes for the industry is that we find a way to come together and enjoy each other’s work. And that we find our own voice and style. We all learn from others but it is our individuality that will set us apart. I strive every day to make my work stand apart from the crowd.

I see the movement of handcrafted soap and body products making huge leaps forward and it excites me to be part of the movement. I think there is a real resurgence in a lot of what I call usable art; soaping, quilting, even canning is becoming a work of art in several places I’ve been to recently. I know there is probably a better term for this art form, but this one is stuck in my head.

What do you want people to know about your work?

That making quality product means more to me than making a profit. I want my work to speak for itself. I spend countless hours on research and development to make the very best product I can. I pride myself on using the best ingredients I can find. I take time to make it as perfect as I can. All of our untried products are tested at home with my family and myself before they go out to our to our testers. We have extremely sensitive skin so if it passes that test it goes on. If not, it goes back into development.

My youngest daughter, Willow, said it best “I want to make stuff that makes people feel like a mermaid!” If I can make someone feel as special as that sentence meant to her when she said it then I know I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Because I think everyone needs to feel that special, even if it is just for an hour. And I hope what I create helps to do that. Lofty goals I know, but very important to me to strive for this.

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

There is a magic, an art, as well as a science to making all soap, bath and body products, at least for me. Sometimes I start with research. I may want to know about an ingredient and how I can utilize it, like French clay. But, most of the time it is something I see, or hear, or feel that I want to capture on my “canvas”. And they all come together like a symphony or a well written book. All the pieces fall into place and there is that zen moment when it all just works.

This is my favorite part. When time seems to be suspended and the magic takes over and you are just in the moment.

I also must admit to the fact that I am a scent and colorant addict. There are over 250 scents and probably almost that much in colors in the studio work space. And that is before any blending.

What makes you laugh about making soap?

When that same recipe you used the time before and found that wonderful zen moment decides to behave badly. It goes all wonky. It can be unpredictable and chaotic. It keeps me on my toes and dancing the dance. I am never bored.

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

I wanted to say thank you to some of my biggest influences in learning what I love to do, especially in the formulating and cold process department. This isn’t a complete list by any means, but some I know I owe a ton of gratitude to.

All the ways to Connect with Sharon at Willow Bella

Facebook

Willow Bella Shop

Instagram

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Interview with Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter’s Lair

Many soap makers do more than one hand craft. What got my attention about Rachel was how she answered a post on our Facebook group, Sorcery Creations. I realized she did much more than just make soap. Here is a spotlight on kind-hearted and resourceful, Rachel Martin of the Handcrafter’s Lair. 

Is soap all you make by hand? 

Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter's Lair
Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter’s Lair

-Nope, not by a long shot. Our business is one based upon how handcrafted artisan products can work together to create a magical whole that brings to life through sensory experiences memories and imagination. So we’ve broken things down such that my husband works wonders with jewelry (primarily chainmaille with some wire-wrapping, lace, and other techniques added) and works inventory and soapy blends; our partner turns wood, plays alchemist, knits, and helps create scent blends; and I design all of our crochet patterns/products, play office monkey, work the wood burner, and also create several of our scent blends as well as our soap creations. (Can you tell that we all love to take turns with mixing our scent blends?)


When did you know soap making was for you?

-Several years ago, my aunt and uncle began making their own soaps. I was fascinated with the idea, and promised myself that I would learn someday. Then a few years ago, I learned some of the basics from a colleague at the farmer’s market where I had begun selling crochet products. I brought the techniques home that I had been taught after also asking for advice from my family, and my husband and I began to experiment to find a natural moisturizing soap that would help while keeping clean skin in extreme conditions while still being a rich, thick, bubbly lather. Then when we were trying to name our first “I love this scent sooo much!” soap with an eye toward selling it, we hit on the idea of creating scent blends that would bring favorite memories and books that we loved to life (we are both hard-core bibliophiles) and from there…we were hooked! It was heaven, being able to read a book or watch a fantastic movie in the name of product research and then bring your own imagination to life with practical products and using as many senses as possible and then feeling that silky bar in your hands.


How did you create your signature style soaps?  

Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter's Lair
Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter’s Lair

-When we first started experimenting on soaps, there was one in particular that was made by the woman showing me the soap tracing technique that reminded me of something similar my aunt had made. It was visually extremely appealing, but the scent just irritated me. So I set a goal for myself to find a way to make a natural bar that would surpass that. First we started experimenting on different oil blends, and then went a bit further with the botanicals included. From that we learned so much that we have stuck to blending and layering different essential oils and botanicals and finding all the magic combinations that bubble up.


What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

-There is an incredible satisfaction in being able to look at a beautiful finished product that is beneficial and healthy for those using it. That is especially so when it is something that you have created or made, and even more so when it is regularly used. When you add to it the gift of being able to create scenes or memories or even characters through multiple senses (something that comes from being able to use multiple techniques and materials so that it is more than only through vision or scent) then your imagination gives each experiment and design a thrill that is a powerful gift and motivation even during dark times.


What were your hopes for creating your soap business?

Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter's Lair
Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter’s Lair

-Having grown up with a deep love of books ranging from the historic, mysterious, romantic, and fantastic, my husband and I have a deep love of imagination. So when I started designing crochet products, it was with a love of those to inspire me whether it was with toys, hats, or fashion. When I had the opportunity to add the practical luxury of handcrafted soaps that would carry the senses even further, I was just thrilled at the idea and have been inspired by it ever since!


What are your favorite parts of soap making?  

-Honestly…the way the soaps make my workshop and house smell.  I love the way the soaps feel on my skin but when you have 5 kids, 2 cats, a dog and a lot of family & friends coming and going plus a husband who was a professional cook for 20 years and is a current master gardener, there are a lot of smells that can take over your life. While room scents and such are delightful, there is nothing like the clean smells that come whenever we make our soaps or bath bombs to keep things so much more pleasing. 🙂


Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

-I hope that as we work through and overcome protective fears, we will all begin to reach a point where we will understand the power of the artisan communities and how incredibly important the work we do is for our communities, as well as the value we each have in working alongside our industry colleagues in helping people make educated choices and inspire both our colleagues and customers.


What do you want people to know about your work?  

Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter's Lair
Rachel Martin of The Handcrafter’s Lair

-Most especially, I suppose, how much we are hoping that the love poured into each of the products we make will be a gift and blessing to all those who try out and use our products regardless of whether it is a crocheted character being snuggled, a beautiful piece of chainmaille jewelry highlighting the wearer, or bubbling up soapy inspirations.


What makes you laugh about making soap?  

-The reactions that come from people stopping to smell/feel the soaps as they guess what scents are within them… especially children. The way my kids react to some of our soapy experiments is also frequently quite hilarious.


What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

-How much magic you can bring to your life when you let imagination and inspiration lift you and share that with all those around you. I would never presume to claim we are *the* source for such, but we strive with each item that we bring out to provide an avenue for that with daily use of the luxurious and practical. (Ok, so that sounds like a marketing pitch but in truth I can’t find a better way to phrase it…hahaha)

The Handcrafter’s Lair is a business that is just getting a foothold in baby-steps so while we’d love to see you on Etsy at www.handcrafterslair.etsy.com , the best ways to come and play or just find out what new products and designs we’re rolling out is to come follow us via Instagram (id handcrafterslair), Twitter (id @handcrafterlair), and especially Facebook ( www.facebook.com/handcrafterslair ), with more coming as we get more established.

Coupon Offer for Sorcery Soap Readership: Just mention this article    or use coupon code SOAPMAGIC25 on any purchase from Hand Crafters Lair on Etsy through the end of April 2017.

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Interview with Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

I met Jo Haslauer in an experimental group to write books, based on soap making by Amanda Aaron from Lovin Soap Studio. I was stunned when I found out who she was, as I didn’t connect her name with the research I’d done on natural colorants. Jo’s soap images and information had popped up more than once, and I recognized her soaps, just didn’t connect her name. 

Jo was incredibly supportive and encouraging during the some-what arduous process of writing.  Jo completed her invaluable book and we formed a friendship.

I love her in so many ways… I want to share her vivacious energy, helpful information and her motivations with you.

When did you know soap making was for you? 

Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color
Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

I have always had some sort of craft on the go.  I learnt to knit squares as most kids do from my mum and moved to cross stitch when it was all the rage.  Later on a trip to England I learnt Tatting from my aunt and I was introduced to vegetable gardening by my grandmother at the same time. I also learnt to embroider as well and learnt heirloom sewing too (I have to admit although, I like the end result I really don’t like the process of that). Later I learnt how to do stump work embroidery as well. Around this time I also learnt to sculpt with polymer clay and produced a few dolls and food items etc also.

Having an interest in craft I discovered online that you could find the most amazingly talented people just with the click of your mouse.  One day following a long trail on the net I found a melt and pour soaper and I was absolutely mesmerized with what she was producing.  I had to find out more.  I found suppliers in Australia and bought colors, fragrance oils and molds (as you do) and for quite a few years I ran a melt and pour soap business.  However I wanted more, I wanted to actually make the soap.

By this time I was involved in online forums and had made several friends that encouraged me to learn to make cold process soap.  One of them I met in real life (also an Aussie)  and we instantly hit it off.  She is an amazing person and soaper – Patti Flynn – I absolutely adore her.  Her soaps were are so inspiring that I knew I had to give it a try.  Luckily for me an American soaper said she would help me learn.  She taught me over the private message section of the forum.  I gathered all my ingredients and she told me in the messages the steps as I performed them.  I would add the lye to the water and then run back to the screen for the next step.  I added the lye water to the oils and then had to run back to the messages for the next step to see how far to stir until I got to trace. Looking back I must have been a lunatic to learn it that way and I am thanking my lucky stars it was clearly a slow to trace recipe hahahah.  Just imagine learning it now like that!  There was no Youtube or Skype in those days, just yahoo groups and forums.  

Once I had made the one soap batch I was hooked –  I knew had to have more and more!  Fortunately I had all the mica and fragrance oils already from my melt and pour business and I experimented with different colors

Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color
Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

and scents.  I was a goner, hook line and sinker.  I haven’t touched tatting for years. I occasionally knit, embroider and do stump work.  I absolutely refuse to smock ever again, however I do dabble with polymer clay and this year I planted my own dyers garden in the hope of learning how to use some of the more exotic home grown colorants in my soap.

How did you create your signature style soaps? What prompted you to make natural colorant soaps?  

I was very happy making my bright coloured fragrance oil soaps and using the brightest micas at the time known as Pop Micas.  However, for an inexplicable reason the supplier of the Pop Micas suddenly announced that the micas were no longer available.  I was devastated.  I bought up as much of the Pop Micas as I possibly could (pounds of it).  I had changed my soap business over from melt and pour to cold process with mica and fragrance oils and I had never even considered that the colorants would suddenly not be available and what would I then do!

Many other soapers were in the same position and we struggled to find substitutes particularly for the orange and purple.  I was seriously annoyed that on a whim my business could be completely thrown into turmoil and I could not fulfill my customers requests.  Something had to change.

I was very lucky I had a friend who was a very “green eco minded” soaper. We had already met over coffee and swapped soaps.  She made a very off the cuff comment (whilst I was lamenting the loss of the micas) that she

Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

would never have to worry about being beholden to anyone but nature. She only used natural colorants and you could buy those anywhere, at anytime.  It was my light bulb moment.  Why was I even looking for synthetic substitutes when the same thing could happen all over again to me?  I left that coffee session with her suggestion ringing in my ears. In fact she gave me a challenge and I am always up for those. Her exact words to me were “open your pantry and make me four soaps from colorants that are in there”.  I can’t tell you the words I thought (not polite to be honest), but four soaps!  Was she mad, I could maybe make one at a stretch two

 but four…

I already had a no-palm recipe. I have never used it even from in the first internet lesson with my friend in the U.S.  I have a background of being green having gone through university in the 80s and being a marine biologist I was aware of the impact of some of the ingredients that soapers used.  Natural colorants seemed such a no-brainer for me that I couldn’t believe I had never considered it before.  Of course now the challenge was set, I had to go to the extreme of also saying no fragrance oils either. I truly was a lunatic.  You know the old saying “in for a penny, in for a pound” well that is me.  I can’t do just one step I have to go all the way.

I loved the results of the soaps from her challenge. Yes, I did make four soap batches.  I loved to see her face when I appeared at our next coffee session with my four soaps – all bright colors and all achieved with the help of my own pantry.  I loved it so much that I came home, gave away my micas and fragrance oils, and put the sealed pop micas stash that I had gathered like a crazy woman, front and centre in my cupboard to remind me that the world was my oyster with natural colorants, and I didn’t ever have to use synthetics again.

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color
Jo Haslauer Natural Soap Color

The challenge that I never really know the color that I will make today.  I have a general idea that I am going to make a pink soap for example, but will it be a pastel pink or a bright hot scorching fuchsia pink?.  Just when I am sure it will be a pastel and I have nailed the way to get it pastel, it will be the fuchsia I absolutely guarantee it.  There is always a challenge with natural colorants to see if you can repeat that color.  That never quite being 100% sure makes me leap out of bed and soap.  I can’t wait and if I have a new (to me) idea well that is the best fun ever.  Pushing the boundaries of natural colorants is my absolute favourite way to spend a soap making day. We have such a long way to go with natural colorants still, there is so much more to learn and do.

What were your hopes for creating your soap business?

My hopes for my soap is that my use of natural colorants inspires other soapers to try.  To look at natural colorants in a different way than we are used to and to give them a go. Not all natural colorants make muddy colors, nor are all natural colorants beige or brown or even green.   Actually, I find I have to blend several colors to get a really good brown and a really good green.  They are quite hard to achieve for me.  If someone is inspired by my soap to try natural colorants then I am ecstatic.  I think every soaper should try them at some stage of their soaping journey.  Just open your pantry and look what you already have and try it. Natural colorants are beautiful and they all blend so beautifully together when they are lined up. Not one of them clashes with the other – they blend and together they are really magical to see.

What are your favorite natural colorants and why?

Woad, Alfalfa and Astaxanthin are my favourites at the moment.  Woad has been the love of my natural colorant journey and I am sure always will be.  I love saying the word Woad and the history connected to it,  but I love the Robin’s egg blue soap that you get using Woad.  I have tried to achieve it with Indigo, and I have come close, but Woad just has that little bit of green to add to the mix and boy, when you see it in real life, its spectacular.  I definitely have a love affair with Woad. 

Alfalfa gives the most exquisite grass green. Its bright and cheery and very like Matcha Green Tea powder.  Its that sort of green color and shines alongside Woad and Astaxathin.

Astaxanthin is a reddish/brown color. Its quite a mystery colorant to me as it can produce a beautiful candy apple red in a swirl but as a whole base color its a brown red. So odd I am mesmerized by it.

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

My hope for the soap industry is that we can all grow together and share what we learn, but respect the ones that have gone before us and not forget that at the moment very little has not already been done before. Instead of criticizing new and innovative soapers and their ideas we should be looking to them for inspiration and growing on their knowledge and running with it. Take what they doing and add our own spin on it.  Copying is rife, credit the original soaper and add your own spin, soap is so creative and each soap is a work of art, there will be similarities but never that same piece again. Rather than recreate find your own style, we each have one and embrace it, enjoy your soap journey its meant to be fun and once you find your own style and are having fun it becomes obvious in your soap and we can all enjoy it for the magical achievement that it is.

What do you want people to know about your work?  

People should know that I love soaping with natural colorants.  Love it.  I am like a child in a candy store. I love searching for that elusive red and pushing the boundaries of natural colorants.  It is such fun to see what a yellow powder will do, or a red liquid or a bark that will produces blue oil – it really is a playground and I love every minute I am in it playing.  How lucky am I that I found something I really really love and can share?

What are your favorite parts to making soap? 

My all time favourite part is finding or hearing of new colorant that I have to try.  Receiving it in the mail, buying it in a local shop and finding out what it will do in oil, at trace or in the lye water.  That is the most fun ever.  

I also love to look at soap photos. I find it relaxing.  I know I won’t try to make the soaps (I can only do my own style)  so I can just enjoy them for what they – each a one of a kind art form that will never be repeated again.  There are some amazingly talented soapers in the world, from Russia, the UK and Europe, The US across to Asia and down to Australasia. When you aren’t looking at soaps to see how the soaper created it, but are looking at the soap photo as an art form you realize just how beautiful soap can be and how talented people are.  Its astounding really.

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

The community of soapers really do have some hilarious people in it.  I have been blessed with meeting many online that have great sense of humours and nothing is better than sharing a joke or a story with them.  Its a wonderful community.

However, I do have to say your chicken and egg soaps when I first saw them on a chicken blog made me smile and say wow and go OMG all at the same time. You were a breathe of fresh air and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was enamored of those darn chickens and wished I had thought to make them myself! Then along came the mice and the cheese and I was hooked. Each time you make a soap I smile, I wish I had thought of it first, but I smile because I know no matter how hard I had tried, I could not have made them in my wildest dreams.  They are amazing and yes they do make me laugh at times especially those darn chickens!

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

Just know that I love playing with natural colorants – its such fun and I wish the same in your soap journey for all of you.

Jo Haslauer can be found on Instagram and on her Facebook page. Jo’s insightful, helpful, and humors comments are in many soap groups.

 

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Interview with Katie White from Royalty Soaps

Royalty Soap

When I became interested in soap making I watched Katie White’s youtube channel with intensity (before she became Carson). Katie is funny, charming and delightful AND I was learned about soap. That is magic, to teach without someone knowing they are being taught. Katie sprinkles magic in all she does and has a unique voice that is not lost in all her activities.

Katie has accomplished much and has a generous heart; because of this I wanted to highlight her. Here she is: Miss (now Mrs.) Katie White – Carson from Royalty Soaps! 

 

When did you know soap making was for you? 

Royalty Soaps
Royalty Soaps

I was first introduced to soap making when I was about 11 but didn’t experiment with cold process until high school when I took a class at my home school co-op. I had read “Soap: Making it, Enjoying It” by Ann Bramson a year or two prior and I was extremely excited to try it. While I can’t remember exactly what my first soap was (pretty sure it was just a scented, uncolored batch poured into a PVC pipe) I do remember that cutting that loaf with my kitchen knife, feeling pleased as punch, and thinking “I want to make 50 of these!”. By the end of the semester, I knew I wanted to do soap making as a career.

How did you create your signature style soaps? (Not the specifics, but how did this come about?)

I had watched Karen from Eden’s Secret pipe soap cupcakes and I loved the foody appearance of bath products in general. I figured there was no reason I couldn’t pipe onto the top of regular loaves and cut them up like normal so I made a few batches with the piping tips I had on hand and a recipe I found online and was hooked. From then on I worked at perfecting my piping recipe and quite frankly was never interested in anything but high tops from there on out!

Royalty Soaps
Royalty Soaps

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 

I love that each batch is different no matter how many loaves of soap you make. It makes every day feel like a brand new adventure.

What were your hopes for creating your soap business?

Royalty Soap’s started as a way for me to fiscally maintain my growing hobby. I started the business aspect at 17-years old and was hoping to save enough money to buy a used car and maybe set a little aside for whatever future I might have as an adult living outside of their parent’s house. As I continued to grow, I transitioned from hobby to very small business with the intention of reaching more people with soapy love and providing an affordable luxury. I feel I have achieved my ultimate goal and for that I’m very grateful. On a smaller scale, I also hoped to be interviewed for the Soap Queen Blog, work alongside one of my favorite suppliers, and reach 10k subscribers on YouTube. I’ve seen all these come to pass so everything from here on out is sprinkles on top! J

What are your favorite parts of soap making? 

Royalty Soaps
Royalty Soaps

I LOVE mixing the micas into the raw soap batter, piping the tops and putting in the embeds (of course!), removing the first cut bar, and collecting the products that have been purchased to put in boxes!

Do you have concerns and/or hopes for the soap industry?

My main concern for the soap industry is the drive for financial success becoming more important than kindness among peers, honesty with customers, and giving others the benefit of the doubt. I’ve seen the internet soap community become more competitive and petty over the last few years but my hope is that we will revert to being a community of friendly, helpful individuals with a true passion for our craft and dedication to supporting others.

What do you want people to know about your work? 

My work is labor of love. It takes a LOT of time to create my artisan soap loaves and I dedicate hours to each one, thinking about every individual bar and holding it to “royal standards”. I want people to know that when they purchase from me, they will receive a gift worthy piece of soapy art that I created because I love what I do and want others to feel happy inside. That’s also why I publish YouTube videos, to bring others joy and hopefully brighten up their day with a little silliness and a whole lot of pretty!

What are your favorite parts to making soap? (Colors, fragrance oils, research, whatever inspires you.)

I’m a HUGE fragrance oil junky. I like to think I’ve probably smelled 50+ vanilla variations and have way too many in my storage area. Fragrances are my favorite but a close second are vivid colorants. I’m not a fan of micas that require you to dump the whole bottle in for a decent shade to appear. I want to be able to add a teaspoon to a large bucket and it color the whole thing turquoise. When I find that level of pigmentation, it makes my heart sing! haha

Are there things about soap making that you hope to pass on to your children?

Oh, absolutely! Soap making requires dedication, determination, a good work ethic, patience, and a love for your art, all of which I think are essentials for children to be exposed to. Of course I intend on using soap making as a science lesson too! There are so many different things this craft teaches us and hey! Maybe if we’re lucky, Royalty Soaps’ will become a family business. J 

What makes you laugh about making soap?

I would say soap’s ability to go wrong even when you think you’ve done everything right. Instead of getting angry when a soap I’ve made five times already decides to separate and never get back together again, I laugh in its face and try again. It’s a constant war it would seem. It also gives me a giggle every time I think about how much attention my soap gets, especially on YouTube. I still don’t fully understand why it’s so entertaining to watch someone else make something you clean your body with, but apparently it is and that baffles me while making me laugh too!

 

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

You can find me over on my blog, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter, Instagram and purchase my products in my Etsy shop! Also, I have a special coupon for the Sorcery Soap blog readers!

Type in “SORCERYSOAP” at checkout for 10% off any order with no minimum purchase!

Watch Katie work with her Sorcery Soap Creations here:

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Interview with ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph

ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph

After seeing such stunning soap photos in soaping groups I had to investigate who was making these striking and polished images. Once I discovered who this person was, I wanted to shine light on this skilled soaper – Tyreese “Ty” Joseph from ADO Soaps. Tyreese wears many hats like most soapers. When Tyreese isn’t watching or reading British mysteries she is making soap that comes from her interest in natural wellness and plant based ingredients.

 

When did you know soap making was for you?  

Well, the idea had been in my head for over a year at the suggestion of a friend, who proceeding to gift me with a bottle of lye, three Christmas’ ago. The lye sat on the upper shelf in my laundry room for over a year until, as I came down the stairs one morning I glanced in that direction and the bottle was placed in just such a way that it caught my eye. I made a point that day to hit the grocery store because that was the day I was going to make soap.

My passion for soap began with that first batch. I mean, seeing all the raw ingredients come together into a totally new thing, how awesome is that? If my passion began with that first batch, then it was indelibly sealed on my heart and in my mind, when I actually used the soap that I had created for the first time. I literally squealed in the shower!

How did you create your signature style soaps?

My style is created from a desire to infuse my contentment and joy into every soap I make. I want it to be personal, pleasing and make the person using it feel a bit more special. It really is about creativity, functionality, luxury, affordability and doing the skin a huge favor. Although I occasionally try out different pours and swirls, over time I have come to prefer the simple spoon swirl for its unpredictable, but predictable, favorable blending of color. I also love textured tops as an easy way to attract attention. I never really considered myself to have much of a “bling” personality, but I really do love a bit of glitter or gold dusting to add a bit of glam. Not too long, I graduated to using a custom soap stamp, as well, and that completes it for me.

ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph
ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph

What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making?

My life gets hectic and overloaded from time to time so, knowing that I will be carving out a bit of time to make some soap can literally motivate me to get up and get stuff done so I can get to my soap time. No matter what happens in a day, I can go and to my safe place and focus on the positive energy that comes from creating.

What were your hopes for creating your soap business? 

When I decided to begin building a business, my hope was that I could be part of what I see as a resurgence of community reliance and self-sufficiency. I wanted to become a part of my local business community and meet a need. I wanted to have a craft so that I could barter with others in my community for fresh goods. I also wanted to create a product that people could feel good about using, not only because I spend lots of time developing products that provide a spa experience at home with great ingredients, but also because I’m not an anonymous corporate entity but a small business with a face and a story. Have I achieved all my dreams? Not yet, but my products are available in several locally owned businesses, I’ve been asked to teach an enrichment soaping class at local community college, and I do regularly barter my products for items my family needs including fresh milk, eggs, meats. I have such a long way to go, but it’s a journey I began in faith and eagerly look forward to continuing.

ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph
ADO Soaps by Tyreese Joseph

What are your favorite parts of soap making? 

It’s the entire process (except clean up, lol), from being inspired by a new scent, color, or natural vista like Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, to setting up my workspace, to pouring and cutting. I especially love getting custom requests and the excitement and nervousness that comes when I deliver the product and then the satisfaction of receiving the feedback that my product made a difference!

Do you have concerns and or hopes for the soap industry?

There is a rising interest in our craft and my hope is that we all embrace it and benefit from it by continually and consistently elevating our craft through education, safety and creativity, and that we remain courteous of fellow crafters, especially when correcting misinformation. I also hope that we can encourage new soapers to spend as much time as they need, working and discovering at their own pace. I really feel that soaping is a journey, rather than a race.

What do you want people to know about your work? 

Simply that I LOVE it and I that I feel thankful and blessed daily that I have been led to the soap making craft. There are a lot of things that I do well, but aside from loving God and being a mom and wife, I have never felt more passion or purpose.

What makes you laugh about making soap? 

Well sometimes, I get too comfy, too blasé about the process, usually after months of soaps going exactly as I plan them, then the same things I’ve been doing over and over again are suddenly going wild. Swirls turn into plops, partial gels develop, etc. – you get the picture. I then I find myself madly throwing stuff together to get finished. When I’m done, I giggle a little and then just burst out laughing for all the wild fun that I’ve just had. Sometimes, soap does its own thing and takes you along for the ride!

What do you want readers to know about you or your soap making business?

I like (secretly) corny jokes! What animal do you look like when you take a shower or bath?

A little bear.

For all those who read this far, here is your reward!

ADO Etsy store discount: “beesorcery” a 15% DISCOUNT good until the end of March, 2017.

Places you can find Tyreese “Ty” Joseph from ADO Soaps.

ADO at Etsy

ADO on Instagram

ADO at Youtube

ADO on Facebook