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Interview with a true Soapsmith, Bonnie Bartley

Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth

Bonnie Bartely is that invaluable resource, she has years of soap making experience having made soap since 1979. I introduce to you Bonnie Bartley, a true Soapsmith from Allegheny Hearth. 

1. How did you arrive at the name of your business? 

Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth Soap
Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth Soap

I wanted a name that would convey my locality. I live in Central Pennsylvania. The area is abundant in natural beauty. My home is located on 5 wooded acres, atop a hill in the heart of the breathtakingly glorious Allegheny Mountains. I also wanted to evoke the feeling of the comfort of home, the warmth of handmade so I chose the word hearth – thus Allegheny Hearth.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/03/glorious-allegheny-mountains.html

2. How long have you been making soaps? 

Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth Soap
Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth Soap

I made my first batches in the early 1970’s. I am always open to various arts and craftsmen projects and like to be challenged by new methods and techniques. I was at the library and found a soap making book. I checked it out and the rest is history. I have been in business over 40 years selling my wares – floral design, dried herbs and botanicals, hand crafts, wedding and party décor, cookie catering, needlework and soap making. Now, my soap/bath and body product business has grown to full capacity so that is the only thing I sell now.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/05/soapsmiths-studio-workspace.html

3. What makes you happy to get out of bed regarding soap making? 
After all these years, I still enjoy the process. It is more mass production now utilizing high volume techniques to keep up with orders but I still get a thrill when I see the soap gel. I remember the very first batch I made. After reading up on the process for weeks, ordering supplies (which could only be done by catalog as there was no on line shopping and local stores didn’t carry much more than lard and basic oils) I was a little anxious about making that soap. When it went into gel stage, I literally danced around the kitchen – yay!!!

Bonnie Bartley, Soapsmith Soap
Bonnie Bartley, Soapsmith Soap

4. Where do you find your inspiration for your unique soaps? Are there things in your environment that aid in your creativity?
I am inspired by nature: my garden, the spectrum of colors, the textures, the herbs and flowers, the trees, the fragrances – all of creation. Raw crystals, geodes and mineral formation provide the muse for my gemstone soap.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/06/lavender.html
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/04/promise-of-spring-garden.html
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/03/hello-friends-old-barns-and-out.html

5. What is your favorite part of soap making?
The satisfaction of my customers is always the epitome of my soap journey. I draw inspiration from them. They are the greatest. Many of them are so kind to take the time to write me notes and emails thanking me for the results they get from using my products. They sing my praises to their friends and neighbors, which grows my business. I am grateful to them and dedicate my efforts to them.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2016/07/customer-feedback.html

6. What do you do that is not soap related, but aids in your creative thinking?
My gardens, there is nothing like surrounding yourself in the stunning beauty of the outdoors, working the soil, observing the progression of the plants, the interaction of the rains, the sun and the bees. Harvesting the fruits of your labors is so satisfying.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/08/soapsmiths-container-vegetable-garden.html
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/03/black-drawing-salve-amish-style.html

7. What have soaps have you created that surprised you? 

Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth
Bonnie Bartley Allegheny Hearth

I was only surprised by the difference in popularity of soaps of on line shoppers and local shoppers. My top sellers for over 4 decades are slow movers on line and items that literally never sell locally are being shipped by the thousands every year. It was a real learning experience. My on line venues started out slowly. Once I started tracking the stats and reacting to the data they provided did I see the demand is completely different. So I adjusted my product line and things just exploded. Once you determine consumer demand and are able to supply those products – selling is easy. I have amassed almost 4 million views to my on line content and shipped about 60,000 items, pretty amazing.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2016/05/marketing-advice-for-internet-artisan.html

8. What makes you laugh about making soap?
I garner enjoyment seeing trays of hundreds of soaps on the curing racks. They fragrance the room and delight the senses with the simplicity of handmade cold process soap – pure pleasure. I also greatly enjoy utilizing my own garden grown and wild harvested herbs and botanicals. I do herbal infusions, distill my own hydrosols and essential oils and dry my harvests to be used in my products. It is a thrill to go from garden to harvest to products, truly handmade.
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2017/08/distilling-herbs.html
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2017/07/how-to-dry-herbs-from-garden.html
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/11/herb-infused-oils.html

9. 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 always mindful of the many generations of craftsmen who have passed along their skills. I strive to work for the advancement of the craft by honing my methods and techniques. I willingly mentor the next generation of artisans. I do demonstrations and presentations at symposiums and gatherings and I actively participate in soap making forums. In all aspects of my life, I am known for my organization and attention to detail. That attribute greatly contributes to my success in my family life, career, business and volunteer work. I manage my time carefully in order to meet the demands of a busy schedule, Life is beautiful!
http://soapsmith.blogspot.com/2015/04/hits-38361-hello-friends-i-often-do.html

 

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Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
You probably already know some things about Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone like her luxury soaps, her wonderful vibrant attitude and now, brilliantly colored hair, but you might not know some of the insights to her creativity she reveals in this interview.

1.)  What was the first bath and/or body product you created? 

       Oh wow, EVER?  If I had to go way, WAY back… I made jars of “perfume” as a kid and sold them door to door in my neighborhood.  (Along with grasshoppers on leashes because I truly believed that they made wonderful pets.)  I would load up my little red wagon with jars full of water and flower petals… and sell them to people who were too nice to tell a little girl that she was selling jars of gross, stinky water.    However, my first real foray into the world of bath and body began when, as a baby, my son had horrible diaper rash.  I had heard that handmade soap was best for sensitive bums, but I was too nervous to start with cold process so I found a melt and pour kit at a hobby store as a little test run.  I made a simple, single-color molded melt and pour soap that was plain as plain could be, and from there, I wanted to learn everything I could about making soap.

2.)  Was there a moment you knew soap making was for you? 

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
       The moment that I cut my first completed batch of cold process soap, I was hooked 100%.  Like many first-time cold process soapers, I geared up for that first batch like I was working with the world’s deadliest virus… in a construction zone, and there MIGHT be a chance of a fire.  I wore every piece of protective gear known to man and I had read so many books and done so much research, yet I still felt terrified that I was going to blow up the house.  Once the batch was made, I must have checked it at least a hundred times that day (no exaggeration).  When it was finally time to cut it, I sliced it and this amazing feeling came over me while I looked at those short, dumpy bars of soap.  I had made this.  I had made it from scratch.  That’s when the soap bug bit me and I wanted to make a million more batches right then and there.
3.)  Were there creative endeavors in your past that you can see contributed to discovering soap making?  What do you see, in hindsight, that prepared you for your soap endeavors?

      I have always been a creative person who likes to learn new hobbies.  I bake, sew, crochet, paint, sculpt, dabble in glass blowing and woodworking, you-name-it. I’ve always had an interest in how things are made and love being able to express myself through different creative mediums.  I am a very hands-on person who refuses to pay for something if I think that I can do it myself.  Even if it costs me more to make something, I see the value in making it myself… in understanding the process behind it, and having the

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Spicy Pinecone Soap

ability to tweak things and put my own creative spin on them.  I believe that being exposed to my various hobbies allowed me to give myself the freedom to try new things in my soap making process.  I’m not afraid of loud, fun colors, obscene amounts of sparkle, and/or trying a new technique.

4.)  Are there any aspects of soap making that others may not know about you?
      When I make a batch of soap, I like to keep design planning to a minimum.  I plan out the recipe and fragrance, of course, but as far as design, I may have an IDEA, but I rarely plan it out 100%.  I like being able to throw in a new color because I feel like it or swirling when I wasn’t originally going to.  Being fluid in the design allows me to come up with ideas in the moment and keeps things fun and interesting.
5.)  You attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild Conference in Las Vegas this year.  What were your favorite aspects?
     This is actually the first time I’ve been able to make the HSCG Conference!  Every other year, things have conspired to keep me away, so I was determined to make it this year.  I purchased the tickets way in advance and set the trip in stone… at least as much as I possibly could.  I was thrilled to get to meet so many soapers.   It was a gathering of MY PEOPLE.  Looking around the conference, it was a bit mind-blowing.  To have that many fellow bubble nerds and soap supplies in one place was incredible.  Meeting soapers in-person and making that face-to-face connection was just invaluable and was definitely my favorite part of the conference.
     Along with meeting new people, the presentations were fantastic.  Many of the speakers had an abundance of great information on a variety of different topics.  There really was something for everyone there.  Plus, once the conference was concluded for the day… you were in Vegas.  Not hard to stay entertained there.  😉

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

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
PInk Spicy Pinecone Soap
      I think that in the soap making industry, there is an incredible amount of information out there for new soap makers.  There are amazing books, YouTube videos, and blog articles that are fantastic sources for beginning the research process prior to making bath and body items.  However, with the abundance of information, I also believe it’s easy for a new soaper to find themselves following a recipe or trying a technique that may not be safe.  I am all for sharing knowledge and experience, but I think that when one does so, they have a moral obligation to ensure that they are presenting the best and safest method they can for the goal they are trying to accomplish.  And for those that are just beginning in this industry, make sure that you have reliable information from different sources.  Research, research, research.
7.)  What is your favorite part of soap making?  
    Oh my goodness, there are so many fun things about making soap.  I think if I HAD to choose, my favorite part has got to be cutting into a soap loaf.  One of those soap loaves where you did a crazy, funky swirl with weird colors and you’re just dying to know what’s on the inside.  You slice it, pull up a bar, and it’s like Christmas morning when you discover that you did, in fact, knock that latest batch out of the park.
8.)  What makes you laugh about soap making?

     I always find it funny when something goes crazily, horribly awry.  It could be that you have a fragrance that is SUPPOSED to be well-behaved, but it decided to turn Cujo on you and you’re left scrambling to create

Interview with Sarah Milroy from Spicy Pinecone
Spicy Pinecone Soap

something that may be salvageable.  I used to get upset about soap gremlins but you have to realize that if you make soap long enough and/or try new things… sometimes you’re going to have a batch that goes nuts.  It’s easier to laugh about it and know that you’ve learned from it, than to regret it and pine for the soap that never was.

9.)  Is there something not many know about you?  
     Something that people may not know is how much of a role that music plays in my soap making.  When I make YouTube videos, I don’t allow the music to play in the video (hello, copyright!), but the vast majority of the time, once everything is measured… I pull up my playlist and let the music play.  It helps loosen me up and get me in a creative mindset.  I make some of my best batches with music to support me… and my lab doesn’t care if I sing out of tune.  😉

For those who have read this far… Here is your reward!

Spicy Pinecone: coupon code “SORCERY15” for 15% off orders until August 31, 2017.  

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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.