Bliss made beautifully simple

Make It Fizz

Make It Fizz,  by Holly Port, is a gold mine!  Plain and simple.  If you’re stuck in a rut making soaps, liquid, clear, or solid, goat milk or coconut milk based, yet still hungerMake It Fizz to try something else far and away different from what you’ve made so far, grab your own copy of this book and read it cover to cover.  You’ll be thoroughly tutored and informed on how to make bath bombs, bath fizzes, bubble bars and more for your customers with confidence.

Holly will guide your through what various types of oils are available to use and what they’ll bring to your recipe.  If you want one that soothes, or one that doesn’t leave behind too much oil in your tub, or one that sinks in quickly, she’ lists a very comprehensive list of oils on pg 5.   Pages 2-3 also give you a wealth of suggestions for ingredients to add to your recipe to give it  greater bubbles, purification of toxins from your skin, additives for psoriasis.

She’s also generously offered several recipes for you to try based on her many years of experimentation, trial and error so you can gain the confidence to branch out, spread those bath bomb wings and let the fizzies fly on your own recipes.  

I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to spread their product line out further into the bath & body lines beyond bars and liquid soaps.  

If you’re a tag gawker, you already know what the alternative to water is, but if you pay them no mind at all, then this will all be new to you.

I’ve covered alternatives to water before, but it’s been a while, and thought that perhaps you’d like to see a soap that actually has something other than plain ol’ water in it to see what it does.

Highgarden, the name of the soap, though not the name of the fragrance oil, was made using coconut water.  Why?  Why use coconut water in a soap?  One simple word – sugar.  No matter whether you find one that says it’s unsweetened or not, it’s going to have some natural sugars in it and those will be just enough to enhance the bubbles in your soap, making them more abundant just like everyone loves them to be.

Of course, coconut water has much more than natural sugars going for it.  It also contains natural antioxidants, vitamins and other vital nutrients to hydrate your body, feed your hair, skin, nails, vital organs, and skin all the nutrients it needs to fight off the assault waged on your body through the air we breathe, the process foods we eat, and those sodas we gulp down every day.  Let’s face it, living is hard on you and we rarely have the time to eat a well-balanced diet, do we?  Is there really time to wash, chop, mince, stir, cook, boil, sear, grill, then still have the energy to eat after a long grueling work day?  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fried by the end of the day and really don’t feel at all like cooking or even eating in some cases.  It’s so much easier to pick up something on the way home, or stop bu the store and grab something we can throw into a pot and warm up slowly or just nuke in the microwave.  But honestly, is the price we pay worth the ease? It’s a cumulative thing, and eventually it will take its toll on your body, giving you lots of big head-smacking reality checks like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and a host of others that develop over time.

HIghgarden Coconut Water Soap

HIghgarden Coconut Water Soap

The sugar can also caramelize thanks to the heat of the lye water, so I found out quickly enough that it’s far better to add just enough water with the lye to dissolve it, then add the balance of the water in the coconut water, but do it later, perhaps as late as after the initial stick blending is over  I get it just to the emulsification stage, then add the coconut water in and stick blend it in to the light trace stage.  The later addition prevents the discoloring of the soap batter due to the caramelization so less titanium dioxide is needed to overcome the discoloring.

Some aren’t big fans of the use of Titanium dioxide, and it can cause other problems, like glycerin rivers, or as we affectionately call them – glivers.  In some soaps though, they’ll bring out a textural effect that works great with the design of the soap’s final look.  It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose in whether TD use is good or not.

Another small warning should be offered here if you’re planning to try making a soap with coconut water.  The sugars are great for bubbles but they’ll also add something else to the soap – heat!  It will heat up your soap, causing small cracks as you can see from the picture  above.  If you can, try putting the soap, mold and all, in the refrigerator to prevent the cracks from becoming too  extreme.  It will allow the soap to cool quicker and give them a chance to close up on their own as much as possible.  The ones that appeared in this batch are barely there at all now, though this one was the worst of the bunch.  It had quite a few all over the middle section of the soap when it was 30 or 50 minutes into the mold, but as it chilled down in the fridge, they closed up and once the mod came out of the fridge about 3-4 hrs later, they were all but gone.  From the side you’ll see where they had been, but they’re certainly not detrimental to the soap at all.

The wispy lines were done with a mic in oil swirl done over the various layers poured into the mold of the base white soap.  There’s a bit of two greens, and two reds, but they don’t show up as much more than just a green and a red since the soap pressed much of it out to the sides.  This technique is a bit of a chance from the ones I usually do, but it’s always fun to try new things, change things up a bit.  Wouldn’t you agree?

 

If I haven’t succeeded in convincing you to give coconut water a try in your soap-making adventures yet, then I’ve failed utterly.  If you don’t make soap, then you really need to get some coconut water soaps and give them a try!  They’re amazingly creamy, bubbly, give you the perfect balance of cleansing and skin-softening to make your skin feel the best it’s ever felt.

Real, natural, handcrafted soap is the best way to wash, bathe, shampoo, or shower.  There are NO harsh chemicals, NO artificial additives to enhance the bubbles or create more abundant lather, our colours are naturally derived in the natural lines or created with micas, of which many are made with actual natural elements, our fragrances are either from fragrances oils, which are synthetic, or essential oils which are created with natural plants, flowers and other botanicals.  We use natural clays, grains like colloidal oatmeal, natural exfoliants like lemon peel, camu camu fruit powder or jojoba beads.  When you use a REAL bar of soap, you’re not putting a lab experiment, packed with carcinogens, chemicals, surfactants, or detergents on your skin.  You’re replacing the natural oils your skin needs to be healthy and defend itself against the toxins found in our everyday world.

In the mold Highgarden

In the mold Highgarden

My imagination has taken a turn for the fruity.  Fruit Splash is a deliciously juicy fragrance from FragranceLaboratory.com, one of  only a couple FO suppliers I typically use and it’ has a fruity, juicy fragrance of several different fruits & berries.  Many soapers have used this one to make the first of their spring & summer lines, but you know me, I’m weird.  I like to use beachy and fruity scents all year round, so here I am doing fruity scents as fall starts to  show its head just above the horizon.  While it is still well off in the distance, I’m still reluctant to make anything that smacks of full-blown fall unless the scent really bowls me over, which is far too rare.  I fight the cooler temps,  the images of dying leaves on deciduous trees and the need to tuck away the tanks tops, flip-flops, and tanning oils of happier summer days with everything I’ve got, but despite my best efforts, it still comes around, followed quickly by its nasty-tempered neighbor, Old Man Winter.  Oh well.  It’s just inevitable. Until I win the lottery and buy that ocean-front property in Bimini, I guess I’m stuck here year round. But I can soap with the summer scents and keep that Bermuda high going indoors year round!

So Fruit Splash is a hearty fruity fragrance that really sticks, is strong and holds up very well in any application you use it in, even the high-alkaline atmosphere of CP soap making.  I thought of Fruit Loops, without the sugary overlaying layer when I first smelled it, then thought immediately of how I wanted this soap to appear as a finished soap bar.  The plan requires a lot of patience.  That I have, in spades, so I picked out the colours typical of the fruits in the fragrance, purple, red, orange, green, raspberry-pink and yellow.  I’d considered pouring it into chunks of the colours, no swirling, but couldn’t stand the thought of pouring a soap, slab or loaf, and not swirling.  What soaper in their right mind can fight that urge to swirl?  Not this one! So swirl, I did.  The tiny bubbles don’t matter and you’ll understand why later on when Phase 2 appears.

slab poured of Fruit Splash August 6th

slab poured of Fruit Splash August 6th

(So since we now know I’m weak and can’t resist certain urges.  Let’s tottle on.)

This will set up for a couple of days in the mold, then will be removed and then Phase 2 can commence.  I will not be going into any details of what Phase 2 is right now.  Just suffice it to say that this slab of soap will not resemble its former state in any way.  There is a Phase 3 as well –  ’nuff said.

This batch is a triple oil blend, with silk, colloidal oatmeal, coconut milk, coconut water, and I tried a different approach to the additives when blending this batch.  I mixed the oats, coconut milk, coconut water, FO together then added them after mixing the oils and the lye.  This prevented the soap from discolouring with the addition of the coconut water to a livid orange as it tends to do in my prior batches.

In previous batches using coconut water,  I added the coconut water to the water used to dissolve the lye and when the lye was added the heat it generated cause a caramelization of the sugars, causing it to discolour to a particularly ugly shade of orange.  So, I decided to change the order around a bit to see if it wouldn’t happen if added later on.  This turned out to be the better way to use coconut water.  If there was any discolouration, I didn’t see it.  So if you want to try using other waters, try coconut water!  The additional sugars will cause some discolouration if you added it to the lye water, but if you add it later, it works great and the sugars will enhance the bubbles in the finished soap!  Still I needed to add a bit of Titanium Dioxide to lighten up the soap enough to show the colours at their true best.

So there’s the latest and the next Phase will be appearing in a few more days.  See you then!

And here’s Phase 2, the soap has been shaped into balls and curls, done with a vegetable peeler, and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        placed into the mold.  Can you guess what’s coming up next?  No, don’t scroll down yet.  Wait for it………

and here’s the next step (Phase 3)……

with clear soap poured over the embeds....

with clear soap poured over the embeds….

A clear soap using Everclear and sugar water, slightly tinted with peach food colour was poured over the embeds, misted with alcohol, and left to set up over night.  There was quite of bit of this, so I also poured some small molds of individual embeds for use in future batches of other soaps.  The clear isn’t scented, which was an accident to be honest, I’d meant to add a bit of the Fruit Splash to that too, but I got carried away in all the excitement of getting it poured and left it out.  The embeds have plenty of scent to them to it’s going to be terrific even without the clear being scented.  I’m determined to remember it next time though!  If I have to write it in Sharpie across the top of my hands I’ll remember it next time!

 

This isn’t quite the end of the road for this one, no no.  It’s now been cut and the look is nothing less than exactly what I’d hoped and aimed for!

 

I’m also running a bit of a contest to name this soap.  The best name wins and they receive a bar of this plus several others that are nearing their ready date.  Pop into my Facebook page, post your name suggestion in  the comment box and good luck!  (The post for the contest is pinned to the top of the page, so you’ll have no trouble finding it.  :)

 

And the cut bars, Phase 4….

Cut "Fruit Splash"

Cut “Fruit Splash”

Infusing Oils

Infusions are simply an herb, dried or fresh, that’s steeped in a slightly warmed oil, capped, then left to steep for a while until the potency of the botanicals are achieved to the level you prefer.  Some leave them for a couple of weeks, some for a couple of months, and other will leave them for half a year or more.  It all depends on what you want to do with them.

Many of us have used infusions without even realizing that’s what we’re using.  A good cup of tea is an infusion.  It’s sped up a bit, but it is still an infusion.  It’s infused into water which is then sweetened and the “ah” factor is achieved.

Oil infusions are often employed for soaps to do 1, 2, or more things.  We’ll infuse a botanical into an oil to bring the various benefits that herb can offer to a formulation in our bath & body care items.  If you plan to use these for CP or HP or CPHP soaps, however, the benefits may be lost in the heat of CPHP or HP processing and then the alkalinity of all of them will also alter the benefits to be pretty null and void.  The infusions would be best served into lotions, balms, butters, if you hope to leave all the antioxidants, Vitamins, etc intact in your final product.  Just bear in mind that though there’s no high pH in lotions, and balms production, there is heat and that may destroy/alter some or all the nutrients you hoped to add.

Another reason we use infusions is for colour, natural colour in a soap that we’re hoping to keep as natural as possible for a particular line of product we’re developing, or for a particular sector of our customer base.  Perhaps we have customers with sensitive skin, allergies, personal preferences for naturally-derived colours, for which these would be a perfect fit.  Maybe vegan and vegetarian followers want this option as well.    That’s well and good, but please know your additives and realize that they might not all be ideal, even for those select groups either.  Annatto seeds are found in many items that are a deep yellow-orange, such as some cheeses, but they can also be the cause of allergic reactions to some individuals.  Know what your sensitivities are and those of your customers before you try out an additive.  Be aware of these when labeling and your customers will be able to fully enjoy your products without any bad side effects.

So, that said, these are the ones I did this weekend.

Refined Olive Oil infusions

Refined Olive Oil infusions

 

From left to right they are -

Camu Camu Fruit Powder

Orange Peel Powder

Lemon Peel Powder

Hibiscus Flower Powder

Annatto Seeds

All powders were sealed into tea bags then covered with Refined Olive Oil, which is a Golden colour that was slightly warmed, and once the oil was cooled sufficiently, they all were capped and placed in a safe location to prevent breakage.  I give them a shake occasionally to see if the colours are beginning to show, then walk away.  That’s the hard part!

These will all be filtered through either an unbleached coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth once their infusion stage is complete.  That should clear out any small particles that escaped the bags during this submerging or shaking.

The benefits that these might bring to a lotions or balm are typically those of antioxidant or Vitamins our skin needs in order to remain happy & healthy. Annatto seeds, while often used to colour certain foods, are also know to cause certain allergies, so label any product made with these with a note of caution for sensitive individuals.,  They contain high levels of carotenoids which are beneficial to the eyes.  While I wouldn’t recommend putting anything you make in or on your eyes, know that the bixins that contain these carotenoids can get through to your system by way of your skin to benefit the eyes anyway.  The antioxidants contained in anything containing carotenoids has the ability to fight off free radicals that lead to premature aging as well as fight off chronic illness and prolong life.

You can buy Annatto seeds here and read more in-depth material here.

Camu Camu Fruit Powder was called a superfood for a time when its benefits first hit the spotlight.  It’s since become a well-known source of Vitamin C and antioxidants and is great for supplying us with other vitamins such as B1 B2, B3, beta-carotene, bioflavenoids, phytochemicals, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and calcium.  It’s also been found to be helpful with weight loss, premature aging, reducing dark spots on the skin, and is great for shine for the hair. You can buy camu camu fruit powder here and read more about this superfood here.

Lemon Peel and Orange Peel powders are both excellent for lightening those dark spots we get from being outdoors whether it’s for recreational purposes or necessary tasks like gardening or lawn care, shooting hoops with the kids, or shooting the breeze with friends.

Orange peel powder is loaded with Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Beta-carotene, Vitamin B1, and thanks to the high levels of flavonoids contained within, it’s also a terrific anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent.  That said, do NOT presume it’s safe to do without a preservative.  It’s is never a good idea to do without a preservative in any formulation which goes into a jar, tub or tube then is sold to the general public. The scent of orange is believed to be uplifting and much loved in aromatherapy formulations.

It can be bought here or here and more information can be read on this juicy addition here.

Lemon Peel Powder can be bought here.

Hibiscus Flower Powder is the dried petals of the beautiful flowers of the hibiscus plant, ground to a fine powdery form.  This powder will give your infusions a red colour that varies according to the length of time the infusion is allowed to continue.  The flowers are often used in hair care products as they have properties known to thicken hair or reduce hair loss and for dandruff control.  Being a gentle addition, they’re often found in baby care products.  They also even out skin tone and texture.  It also is known to cleanse, soothe, protect against acne, and soften the skin.

Buy it here.

 

Many other suppliers might also be checked out for these and many other beneficial additives to your formulations of creams, lotions, balms, butters, etc. Virtually anything you can dream up is possible so long as you bear in mind the ‘scratch’ factor of these when determining whether to use them or not.  Many might be too abrasive to use in a lotion or oil, but might be perfect for your scrubs which requires a certain amount of scratchiness in order to do its job properly.

I’ve checked in several of my own favorite suppliers when providing the above information, but you might also want to visit the following web sites to see what they offer as well. They’re all reliable sources of information and are excellent supplies resources.

 

http://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/

http://www.sfherb.com/

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

http://www.brambleberry.com/

http://www.soap-making-resource.com/natural-soap-colorants.html

Soapmaking Resource, above, offers the convenience of a Kit to give you more natural colourant bang for your buck.  All the most widely used, popular natural colourants are sent to you to try out at your convenience and determine which ones you like best for future orders.  A real bargain!

Liquid gold

Liquid soap, glycerin method

Liquid soap. It’s lush, convenient, versatile, can be coloured or not, can be fragranced or not, can be made several different ways, can be made for hands & body, for the hair, for everything.  It’s just that flexible.  But – and isn’t there always one of those when things are clicking along so nicely – it can be a beast to make.  Well, I guess that depends largely on the recipe used.  If the wrong oils are used, it can be drying, stripping, too thick, too thin, too greasy.  Too everything. The glycerin method is a hugely popular method of creating a rich, bubbly, high-emollient liquid soap and if you’ve yet to try your first batch, you’re certainly in for an eye-opening, horizon-broadening treat.

There’s nothing difficult about crafting a liquid soap with glycerin rather than water.  It’s a simple substitution step.  You’re replacing all of the water you’d normally use to dissolve the KOH (potassium hydroxide) with glycerin.  Clear, vegetable glycerin.  There’s no secret mumbo-jumbo to it.  Just that.  The tricky part might be in the heat used to dissolve the KOH in the glycerin.  Yes, you have to have the glycerin hot otherwise the KOH will just sit there.

Heat it carefully, nowhere near boiling though or you’ll scorch the glycerin, among other hazards.  Once the glycerin is warm enough, s-l-o-w-l-y add the KOH in teaspoonfuls to the heated glycerin.  As each spoonful hits the hot glycerin, it will fizz up,  If it gets too close to the top of the pot, simply pick up the pot from the heat source and the bubbling will go down instantly.  The other important thing is to stir.  Stir, stir, stir!  It will help dissolve the KOH in small portions, preventing it from clumping into one huge, hard lump in the bottom of the pot.  A 3 qt or so sized pot is fine for the lye portion of this recipe as it’s going to be added to the oils, NOT the other way around.

Never add oils to lye, always add lye to oils!

Once all of the KOH has been added, stir until it’s all dissolved completely.  This is now ready to add to your oils pot.  I’ve found that it’s a good idea to have two large stainless steel pots, 2 canning-sized pots, for this type of soap crafting.  The reasons will become clear (no pun intended) as we go through the process.  The oils, if any are solid and need to be melted, so use one of your large canning sized pots for the oils. Keep the other nearby as it will be needed soon. Melt the oils then allow them to cool a bit.  So now you’re ready to add the KOH/glycerin to your oils which are now liquid and melted but NOT HOT! Remove the pots from the heat source.  Okay, let’s move forward.

The KOH/glycerin can be added, stirring as you go with a long handled spoon for now all at once, but don’t just dump it because it’s very caustic right now.  It will burn your skin! Once all of the glycerin/KOH is incorporated into the oils, grab that stick blender and start blending.  Watch the phases the soap paste passes through as you blend as they occur very quickly! If your soap is too hot, it will not thicken, so let it set for a bit, then go back and try again.   This is not the time to burn out your stick blender (unless you have a backup blender) trying to get the paste to thicken when it’s too hot to get there.

The paste will quickly get to a salt-water-taffy-like stage and that’s your goal.  Now that it’s there, it’s time to put it back on the heat for just a bit.  Not too much because the more heat you put on it, the darker it will become and as you can see in the picture, it’s IS possible to have a nearly colourless liquid soap. It will turn a deep amber if it gets too much heat, and then there’s the issue of it not thickening up when you try to stick blend it as well.  So cook the soap until it tests out as fully saponified.  This batch pictured took about 40-45 minutes.  I used phenolphthalein to test a small bit of the paste on a paper towel. If it turns vivid pinkish purple, it’s not ready.  If it remains clear, it’s ready.

So now you have a fully saponified paste.  Congratulations! You’re almost there.  Didn’t hurt a bit, did it! So now it’s off the heat source again, and leave it off.  It won’t be going back.  Here’s where that second canning pot comes in handy.  The other large pot needs distilled water, heated and held, covered to prevent evaporation, until this paste is ready for it. You might want to start at a ratio of 1 part soap paste to 1 1/2 parts water.  More can be added later if you want it, but if you add too much at this phase, it’s impossible to take it out. Err on the side of caution and no regrets will follow.

 Now it’s reached that point so let’s use that water.  Spoon or cut the paste into small portions into that hot water.  You’ll find that if the paste is in small bits, it will dissolve in the hot water much quicker and evenly. Once all of it is in there, gently stir to distribute.  Bubbles might occur, and make it difficult to see what’s dissolved and what hasn’t.  If the bubbles interfere with your ability to observe progress, have a small sprayer bottle nearby with alcohol nearby (70% is fine) and spritz the top lightly with a fine mist of the alcohol. The bubbles burst instantly. Very cool.  Let this solution rest for at least 8 hours to dissolve. Check it after 8 hours and look for any remaining lumps.  The first pot can be washed as set aside in case you find lumps.  After this pictured batch set overnight, I still had a few lumps, so I used that first large pot with a strainer on the top,  poured the mostly dissolved soap through the strainer to remove the lumps and dissolved the lumps separately with a bit more distilled water that was heated and held (it kills any possible contaminants to heat and hold) in a quart sized Mason jar.  After they’ve dissolved completely it can be added to your large pot.

Now the last and very important step.  Allow the soap to cool to below 130°F if it isn’t already.  Once there, add your preferred preservative according to manufacturer’s directions.  Rosemary EO or Vitamin E WIll NOT act as preservatives for your liquid soap.  They will extend the shelf life of certain oils, but REO and Vitamin E are not preservatives! Do not depend on them to prevent nasties from growing on your lovely soap. And after spending two days on your soap, you don’t want it ruined by lack of appropriate preservative!  Some of you may be aiming towards a totally natural liquid soap, but without a sturdy preservative in place, it will become cloudy, contaminated, and moldy, which you don’t want to happen when your customer takes it home.

Now if you make this soap and leave the entire batch unscented, you can add your preferred fragrance to individual bottles with a bit of soap in the bottom, swirl it in, then add the remaining soap, rolling the bottle to blend.  It will thicken and cloud up initially, but leave it for several hours or overnight to wait for it to clear up.  If it remains too thick, add a bit more  of your distilled hot water to the top of the soap, leave it alone for a while and see if that gets it to the consistency you prefer.

Since starting my journey into soapcrafting, over 7 years ago, I’ve come to realize that while making a loaf of cold processed soap with all kinds of glorious additives to make your skin sigh with relief and pure joy, the creation of a light golden liquid soap that slides along your skin, lathers to a towering richness on a pouf in the shower is  a hugely rewarding experience to top everything else I’ve done thus far.  I absolutely love making liquid soap even if it is a long journey toward the grand reward.  I use it everywhere.  I carry it with me in my purse when we go out, take a bottle to work to use to wash my hands, removing the grime of the shipping boxes I have to contend with on a daily basis, the germy magazines that are displayed in public serials shelves, the sticky books that require repairs before returning to circulation.  Working in a library has its rewards, but it’s a dirty job, despite what many may think.  Making my own soap is definitely helping to nullify the effects of that job, and the best part is, I learned soap crafting in the very same library I work in now.

So I’ve been home for about a week and a half and finally getting a minute to finally write about the Tucson conference, flying on a plane for the first (second, third, then fourth) times, and what it was all like.  It’s been hectic since we got back home to say the least.

The Saloon (1280x722)

William enjoying Old Tucson and the buildings now used in films, tv & commercials.

A few days after returning my mom passed away.  It was quick, from all reports it was painless, and she’s no longer lost in the darkness that was Lewy Body Dementia, but smiling, healthy pain-free and spending time with her parents above.  Her memories are all back where she wanted them and she’s watching over us as we muddle on, but her words, favorites phrases resonate in our heads and even occasionally fall out of our mouths as we sound more and more like her every day we spend in our own lives.  If any of you reading this knows anything about Lewy Body Dementia, you know what it’s like to watch your parent or loved one slowly disappearing and there’s nothing you can do to stop it or bring them back. It’s irreversible, hereditary, and scary as hell.  My sisters & I watch each other closely know, wondering when, if, and how quickly.  We’re terrified, to say the least.  But we have families and they need us, so we live our lives and march on.  So that’s what I’m doing after spending some time reflecting, getting my house back in order, and then helping hubby when he fell ill.

Apparently the hubby has something like walking pneumonia.  It looked like it to me, but his antibiotics ran out right before we had to leave, so they didn’t get refilled and a redo of his chest x-ray wasn’t done in the time frame the doctor’s office wanted, so we came back with a sicker hubby, I’m frantic, and we rush over to doctor’s offices, drug stores and diagnostic imaging offices.  As we await the results, he began a new course of a stronger, different antibiotic prescribed by his regular physician, so our fingers are all firmly crossed this works and he finally gets better.  Just in time for him to fly off to Central and South America for two weeks.

I’ll be planning a baby shower for my daughter in the time just prior to his departure because the party is set for the day before he leaves, so I won’t be able to help him as he prepares for his trip, but he’s been doing this for a long time before I ever showed back up in his life, so he can pull this together one time without me.  My daughter’s due in September and they’re expecting a little girl, so it’s Alice in Wonderland theme decorations for her party and lots of interesting unique games her younger brother is dreaming up for the big event.  I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.  I’ll try to get pictures at the time, but it all depends on how busy I am.

Queen of Hearts, Alice In Wonderland

Queen of Hearts, Alice In Wonderland

 

 

So, back to Tucson, and the HSCG Conference. For those of you that aren’t members, or in the industry, or just never heard of them, HSCG is Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild.  I’m a member of this on the professional level because I sell to the public.  At this level they offer liability insurance, mentoring, vendor discounts, and of course the conferences with lots of opportunities to learn more about your current skills, expand your horizons into new areas, gain insight into how to grow your business and so much more I can’t even begin to list it all!  I love being a member of the Guild, but the one thing I really enjoyed about this year’s is that while it was my first conference, my first flight, my first trip out of state to a state that doesn’t touch my home state of NC, and I had the opportunity to take the test to become certified.

I'm a Certified Lyer!

I’m a Certified Lyer!

So what does it mean to become a Certified Soapmaker?  It gives you 1) bragging rights.  You can proudly show all who visit your site, Facebook page, blog, etc, that you know your craft and have the confidence to make a quality product you are proud to place your name & brand on.  Once the documentation is filed with HCSG, I’ll be able to upload a badge for all the sites associated with Neecy’s brand and customers can be assured when seeing this badge that I’m serious about what I do, know what to do to make a quality Bath & Body product, and they can trust what I create to sell to them as safe.  2) It gives your customers peace of mind.  You’re not a lightweight who’s just starting soaping,.  You’ve done this for a while, studied the science behind it, know what to do and even more importantly, what NOT to do.  This was important to me and lays the groundwork for moving upward onto the next step, which is Advance Certification.  I’ve already begun building a plan for that level and will be posting on it as time allows.

The conference had numerous knowledgeable guest speakers giving their time to teach us a new skill, opening new doors into our field so we can become, multifaceted Bath & Body crafters on a professional level with the best of the best.  I’ve learned so much from that conference, and though exhausting as it all is, attending those classes is definitely worth every penny and every minute spent!  I’ve learned about how to make bath fizzies, or bath bombs as some call them, but I’ll stick with fizzies to avoid being marked for a watch list somewhere after using the word ‘bomb’.

I bought a couple of  extraordinary books there at a great price (vendors offer discounted prices on their products at these events!), Lela’s Barker’s 155 Words You Need To Know; Practical Wisdom for Creative Entrepreneurs, which is a gold mine of valuable information  in so many respects I don’t have time to list them all here.  You simply must get her book if you’re seriously wanting to grow your business in a way that will get you to your business goal! Lela spoke on pricing your products, and I realized that I’m undervaluing my own time and product, so a reevaluation of my product lines is in order.  First of ’15 will see those results implemented.  Also check out Lela’s site, LuckyBreakConsulting.com  or her blog, Lucky Break Consulting/Blog .  It will provide hours/days/weeks of reading centered around your business’s success.

Another speaker I truly admired and thoroughly enjoyed learning tons from is Kerri Mixon, a 16th generation soapmaker, who talked about how to create clear soap.  It’s begun like a cold process, then reverts to hot, then is treated in a particular way to make it clear.  Her lecture opened my eyes up to a whole new avenue of soaping that I’m very excited to try out soon!  I’ll post the results when I’ve had a chance to try it out.  Good or bad.

The other speaker to throw light onto a new topic for me was Holly Port.  Holly taught the class on how to make bath bombs & fizzies, which aren’t exactly the same thing.  The ‘bombs’ aren’t necessarily going to fizz, but will dissolve to create a spa bath that moisturizes & scents your skin.  The fizzies will do much the same thing, but with a fizzy foaming action that happens when they come in contact with water.  Her new book, released at the conference fresh from the publishers, was sold at a discount to attendees, which of course was snapped up as quickly as humanly possible.  I’ve already read through it once, and definitely will add these items into my line soon!

If you make soap, but have never joined HSCG or gone to a conference, you seriously need to consider both in the future.  It’s completely worth every minute and every dollar spent.  I’d love to go to every single one every single year, but I know it’s not feasible for me to manage that at this particular point in my life, so I’ll plan on going to the 2016 conference next, which will be in Tampa, Florida at the gorgeous Saddlebrook Resort (look it up, it’s mind-blowing!).  I’ll have to pass on 2015’s, however if you’re interested and perhaps if you live nearby, it’s in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 18-20, 2015, at the Westin Downtown Hotel. There’s a limit to the number of attendees to 450 and 15 have already signed up for next year’s, that’s how major it is!

As I close this post out, here are a few more pics from the trip  out to Tucson – enjoy!

IMG_1797 (960x1280)Agave in Bloom (1280x960)IMG_1786 (1280x960)The shady spots (1280x960)Loews in its natural habitat (1280x960)

 

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