It’s a new twist on an old idea

It took me most of the afternoon to ponder out what I wanted to do with this purse, many stops, starts, stitch ripping, unpinning, even walking away for a while because it just wasn’t happening, but eventually I fell onto a plan to make it a reversible purse this time, so that changed how it would be constructed and with  a different type of handle from the previous versions.  These were bought, not created from a spool of ribbon.  Yes, that’s kitchy and cutesy, but I wanted something a bit more traditional, slightly more modern for this one.  So, after a fun trek over to the newly relocated and expanded Hancock’s, an embarrassing moment at the check out counter when I realized I’d left my debit card at home, I was on my way home with two sets of handles that were heavy duty, sturdy, leather like without being actual leather, but rather a very heavy thick kind of twill or something.   No idea really what they are, but I liked them and wanted to try them out to see how they’d look on a purse.  I coupled a yellow & white bandana with a green, black, & white bandana, lined it with heavy-duty interfacing, made  a flat bottom on it,  looped the corners over the metal D rings of the handles, and voila, a purse.  A voila that took about 6.5 hours, but once the construction method was hit on at last, it went a little faster after that.  I gathered the long sides with a drawstring of satin ribbon in a casing.   The short ends are gathered with elastic within a casing.  It costs a bit more to make, but I like how it looks for a first time effort with this design.  There will be others, and I’d like to make one in a sling style out of some variegated raspberry, black & white bandanas I have here.  I see it in my head, but translating that mental image to an actual product is something altogether different.  I need inspiration.  Maybe it’s time to tottle through the pages of Pinterest.

Here’s today’s project to keep it alive until the right pattern comes along for the raspberry bandanas project.

Reversible two-colour bandana purse
Reversible two-colour bandana purse
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Cream Soap!

Well, I’m just a little bit excited to be finally trying this new type of soapmaking, though was hesitant for a very long time due to the intricacy and temperamental tendency of it.  It takes a long time to make the paste, with a lot of hands-on attention, plus there’s the long wait for it to be at the actual creamy state.  Four weeks in most cases.  Never in the worst case scenario.  I followed a basic recipe, with a 50% stearic acid content as most tend to be for this kind of soap, and yet the calculator in SM3 had the KOH and NaOH figures waaaay too low.  I went back to the site where I’d picked up the outline of ingredients to use and found theirs was much higher.    Mine were 10% of the necessary requirements for the lyes!  I’m not sure why it didn’t calculate the needed levels properly, but I changed the figures on the recipe printed out and went ahead.  It’s been resting since about 3:30 this afternoon, will get one last stir to incorporate the preservative, then is set aside for a long nap for about 4 weeks.  I might need to hide it away to keep myself from peeking and worrying it to death.  I really hope this one turns out right, but only time will tell me that.  I’m so not good at this part of soapmaking.

 

cream soap at cook time 6/21/13
cream soap at cook time 6/21/13

 

This is the utmost in coolness

 

 

 

 

I’ve got this linked to my web site!  Coolness! Many thanks to Lillian Newman for showing this today on her products and letting me know where to find this tool.  This handy-dandy doodad is downloaded through this site:

http://www.qrstuff.com/qr_phone_software.html

and you can set it to point to your web site, your facebook page, whatever!  This give all the power back to the consumer rather than forcing them to go to a computer, log on, and look up a biz by searching or typing the address into the bar, it will automatically go to your site when this little scribble is scanned.

Now shoppers can easily find all things soapy and gifty by scanning a squiggly looking box. If they have online banking as an app on their phone they can also order right there once the site’s loaded.  Technology is a wondrous thing!

If the image does not show up as anything scannable, click on the skinny lines that probably are appearing in the center of your screen.  This will open a link to the image that should be here, but doesn’t want to show up properly.  It did this once already and I deleted the post only to have the links to Twitter and Facebook showing the post looking normal.  And everything in here had been deleted!  Argh! Making it into a picture didn’t work too well either, so just ignore the weird image.  You’ll see it eventually if you try the Facebook page or Twitter.

qrcode.14140266

 

 

So as my way of thanks here’a link to Lillian’s site (please bookmark, save to faves, whatever)  –

http://indianahandmadesoap.com

She does shows and sells online so bookmark her site or stop by if your out in her neck of the woods.

Sandstorm

I went nuts with the lemongrass FO on Sunday night and pulled together 3 different blends with lemongrass in them and Sandstorm was the second one.  The last has yet to be made, but it will be very soon, maybe tomorrow since I’m off tomorrow and I’d rather soap than work on labels.   Yes, it’s procrastination, what’s your point?  The first one was Zen, with two types of tea fragrances and a white tea used with the lye instead of water.  Sandstorm used coconut water.  It turns a vivid orange when the lye gets mixed in, and doesn’t really get any better though it does darken to an orangey-brown colour, so if you’re looking for a white bar of soap, you’re going to have to use filtered water  or use a lot of Titanium Dioxide.  I’d worry about the amount it would take to lighten this up though, so maybe work with the discolouration rather than fight it.

Speaking of fighting something, ash appeared on the pretty tops of the Chamomile Lavender soap, but you know, it’s not that bad.  Yes, it’s lighter than it was intended to be, but it still looks very nice, more ethereal, wispy, dreamy. So not going to worry with trying to steam it away or anything, but embrace it instead.

So, on to Sandstorm.  This one had notes of lemongrass, valencia (orange) and sandalwood in it.  Very nice, like but with a bit of an edge despite the sandalwood.   As I mentioned earlier, it had coconut water replacing the standard filtered water usually used with the lye, and the additives I like to add to make it extra special like Tussah silk (cruelty-free of course),  colloidal oatmeal, coconut milk, vitamin E, and I used the following colours with a light hand:  Chocolate Milk Mica,Shimmering Red Clay Mica, Sunset Peach, Mica, and Pearl White mica, all from The Conservatorie.  They blended very nicely, though I did have to use a little bit of Titanium dioxide to get the white portion light enough to look significantly lighter than the other colours since the orange-brown appeared from the coconut water.  When using fragrances I’m not familiar with, I tend to add them in at the very last possible minute, and I’m glad of that.  The soap went into heavy trace extremely fast after a certain point.  I barely managed to get the white spooned onto the top, but the top’s texturing suffered the greatest as it was too thick to do anything pretty with it by that point.  It was nearly chunky!  The bottom three colours were spoon swirled, then the ivory spooned out onto the top.   Because it was as thick as it was, I wondered how many bubbles there would be in here, so I dropped the mold down on the work surface more than 20 times, hoping to deflate the worst of them.  Once it was cut, it was surprising how few there were.  I’d expected a lot more than than what appeared!  The fragrance is summery & tart, clean, green, slightly juicy.  The colours are inspired from the muted, sand-dusted tones of the desert southwest, like a day headed softly into dusk in the desert.

Sandstorm Coconut Water Soap.  Ready July 17.
Sandstorm Coconut Water Soap. Ready July 17.

Glycerin Liquid soap, this is easy peasy!

glycerin method liquid soap
glycerin method liquid soap

Another batch was made, for hand & body wash, on Friday.  The light amber colour doesn’t seem to be anything I can get around, so I’ll just have to embrace it and move on.  It’s not too deep, so maybe it wouldn’t affect colours if they were added to any future batches, something I haven’t tried yet, but for now it will stay in its natural state.

It tends to thicken up & become cloudy when fragrance is added, but the cloudiness clears away within 24 hours, though the thickening remains.  Getting it to smooth back out takes a few shakes of the bottle, but overall, this method seems to be the best way to make a liquid soap that’s practically fool-proof.  Frankly I love it!  So does the hubby.  He likes it scented with lemon and uses it religiously whenever hand washing is needed.  Right now my favorite scent is a fairly new one in the fast growing collection of fragrance and essential oils cabinet – Lime Basil Mandarin.  Soapmakingfragranceoils.com is the best version of this one and it sends me completely into blissdom.  It’s in a bottle of the liquid soap for use in my showers, which is making showers particularly appealing these days.  For those interested in finding this one or another from a very knowledgeable seller and fellow soaper who’s easy to work with on your oils shopping experience, here’s a link:  http://soapmakingfragranceoils.com

On that note, this particular FO hasn’t been CP soaped with yet, so I’m curious to know how it will perform, but reluctant in another sense.  I’d love to have a bar of this scent in a soap, but don’t want to use it up too quickly because according to Cindy, it’s in limited supply.  I don’t know if she has the formulation codes for this one to be redone in the future, but I certainly hope she does because it’s a real winner as far as myself and many others are concerned.  It’s wonderful!  To me, it smells like something else I’ve smelled before, but can’t put my finger on exactly what that is – a laundry detergent?  A perfume?  Can’t pull it up at the moment, but maybe one day it’ll come to me.  Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy the bliss trips!

The bottle pictured above is scented with Coconut Lime Verbena, another one from SMFO & Cindy Gooding.  It’s softer, smoother, less edgy a scent than the ones I purchased elsewhere. Because it’s a smoother scent, this is the one I used to bottle up a bit of the liquid soap to give to my sisters as a surprise along with the order she placed for the two bottles of Bugs Me Not! bug repellent.  The sisters all loved the stuff, said it works flawlessly while out kayaking, walking at the zoo, outside in the evenings, so I’m pleased with the effectiveness of it.  They all have had problems with pests outside, some more so than others since they live in places – South Carolina, Florida, – that could have huge problems with bugs that seriously bug you.  The two bottles, four oz each, seriously depleted my supply, so looks like I’ll have to make up more of the essential oils that are used in the spray.

Another new thing is the name by which Neecy’s will be found.  A new web site, complete with Zen Cart is now about ready to go, though a few more items need to be added before I’m ready to get it going full steam ahead, such as the liquid soaps listings.   Northcarolinasoapmaker.com is the name it’s set up to click on which then takes you to a web site that has Neecy’s Necessities at the Home page.  A wonderfully generous person with little time to do such things helped get this set up, doing practically all of the work on her own, but she required that I do some things in order to learn how to manage the site once she cuts me lose.  It’s a steep learning curve, but one I’m enjoying learning.  Here’s a link for that new site:  www.northcarolinasoapmaker.com    The reason for doing a separate web site was to be able to keep shoppers within my site rather than having to go outside it to PayPal, which is something I really didn’t like.  The Weebly site doesn’t work with Zen Cart, unfortunately, but despite that I don’t want to close it just yet.  Its showcase for products is much more pleasing to the eye than the one with Hostgator.  It renews every 6 months and was just recently renewed, but I don’t know yet if I’ll renew it in another 5 1/2 months.

Zen

I’ll need a long meditation after trying this with dividers that didn’t want to stay in place.  They were just a tad too short.  I’d allowed for the butcher paper a bit too liberally, and it caused them to be too loose fitting inside the mold.  Yerg.  Two hands weren’t nearly enough to get this job done without a Screaming Meemy fit along the way, but stubbornness prevailed and it’s now literally chillin’ in the fridge.  The green is acting a bit strange.  You can see along the edge there that it’s gotten a two-toned cast to it, but maybe that’s from the tea blended with the fragrances and they didn’t want to play nicely together.  overall though, those FO’s did give me plenty of time to fight with the dividers and get them more or less filled the way they should be.  This is a new type of swirl, but the actual name of it escapes me at the moment.  If you’d asked me last week what it is, it might have been fresh in my mind, but I’m too fried from the struggle to keep it separate to recall what it is.  I’m sure someone will pipe up and fill in that blank for me and for that I thank you in advance.

The fragrance blend is a custom number with Lemongrass, White Tea, Green Tea & Cucumber, Sandalwood, and it smells absolutely divine!  Love it!  I went nuts last Sunday night playing around with various blends using Lemongrass and came up with three that were nice enough to try to soap with them.  There are still two others I’m plotting mentally on design wise.  The recipe is a given though I’ve decided to add in some mango butter to these recipes just because.  Well, not really.  Actually mango butter is a fantastic moisturizer for your skin, is believed to help protect the skin from UV rays when used in balms and lotions, is great for reducing scars, wrinkles, and the degeneration of skin cells, not to mention it gives you a rich, smooth shave.  It’s a great butter and is very popular in the soapmaking circles for it’s versatility, usefullness and great benefits.  I love using mango butter and it’s easily a perfect sub for shea butter.  Matter of fact I’d rather use mango butter than shea, particularly in lip balms since it doesn’t have the nasty reputation for creating graininess when heat is applied.  Shea can be,… well, temperamental.  I’d rather find something else to use if at all possible and mango is perfect.  Love this butter!

The extras in here are white Kaolin clay, French Green clay, Tussah silk, coconut milk, colloidal oatmeal, white tea, brewed & cooled, to use with the lye, and a light touch of micas to enhance & deepen the colours of the clays just a bit.  This fragrance is soooo nice.  It’s sending me into a Zen-like state.  Love it even if the pattern did get a bit messed up.  No matter.  I’ve learned what needs to be done to make it right the next time, and by gosh, it will be even better next time.  No disappointments this time around!

Zen Tea & Milk Soap, ready July 15th.
Zen Tea & Milk Soap, ready July 15th.

Disappointment – amended

We can find many areas where disappointment will strike, leaving us bereft, lost without direction, confused as to what went wrong, or devastated when it’s something unexpectedly harsh from someone you’d trusted to be supportive.  Many things cause many different types of disappointment.  Making Bath & Body has its fair share.  More than, to be truthful.  I’ve had many disappointments throughout my life, some were learning experiences, others, well, let’s just say they weren’t the sort to teach me anything useful yet still were a pivotal point in my growth.  Not necessarily good points either.

Soapmaking was been no exception to this aspect of living.  This week was certainly a rough one with regard to making something to add to the inventory of products in the online stores, riddled with disappointment.  Maybe it was due in part to the hurricane, the first of the season. It’s had my soaps weeping copious tears all day yesterday and today.  The slab of soap I’d fought with on Friday from it’s acceleration was dripping on one side and resting in a puddle of itself this morning when I went to lift it to be sliced.  Mopping it off, I went ahead with the cutting.  It’s done now, sitting on the baker’s rack in thick, weepy slabs on the top shelf on top of several layers of paper towels.  This weather is depressing them as much as it is me.  It’s now June and I rarely saw the sun at all in April or May.  June looks to be more of the same unless big changes occur in the next three weeks. This appears to be the year without a Spring.  Will it also be a year without a summer?

The last five bars of Caribbean Sands sold last week, so I made a replacement batch yesterday using an FO from another supplier with the same name, one that was similar in how it strikes my nose, but the hubby liked this one better than the one I’d been using, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Bad idea.   It accelerated very quickly, causing me to not be able to swirl it at all.  There are unplanned for slab-like layers of colours in this loaf.  The colours aren’t right, either.  Too intense.  Not happy here over this one.  I’m re ordering the fragrance oil I’d used in previous batches now for the next batch I’ll do to refill this line and not try deviation again.  That adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”  holds new meaning.

Maybe I’m a perfectionist, maybe my mental imagery was set too high in expectations for this one, maybe it was just not a good idea to soap when the weather was so humid, who knows.  But, for whatever reason there might have been at play, it was not what I wanted, resulted in something I truly dislike, and it will not be going up on any web site.  There will not be any pictures of the bars here either, so don’t bother scrolling down to look for them.  Disappointment doesn’t really even come close to what I’m feeling right now.  Honestly.

Soapmaking is a creative outlet, one that also requires an intense focus on the task as it works with caustic materials.  Perhaps there was too much distraction going on around me. I knew what I wanted to achieve, that failed, and the look isn’t where I want it, so this batch will be used for embeds.  I’ll cut it up into chunks and roll them up into rounds of varying sizes and they might appear elsewhere in other bars sometime sooner or later.  Meanwhile, keep calm and move forward.

 

Post script –   This batch will not be called Caribbean Sands since it doesn’t look right nor is it the same exact fragrance used in the prior two batches.  The FOs were named the same thing by their distributors but they don’t smell identical, so I don’t feel right in calling it the same thing if it isn’t exactly the same in scent.  So this batch, if it’s kept as is, will be called something else.  What that is exactly, who knows, maybe Beach Bum or something, but it will not be Caribbean Sands.