Friday, December 17, 2010

Naming a new line

We have a newer addition to our family of soaps and no name for it!  What to do?  It's turning out to be a great line and it needs a name to convey all that it is, can be, will be.  Why is this so hard???  Because it doesn't fit into any specific idea or category.  It's beautiful soap really.  It is dynamic and ever changing with each batch even though the base ingredients remain the same.  Below are the first four soaps I developed for the line.  They are lovely, fun, great on the skin (of course) and lightly scented.

This is the batch that started it all.
Scented hot cocoa and vanilla bean.

The next batch has different scented spheres and new colors!
Scented peppermint/eucalyptus, yum!

The third batch is an homage to Christmas colors and scents.
The green is pine and the red is like a hot cider  

This batch is the newest and may be the best yet!
Made with goatsmilk it will be super duper loving on the skin.
This soap is vanilla bean scented and the spheres are hot cocoa scented.
Once done curing it will be FANTASTIC!

So the great thing about the line is that it is two types of soap in one bar and the spheres are multi-scented and differ with each batch.  I think I will eventually change the spheres to be other shapes too!

Stay tuned for the name of this awesome line!

~your soapsmith

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The death of a soap......

Soap making is a mixture of art and chemistry.  Art because the various combination of oils will produce different results, different textures, hardness's, abilities to cleanse etc.  Then there's that actual artistic part in how it can be decorated with herbs, different colors, and wrap it and label it in an endless number of ways to personalize it.

It's chemistry because before any of the artistic parts can take place calculations must take place to make sure saponification will happen between the oils and the sodium hydroxide.  I happen to love the whole process, I love working with different oil combination's and liquids to achieve different types of soap.  As an artistic person I love the endless possibilities there are to personalizing and making a batch mine and mine only.  Creating recipes is great, I study the oils and their properties and check my calculations over and over to ensure a successful batch.......but sometimes the death of a soap batch will occur.  What can you do?  Learn from it and move on.

We have teamed up with Brooklyn Brewery to make some promotional items for them, namely soap made from their own beer.  I have made beer soap before, the process was not hard but with every beer comes different ingredients and sugar levels which will affect saponification and this is where I was stepping into unfamiliar territory. I decided to start with the chocolate stout.  A beautiful dark beer that has a heavenly scent and great bubbles.

The night before I opened the beer and poured it into my ice cube trays to freeze it.  (Trust me if this step is missed, your lab will stink to high heaven).  The next day I prepared my molds and oils and lye mixture as always, using the beer as the liquid portion as I have done with other types of beer.  Everything seemed pretty normal until I combined the lye mixture with the oils BAM!!! It instantly thickened on me I could not even pour it into my mold!!!!  Hence the death of a soap.  I will not be stopped that easily though.  I cleaned everything up and did manage to get some of the renegade mixture into the mold so I could observe it and I moved on.  I needed a different plan of attack for this clearly.  What to do???  AHA!  Treat it like an additive, without going into too much detail, put it in AFTER the lye mixed with the oils and right before it was to be poured into the mold, giving it less time to react. I still had to work very fast but it worked and this morning I awoke to a beautiful chocolate stout beer soap! 

death of my soap :( it was all crumbly

The second batch, beautiful and creamy with a slightly nutty scent!

Notice how light the soap is in color, it seems that no matter how dark the beer is, the soap is always very light after it goes through its saponification process.

Stay bubbly my friends
~Your Soapsmith

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some new soaps

Today I was filled with inspiration and formulated two new soap recipes which are saponifying nicely as I write this.

The first is a goats milk soap, my first goats milk soap ever, I am very excited to see how it will turn out.  I used a couple newer scents that are just divine, the main portion will be vanilla bean and the smaller spheres will be hot cocoa, kind of like a thick creamy vanilla chocolate shake.....yummy!  I will post pictures when I un-mold it tomorrow.

Second I did a makeover on an old favorite of ours.  The avocado bar.  It's a beloved bar amongst our collections and I enjoy re-working it from time to time to keep it the best bar it can be.  This time I reworked the scent and also made changes to some oils to increase the lather.  This soap is already super moisturizing so I did not need to make any changes with that.  The old recipe was avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado butter.  Also the green clay and crisp melon fragrance.  Now I didn't really like the final color of this bar, instead of being a pretty greenish color is turned a brownish (not my cup of tea really).

This time I used the ever lovely avocado oil, and also coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil and castor oil (for more lather).  I added vitamin E oil as well as the green french clay.  The batch is currently saponifying but so far the green color is spot on and the scent of lemongrass (just divine!)  I can't wait to unmold this and take photos to share.

Till then~

tata from your soapsmith.......

Vanilla and chocolate goats milk soap
The close up shot

Avocado soap saponifying in the mold

Avocado soap out of the mold and sliced, look at that beautiful green color!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forgot the fragrance, was it a mistake or miracle???

Well at first i was very unhappy about this little discovery because i was working with a deadline for a customer and knew i would have to remake the batch immediately in order to make our delivery schedule.  Our almond biscotti soap is a big seller, it's great on the skin and the scent is just the best so i make it often.  On this particular day i measured everything out in advance as always and had everything ready to go.  I mixed my oils together and then added my lye/liquid solution and started stirring with ye olde hand blender.  It was starting to look perfect and i prepared to pour it into my molds.  Everything poured in smoothly and went according to plan......that is until i noticed a little container which had my vitamin E and almond oils.  YIKES!  I forgot them!!!  Now a couple of things ran through my head.
1. pour everything back into the pot and add the fragrance and hope it does not solidify on me or
2. leave it be, clean up and come back later.  I choose 2 and started to think what this unscented batch could do for me, after all it would still be great, just not almond scented.

The next day I unmolded the soap and was so happy i did not try to "fix" it.  It is the most beautiful, creamy looking bar of soap i have seen!  It has delicious oils in it and will be a great and welcome addition to our new collection which is in production, the "Nekked" collection.

This soap with it's delicious oils of almond, olive, coconut, coco butter and castor are the perfect combination of soothing, moisturizing and bubbly!  I love unscented hand crafted soap, it has this delicious and slightly nutty scent that is just heaven to me.

I cannot wait until it is done curing so that we can share it with the world!

here are my lovelies just un-molded and beginning their cure process

About the oils:
When I formulate a soap I have certain oils that I love to use regularly and others that I love to add to make each batch special.  The oils in this soap were chosen for the special properties each one can bring to the party.

Almond oil is a wonderful, light feeling oil to the skin, it absorbs quickly and helps battle dry winter skin.  I love to use almond oil just but itself if I am having especially dry skin issues (it's terribly windy here in the winter and chaps my cheeks sometimes).  Yes, I will put a light layer on my face before bed and always feel better in the morning, and it has not clogged my pores or caused breakouts.

Olive oil.  This is a favorite of mine in general, it is great in salad, pasta dishes, for cooking and of course, good for skin.  Having a pH that is almost the same as our own skin (5.5) it is a complimentary oil to our skin chemistry.  In soap, it is wonderful, some sources i have found state that it has anti-bacterial qualities.  It was one of the first oils i ever used and have found it a consistent companion to my other oil selections.

Coconut oil helps to create a nice hard bar of soap, it can also contribute to the bubble population.  This oil, like most is non-comdogenic meaning it will not clog pores.  It is a staple oil of mine because again, it behaves well in formulations and helps the bars to last longer.

Cocoa butter has been used for generations among African women as an all around healing ingredient.  It is rich in antioxidants and has been used to help moisturize and heal skin that has been exposed to the elements.  It also had a completely decadent choclate-y scent which sometimes comes through on finished soaps.

Last but certainly not least is Castor oil.  This oil has a wild and assorted past, from being used as a torture device by Benito Mussolini in Fascist Italy centuries ago, to being used as a lubricant in the first world war for rotary engines (it was preferred because it was natural and biodegradable) and now in my soaps for it's sexy bubbling powers!  Yes, while the other oils may bubble a bit, i believe the addition of this oil is really what kicks the bubbles into overdrive.

So there you have it, a new bar in our Nekked Collection.  With the holidays coming this collection may not make it's premier until January, but i assure you it will be worth the wait. ;)

Bubble on

~soapy smith

Jingle "Balls" ?

Hmmmm......this was Dan's suggestion for a name of one of my new holiday soaps.  It's cute and little funny to me.  It was once again an MP/CP collaboration which has become a new obsession of mine.  I made red and green spheres and scented the green part a pine type of scent and the red part reminds me of hot apple cider (yum).  I left the CP soap the natural off-white that it is and it turned out really beautiful, the scents really compliment each other and are present but not over powering.  I cannot wait to get these little beauties into peoples hands for the holidays so they also can enjoy them.

the soap tower

Holiday soaps and other gifts

So the holiday season is upon us.  I am not a big mall shopping kind of person so I devised a neat kind of idea to help myself and others who would rather eat lightly grilled weasel than go out shopping in this madness.  We threw a Lazy Santa party!  What is that you ask?  Well myself and two other artists got together at our place in Brooklyn and brought our wares, invited a bunch of people, made food, had some beverages and sold holiday gifts!  It was a success, people loved the idea!

The other artists were my friend Kim, a very talented jewelry maker and Rick a cool eco-conscious candle maker.  The house was decked out, the food was great and the gifts flew off the shelf.  We will definitely be throwing more parties like this, we met some great people, had fun and made money.

holiday lotion bar

hangable soap ornaments

gingie 2.0

mint chocolate chip whipped shea and whipped sugar scrub

These are a few of my items which made it to the party, they all have heavenly scents, some holiday, some just delightful in general.  We kept the prices reasonable and even packaged them up so they could be given without any fuss.

Kim's jewelry is great, she has a cool mix of vintage and exotic, i ended up buying 3 pairs of earrings, a bracelet and a necklace to give as gifts (ok i kept a pair of earrings and the bracelet for myself, i just could not help it!)

Rick has a great concept of candle making, first, he uses soy wax which is produced in the U.S. in order to not be a contributor of the deforestation which is going on in some South American countries that are producing soy products.  Second he uses recycled bottles as his candle holders.  Very eco friendly.  They also have really long and slow burn times.

The food we prepared was simple and good.  I pressure cooked a whole turkey then broke it down so that people could make turkey sliders, kind of like day after thanksgiving left overs, it was a big hit, needless to say there was none left at the end of the party.

I wish all the artists the best of luck and everyone the happiest of holiday seasons!  Don't forget to support your local artists this holiday season!

from your local soapsmith

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MP/CP Soap? What? You're crazy!

Yes I am.  And totally excited about it.  I heard this could be done, then read an article in saponifier magazine AND later saw a picture on a soap forum i visit regurarly.

Here was my process:
I pre-made and scented mp soap.  I used a spherical mold and split each sphere into two scents 1/2 vanilla bean and 1/2 hot cocoa (omg! it's so spot on!) then i took those little balls, weighed them and subtracted that weight from the size of my mold so it would not spill over.  I devised a very basic soap recipe, unscented, since my mp spheres were scented with pure deliciousness and i colored it using a beautiful burgundy oxide which worked really well with the colors of the mp soaps.

I poured the cp into my mold about 1/3 full, stopped, then placed some of the spheres into the  mold, then i poured more cp.  I actually poured the rest of it in because i wanted to save some spheres for the top to have them peaking out.  I gently placed them on top and did some cute swirls around them.  The burgundy worked great with the cocoa and of white color that the mp spheres are.

I CANNOT WAIT to unmold and cut them to see how they turn out to be!

More to come.


your soapsmith

The creation, just poured......
The final product!

Bath and Body University with Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Company

I recently went to bath and body university here in NYC and had a total blast!  Marla is awesome and patient and very knowledgeable, I enjoyed being a student of hers.  I took the 4 day session and am so GLAD that I did so.  We learned about scrubs, balms, salves, whipped lotions, not whipped lotions and the importance of preservatives, then we learned about cold process soap  making and advanced techniques in CP soap making (which I was totally jazzed about!)  There was also a business seminar which I missed but did get the information packet for and it was jam packed with useful information which I completely devoured.

Marla inspired me to experiment and really stretch my limits and during the time i was in class i could not wait to get home and try new things, i was able to order a few new items which will enhance and beautify my soaps and products with my new found knowledge on how to actually use them.  I am impatiently waiting for some colorants to come in as well as a few other items.....waiting.....waiting....oh geez, get here already!

And so I wait......and so another post is imminent.....

tata- i am off to stalk the mailman

Monday, September 27, 2010

Running out of space......

So we are running out of space in our little Brooklyn apartment.  With all the equipment that the creation of these awesome products we are kind of cramped.  We have everything from soap molds to the oils and chemicals and special additives necessary for making these gorgeous soaps, lotions, scrubs, salves, balms etc.etc.etc and also containers (who knew they would take up SO much space? and our living space is getting smaller and smaller.  Now, I am not complaining just simply saying to have a separate space would be helpful.

I had a brain storm last week and though to look into artists spaces for rent.  What do you know but they seem pretty affordable.  Called around to a couple of them toured one neat-o space and spoke with a person from another......both spaces seemed to think that what i do is not art???  I mean really anything made by someone's hands i consider a form of art, my is just usable.

I felt a bit ticked off but am a firm believer that something better will come along.

My secret public journal

I am starting this blog as a sort of journal to keep track of my various soaping and other product experiments.  I will include pictures when i can (when i remember to take them) and over time will have a sort of history of my product making and formulation.  What spurred this on was a formula that i am currently working on that i just cannot seem to nail.  The secret public journal will be helpful in my keeping track of the different variations and which ones worked best and which ones.....well lets just say should not be repeated.