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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Run before you walk

soap rocks: rosemary, lemon, peppermint, orange, poppy seed, flax seed, they look good enough to bite into!

Run before I walk....... I do this with everything new. Before I could pull up a one pound cylinder on the wheel, I was trying to center 10 pounds of clay. First cake I made from scratch was from Julia Child's French cooking book. Weaving- the same, sewing- the same, knitting- the same. Now soap making. I always move on to the most difficult way possible before I even master the basics. Then I learn this doesn't work, and I go back to the beginning, start all over. Then get it right. I never learn....

Success: top- lemon, basil, cedar with flaxseed,
 middle- rosemary, lemon and basil with sea clay and fennel seeds,  
bottom- peppermint, lemongrass and patchouli with rosemary powder. YUM! 

 I have been trying to make some soap. Miserable failures. Expensive experiments. Instead of being smart and making small test batches, I just jumped right in, thinking it was easy, made up a five pound recipe, and the scent didn't stick. I burned out the scent because I forgot about the flash point of essential oils. I also thought I would try being fancy and swirling some color around, really ugly. No idea what I was doing. It's not as easy as it looks, this soap making! I have four batches that were a complete waste of time and money. At least we will be clean. They work, they just look ugly.

Orange and grapefruit with thai basil infusion, lemon and lime zest

So, I slowed down, went back to the beginning, and got more basic. Baby steps. I made four batches of soap yesterday and they are wonderful. I love the scents, careful this time with the heat. Peppermint, basil, rosemary, grapefruit, lemon, orange, cedar. All citrus and herbal scents. I ground up some rosemary from my garden, added that. Infused some oil with thai basil, lovely. Scents from my garden. I used wonderful moisturizing and healing oils, hemp seed, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil..... these are going to be so nice to use over the winter. A reminder of spring to come.


Here are some of the uglys. I tried to swirl some clay about, really a mess. Also, no fragrance. They will be fine for bathing, great oils, just not pretty to look at.


I am wanting to make soap dishes now. Clay is whispering ever so slightly in the back of my head. Come play with me..... make something.... I have been wanting to make something using the stains on this test tile for awhile now, and I think soap dishes will be just the thing. Just an oxide wash, no futzing around with glazes, which hate me, and I hate them back!


Maybe some raku meditation bowls for the soap rocks.  I love this one with the little thai basil flowers pressed in. Not practical, they will fall out first washing, but they are pretty to look at for a moment....

A blogger friend is asking for soap and dishes. Maybe..... just got to get it all worked out first. Not ready for prime time just yet. I really hesitate to jump into the soap making/selling business. There are more soap makers than there are potters, if that is even possible. But what about a soap/clay combo? I have been trying to find a way to set myself apart in the market if I decide to sell soap. And clearly if I continue to like making it, there has got to be some place for it all to go!  I think I would just keep it simple, maybe a couple of fragrances, maybe just a garden soap and a couple of different dishes. Still a ways off, but interesting to think about.  Gotta turn around and walk before I run though, haha!

11 comments:

Ashley Morrow said...

I feel ya. I got a soap making kit as a present for Christmas about 13 years ago and jumped in with both feet. I was even rendering tallow and searching out different fats and essential oils that an underpaid university graduate could afford (very few exist in the shoe string budget range). The book that came with the kit talked a bit about making bath bombs and that sent me down a twisty rabbit hole sourcing out citric acid and bomb molds. I was selling them at work for $3 each and they were a hit, but there are only so many bath bombs a person can make in a night. Got a bit crazy. I recall trying to make oatmeal soap and quickly discovered that the oatmeal will go a bit "off" after a while in the shower, so that was a fail. The goats milk soap was good, but the lye turned it a really nasty diarrhea brown. I eventually discovered that Castile soap, although more difficult to make, was my favorite. There were a few batches that needed a redo. They never quite set up. but once I figured it out, it really was the best soap. If you do decide to render your own tallow, beware, your house will smell a bit like a meat processing plant (yuck) and the vegans in your life will probably not thank you for it.

Maryellen Newton said...

I'm planning on selling soap. But I'm a sculptor. At art fairs I want to sell my sculpture but put one or two baskets of soap as it will be cheap. $5 a bar as opposed to $300 a sculpture. Combinations work plus then you don't get bored,

Dennis Allen said...

Tracey, I look at your bars of soap, I read the ingredients and somehow I think cheese.Beautiful either way. I'm sure Gerry will be the best smelling photographer in the AP.

Tracey Broome said...

Oh dear Ashely! I don't think I'm going down the tallow and soap bomb path! Tallow, definitely not..... Funny where those kits will lead isn't it? I had a few of those myself....
Maryellen, I agree, it's nice to have a price point for everyone, right now I'm just making soap for us, until I figure it all out. Sure not gonna make any money selling it, but it would be nice to at least pay for supplies with some sales.
Dennis they do look like blocks of cheese, don't they? Maybe a left over from the cheese workshop I took last week, haha! Gerry won't smell like cheese however!

Anna M. Branner said...

Tracey don't be so hard on yourself. I find your "ugly" soaps beautiful! Just like pottery...what you think is unacceptable or disappointing someone else is bound to find wonderful. :)

Tracey Broome said...

Well thanks Anna, the camera actually makes them look better, haha! When I looked at the photo of them I had to go back for a second look. Yep, still ugly :-)
The last batches were great though, very pleased with them!

Sandy miller said...

I am living for the day to jump in the shower, bag free and use a good bar of soap! Ha! Liv'n for Tuesday when the bandages come off!

Your soaps may be ugly to you but Tracey they are beautiful and handmade! Oooo shaving mugs and manly man soap???

Also laughing at you jumping into the deep end first off. I've had ideas in clay I am so excited about I race through it, step back, looks like crap, toss it on the shelf and start again working slower through the bugs and engineering. But the unbridled energy of that first piece, when my hands are vibrating as I am so excited. I do love those times and will never change!! So head first girl!

littlemancat said...

Oh Tracey - I like those ugly soaps too! They look like views of the Earth from space, ocean, canyons...
The scents sound wonderful - and the idea of making soap dishes is great.
You'll get there!
Mary

Michèle Hastings said...

I will agree with the others that you are being a little hard on yourself with the "ugly" soap. It just isn't what you wanted it to be, but someone else will love it!

June Perry said...

The soaps are looking great Tracey! I don't agree that your so called "failures" are failures. Maybe they didn't meet your expectations, but they're still good soap and I'll be they smell incredible and will be luscious to use! And, of course, it's all a learning curve. Look how long it took to learn to deal with clay and glazes! I think you're doing great!
PS: As far as those microwave towers are concerned, Google how to protect yourself from microwave towers, energies, etc. Also google "Faraday cages"

Tracey Broome said...

You guys are very kind, thanks for the cheering on! Always nice to have some positive reinforcement :-)
June we have actually looked at those items, it's a scary world, we might all have to live in bubbles one of these days, haha!