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Jun 04 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff

Simply Soap on pinterest

Are you on Pinterest!?
I must admit, l haven’t used it very much, but it’s growing on me. I’ve been ‘pinning’ some soap photos, and gosh it is so easy to get lost in gorgeous pictures, quotes, photos and goodness knows what else. (this is one of the reasons why l try hard not to use it too much, l am so easily distracted!)

My favourite category is anything to do with cupcakes…the handmade soap of course…and l love the quotes too.

Come and say hello (is that what you do on Pinterest? LOL!) or you can pin photos from the blog and shopping cart if you’d like. I may not know exactly how Pinterest works, but l did figure out how to install the buttons on the website LOL.

Simply Soap on Pinterest

One response so far

Ashing on soap

May 30 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff

I’ve been asked quite often recently how l stop my soaps from getting the ‘ash’ on top that often happens.

Truthfully, l don’t have a clue. Sometimes l do get it, and sometimes l don’t. There’s nothing l do to prevent it, it’s just the luck of the draw for me. And it does happen occasionally, although thankfully not too badly. The soap above – there’s a little bit on the top left hand side.

The middle lavender topped soap in this picture has it too. Again, not too badly.

And this lime soap has some ashing also. This is probably the worst it’s ever been.

Probably my only non-ashing technique is to NOT photograph it LOL!!! Just remember that what you see here in the blog is not always what goes on behind the scenes. For every pretty, posed and photoshopped photo l post, there are probably about 50 crappy, out of focus soap shots that got dumped in the recycling bin for a multitude of reasons. Anything from a breakfast crumb on the corner of the soap to a badly placed fingerprint. And there are plenty of ashed soaps in my soaping history ;-)

If there’s anyone out there who can assist with some non-ashing techniques, post them here in the comments, enquiring minds want to know LOL!

 

3 responses so far

Coconut & Lime soap

May 24 2012 Published by under new soaps

I’ve been wanting to blog this post for about 3 days now…but l couldn’t get a nice photo of my new Coconut and Lime soap and it has been irritating the heck out of me.

The photography course is going really well, but one thing l have noticed – OMG l am getting sooooo fussy when it comes to photos LOL. I’ve taken about 100 shots of these three bars of soap, and edited about 15 of those…and although l’m still not happy with the one above, it is just going to have to be good enough because l am sick of looking at it! I’ve tried evey room in the house…tried different bowls and soap dishes and teatowels and angles and lighting…you name it, l’ve tried it.

Here’s (a small sample of!) the gallery of contenders. Too dark, too light, too bright, too shadowy, too yellow, too green, too cropped, too grey too fuzzy too sharp, too big too small l’m starting to sound like a Dr Suess story LOL.

Annnnnnnyway…it’s really nice soap. Trust me LOL.

Actually…l think l like this shot better (shoot me I’m going crazy :P)

4 responses so far

Monkey Farts!

May 12 2012 Published by under new soaps

Hahaha l love Monkey Farts soap, it must be the immature kid in me but l still get a laugh out of reading the label and scent description every single time. Last night John and l made 3 batches of soap, and this was one of them. I am still terrified of crackling, but yet again l kept it cool, soaped more s.l.o.w.l.y…reduced the water, and banned too much titanium dioxide. I’m paranoid.

But we were rewarded with three beautifully smooth logs of chocolate coloured Monkey Farts scented soapy goodness. In the background of this shot you can see the green Hello Myrtle soap batch that John was allowed to make all by himself. I managed not to dither in the background too much this time LOL ;-)

Doesn’t it look YUM :-)

Is it just me being hungry, or do these look like chocolate brownies?

Hope you are having a good weekend! I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm and have managed to achieve none of it, but at least l got to faff around and post soap pics LOL.

4 responses so far

You wouldn’t read about it…

May 05 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff,hot process soap

After my last post talking about my soap crackling, l took on board every single comment and suggestion. I narrowed my issues down to a combination of all of the following possibilities:

  • too much water – l normally soap at a 20% water discount, and had stopped doing this so that l had a better chance of swirling.
  • soaping too hot – my inability to wait for things to cool down long enough is the reason why things go badly and also why l generally do terrible swirls – even a 20% water discount should still leave me long enough to swirl, except that l need to soap cooler to stop everything from taking off on me and setting in the bucket. I’m sure l’ve mentioned this about a gazillion times here before, you think l’d have learned by now.
  • a new fragrance that l hadn’t tried before (so it was bound to misbehave and l really shouldn’t beat myself up too much about it), combined with soaping too hot.
  • possibly – just possibly, the Rice Bran Oil. I’m going to make some non swirled soap with it today and see what happens. One of the crackled batches is my ‘meditate’ soap so l am going to try a new batch of it…soap it cooler, use the RBO and see what eventuates.
  • still being unsure about how long and hard to let the soap gel. I watched last night’s batch like a hawk. I normally let it go for the full on ‘hot translucent gel’ effect, where you can actually see the gel forming from the centre of the soap and spreading outwards to the edge of the mould. I suspect this may be a bit too hot? Last night this batch of hippy chick (above and below) was very hot, in fact still warm this morning, but l didn’t let it gel to the point where l got that ‘hot patch’ that spreads. I think just underneath the top surface of the soap it had still fully gelled, but l uncovered it before it got any hotter. Of course then l was scared of incomplete gelling and the ‘bullseye effect’ which l also dislike. l just can’t win!

But…it turned out perfectly. Like the title of this post says, you just wouldn’t read about it. I was SO NERVOUS last night, and almost too scared to get out of bed this morning and slice it.

But l am totally in awe of the smoothness of colour…and complete lack of crackling. Not one little crack, anywhere. Maybe the soap fairies were just feeling sorry for me.

Before l made the Hippy Chick last night, l also made this lovely yellow Passionfruit soap. It’s hot process, ie: cooked in the crockpot. Yes, l was so nervous of making cold process soap last night that l resorted to the failsafe and trusty crockpot to make a batch. l guess l really needed the reassurance of knowing *something* would work, and hot process is pretty bulletproof. This one has rice bran oil in it. I think there might be a couple of HP batches coming up, because l have a heck of a lot of RBO to get rid of, and if this is the only way l can do it safely without risking the crackles, then so be it.

It smells so good, and if l had a bigger crockpot, and three arms to help me empty hot heavy soap into the mould, l would be very, very tempted right now to only ever make HP soap. I’ve always loved it. Might go and make another batch now!

5 responses so far

Howdy!

May 03 2012 Published by under new soaps,soap photos

It’s probably only been about a week since l blogged, but it feels like a decade LOL. You know how when you have heaps to say…and no time to type it out…and then suddenly it doesn’t really seem that important anymore. That’s where l’ve been at. Oh, and terribly sick, without trying to sound like a drama queen.

Somewhere in all of this SIXTEEN new fragrance oils arrived for me to play with, and l made two of the worst batches of soap l’ve ever made. Great for the confidence – not! There was Pink Chardonnay which went in the bin yesterday, and then Grapefruit and Lime which l was sure l was going to love, but god help me it turned out awful – what was meant to be a pretty swirl turned out a disgusting muddy mess of orange, yellow and green. I healf heartedly took a few photos but they just made me feel even more depressed LOL.

Thankfully the Pomegranate and Sage turned out beautifully, because otherwise all of my soapmaking equipment was going in the bin l was so grumpy with it all.

And l made some lemon scented goats milk soap too which thankfully must have known it HAD to turn out acceptably:

Something strange has been going on recently and l am tearing my hair out over it.

Many of my soaps lately have been ‘crackling’, quite badly. Not just crackling either though – there are definite ‘clear’ lines in the soap where you can see attempts at swirling. See the top left one below? That was the first.

This soap below is the Pink Chardonnay that went in the bin, and it had big streaks all though it, but no swirls to speak of.

I am doing the same things with my soap that I’ve always done – the same amount of titanium dioxide, mixed the same way…in fact it’s probably the same batch that l’ve used for the last 6 months, l try not to use too much.

The only things l can think of are:

  • that while experimenting with non-palm oil recipes, l’ve started using Rice Bran Oil a bit. Could it be that? I guess it’s the one consistent change, but surely just swapping one oil wouldn’t do all this? It’s only ever a third of my recipe.
  • maybe l am using too much colour/clays in the batch (but it’s never been an issue in the past)…
  • that l am overheating the soap (but again, my soap has gotten way hotter than these ones before without this crackling)…I’ve even forced it in the oven without all of this happening…
  • that l just need to give up LOL.

I would love some advice. I thought l was experienced, but l am not feeling that way at the moment. Just very frustrated and annoyed at how even after more than 5 years of soapmaking l can still get it so wrong.

16 responses so far

Lots and lots of soap photos!

Apr 17 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff

Over the last week or so l’ve been taking soap photos for Washpool Farm, and have had so much fun.  Melissa sent me a huge box full of soap, and seriously, l think l wasted a full day just unwrapping it all, admiring the scents, colours and the attention to detail in every bar. Our kitchen table looked like this for about a week and we had to eat dinner on the couch.

This beautiful purple bar is Positivity, and it was an early favourite. I’m a sucker for soap with ‘bits’ on top ;-) and the smell is divine.

Oh, but then this gorgeous green one fell out of it’s tissue paper and arghhhh, l was torn. This is Vitality. It came to live in my bathroom too :-)

And ‘Love’ *swoon* – so simple, but so beautiful.
l was really interested to note that the soaps are much harder than mine…l need to work on my recipe some more l think. I’d love my soaps to be as hard as these.

This one is sooo pretty – it’s called Drift Away.

And Starman – pure eye candy with it’s bold swirls and aniseed scent. I normally don’t go anywhere near aniseed, but l couldn’t stop picking up this bar, and took about 47 photos of it LOL.

I think l recognise the scent in this one *grins* and it’s one of my favourites. Meet ‘Air Kiss’ :-)

Finally…Lavender and Oatmeal with two kinds of bits on top – just perfect.

Then this afternoon after a nice long sweaty run l finally cracked and opened one of my Tierra Verde soaps that l mentioned here.
It’s beautiful, just as l knew it would be.

And it struck me that damn l LOVE making soap. I love trying other people’s soap…love taking photos of it…love checking out packaging and websites and ingredients and different techniques. It’s just the best hobby/business/pastime ever. After all these soap photos l am so inspired. I want to throw out all my plans for a strict soap range…grab a heap of essential oils AND fragrance oils…and just have a big PLAY :-) And l’m going to do just that LOL.

Does the addiction ever wane?

5 responses so far

Soaping…

Apr 12 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff,soap photos

I’ve been trying desperately to get back on track after recent life events, where soapmaking and website making got left by the wayside. I’ve had to make (for me) quite a lot of soap to catch up and return stock levels to sort of normal. Well…what am l saying, they’ve never really been normal at all, but it was an aim a while ago to get some sort of production system going, and l couldn’t start using said system until l got the stock levels to a reasonable level in the first place!

The amounts of soap l’m talking about aren’t huge by any means, most bigger name soapmakers would probably make twice as much in a day if not more. But for me, who has been juggling court cases, kids, school holidays, a 12 week exercise plan and study at the same time, it has been a bit of an effort to get *anything* at all done. The last few weeks l’ve felt like the stuffing has been well and truly knocked out of me, and it’s very hard to claw back my enthusiasm.

I’m going to try though.

For the first time ever, l have surplus stock of all of my soap range. (fingers crossed l don’t find any other flavours l’ve forgotten about LOL.) All my labels are up to date with new descriptions. The website is also up to date. I tidied the soap shelves, and I have enough of all the supplies l’m going to need in the forseeable future. I even sneaked in a couple of batches of Mother’s Day soap for a wholesale client. Far out l almost feel organised LOL.

For the soapmakers out there…do you have a structured production schedule? How much do you aim to make and when? Is it something you stick to religiously or are you a ‘make it when you feel like it or can squeeze it in’ kind of person like me? I’d really like to improve in this area, it’s something l need to work on. Having said that though, l also struggle a lot with how much l expect from myself and my little biz and l don’t want to get overwhelmed.

5 responses so far

A parcel for me!

Apr 02 2012 Published by under new soaps,soap photos

I received a parcel today in the mail. Much excitement! These soaps came from Michelle at Tierre Verde soaps in Texas.

I am totally in love with the packaging. The soaps smell absolutely beautiful, but l don’t think l’m ever going to be able to unwrap them, because l can’t bear the thought of ripping off all that gorgeous brown paper and carefully applied labelling!

Maybe in a day or two. I’m going to find that Lemongrass and Calendula one very hard to resist ;-)

 

3 responses so far

I really need to cool it…

Mar 30 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps,soap photos

I made some soap yesterday and was really peeved at my impatience. I soaped this batch far too warm – although the oils were room temperature and even starting to solidify again, the lye water was hot, hot, hot, and when the two were combined, the total temperature was way too high. I’d had visions of carefully blending a pretty pink top layer and taking quite a bit of time to sculpt the top nicely. But once l had added the fragrance, it just about seized on the spot and l was left frantically whisking what was fast turning out to be hot process soap.

Good for the arm muscles!

It turned out fine…perfectly usable…even sort of pretty…but just not what l had been aiming for and l am so cross with myself. The essential oils haven’t blended into the pink part very well, and l know l could do much better if l just slowed down and waited. I was hoping for a lovely ‘buttery’ look on top.

(meet Hippy Chick – scented with a ylang ylang essential oil blend!)

I’ve also been experimenting with soap photos & white backgrounds, and am starting to figure out how to make them work.

And of course I’m still loving that 50mm lens. Oh yes we are destined to see many, many out of focus backgrounds here for quite a long time!

Another new soap: ‘Bubble & Squeak‘ – named in honour of using all the leftover soap scraps to make it! It’s a bit smaller than my normal bars as l experimented with a different sized mould and calculated incorrectly on the amount of soap mix needed. But it looks and smells lovely nevertheless, it is scented with orange, lavender and may chang essential oil as well as Roman Chamomile. The crackled effect in the orange – again…someone was too impatient, soaped too hot, and left themselves too little time to blend the top layer properly – the crackles are from me adding a little more water to the batter to try and thin it down and not quite succeeding.

I’m taking myself back to soap school and starting from scratch. No more ‘winging it’ with too hot ingredients. Because it is so disappointing when things don’t turn out how you envisaged.

 

It’s probably the best batch of Meditate soap ever :-)

 

12 responses so far

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