Inspiration Everywhere!

brainBeing an artist, I find inspiration basically everywhere I go. Being a soap maker, I see soap molds basically everywhere I go. Everything I see “could be made out of soap”.  Its fun to have that vision, but also exhausting because your brain never shuts off. Its always in think mode. I really need to focus, and rather than think of ideas, come up with one great one, and make it. Then come up with another. And make it. It can become overwhelming, and the opposite of productive. Nothing gets made because there are so many ideas floating around. I know this happens to all creative people. A gift and a curse.

I have discovered that a bullet journal can help me stay focused. Provided I remember to use it. And there is the rub. Super on top of it when I first got it, decorated the pages, marked my schedule. Added my tasks. And it worked. Fairly well. I actually bought two. One for my business tasks, and one for my home and family tasks. I love stickers. So adding inspiration to each day in a sticker and little check lists and “you got this” was great. And then after I did my first two shows, I forgot to do it one day. And then day two, and a week went by. And now we are on two weeks. My habit wasnt quite formed yet, and I let myself get the better of me. Now I am forced to start from Day One again on my habit forming quest.

I am convinced that us right brained creative folk can reign our thoughts in with a fantasticly organized bullet journal. And have fun doing it! I can only try. And try again. The inspiration will never stop, but in order to be successful, we must learn to stay focused and not becomed overwhelmed with all the great ideas that pop in our heads. I might add a third quick notebook, just to jot some of those great ideas down.  The key is not take too much time on them, but get them on paper and then move on to being productive. Its a journey.



“All Natural” vs “Natural” Claims

We’ve had a few heated discussions on a few forums about what is considered natural and when you can say natural, or all natural.  The FDA has no definition of natural. They are very strict on “Organic” but when it comes to natural, anybody can technically call anything they want natural. Cyanide is “natural” after all. So enter the debate.

What I have, in my opinion, determined to be “All natural” is anyone who uses only essential oils in their soaps for fragrance, and natural items used for color – turmeric for yellow, seaweed for green etc etc. Some argue that even essential oils can be chemically extracted and various solvents used. If you are going to be THAT specific of the term natural, nothing would be natural because everything is processed in one form or another, unless you went out to the garden, put it in a bag, and sold it as is. I found that people who truly want to be that ALL natural person, has done their research and has sourced their ingredients very carefully.

Many soapmakers will say all natural, but use fragrances, or dyes, because they feel their base is a natural product. And that is okay. This is based strictly on my own interpretation. I always encourage people to LOOK at the ingredients on their label. Hopefully they are compliant and do have the proper labeling.  Some have sulfates and still label as all natural. The FDA has left this up to the descretion of the maker. Which is why research is key.  Note : Soap with no claims does not need ingredients listed but you can always ask.

I have decided that I would like to be the balance between Natural, and the fun that people love. So we wont say ALL NATURAL. Bath products from China are running rampant in our country and many of them are so chemical filled that you wonder how it is even legal to sell. We arent nearly as strict as the EU when it comes to dyes and fragrances and chemicals allowed. The FDA has a list of GRAS – Generally Recognized As Safe ingredients and while this is okay, there has been much research as to what is NOT very safe, but hasnt been conclusively proven. Or has been allowed because of how the US is set up and corporate influences. Certain things you see on labels are still A-OK on the list, but there has been enough bad press that companies are doing the right thing. Notice BPA Free on plastics? Non GMO? Phthalate free? These are things that can be harmful but are still allowed. So here we are.

We use 100% coconut oil, 100% coconut milk, phthalate free fragrances, essential oils, micas for color, and we do not use any animal products or nut ingredients (a choice we made to appeal to those with allergies not because there is something wrong with nut oils- we just wanted to the nut free crowd to have fun too). Some of our bath products contain kaolin clay, baking soda, citric acid, tapioca starch. etc. All food grade ingredients. Our bubble bars are made with sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. Looks like a scary word. Looks like a sulfate. But rest assured it is not. SLSA as its called, is NOT a sulfate. The molucular structure is very different. The molecules are too large to pass through the skin like sulfates. It is also hydrophillic meaning it dissolves in water fast and rinses faster. Even sensitive skin seems to not mind SLSA. The extreme cases will probably still want to avoid the bubble bars, but they can try our bath bombs.

There is a place for the all natural crowd, the natural crowd, and the colorful bright dye your water crowd. It all depends on your focus and personal preference. One thing is for sure. We all love what we do!



All about making soap

So I love soap. I love making soap, I like looking at soap. I like reading about soap recipes and techniques.  I just love being part of the crazy world of soaping. There is life after Dove!

Soap goes back a great many years. 2800BC or more.  But we will focus on more current US soaps.

The definition of soap:

soap     sōp
  1. 1.
    a cleansing and emulsifying agent made usually by action of alkali on fat or fatty acids and consisting essentially of sodium or potassium salts of such acids

Soap makers these days have the benefit of using previous scientific research to create the perfect soaps. Many people associate “Lye Soap” with the soap that your great grandmother might have made, with a crude alkali and fats, and often resulted in a lye heavy bar that did burn the skin. We have calculators today that give us the exact amount of lye necessary to turn any fat into soap. Whether it be lard, olive oil, coconut oil, or an exotic oil like kukui nut oil, there is a value.  This allows us makers to create a soap that is not only cleansing, but also filled with butters and fats that are GOOD for your skin and with whatever properties we decide we want to create. All the lye is measured exactly and used up converting the fats, leaving a wonderful safe bar.

There is alot of misinformation about “lye” soap on the internet, and with other soap makers, that I always encourage you to do your own research.  Taking someones word for it, is how rumors are started. The biggest of these being Lye soap is bad. If you dont have lye, you dont have soap. Period. You can not make a bar of soap without first using lye. Some people make soap with a base, called Melt and Pour. This soap, has already been made using lye, but created in such a way that allows it to be melted down and molded and colored.  A perfect choice for people who dont want to make their own from scratch. Make no mistake, though, all soap has at one time been made with lye. Unless its not actually soap, and is instead a detergent bar, like most commercial bars.

Soap goes through a process called saponification which is the process that converts the fat, your oils, into soap. This process takes between 24-48 hours. Another misconception floating around. When made correctly, a bar of soap no longer has any lye present after this short period. Depending on your oils and recipe, whether you used hard or soft oils, your soap will “cure” a little faster or a little slower than the recommended 4-6 weeks. Our soaps are primarily coconut oil, therefore they cure fast. Soaps that are made with Olive oil primarily are called Castile soap, and they cure 8 weeks, if not longer, to get a nice hard bar. Many soap makers of 100% olive oil let their soap cure for an entite year. By curing we mean allowing time for the excess water to evaporate. The soap might be safe, but if its not cured long enough, it will easily mush when it hits your soap dish. Your soap should not be able to dent with a finger. If you happen upon a bar like this, just leave it out for a few weeks and it will harden up.

That was ALOT of science I just threw at you. If you want to know more, follow my blog, or feel free to contact me and I will help as best I can!


Local. Handmade.

Money is tight. For everyone. Sometimes you can’t help but to go to the Big Department stores, or the cheaper warehouses.  But when you get the chance, especially for gifts, go to the local gift shop. Try to hit the local farmers market or antique market. Find a nice, personal gift, you know they would love. If you cant make it out, try online. Many local artists and small businesses have websites where you can find some great handmade wares.

Change starts with each individual person. Change the thinking that cheaper is better, or bigger is better, or more is better. Directly supporting your neighbor is much more fulfilling, than buying a shirt they might like that was made overseas. Im guilty of the last minute, quick pit stop, on the way. I get it. Believe me. But when I can hand a small crafter my money and pick one of their items that took thought and effort, it really excites me. It does. I have grown to love that feeling.  I know my purchase is appreciated. I know my purchase helps them go home and put food directly on their table. Thats awesome.

It starts to becoming an addiction. Before you know it, you’ll be shopping for all your veggies from farmers, and buying handmade toiletries (wink wink), and realizing how important your choices are. You have the power to help people, just by thinking ahead and planning ahead. Sure it may cost a little more, but if you cut out something unneccesary, or start making your dinners from scratch, instead of eating out as often, those saved dollars can now go towards that extra cost. And lets face it. Most of the time you get what you pay for!

Something made from hand, by someone who learned a special skill, where the artist or maker hand selected the parts and ingredients just for the sole purpose of creating a better product, is always going to EXCEED quality standards. Okay, not always. But with a little research, you can figure out who the charlatons are.  Overseas products are not all bad either. Many makers source from locations that are directly supporting villages and families, and thats a good thing too. Small business owners are generally passionate about their products or services. And that is a wonderful thing to see and experience. Slow down, plan ahead, help your neighbors, and feel what its like to really make a difference.