Back in the Groove

During the last year, I’ve only made 2 batches of soap! After making tons and tons during the soap challenge last spring, I had plenty to last my family and friends for quite a while! Plus, I was pregnant and running around chasing the increasingly ornery triplets. Then I had the baby, and you know… I’ve been just a LITTLE busy! I did make a few loaves of coconut oil soap for cleaning purposes, but I hot processed it, doing nothing fancy at all. No color. No fragrance. Just soap to clean the house and laundry. But not making anything new did give me a chance to test all of the soap I’d made so far, which led to lots of observations, conclusions, and a definite favorite recipe!

All spring and summer long I’ve been itching to make beautiful, creative soaps, and my grandma is actually the one who fueled the fire! She called me at the end of July to encourage me to be a vendor at a local craft fair. I gave some soap and lotion bars as Christmas gifts, and she and grandpa love it so much that they thought I’d be able to sell it! How encouraging!? I thought about it for a week, called the person in charge to get more details, and I decided to take the plunge! And the soap making began again in full force.

Late one night after all the kids were in bed, I asked my dearest hubby, Matt, to help me get the supplies back out and make a loaf of soap with me! Of course, what I’d planned out perfectly didn’t go at all as I expected. We’d been having cell phone trouble, and Matt got a call from the network to try to fix our phones as I was measuring out ingredients. Fast forward ten minutes. When I added the lye solution to the oils, nothing happened. I blended and blended until the stick blender was so hot it was burning my hand! After racking my brains, I finally figured out what I’d done wrong. During my phone distractions, I miscalculated and under-measured the amount of lye: the most important ingredient to actually make the oils turn into soap! I didn’t want to waste all of those precious (and expensive) oils, so I just added more oils and made a super lye-heavy solution to make up the difference from my first miscalculation. It was a risky move, and I wasn’t completely confident that it would work. But the moment I added the new lye solution, the reaction began! Making soap is so scientific. It’s reliable. But just like in college chem lab, making seemingly small mistakes leads to disasters! In this instance, disaster was averted and soap reigned supreme! I’m not sure what I would have done with caustic oils if it hadn’t worked out. Note to self: research that now in case it ever happens in the future.

Though my first batch in a long while didn’t go quite as expected, it turned out to be a beautiful soap! Over the next few weeks (mostly done late at night into the wee morning hours), I made close to 140 bars of soap! I tried out lots of new techniques and fragrances, and I even got to hang out with Matt quite a bit! He was a huge help in measuring out oils for second and third batches as I worked on each soapy creation. I think he’s actually beginning to appreciate how cool this craft is! No more cracks about traveling back in time 200 years! I’ve made a believer out of him! Take a look at some of the things that wowed him.

Black Raspberry Vanilla soap with a fun zebra stripe technique.

Black Raspberry Vanilla soap with a fun zebra stripe technique.

Lick Me All Over lavender gradient soap

Lick Me All Over lavender gradient soap turned out fun and fruity!

Now that I’m back in the groove, I have lots of ideas floating around my brain. I’ve ordered a dozen new fragrance oils and more shea butter, more shea butter, more shea butter! Ordering more supplies is a tricky business. Even though I have a recipe now that I love, I want to try different oils and butters and additives. I have to be careful to reign myself in, slow down, and try a few things at a time. It’s exciting to get creative with soaps again, and I’m looking forward to making seasonal specials now! My first craft fair was pretty successful, and I’m planning to do a few more shows this fall. Let’s see where this road leads!

Here's my little set-up at the craft fair. I had a small indoor space with a few tables. Not great, but not too shabby for my first time!

Here’s my little set-up at the craft fair. I had a small indoor space with a few tables. Not great, but not too shabby for my first time! Notice the crochet and knit items in the background? Soap’s not my only handiwork! More info on those creations to come!

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