August 12 in 12

August 31, 2017

E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D!  I’m so tired.  While I’m pretty much settled in from the move and finally getting caught up on making everything, I still feel like I’ve run four marathons back to back to back…  A lot has been going on.  It’s just that time of year where the craziness starts and it won’t slow down until Christmas comes.

August 4th: The Corner Spot 

The first two weeks of August I set up in a little pop-up (affectionately called “The Shed”).  This was part of a town initiative in Ashland to create a community space.  They created a park area, and the shed for local artisans and food to come in set up for a time and sell their products.  I had applied to be a part of this back in February when they sent out a call for proposals.  I figured it would be a good experience–especially if I wanted to one day have my own store front.  Here’s my set up. I’ll have a full post soon on more about my time there.

August 7th: Restocking 

One thing I was able to do while set up in Ashland was work.  It was nice to have a space to do stuff when the shop was slow.  I restocked on my Gifts for the Magically Inclined. Going to have to make more soaps! But hopefully I’m restocked for the moment.

August 8th: Soap Soap Soap!

I continued on my crazy soap making spree in August.  Here’s lilac in the mold.  I finally got (mostly) all my restocks made and my fall soaps done.  Now I can start thinking about making the winter soaps ha! It never ends.

August 9th: Baby Shower Favors

Baby Shower favors! I adore these.  The customer wanted an earthy green and it was so much fun to be able to do something just a little different than my normal colors!

 

August 1oth: Bath & Body Class

I had classes all week  while at the corner spot.  This was a teen Bath and Body class that day. It was lots of fun making product with the girls! Hopefully inspiring some young girls too!

 

August 11th: Custom Anchor Soaps

Aren’t these pretty! I love the simplicity of them and can’t wait to design the labels to go with them.

August 13th: Pranks

I house sat for my parents while they were gone in August.  And my dad (an Army guy) played a prank on his neighbor (an Air Force guy) while they were on vacation in July.  Well I walk out on the deck to water some flowers only to be startled by this lovely rat. Ha! Go Army! I was raised right ;).  I know who’s the best.

 

August 14th: Lip Balms

Oh my! If I never see another lip balm tube again. Ha!  It too me a week, but I restocked on all 16 flavors I offer.  Almost 1000 lip balms made. I’m hoping they’ll get me through the winter season, but I have a feeling I’ll be making lip balms again before the year is over.

 

August 15th: My Happy Place: The Dance Studio

Despite all the work and craziness I’ve made time to make it to ballet each week.  It’s my happy place–where I can just forget about all the worries for an hour and lose myself in dance.

August 17th: Transparent Soap!

I make a pink grapefruit soap with goat’s milk. I make my soaps go through gel phase. This soap went through an intensive gel phase! 24 hours after I made it-completely cooled and it has this glassy slightly transparent look. I’ll be interested to see if this changes as it cures! I’ve NEVER had a soap stay this transparent looking!  It’s super cool. You can see my finger behind the soap!

August 18th: Designing Custom Labels 

 

I had a couple custom orders this month. They’re so fun to do for me.  Remember the anchor soap for a few photos up…well I got to design labels for them. I was really happy with how they turned out. This was my initial sketch I started with before I put them into Photoshop.

 

August 21st: Mini Vacation Starts (Sort of) 

Every year I take the last two weeks of August off from shows (I cheated a bit this year I did schedule two weekend farmers markets…but the other 12 days are mine).  I need this time to 1) Work on Winter  Soaps and restocking products and 2) to recoup and relax! I am utterly exhausted by the time I get to the end of August and crazy show season is just about to start.  I need that break to get through the coming four months.  This year more so that normal! I have plans to do some work (what needs to get done) and then I’m doing some day trips, exploring my new town, and just enjoying life and some time off.

Oh…one last thing if you haven’t heard. I offically (finally) started an Instagram account! I know, I know it took me long enough. You can find me here: jennifer_soap

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Creating & Testing a New Product: Shower Tabs

March 3, 2016

Shower tabs have been on my “to do” list since last year.  There are never enough hours in the day or days in the week or weeks in the year for me to get to everything though!  This year I was determined to experiment with them so they went to the top of my list.

It’s been interesting!  I had one recipe I knew would work (a variation from Holly Port’s book Make it Fizz.)  Then started the research. Over the past year I’d had been book marking a bunch of different pages I’d come across on making shower tabs.  From there I did some reading/research and then came up with five different recipes (six technically…but it was very similar to one recipe so I didn’t count it.)

The results were quite interesting.

Test 1: Baking Soda
I didn’t believe in this method from the get go.  I just didn’t think it would get hard enough or stay hard enough to last any significant amount of time in a shower.

First, despite experimenting with different amounts of water I couldn’t get these to hard up.  I tried putting them in the oven too.  Nothing worked.  They just never harden up much.  I could get a couple out of the mold mostly intact, but many ended up like the picture below.  Plus it took very little pressure for me to break them.  I wasn’t convinced they last through even half a shower.  I didn’t even bother testing these.

They were so soft I just broke up the baking soda and reused it in other batches.

Test 1

Test1_in mold

Test 2: Baking Soda/Citric Acid
(Please disregard the misspelled “backing”…my brain apparently wasn’t working when I was making the pictures.)

I did a couple variations of baking soda and citric acid.  This batch I put in the oven (mostly because I was curious to how they respond).  I didn’t think it would work to put them in the oven with citric acid, but I’d read a lot about people doing that.  All I can say: Complete disaster!

They grew and grew and grew.  It was kind of funny actually.  They still work and they’re quite hard, but they do dissolve faster.  In part because I think they’re not dense and water just goes through the entire tab, hence it’s dissolving faster.

Test 2

For your amusement: You can see just how MUCH the tabs grew in the oven. I tried the same recipe (with one minor alteration in Test 3) and as you can see they turned out much better.

Comparison - Test 2 and 3

Test 2 - Oven

Test 3: Baking Soda/Citric Acid
These were essentially the same as Test 2 (one minor change to the recipe).  I didn’t not apply any heat to these.  These are probably my favorite of all the trial ones.  They work well. They seem to last a full ten minutes in the shower (if I control how much water hits them) and they release a good aroma.

Test 3

Test 4: Baking Soda/Citric Acid w/ Oils & Butters

These worked mostly ok.  They were much softer than test batch 3 though and didn’t unmold as well.  Testing wise they work as well as Batch 3 for me, but they are softer and I think they last maybe a tad being less than Test Batch 3…is so insignificant an amount of time that it probably doesn’t matter.  The oils make them more expensive and I’m not sold on them being worth it in a product that basically is being washed down the drain.

Test 4

Test 4 Unmolding

 

Because these were much softer than Test 3 (with the only difference being the oils/butters) I did a second round adding more alcohol to them.  They were a little harder, but still softer than Test Batch 3.

Test 4a ADDED Alcohol

Test 5: Altered Recipe from Make it Fizz

These worked perfectly.  I like them, but I have one major problem with them. They’re SO EXPENSIVE to make (compared to the other four test batches).  I mean like 3-4x more expensive. And I have a hard time using such nice oils in a shower tab.  The oils just go down the drain…and to me that’s such a waste.

Test 5

There you have it.  I’ve got friends testing them for me now to see if they find the same results I do when they use them.  Overall, I think Test Batch 3 is my favorite of them all.


Bubble Crumble Bubble Bath

June 22, 2015

I always loved the idea of the bubble bars. I DID NOT like the idea of making them.  Previous attempts had left me discouraged and not liking the time it took to make them or the results.  While looking for some bubble bath for my niece this past Christmas I came across someone who made a crumble instead of a bar.  I was sold on the idea before I even heard how my niece liked it!

I pulled out my old notes, did some more research, formulated a half dozen recipes.  Then tested them.  It was an interesting process to say the least.  I had lots of fun testing the bubbles in my sink.  As well as a few mishaps!  I finally settled on a recipe.  Had friends and family test it and love it.

I feel like a little kid again every time I make a batch of the bubble bath.  It’s great!  I forget how much I like to play around with new creations and formulate recipes.  Even the disasters are fun and moments I can look back on and laugh at.

bubblebath

soap march2015-12

I have to give a shout out to my best friend.  I had this idea for the labels. I sketched it out and said can you do this?  We all know that final designs RARELY come out like the sketches, but she recreated my sketch exactly!!

ol100


Emulsified Sugar Scrub

June 16, 2015

I make these solid sugar scrubs that I LOVE.  Bramble Berry first introduced me to them.  Over time I’ve made a couple alterations to the recipe to get them to be just how I love them.  The problem is they melt in the summer months.  It was frustrating having scrubs that I couldn’t sell year round.

sugarscrub

For the past two years I’d been trying out different emulsified scrubs.  I’d start with base recipes and play around with them.  I kept trying to alter them to resemble my solid scrub recipe.  I was never happy with any of them.  Then I tried yet another new recipe.  I liked it.  It was the first scrub that was anywhere close to what I wanted.  I set to work altering the recipe and when I was done I was in love with the final product.

These scrubs aren’t 100% like the solid scrubs, but they’re close.  They’re a bit more silky feeling and a little less “oily” feeling, but they still leave my skin feeling so nice when I get out of the shower.  And best of all they are packaged in jars and I can sell them year round!

Look at that beautiful emulsified scrub! Firm, but still soft enough to scoop out of a jar, and filled with skin loving oils and butters.

EmulsifiedScrub

 

sumlsified

I did a coffee and foot (pumice) emulsified scrub too.

coffee


Testing: Lip Scrubs

May 4, 2015

I was back at it experimenting in February!  I wanted to make a lip scrub in November when the temps started to drop and I felt like my lips could use a little “extra something.” Of course NOTHING gets done between October and December. I’m too busy just trying to keep up with my shows and restocking product to have two minutes to play around with something new.

I did a bunch of research looking into lip scrubs.  I came to the conclusion that I basically had three options:

  • Oil and butter mix
  • All oil
  • All butter

I then created recipes from that.  I decided which butters/oils I wanted to use and at what percentage and set about testing.

I ended up creating 4 recipes.  Two were oil/butter mixes.  I was testing out different combinations of oil to butter ratios. Then I tried one all oil and one all butter.  I definitely like the mixed ones best.  Still waiting on feedback from some my testers to see where their preference lies, but on the whole the butter/oil combo was the favorite.

Oil and Butter Combo: I like this best because it’s semi-solid. Solid enough to stay in place in the jar but easy to scoop out.

lipscrub3

All Oil: Too messy for me.  It works great, but harder to apply and more messy all around.

lipscrub2

All Butter: There was absolutely nothing wrong with this version I just didn’t like it.  It was easy to scoop out, easy to put on, no mess, but it just lacked something to me. (Still hardening in this picture.)

lipscrub5

Interested in trying out the lip scrubs?  Check them out here!

            lip


Under Eye Balm

March 14, 2015

Last summer I started playing around with an under eye balm recipe.  I’d gotten a couple sample oils from the soap conference that were more exotic and too nice to (I thought) use in soap.  I was reading one of the blogs I followed that had posted a recipe that used one of those oils and I got inspired to try and create my own “eye butter.”

The first batch worked well enough, but it was not what I was going for. I tried to whip the butter but that ended up no working and it didn’t cool evenly so it was a little grainy and just overall it worked but I wasn’t happy.

I adjusted my recipe a bit and I liked it, but it wasn’t what I wanted.  I set it aside when the holidays came (there was no time to do much of anything outside of restocks!).  I started playing around again with it in January.

I had narrowed down my trial recipes to one (with two variations).  One contained beeswax while the other didn’t.  I loved the final results.  I’m having some people test it and so far results have been good.  Always excited when I create a new recipe to my satisfaction!

eye cream

The beeswax is a balm (and I really like it…it should hold up well in the summer).  The other which has no beeswax I whipped it.  And I actually LOVE this one.  I’ve noticed that it’s really not greasy either.  I’ve been using it on my entire face not just under the eyes.


Creating Handouts

February 24, 2015

coverpageI teach soap classes (beginner, intermediate, advance, CP, MP, Milk Soap…just about everything).  I’ve been teaching now through local community ed programs and doing private lessons for over two years.  I used to teach a bath and body class where I taught the students how to make a scrub, balm, and body spray. I was never really happy with the class. I wanted it to be so much more.  I eventually stopped offering it.

Recently I started doing research for my own new line of scrubs.  I wanted to go beyond the basics.  I was compiling all this information for myself and I thought I should create a whole new set of handouts on bath products and teach a class again.  After two years my knowledge has grown significantly.  I’ve introduced a wide range of bath products to my line over this time and I’ve experimented constantly on tweaking recipes and trying out new ones to even creating my own products.

I started to create the handouts and they very quickly morphed into this massive project.  I didn’t just want to give students a handful of recipes.  I wanted to teach them how to formulate their own products!  Of course to do this you have  not only understand what the product does and why we make it, but the ingredients that make up those products.  And by understanding the ingredients you use, their properties, why they’re good for you, why you’d use some over others, they’d be equipped to make anything they wanted.

To teach that though is much more of an undertaking than to give students a handful of recipes and say ok here now you can make some new products.  Sure, they could, but they weren’t really going to learn anything that would help them tweak and alter and eventually create their own products.

Almost 80 hours later I’ve finished a first draft of my (25+ page) handouts.  That’s just part 1.  There is a part 2. There is also a detailed step by step instruction section I want to complete.  I’m a long ways from done, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  My 20 pages of notes are now coherent organized ramblings! And it’s super exciting to see it taking shape. I can’t wait to teach and offer this class in the future.  I’ve found a joy in making these products through understanding what I was doing and not just following someone else’s recipe and I hope I can pass that on to others.