The Making of Safari Themed Soap Favors

November 22, 2016

First, let me say I am INSANE.  There is no other word to describe me trying to create animal favors during crazy show season when I don’t have time to do anything but constantly restock for my business.

I was told to just get the rubber safari ducks and embed them in a soap base and use those as favors.  They would have been cute and worked, but they just weren’t what I imagined.  So…out came the notepad as I started to brainstorm and sketch some ideas.

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This image was my inspiration. (I looked at so many safari themed cupcakes in trying to figure out how to make these soaps).

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I would normally make all the embeds first and then make the bases, but I was super short on time and I knew if they were going to have enough time to cure before the party I needed to make them asap.  So I made the bases and then started figuring out the embed pieces I’d need.  Eyes…ears…whiskers…faces…noses…mouths…oh my word! There were a million little different pieces I needed for each different animal.

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These were the bases that I was gonna have to attach a million tiny pieces to…

Once I figured that out there was then the challenge of cutting them all out. I needed an oval cookie cutter that I didn’t have.  So I sacrificed a piping tip and shaped it into an oval.  It worked in my hour of need, but piping tips don’t make good cookie cutters.

Piping tips as a cookie cutter...the brain figures out how to make it all work ha!

Piping tips as a cookie cutter…the brain figures out how to make it all work ha!

All those tiny circles?  Those are the other end of the misshapen piping tip.  Again, not a great cookie cutter ha, but it worked.

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Once the circle were cut I started playing around and realized I could imprint a circle into them and then fill them with a “wet” mica to add extra color.  I also used a skewer dipped in wet mica to make the whiskers marks on the tiger.  THE-MOST-ANNOYING-THING-EVER.  I was ready to pull my hair out.

Was it worth it? Yes.  The added extra touch just makes the soaps, but OYE!!

Because I didn’t make the embeds first I had to “embed” them onto already hard soap.  Which meant an extra step of putting wet soap on one side and then putting it on the hard soap.  Could have saved myself time if the embeds had been done before, but I didn’t know what I was going to need and I was in a crunch for time so the bases had to get done before everything else.

The final step was the piping.  Oh so much piping.

Giraffe: I had to pipe the spots and horns on him.  I love him. He’s so so so stinking cute!

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Lion: Piping his mane turned out so much better than I thought it would.  When all the pieces came together I was in love with him too.  The stringy mane/hair just totally did it for me😉.

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So many different stages to piping the lions. I still had the eyes and mouth left to do once I got to this point. Have I mentioned these were an incredible amount of work?

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Tiger: If I ever do these again I need to find a better way to do the stripes.  It was tedious to do these and it’s not as clean looking as I wanted, but it was the best I could do with what I had.  They’re still cute.

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Gorilla (which was supposed to be a monkey):  There was somr major improvising that went on with these when I started to pipe them.  What I wanted to do wasn’t happening and on the fly I just said…let’s try this and it worked.  I really do think these are cute.  Disaster averted!

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Zebra: The first couple I did were really bad.  It took a while to get the hang of these.  Piping straight or curved lines that need to come out steady and even is a hard hard thing to do.  They’re not bad looking. Not perfect and a few things I’d change next time, but I love them. I especially love the ears.  I happened to have the perfect mini cookie cutter to use as ears and the little pink in them just makes them stand out.

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And there you have it.  My absolute madness…and all this during prime busy season for me when I barely have two minutes for anything outside of the business.

The final soaps:

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Planning a Baby Shower…

November 21, 2016

If you remember last April (I know that was a long time ago) I planned the Bridal Shower for my sister around a sunflower theme. Well this November I was once again in charge of shower planning. This time for a baby shower. Yup, I’m gonna be an aunt again (December 25 due date).  I keep giving my sister grief that she had to pick the BUSIEST time of the year for me😉.  Every weekend is booked with shows and basically I couldn’t get there.  What I did…I found someone to help cover my event on Saturday so I could drive down to PA on Friday night, do the shower on Saturday and then drive home Saturday night in time for my Sunday event.  Exhausted doesn’t begin to cover how I was feeling on Monday!

But, it was worth it.  I don’t know how party planners do it.  It’s exhausting!  Maybe my OCD and Type A personality don’t help things…control freak has been used a time or two to describe me ha!  But it’s so worth it. The outcome was absolutely adorable.  I went with a Safari/Jungle theme (since we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl).  And when I do a theme…I do a theme😀.

Everything from the food tags, the gift bags, games, and decorations fit a theme.  Check it out. Pictures describe the event so much better than words ever will!

Decorations:

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Centerpieces:

 

 

 

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Family:

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Food:

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Some ducks just didn’t want to stay afloat!

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Cake: This cake came out better than I hoped for and made me do happy dances all day every time I saw it.decorations_cake

Favors:

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I saved the favors for last, because I am beyond proud of them!  I worked my tail off on these.  48 favors took me about 10 hours to make.  So incredibly labor intensive, but oh they were worth it.  I learned a few things to do and not do along the way, so I could cut down on the time a bit in the future, but overall these are not easy to make.  I created five animal soaps: Lion, Tiger, Zebra, Giraffe, and Gorilla.  The lion and the giraffe are my favorites, but I love them all, especially together. (Tomorrow I’ll have blog post on all the steps it took to just create these cute fellas).

And this is what happens when your brother-in-law gets hold of your camera😛. Ha!

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Piping Challenge

September 16, 2016

I started this challenge with the idea to do a flower scene. Then I read the “rules” for entering and I realized my idea wouldn’t meet those requirements.  Bummed I played around with some random piping of flowers, but I was uninspired and didn’t like what I was doing. And may I mention I REALLY REALLY REALLY dislike piping flowers.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they’re not fun for me. Yes, they’re pretty and people like them, but it’s like having a tooth pulled for me–NOT FUN!

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I was almost ready to call it quits and just say forget about it, when I remembered years and years ago I did some mini soaps of Oscar and Cookie Monster.  Remaking those as large versions appealed to me and I was re-inspired to making something.  What follows is the process it took to make these.  Way too much work and not something I plan to make more of, but for the challenge they were fun.

*UPDATE* I still couldn’t entered my character soaps. When entering I realized it also said “no embellishments” so that takes my character soaps out of the running. Don’t know where my brain’s been lately!

Since I was making a “face” I needed to pre-make several pieces: eyes, mouth, and cookies.  I did these by pouring soap into a circle mold, unmolding, and then slicing them in thin pieces and then cutting those pieces in half (for the cookies and mouths).

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Next I made the base of the characters.  Gray for Oscar (since he is sitting in his garbage can) and brown for Cookie Monster (because I didn’t want an all blue soap).  I filled the base only half way (I used two different cupcake molds because I like the different effects for each character).  Then I piped their bodies.

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I used tip 233 to make their “fur” or body.  Because we had to use at least two tones in one element of piping I did two different color greens for Oscar, which I love how they turned out.  And two different blues (light and a dark) for Cookie, but the blues kind of melded together and there’s not a lot of distinction between them. I was a little bummed over that, but they still look cute.

After piping their tops I then embedded the eyes, mouth, and cookies.

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From there I had to pipe the eye balls on the white eye pieces.  I used tip 10.  I also had to pipe the eye brows for Oscar.  I used tip 16.  Lastly I had to pipe the “tongue” on to Oscar’s mouth.  I used tip 3 for that.

Overall I really like them.  They’re cute.  They’re different.  But best of all they’re not flowers😉.

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I had had some left over soap from another batch of embeds I was making and so I just poured it into some round mold cavities I had.  I didn’t know what to do with them.  I had leftover soap better for Oscar and Cookie and I was like I’ll pipe the rest on top of the extra round soaps.  I liked it. More so than the cupcake ones.  If I ever do anything like this again I’ll probably use that as a base as opposed to cupcake holders.

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And a bonus: Mummies!  I had left over soap again from a different batch and I knew I was going to be piping for the challenge so I made black bases, know I could turn them into mummies.  It’s made me really tempted to make other Halloween faces now like pumpkins, monsters, and whatever else I can think up!

 

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And there you have it: my piped soaps.


Fall Soaps: Rice Milk

September 8, 2016

This is a flower scent.  Probably not what most people will expect from the name of the fragrance. I went with it because other soapers at the conference really loved it.  I can’t be trusted when it comes to floral scents because I dislike most.

Here’s how Lebermuth describes it:

Soft, sheer milky floral fragrance.

I think that’s about as accurate a description as you’ll get.  It’s unlike many other scents I’ve smelled before and I think overall it will appeal to the flower liking crowd.

I wanted blue for this soap.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it as I knew the fragrance would discolor (just wasn’t sure how much).  I worked the design to be a deep blue/gold/white theme (hoping to work with the fragrance if it did discolor too much.  A lot of work to make, but I’m happy with how it turned out. Here are some behind the scene photos!

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Unscented white soap, chopped up into tiny cubes.

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Embeds where then dusted in Gold Mica.

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I did a dark blue bottom layer then added the dusted embeds on top of them. From there I’d pour the second layer (a lighter blue).

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To finish it off a gold mica swirl on top (to pull everything together.

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2016: A Look Forward

January 11, 2016

Now that we’ve seen how 2015 went, it’s time for me to list my goals for 2016.

  1. Increase my profit by 50%.  Last year’s goal of doubling my profit was a big one, and a big step up in my business. I did it.  This year if I can increase it by 50% it’ll  be a good year.  If it so happens I can increase it more I’ll take it! But an increase like that will mean I’ll  have to re-approach how I make things because there’s only one of me and only so many hours in the day to get stuff done!
  2. Grow my customer base. Yes, this is the same goal as last year and it will be a goal next year and the year after and the year after that…you get the point🙂.
  3. Introduce some new products.  On my list of new products: shower tabs, cream soap, liquid soap, foaming bath whip, and maybe a shampoo bar.  There are many other things I want to experiment with, but this is the list for this year.
  4. Grow my online sales.
  5. Grow my sales for custom wedding/shower (baby & bridal) showers.  I started that this year and I had so much fun making these custom favors. I hope to continue to grow this side of my business.
  6. Expand the number of classes I teach (and where I teach).
  7. Attend the 2016 Soap Conference in Tampa.
  8. Take (and pass) the Basic and Advance MP certification tests (at the soap conference). This shouldn’t be hard.  And while MP is just not my thing, I do teach and I think having these certifications is a must for me.
  9. Start working/prepping for the CP Master Exam.  My goal this year is to get my act together. That means learning how to make liquid and cream soap.  It means deciding on the topics I want to write/research for part 3 & 4 of the test.  It means starting to study the essay questions and know the answers backwards and forwards.  Because come 2017 I plan to register to TAKE the Master Exam!
  10. Save a percentage of every sale for a really BIG (potential) goal that is (potentially) years away. (Yes, this goal is back and will continue to come back until I reach said goal!)

I’m sure some other goals will pop up throughout the year, but these are the big ones I hope to achieve.  I’m excited to start working on them!  Bring it 2016! I’m ready for you!


St. Florian Medallion

February 5, 2015

My mom got me a medallion for Christmas. I opened it and looked at it and went ok…who’s St. Florian?She saw the medallion at a fundraiser auction my church was having.  She asked others and no one knew. Finally someone pulled out their phone to do a search (gotta love modern technology).  This is what they read:

Saint Florian is a Christian saint, and the patron saint of Linz, Austria; chimney sweeps; soapmakers, and firefighters.

My mom laughed and said I have to have it for my daughter.  Who knew there was a patron saint of soap makers! I love it.  I think about it and it seems a weight lifts off my shoulder.  It might be silly or seem superstitious, but the idea that there’s a saint of soap makers makes me smile and know that I’ll be ok.  I will succeed with my business and that just maybe there’s someone watching over me.

A search of Catholic Online produced this background on St. Florian:

The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on May 4th, was an officer of the Roman army, who occupied a high administrative post in Noricum, now part of Austria, and who suffered death for the Faith in the days of Diocletian. His legendary “Acts” state that he gave himself up at Lorch to the soldiers of Aquilinus, the governor, when they were rounding up the Christians, and after making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His body, recovered and buried by a pious woman, was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz. It is said to have been at a later date translated to Rome, and Pope Lucius III, in 1138, gave some of the saint’s relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Cracow. Since that time, St. Florian has been regarded as a patron of Poland as well as of Linz, Upper Austria and of firemen. There has been popular devotion to St. Florian in many parts of central Europe, and the tradition as to his martyrdom, not far from the spot where the Enns flows into the Danube, is ancient and reliable. Many miracles of healing are attributed to his intercession and he is invoked as a powerful protector in danger from fire or water. His feast day is May 4th.

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Reading about him there’s much more on him being the Patron Saint of Firefighters (and why).  I’d love to learn more about where and how he became associated with soap makers.  It’s fitting anyway you look at it though.  My grandfather (who I never knew as he died when I was just three) was a firefighter.  There’s just something about all of it that makes me smile.


2014: A Look Back

January 12, 2015

What did I accomplish in 2014?  A fair amount!

  • I made over 3000 bars of soap (less than 2013, but I was much smarter with my soap making in 2014)
  • I experimented with some new products AND added a number of them to my line: bath bombs, foot fizzies, muscle salve/balm, and a green cleaning line.
  • A realized that some of my products needed to become seasonal products for the winter as they just didn’t sell well enough during the year.  The biggest of those are my cupcakes soaps.
  • I did less markets, but was smarter about it.  I worked less to make more money.  I learned that a few more needed to get cut out in 2015.
  • Online Sales: I was on par with what I did in 2013.  I wasn’t happy about that.  I really wanted to grow my online sales, so that’s definitely a goal for this year.
  • Wholesale saw a small increase in new clients, but a definite increase in repeat orders.
  • Made some major updates to the webpage.  I’m much happier about them.  I do however have some more updates in mind for 2015.
  • I attended my second Soap Conference.  I learned some new things and got to visit my Aunt as well.
  • I received my Advance Certification for CP soap making.
  • I got certified by the Soap Guild as an Advance Teacher.

Quite the year!  I have many goals for 2015, but that’s for another post!