This summer’s new soap is called Black Magic, and with good cause. It contains a whole batch of great new ingredients and in the last couple of months it’s been out there, has received a lot of good feedback!
For one thing, it contains activated charcoal, which has been used for centuries to clarify and remove toxins. For people who have various itchy skin conditions such as psoraisis, eczema, acne, poison ivy or other problems, it seems to help relieve the symptoms so well that I’ve received great feedback from several states away.
It’s also a mild soap, with avocado oil as well as olive and rice bran oils, shea butter and mango butter. And finally, I added small chunks of a kind of soap made only in western Africa called “African Black Soap.” This soap is a kind of soft, crumbly soap made from special ingredients grown there including plantain leaves and is said to contain vitamins and minerals we don’t normally have in our soap here. The soap is well known and valued in Europe and other parts of the world.
Black Magic is a very unique bar of handcrafted soap, and I’m really happy to have this soap on my soap tables. And it’s really pretty…who’d have thought that black and white swirls would look so dramatic and attractive? (For more information, go to http://annas-soaps.com.)
This year my soaper buddy Charlotte (Laughing Rabbit Soap) and I (Anna’s EsSCENTials Bodycare) attended the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild national conference in Tucson. Very cool! There were several hundred serious soap makers there, and some people just thinking about getting involved. It’s a fascinating endeavor, combining science and art, health and fun. Unfortunately for most people, there’s not a lot of financial payback, but for some of us soap fanatics, it’s still worth the effort!
I especially enjoy these conferences because there is an effort by organizers to find keynote speakers who present the kind scientific information specific to our industry that is hard to come by otherwise. This year was no exception. One keynote speaker raised the importance of Omega 3’s in the oils we use, and another talking about the effects of combining ingredients. Then there were seminars and sessions dealing with everything from marketing to production and the future of the industry. We were there most of the week, made some new friends, and enjoyed the event tremendously.
Now that I’m home again, it’s trying to figure how to incorporate all this new knowledge. I’ve already done a batch of soap using one of the new swirling techniques in my shaving soap. It was fun and worked!
Oh, and Tucson was gorgeous!
You just have to love this time of year. Everyone who knows me knows I get drug kicking and screaming into the colder months. But I still enjoy so much about the holidays, and most especially having the opportunity to slow down and appreciate my family and friends.
In that spirit, I’ve been working to come up with this year’s holiday treats and get them out to the last of our farmers’ markets. So many of my regular customers like to use good, handmade olive oil soap for stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, or just regular presents for under the tree. I consider that a big pat on the back and am grateful too.
Anyway, this year there are gifts ranging from $6.50 to $85, and you can check out all the gifty things I’ve come up with at:
If anyone wants to order gifts, please do it early. I am never sure how much to make and don’t wand to disappoint anyone.
A new soap for spring, “Romance.”
It’s February here in Kentucky. Green things are sprouting all over the yard. And something else…can you think romance?
OK…maybe not me, but I’m just out of the soap studio with my heart on my sleeve! This spring’s new soap is, “ROMANCE.” It has a complex blend of essential oils. Think of soft, sexy sandalwood, with a hint of patchouli, softened by a touch of citrus and then rounded out with a blend of rose, jasmine and ylang ylang. There are a few other secret ingredients, and of course, it is a great olive oil/shea butter soap.
If this works the way I hope it will, don’t be surprised to see a couple supporting products as well. I’m considering doing a massage oil with this scent blend and possibly a form of perfume.
The soap has a pretty swirl of soft colors, deep pinks and purples, but I wasn’t happy with the way this first batch came out. I’ll work on that for the next batch. This one smells great and looks pretty though.
The Kentucky Crafted Trade Show is coming up in two weeks. This soap will make its first appearance there, if only to get feedback from the crowd.
Yay! It’s always nice to have something new for spring.
Logs of fresh soap, ready to be cut in preparation for spring and the start of another good soaping year.
February always brings new activity in my soap biz, and a lift to my spirits too. January is the one month I get to hibernate, following the Christmas rush. But in the last week I’ve made over 100 pounds of soap (and have another hundred to go), with the goal of getting ready for the first show of the spring on March 1, and also looking forward to spring farmers’ markets and other festivals.
I have been thinking hard about how to decorate this year’s booth at the Kentucky Crafted trade show March 1-3 in Lexington. I have not made much progress, but surely something will click soon. This show is a big event…expensive and exhausting…but I always look forward to it as well. It sets the tone for the coming year in some kind of way, and I always look forward to seeing many friends who are also displaying their artwork and crafts. I think it is truly a show that features the “best of the best,” and I’m proud to be a part again this year.
Anyway, now that I’m crawling out of hibernation, I’ll look forward to posting on this blog more regularly as well. Spring is surely just ahead!
We added a 10% off coupon to Anna’s EsSCENTials website, annas-soaps.com. Good until Jan. 5, just use the code Holidays2012 at checkout.
I hope you have a glorious holiday! Thank you to all my soaper friends and supporters. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to stop and be quiet for a while, considering the surprises and successes and challenges of the past year. Who would have expected things to happen the way they did? Our wonderful, crazy, unpredictable world!
Give me some uninterrupted time in the soap studio, and I usually come out with something new and interesting. At this time of the year, I always shoot for something spectacular, hoping for holiday gifts as well as a hit at the soap table.
This is what the sugar scrub was SUPPOSED to look like….
Today was…well…let’s just say it was a mixed-message triumph! Recently I saw a recipe for a sugar scrub from Anne Marie of Bramble Berry, and it looked SO pretty in her photos. The idea is to whip up the foaming bath butter, add sugar, separate it into two parts and color one part pink while leaving the other part white. Put the scrub into two pastry bags, and then put those bags into another bag so that (in theory) you get a side-by-side stream of pink and white, swirling around in your jar, and a dollop swirl on top!
Sigh. Well, I’ve always acknowledged I’m pretty much a flop in the kitchen (which makes my fascination with soap making even more puzzling), and the art of pastry bags was never, EVER in my domain!
But undaunted, I gathered everything, made the scrub, colored it and got it into the bags. So far so good, but that’s when the pleasantries stopped. Pretty soon I had big globs of scrub coming out the wrong end of the pastry bag, and almost nothing coming out of the little hole from which it was supposed to flow. I sweated and strained and finally got one (ONE) jar filled, and soap scrub all over my shirt, the bowls and scrapers, and pretty much covering the table as well.
I may lack talent in the pastry department, but I’m no dummy. Those pastry bags went flying into the sink. I managed to fill the other 12 jars one spoon at a time, attempting a little swirl now and then. Maybe they are not as pretty as Anne Marie’s, but they sure smell great, and maybe nobody will notice they are less than perfect! And by the way, this is no fault of anyone but me…I need a course in pastry bag usage! But it doesn’t really matter…everyone will love them, they smell amazing, and I had another great day in the soap studio!
…And here’s what MY sugar scrubs look like. Well, I like them anyway and they smell great.
Oh, and I’ve been busy in the soap studio replenishing shelves. Here is a pretty slab of Lavender Patchouli with shea butter and rhassoul clay…a great soap. It’s waiting to be cut into logs and then into bars. Now THAT I can do!
Lavender Patchouli slab ready to be cut into logs. So pretty!
Loaves of this year’s holiday soap, tentatively called “Candy Cane.”
It’s good to plan ahead a bit if you’re a soap addict.
I’m not trying to push the season, but to be ready for the upcoming holidays, I need to get to the soap pot plenty early. And I’m proud to say this year’s Christmas/Thanksgiving/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/New Year’s/Boxing Day/Bodhi soap is ready! (Phew. No wonder we’re so worn out around this time of year.)
Anyway, I wish you could smell it as well as read about it. The essential oils are a blend of tangerine and sweet orange, which make it a pretty golden color, combined with peppermint (and a red swirl), frankincense and myrrh. It will make a lovely gift for the holidays, and it’s already on the drying racks. Give me about 3 weeks and I’ll have it on all my soap tables or for sale via the web site: annas-soaps.com.
Now that the soap is on its way, maybe I can kick back and enjoy falling leaves and a nip in the air. Or, more likely, just quietly mourn the departure of summer.
Finished bars of “Candy Cane.”
Today I had the good fortune to have a visitor in the soap studio, 7-year-old Emma, who wanted to know how soap is made. Emma has been a good soap customer at the farmers’ market since she was about 5, and she has a very discerning nose. She knows what she likes and why. She’s always come up to my soap table and very seriously studied what was there, making her choices with great care. Her grandparents are also farmers’ market vendors, so she was lucky enough to have a soft-touch grandpa nearby when she needed some dollars.
This summer, Emma asked her mother if she could see the soap making process, and when her mother told me about it I thought for a while. It’s not something that I ordinarily recommend doing with children around. However, Emma is so serious, smart, curious and thoughtful, I was pretty sure it would work out well and I said yes.’
But the summer went by. We kept thinking we’d set a date to do it and didn’t. Then last week I looked over my soap table at the market to see these beautiful brown eyes boring into mine, completely serious, and she asked me if I was going to make soap soon. I knew the time had come. School starts around here next week, and we had put it off longer than we should.
So her mama and I got together and made a time. Today Laura and Emma came to my soap studio, and I loved having them. I gave them a quick tour of the studio and showed Emma the shelf with essential oils, the big jugs of olive and other carrier oils, the molds, the drying racks where soap rests for three weeks, and the shelf for completed, ready-to-use soaps. I told her what we were going to do today and got her set up in a tall director’s chair where she could see into the soap pot as I worked with it.
Finally, we got down to making soap. As I heated the shea butter and solid oils, I told her what I was doing and why. I added all the oils and the lye water and started mixing. This soap had shea butter, hemp seed oil, rhassoul clay and other additives, and I wanted a blue and purple swirl.
Unfortunately, my lye water hadn’t cooled down as much as I wanted, so the soap began saponifying quicker than I hoped, but she probably didn’t notice and I just worked faster. I made some shaving soap with some of the batch, using round molds, and poured the rest into the big mold. She really wanted to be here to see the soaps come out of the molds, but I told her I’d take photos and save some of the soap for her to see. Then Emma got to choose some soap to take home in honor of her trip here to the studio.
I have to say it was a great pleasure having Emma visit, and I’m thrilled she was even interested enough to ask questions and want to come. These young minds are such beautiful, precious things.
Anna’s EsSCENTials Bodycare received another nice pat on the back…we are the featured vendor in this week’s Franklin County Farmers’ Market newsletter. We’ve been attending this market for a very long time and have made lots of good friends. And we thank everyone for their support. To see the write-up in the newsletter, go to: http://www.franklincountyfarmersmarket.org/content/annas-esscentials.
Here’s Anna’s EsSCENTials Bodycare soap table at the Franklin County Farmers Market.
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