Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saving Private Salt Bar

Have you seen the movie Saving Private Ryan?  Well, this is my soap version...
Couple weeks ago I attempted my none vegan salt bars, my first batch this year.  I had this perfect plan for perfect cube salt bar with perfect fragrance and colors.  Then the mold I used ruined it, again...  It's that cube silicone mold I bought from Bramble Berry.  In case you have not heard about my struggle with this mold, read this post: Left Over Holiday Alcohol: Pinot Noir  I figured, for the amount of money I spent to buy this mold, it's crazy not to give it a 2nd chance to redeem itself, right?!  WRONG!!!  If you have made salt bar you would know when it sets up it's hard as a rock.  So naturally it's ideal to use individual mold to avoid missing the right timing to cut.  I guess I can't really blame on the silicone mold... because I also didn't force gel the salt bar, instead, I cold processed it.  But I thought the salt I put in plus the 80% hard oil content would definitely be enough to set it concrete hard!  Well, I ended up with crumbs at the bottom of the mold...  oh~ what to do???  I'm calling my soap troopers to go rescue my private salt bar!

From this disaster:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Looking Groovy

This is totally not what I planned for, let me just state this clearly first!  LOL  This batch of soap took a life of it's own and did what it wanted without consulting me...
I had a beautiful almost poetic name for this soap: Silk Road.  I used gold mica (plus annatto seed) and hot fucsia pink together with charcoal black.  Then... sigh...  If you look closely you can still see the speckles of annatto seed powder I couldn't filter out.  But the gold, where's the gold???  And my hot pink???  Now it totally looks like a February Halloween... rather groovy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Experiencing Mianra

Early this year I had the pleasure of exchanging soap with Mianra Artisan Soap all the way from Ireland.  Hajni pronounced (h-ay-ni) the founder and owner of Mianra sent me 2 of her signature scented soap: Rose Clay and Sandalwood.
(This photo is provided by Mianra: Sandalwood Soap)

"Mianra" pronounced (Mee-n-ra) meaning Mineral in Irish. It refers to the mineral rich seaweed and clays Hajni uses in her soap creations as well as micas etcc...
I had a chance to chat with her and I'm proud to introduce you the Hajni I know, more up close and personal.  I always believe in knowing the creator behind the scene before judging the products.  So here's her story:

I took up soap making some 9 years ago while living in The Netherlands. I was always drawn to handmade soaps and eagerly tried my hands at many different crafts from quilting, candle making, stained glass and so on. I ventured into making my first batch of soap more or less out of determination and a healthy dose of stubbornness you could say. One weekend I visited a popular brand's shop (Lush) where the sales person told me a rather mystified and false story of making soap. I was given a tiny sample of their soap for to feel oh so privileged.  It did quite the opposite of course! I went home that Saturday and locked myself in for the next week reading and researching the subject. I was determent to find out all I could and give it a go. It was only after 2-3 months solid reading that I made my first batch of soap and never stopped since! It became a true passion and my primary creative outlet loving every bit of it!

When I asked her what her profession is outside of making B&B products this is what she said:

My background is in special needs. I was trained at the International Peto Institute for the motor disabled and graduated as a conductor/primary school teacher. A very unique and internationally recognised place for its education/method of Conductive Education. Here is a video to best describe it ( this one is a center in the US) http://
          I absolutely love what I do and feel lucky to have met so many fantastic people through the years - 15 years to be precise! It is a very rewarding profession and one where you have to be creative throughout the day to challenge and motivate the kiddies. There are no set rules as everyone's character and needs are so so different! You have to think of alternative ways all the time to keep the spirits up! This is the part I enjoy the most! Have the in depth knowledge of the science behind-  yet wrap it/ present it in a fun and enjoyable way! So YESSS it definietly influences my soap making!

Now I want to talk about miss Hajni's personality, she's vibrant and all I can say is judge it for yourself!

Huh! About me? I'm 37 and a spring chic LOL! I love everything craft & design related let it be rewamping furniture or making my 20th handbag - I'm all for it! I love all what the Internet offers these days - such a vast amount of information and incredibly talented craft people out there! I follow a good few blogs as much as I can and always have a long list of things I 'd like to do. Love travelling and meeting people, mad about colours. Love flea markets, watching movies, good food with a twist and photography! Life I guess :)!!! I am a fairly positive person and I could get excited about the smallest things let it be the scent of fresh cut grass or a Japanese fabric :)! 
Isn't Hajni a multi-talented woman?!  Look at all she can make:

There's a supportive family behind every successful woman, and this is how Hajni talks about her lovely family:

I get so much support from my partner in all what I do and the poor man does have to put up with a lot :)! Sewing machine in full blown operation at 11 pm or soaping taking over the cooking or chatting to you at 1 am about thenewest fragrances is all dealt with graciously. Someone told me once that the magis trick to happy family life is keeping the woman happy. If she isn't she'd make sure the others aren't either. A bit mean and extreme but there is truth in it! We're also the proud as punch parents of our 3 and a half year old son.

Now let's talk about what we are really interested in, her soap and her philosophy in bath and body products:  

My aim is to offer handmade soap which is primarily really good for the skin but also appeals to all senses. It has to be visually interesting, one of a kind and smell fantastic. Showers don't have to be a boring routine - it should be an uplifting experience. Something we all do on a daily basis so why should it be treated with less interest than let's say determining an outfit for the day or enjoying a gourmet dinner. Right? In my book everyone should have 4-5 different soaps in their shower and pick the one matching their mood best! It might be plain and citrusy or a colorful swirly one with earthy/woodsy tones or a soft pink floral one!? Why NOT?! I worked many years on formulating my recipe to provide a moisturizing soap with big fluffy foamy leather and use a variety of added ingredients like seaweed, goats milk, silk or clays or even pureed carrot. As for what my style is I'm not sure it could be defined as such. You would be a better judge of that one!   My surroundings don't so much influence what I make. Surely I'm inspired by it all but those experiences aren't that different from anywhere else. They aren't specifically location related.

 Hajni has a good news to share, she's is proud to tell all of us that she is moving her business up a level!

I have just won a place at a business course aimed at women entrepreneur which I only just started. I'm really excited about it as it is a huge change from being a hobby soaper to running your own business. Up till recently I have been a hobby soap maker - a pretty spontaneous one- with no strategic planning in place. I must learn to put my thoughts on paper and have specific goals and targets in which this course will be very helpful. It is also a great networking opportunity and a good sounding board! I believe I have a good product and have worked very hard on the branding/packaging side of the business but I need to work on the sales and marketing now!!! It is a whole new venture! I'm also very excited about introducing new products in the very near future including balms, body butters, scrubs and bath treats.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Papaya Paradise

I'm not a big fan of papaya, as eating fruit that is, therefore naturally I chose to soap it when I received a small papaya as a gift.  What does papaya bring to the table?  This is what I found online:

"It is excellent in stabilizing oily skin & working as an exfoliant on dry areas. Papaya also is often used in skin products for the purpose of a natural lift & rejuvenation of the skin. Papaya contains Vitamin A, a property that benefits skin repair through increasing the rate of new cell formation. Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant with wonderful proteins for smoother, softer skin."

I also heard that papaya helps lighten age spots and discoloration on the skin.  Whether that is true or not I have no idea.  But I do know papaya extract is used a lot in cosmetics in tropical Asia.  I made 2 batches with the papaya, one for the body which contains some artificial colorant and fragrance, and the other for the face which has natural clay and essential oil for extra pampering!  These 2 batches are also loaded with aloe vera, silk, local honey, and coconut milk.  This is the ultimate Papaya Paradise treatment for sure!

These are the facial bars with added Australian Reef Red Clay and scented with essential oil blend of Geranium, Ylang-ylang, Bergamot, dark aged Patchouli, and West Indian Sandalwood.  You can still see the tiny little speckles of papaya puree.

 This is the body version with added pink clay and orange mica for coloring and scented with powdery honey fragrance.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Definitely Not Vegan

I'm so hoping the winter is over, I can never get enough warm weather!  I'm already making salt bar now to prepare for the sunny days to come when I can start wearing open toes cute sandals!  For those of you don't know what salt bar is, it is cold process soap made with load of salt for that scrubby effect.  My salt bars are definitely not vegan!  I've always wanted to try animal fats for cold process soap because Brad Pitt's Fight Club kind of got stuck in my head!  Finally I got myself a gallon of rendered beef tallow and gave it a try!  I can assure you there's no hamburger smell!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Friendship Soap - Mystique

The story goes... 9 of us from all over the world (ok, I exaggerated a little but seriously, it's international!) decided to make soap for each other.  This is nothing new, apparently there was a group of soapers who just did it recently.  What is it you ask?!  Well, after getting all soapers signed up, we started chatting as a group online and exchanging stories to get to know each other better not just in soap making but at more personal level.  Then we had Celine's (from IamHandmade) husband do the random name drawing, kind of like a modified secrete santa game people play in Christmas season, except, it's not a secrete.  If you are curious about who is making soap for who, watch this short video first: Friendship Soap Party Swap Names  You have to watch this, it is hilarious!
I have the honor to make soap for Anita from Anita's La La Land from Canada.  Her only request is that she wants to try an oriental, but mysterious and sexy fragrance.  Here's a quick shot of the finished log in case you are not able to watch youtube.  Hint: don't miss the section starting around 5:30 minutes into the video!  You need to listen to it, trust me you'll like it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pacific Dragon

Ok, time to show you the cut soap.  The fragrance I used did discolor the white a little and the white edges are now turning tan... darn!  But it smells so good.  In case you missed my previous post about making Pacific Dragon, click here first: Do You See Dragon?!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Why oh WHY?!  I should kill myself for this I'm sure!
I usually buy homogenized palm oil for my cold process soap because it's easier to just scoop and melt instead of melting and mixing the whole container then measure out the amount I need.  For those who don't know what homogenized palm oil means, it is a process of constant stirring and mixing melted palm oil while it cools down to room temperature solid stage.  Palm oil contains a lot of saturated fat and stearic acid.  If it does not go through homogenization, all stearic acid would sink down to the bottom.  Stearic acid is the main ingredient in palm oil that contributes to the mild but hard bar of soap.  If the non-homogenized palm oil is used to make soap, the beginning batches would be soft while the later batches would trace too fast and produce a rock hard soap which might not be desirable.
Ok, back to my yikes story where I feel like to kill myself.  You probably can guess by now that I bought non-homogenized palm oil... sigh.  Yes I did!  You know why?!  Because it's cheap and it's on-sale!
It came in 35 lb huge bucket!  It says nothing online about whether or not it's homogenized.  Only indicates scoop and use.  First of all, it took me forever to open the bucket.  I had to beg my husband to open it.  Then I dug into the bucket just to find out that it looked like stearic acid had been separated.  I quickly went online asking the supplier to give me an answer whether the palm oil is homogenized.  The customer service obviously didn't know palm oil needs to be homogenized either so that didn't help.  Anyway, took them a couple days to find out the answer and it is exactly what I didn't want to hear.  This is when I feel like to shoot myself...  How am I going to melt this whole 35 lb of palm oil all at once?!  I don't even own a pot that big!  Don't ask me how I did it last night, or I might feel like to kill myself again.  But here's what I ended up with:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mouth Watering Ginger Lime

I've made gradation soap before, or I called it ombre style soap.  Usually I use non-bleeding stable colorants for this kind of gradation.  Non-bleeding colorants make the gradation look more like geological canyon formation, you can see the defined lines between shades.  This time, I was going for the opposite, using bleeding colorants to make the gradation smooth and seamless.  The technique is exactly the same as my ombre soap, if you have not seen my video yet, click here: Making Ombre Layer Soap 
It will still take time for the colors to bleed into each other.  But I'm expecting by the end of cure time that gradation should be smooth and seamless.  Guess how many layers I poured?  8!
This batch is scented with Ginger Lime, a fragrance I totally forgotten I bought.  It popped out when I was digging into my fragrance boxes looking for something else (I need help organizing my over flowing fragrance collection!).  And I thought maybe it's telling me to use it!