Tag Archives: handmade soap

Olio – 3/28/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

It finally feels like spring and the weather has been fairly dry for a couple of weeks.  We had so much rain from September until mid March, we are glad for a bit of drier weather.  We don’t want to go into summer dry though.  The nice weather allowed eldest son and eldest grand to visit last weekend and they were able to get the deck rails, ballusters, and rail caps completed on the deck.

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That makes the deck a usable feature again and as soon as it is truly past freezing nights, pots of flowering plants will be added to one side of the wide steps and some corners of the deck.  For now, there are just two chairs out there for sitting in the warm sun on calm warmer days.  Ranger the beast, who is suffering from joint pain, has enjoyed a few days laying on the warm deck boards in the sun.

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Recently, I found a craft event to be held in May and because I am making soaps for two local museums, I decided to register for the event and make more soaps.  Instead of just making loaf molds, some of the soaps are being made using shaped molds, one of sheep, one with a goat, squares, bars, rounds, and smaller ones with geometric and floral patterns on them that are usually used for lotion bars.  The only one I don’t like is a pink Passionfruit Rose scented one, but I bet it will sell.

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In addition to several batches curing, there are two made this morning that are saponifying for tomorrow’s unmolding.

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Those two batches are a sheep and bar mold of citrus scented soap, and a goat and square mold of Goat milk, Oatmeal, and Honey unscented soap.  Tomorrow, I will make a batch of Lavender scented, lightly lavender colored sheep and round bars.  Each batch that has a surplus of recipe is going into the smaller geometric and floral molds as guest soaps.  Special labels have been created for the two museums,  Wilderness Road Regional Museum and Edith Bolling Wilson Museum.

When I attended the fiber retreat at Hawk’s Nest State Park the end of February/early March, I was gifted some raw fleece by a friend.  Yesterday I finally braved trying to wash one and though I have only done about 10 ounces so far, I am very pleased with the process on the Jacob fleece.

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This morning, it looks clean and is nicely dried.  I am separating the white, the darkest black, and the gray into three piles and will comb and spin them separately, hoping to be able to knit a gradient shawl from the resulting yarn.  There is much more of it in the garage for me to wash and as the afternoon is beautiful, warm, and calm, a couple more batches will be washed and set out on a screen to dry enough to bring in for the night.

The pullets have had no more visits from the Red Tailed Hawk, I hope I have foiled it’s efforts to enter the run.  They are now almost 21 weeks old and hopefully will soon start providing us with eggs.  They are a pretty flock, though 3 short of what I had hoped for this spring.

Soon it will be time to pull the mulch back from the asparagus, weed a few beds for peas and onions, the start of the planting season.  Hopefully, bending down by then won’t still result in dizziness from our accident.  It is frustrating how long it is taking to recover from the carelessness of the young lady that hit us.

Until next time.  Be safe and enjoy spring on its way.

Gifts of Love

And appreciation. T’s family were the first recipients of my handmade products. I had been buying them handcrafted soap at the Farmers’ market after their move to Northern Virginia. When I started making soap myself, they received a batch. Then on a visit home, one of my Lotion bars was offered and that too became a product they used and the Beard oil for wild and wooly facial hair . Baby clothes, knit headbands, scarves and hats, a vest or two and a sweater to two left my needles for their home. They appreciate the handcrafted goods and I enjoy making them.

They have skills beyond my level in so many areas. Last Mother’s Day, knowing that I was reaching a point where I was going to have to start paying to keep my blog up, T developed my format on his server and presented me a link. I now know that my blog is secure and that I can post pictures without wondering if the next one was going to be the one that required me to pay for the service or seek sponsorship, not a route I desired.

W is an artist and my home displays many of her paintings, prints, and sculptures. A couple of decades ago, Mountaingdad presented me a beautiful hand thrown pottery platter.

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This huge 16.5″ diameter beauty has never had a display place in our home as there is no rack to hold it safely on the wall. It did live in the middle of the dining room table in one home, when we had a separate table in the kitchen used for most family meals, but our log home has but one table, used daily, so the platter sits on the pine and cedar shelves above the refrigerator nesting a large wooden bowl and often hidden by the bags of chips and tins of cookies blocking the view of the shelves and their display of little used pottery and the wok that is too big to go anywhere else in the kitchen.

W is in the process of carving a platter rack to mount on a log wall just above my jelly cupboard in the dining room. Tucson, as the platter was named by it’s creator, will finally have a home where it can be seen and admired more than the two or three times a year it is put into service. You see, wood working skills are another of her talents.

Because of my desire to have a couple of wooden soap molds of dimensions that will hold my favorite recipe for soap,  T put his carpentry skills to work and with a couple of red oak boards, he built me two lidded molds for Christmas.

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And to encourage me to keep making my products, the first installment of several large jars of organic Coconut oil for use in soap and lotion making and for cooking.

Each day we live in and admire their talents, as they were the builders and finishers of all of the finish carpentry, cabinets, and interior doors in our beautiful log home, and their craftsmanship makes this a wonderful place to live, as well as being decorated with much of their talent.

I love my home, my family and their talents and skills. Tomorrow I will use my new molds for the first time to start replenishing my soap supply after the holiday markets. I am indeed a fortunate woman.

The Great Soap Dilemma

A couple of years ago, I began making cold process soap and handmade solid lotion bars so that I knew what the contents of the products were.  The soap that I was making was being used in our household and by some of our children and their families.  The lotion bars have been used by me, given as gifts to knitter and spinner friends and family and all were well received.  This encouraged me to continue to make more and varied products and soon I was stockpiling much more than we could use.  A couple of months ago, I opened an Etsy Shop, hoping to make a hobby business out of my passion.  I signed up for a folk craft festival.  Both the shop and the festival have been or were largely unsuccessful, however, my friends who have been given soap, lotion bars, or beard oils or who have purchased them from me have encouraged me not to give up.

In this vein, one friend suggested that I apply for the Holiday Market at the Farmers’ Market that will occur on two Saturdays, one in November and one in December.  I contacted the market manager and received an application.  The application was completed and promptly returned with the necessary photos of products.  October 15 was the deadline to submit the applications and I am sitting on pins and needles awaiting notification of whether I was accepted for either or both of the days.   As soap can be made in a couple of hours, it requires 4 weeks to cure to sufficient hardness to make it marketable.  My supply is fairly good right now, especially of the ones scented with essential oils, but 3 of my 4 signature unscented soaps are in a fairly low supply. For the past week, I have debated with myself, whether I should make more soap, knowing that if I don’t get in the market and if my shop business doesn’t pick up, that I would be adding 27 more bars of soap to my supply shelf.

This morning, I decided that the soaps that were in short supply are also the ones that we are most likely to use here, so I hauled out the scale, pot, immersion blender, oils, lye and other accoutrements of a morning of soap making.

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I ended up making 3 batches of signature soaps.  My Coffee Scrub, Lavender Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat soaps wrapped in insulating towels on a wide window sill until they can be unmolded and cut tomorrow or the next day.  These soaps are all natural soaps made with food grade oils, no preservatives, no artificial colorants and no scent oils.  They are all mild castile soaps.

Now my fingers and toes are crossed that I am admitted to at least one of the market days and that my soaps, lotion bars, beard oils, Comfrey salve, and handspun yarns sell. I would love to keep indulging in my love to make these products.