Design Mania, Cosmetics Issue and a Job Offer

I’ve been hinting for awhile now, and it’s time to announce our Design Mania contest!

 

I trust that many of you have been trying your hand at the designs presented in the May/June 2014 issue, and I’ll bet that you have one or two to show off. Now is the time. Here’s what you do: try the designs if you haven’t already and submit photos of your best one or two. Your photos will be uploaded and voted on by the public. The person who gets the most votes overall will win the grand prize, and it is grand, indeed! The winners after that in each technique category will win a package of prizes that you will be thrilled to receive. Complete details and the entry form may be found here:  http://saponifier.com/enter-design-mania-contest-2014/

 

I am so excited to see what you have to offer, I can hardly wait! Once the entry deadline is reached, I’ll be back with voting information. Take a look at the prizes; they are awesome. Many, many thanks to our generous vendor partners who are participating with us.

 


Speaking of soap, I could look at soap designs all day long. The artistry of some of my soapmaking colleagues is nothing short of jaw-dropping–far more intricate and creative than I could ever hope to attain. Even so, I am just as pleased to use a rather Plain Jane or primitive looking bar as long as it performs well. I guess it’s true that if you love soap, you love all of it. Well, almost all of it, anyway. It never ceases to delight me that we can combine various oils and lye to get a bar of soap. I hope it never does.

 

What about you? Will a plain bar of well-made soap be as pleasing to you as a fancy, artistic one?

 

Also, it’s just a short time until July 1st, when our next issue comes out. I can’t describe to you how I anticipate actually seeing the magazine! I’m like a kid at Christmas. This issue concentrates on cosmetics, an important subject to many of us, so I hope you’ll enjoy it if you’re a subscriber. If not, we’d love to have you aboard.  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Finally, we have an opening for a writer at the Saponifier. This person’s regular column would center on the “That’s Life” and “Wit & Whimsy” side of soap, bath and body and candlemaking. You see the humor in everyday life with your craft and don’t mind sharing. This might include your mistakes or crazy things that happen when you’re selling or other events that we can all relate to. Interested? Contact beth@saponifier.com

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

We Just Love Soap!

In just hours, the Design Mania issue will be released. We are so excited to bring you these new designs to see and try! 

 

We love this issue because. . . well, what’s not to love? We get to look at beautiful soaps and we get the inside information on how to replicate them. I hope you pour over each and every soap and try your hand at them.  When you do, take good photos for our upcoming contest. Complete details will come later on; but in short, soapmakers will submit photos and the public will vote on their favorites, resulting in some very happy winners of fabulous prizes!

 

As much as we may like to see photos and try designs, it is but just a part of the soapmaking process and certainly not the most crucial aspect of a great bar of soap! If you’re a new soapmaker, intricate design should be the last of your concerns (although certainly fine to do if you are able). Concentrating on producing a bar that is satisfactory–hard, lathering, moisturizing, and so on is top priority. Even if you’re experienced, but have never attempted to make complicated designs on a regular basis, you’re still making high-quality soap.

 

I have seen some who are able to create gorgeous soaps from the beginning and I am duly impressed; but given the choice between a gorgeous soap and a well-made one, I’ll take the latter every time. A well made soap from a knowledgeable soapmaker has great worth. So, if you’re  not ready yet or don’t feel capable of turning out batch after batch of incredible designs, don’t feel inferior. Continue to make those wonderful soaps, whatever they look like.

 

Still, I think that we can well appreciate the beautiful designs we are about to discover (I can’t wait), and yet appreciate even the everyday soap for the amazing creation that it is. Don’t you?

 

Oh, and if you’re not a subscriber, you can take care of that here:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax,

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

And the Winners Are. . .

Just in case you hadn’t heard who won in the five categories of our Design Mania Contest, you’ll want to read on.

 

To recap, our July/August issue was entitled, Design Mania, with tutorials on beautiful soap designs, written by some of the best in the business.  Following that, we asked readers to do their best at replicating those designs and then we let you vote on them.  The results were astounding.  Not only were all of the entries spectacular and artfully done, but we were delighted with the world-wide representation among those who entered.  Of our five winners, two were from the UK, one from Ireland, one from Italy and one from the US!  The winners are listen below, in no certain order:

 

 Giustiniano Francioso, Italy, Drop Swirl (tutorial by Celine Blacow).  Guitiniano is rather new at soapmaking, but his talent is remarkable.  He stated, “It’s my first time to take part in a soap challenge and it was really fun! I never expected to be a winner in a section, so I’m surprised and very happy!I’ve been making soap for one year and this kind of swirl is one of my favorites and  easy to create according to my capacities.

I thank the Saponifier that gave me the opportunity to participate and I thank all those who voted for me.  I hope in the future there may be other occasions like this.  Thank you all.”
Tanya Bainbridge, UK, Paint Chip (tutorial by Cathy McGinnis).  Tanya hit this one out of the park and explained, ”A huge thanks to everyone who voted for my soap – such a lovely surprise!  I really enjoyed the idea of the Paint Chip Challenge.  I’d not thought about getting inspiration from a paint swatch before Cathy originally demonstrated it using Design Seeds’ colours, but what a fabulous idea – it’s one I shall continue to go back to.   I love the magic revealed at the cutting, and how the colours swirl and work together.  I found that one of the most challenging things was being able to match the soap colours as closely as possible to the original swatch – lots of tweaking required; oh, and hoping that the soap didn’t set up too quickly while working on the layers (it was somewhat temperamental in this instance!)”
Carma Wood, USA, Squeeze Bottle (tutorial by Michelle Rhoades).  Carma enjoyed replicated Michelle’s design.  She related, “I loved trying this design!  It was a lot of fun and exciting to cut my soap, because I didn’t know exactly what it expect with this design.  Each slice turned out differently, but unique and beautiful :)  Thank you so much for the contest!  I’m so surprised and happy that I won!  Thank you again!”
Rebekkah Hay, UK, Peacock Swirl (tutorial by Amanda Griffin).  Rebekkah won our voting public over with her fabulous rendition of the Peacock.  She exclaimed, “Thank you very much to everyone who voted for me. I feel very blessed and encouraged. I had so much fun trying this technique and am looking forward to learn more.  Thanks again, I will now continue my happy dance.”
Celine Blacow, Ireland, Tiger Stripe (tutorial by Kendra Cote).  If you’ve seen Celine’s handiwork through the photos she posts or her You Tube videos (iamhandmade), you wouldn’t be surprised that she has won a prize in this contest.  Celine happily stated, ” Oh wow!!!  Thank you SO much, I’m really delighted!!”
Be sure to check out these artists’ work here:  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/.  To see the tutorials, you’ll have to purchase the July/August 2013 edition of the magazine:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/157577754/saponifier-back-issue-julyaug-2013?utm_source=connectionwithetsysh&utm_medium=api&utm_campaign=api.  For soap colorants, check out these companies:  www.celestialcolors.com and http://www.elementsbathandbody.com/Colorants-c-274.html.  See Michelle Rhoades site at:  www.mossycreeksoap.com.
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Soap Colorants

Color, color, color!  Although I know that some of you prefer not to add color to your soaps, a great many of you wouldn’t make a batch without.  Why is that?  Is a soap not as good uncolored as it is colored?  Of course it is!  A soap’s performance is not dependent upon color; however, our desire to add color is still important to us and often, to our customers or the recipients of our gifts.  

 

As many soap artisans are truly artists, the appeal of color and design is just too important to bypass and half the fun of making soap is creating colorful designs.  Nevertheless, color isn’t important only to the more fanciful among us, but even to those of us who make simpler, one-colored soaps or other not-so-fancy soaps.  If we’re making soap that smells like the ocean for instance, we want color that is reminiscent of the ocean, and it makes sense that a rosemary mint soap be green.  Moreover, we want our orange scented soap to be. . . well, orange.

 

Even still, many of us are still confused by color.  We don’t know which colorants to use or how to use them properly.  Our colors morph or speckle or disappear.  How do these soapmakers do it, we ask?  Seeing the beautifully swirled and otherwise colored soaps of our sisters and brothers in the soaping world, we know it can be done, but how?

 

I can’t do the topic justice in just a blog post, but the most common colorants for soap are:

1.    Herbs and spices (and other natural sources of color)

2.    Ultramarines & oxides

3.    FD&C

4.    Micas

 

Which one(s) you choose depend upon a few different factors, such as the kind of soap you’re making.  Some colorants that work well in melt and pour soap do not work well under the high pH of cold or hot process soap.  Sometimes, for the effect we want, a bleeding colorant will add to the design; other times, a non-bleeding colorant is imperative.  A number of soapmakers want to use only natural colorants obtained by infusing or powdering herbs, spices and other naturally-derived agents, whether for their properties in the soap for strictly for color.

 

Your first task is to decide what is important to you when choosing colorants.  If bright colors and crisp designs are at the top of your priority list, for instance, choose ultramarines and oxides or micas.  If your desire is beautiful coloring that is easily  mixed into the soap, and you’re making a once-color batch or you want your colors to blend a bit, then FD&C colors are just fine.  If you’re looking for natural colorants, it’s herbs, spices, etc.  Once you decide, you can purchase your colorants and you’re on your way to making colorful soaps.

 

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about natural colorants.

 

Speaking of color and design, don’t forget to enter our contest!  Details can be found here:   http://saponifier.com/design-mania-contest-submissions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with colored bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Soapmaker’s Sweet Spot

What kind of soapmaker are you?  Do you plan out your offerings far in advance?  Do you spend time developing intricate designs and precise colors?  Or, do you make soap as the spirit moves you?  Do you prefer soap with simpler colors and patterns, either because you’re not the fancy kind or to speed production?

 

A more important question to consider is whether it’s important or not to plan far ahead, to make artistically designed soaps, to be a free spirit or to keep it simple.

 

The answer, of course is, it depends–on a number of factors.

 

For some of soapmakers, simply making soap is the satisfaction, be it fancy or simple, unusually shaped or rectangle, scented or not, it doesn’t matter.  The magic of combining the alkali and oils and getting lovely soap is a reward unto itself.  For others, the design part of making soap is a large part of the attraction.  Artistic souls are moved by the possibilities of making patterns in striking color combinations and it keeps them going.

 

As for planning, well, planners know whom they are and free-spirits know whom they are!  For some, planning is painful and stifles creativity, so they make what they want when the spirit moves them.  Others find that careful planning  is the only way to get soap made and made well.

 

So then, should we all be striving for the same outcome?  Absolutely not!

 

If you’re selling soap, you realize that all things about your nature must be tempered by business demands.  It’s a simple fact that you cannot run a successful business without a good degree of planning, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not.  You also realize that you need to produce soap as quickly and as efficiently as possible in order to maximize time and thus, profits.  This realization usually forces us to streamline our creativity into something that we can do easily and can reasonably replicate.  Hobbyists, on the other hand, you have the freedom to spend as much time as you like to develop your skills and put your artistic abilities to work.

 

Even so, I hope that each soapmaker finds his or her “sweet spot.”  Gorgeous or utilitarian, rectangular or round, full of additives or not, well-planned or by-the-seat-of-your-pants, all have a place and a purpose.  Finding your purpose and working with your personality is the key to success, however you define it.  The Saponifier’s goal is to open you up to the possibilities to help you on your way.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles & wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

 

PS – Subscribers, watch your inbox today for the 15th anniversary issue!  If you’re not a subscriber, quick!  You have a little time to make sure you get in on the fun:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

We Can’t Wait!

We’re so excited about this upcoming issue of the Saponifier!  Due to be released on July 1st, it is our 15th anniversary edition.  To celebrate, we wanted this one to be beautiful, fun and full of design ideas for making cold process soap.  We affectionately call it, “DesignMania.”  Some of the best in the biz are showing off their design tutorials, along with plenty of photos so that you can learn these techniques to try on your own.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

 

What?  You’re not a subscriber?  You can fix that, you know!  Readers worldwide subscribe to the Saponifier since it’s a digital publication–no shipping to worry about.  You have your magazine right at your fingertips with just a download.  Couldn’t be easier.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, follow this link:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

As always, we also feature helpful columnists who teach you, inform you and otherwise help you as a soapmaker, bath & body maker and candle maker.  Melinda Coss is teaching us about balancing design with business, and Marla Bosworth instructs us on writing a business plan.  Yours Truly regaled you with a review of the amazing HSCG conference in Raleigh, NC.  But we also have two new writers.  Sue Finley, our Potpourri column writer and Debbie Sturdevant, our resident herbal expert, who will be sharing with us through her column,  Herbal Wisdom.  Sue is writing about inspiration in soap design and Debbie is revisiting an old favorite, Calendula.  She’s even included a couple of her favorite recipes!

 

Share the fun with us on July 1st.  You know you want to!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS – Soap designs just beg for a contest.  Stay tuned.  :-)

Soaps with Swirls, Twirls and Whirls

Have you seen the beautiful cold processed soaps that soapers are creating?

 

In various places on the internet, you’ll see beautiful multi-color swirls, swirl designs with their own names, peaked tops, cupcake soaps, and soaps that look like cake–and that’s just the beginning, swirls, twirls and whirls abound.  I am impressed daily by what my fellow soapmakers are capable of, most of them better than what I am able to do.  I feel that I make a good quality soap, but not one as gorgeous and imaginative as what I see from some of my colleagues.  It’s truly enjoyable to gaze in wonder and delight at their creations.

 

It makes me wonder, however, is a plain jane bar of soap acceptable anymore?  Will a bar of one color, no swirls, no peaks and  no design be received with as much joy as the bar that bowls you over with its intricacy?  Might the soaper who makes that plain bar be seen as a lesser soapmaker than her fancier counterpart?  I wonder if the bar has been raised or is in the process thereof (yes, pun intended) to require a soap not only to be well made, but gorgeous, too.

 

So far, the soapmakers I’ve seen have been very supportive of each other’s work and it makes me pleased to be in the company of such individuals.  I have seen men and women who cheer each other on and who freely pass along hints and favorite suppliers.  I hope that continues and that it is widespread, not just where I hang out.  I do wonder, however, where soapmaking is taking us as an industry and whether this will separate the novice from the professional and whether the customer will eventually demand artistic soap.

 

What is your opinion on the matter?  What do you make?

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne

 

You Are the Soap Master!

I’ve been checking out hundreds of photos of soap recently and I’ve been so impressed with the artistry that has been displayed by my fellow soapmakers.

 

I thought back to the days when I first began reading about making soap.  Not only were pictures harder to come by, but soapmakers just were not doing as much with their soaps.  Yes, they were adding color, spices, herbs, and scent, but not the lovely designs I’m seeing now.

 

Also, the first design, it seems to me, was the swirl and we saw lots of one color swirls out there.  Shortly thereafter, we began seeing multi-color swirls.  It didn’t take long for even more ideas for beautiful designs to be employed.  We began seeing soaps that looked like desserts, layers, brand new types of swirls, and so on.  I like to think that the Saponifier, among other sources, assisted soapmakers in inspiring one another to kick things up a notch.  What I see now is nothing less than astounding!

 

And yet, a handcrafted bar of soap is beauty in its own right, whether it’s a plain castile bar or a more primitive looking bar.

 

I know that some soapmakers feel frustrated at not accomplishing a design that is as beautiful or as artistic as that of another soapmaker’s.  That feeling is unnecessary, however, because creating a good quality bar of soap is the goal.  Further work to make it even more visually appealing is simply icing on the cake.

 

That is not to say we shouldn’t be challenged to try new techniques or to create our own, only that we shouldn’t lose sight of what is truly important, a good soap.  If you’ve gotten to that point, you are already a master.

 

Therefore, now that you are a master, forge your own path.  Do you find swirling hard to do well?  Try something else!  Let your imagination wander and free yourself to experiment.  You might come up with the next new trend!  And even if you don’t, know that the fact that you make great soap is enough.

 

Until next time, keep yourselves in bubbles and wax!

 

Beth Byrne