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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Photos Forgotten

I've been awfully thoughtful today.  Had a 3 day migraine that made me temporarily insane but I worked through the week anyway.

This morning, the quietness of the house and the early onset of head pain, naturally lended itself to a 4 hour nap.  So when I woke up, I'm feeling still.  The birds are chirping and there is nothing else.

I have been wondering why photographs have always touched me.... made a deeper, scar-like impression more than any other medium.  I think part of it has to do with the very stillness and quietness that it captures, much like what I felt this morning.    A photograph is a fragment of a something that is captured in a moment in time and that moment can never be captured again. Photos are silent, so you can only SEE the message.  Too many people rely on the said word, when the said word is never what we can count on.  It's the action that speaks louder.  A loving glance across a room can be extremely powerful between a couple, but holding hands and saying, "I love you" doesn't mean anything if you don't feel it.

A photographer has done his or her job if the image took me away, even for a moment.  I am just sharing some of the ones I looked at today.

dancing girl 60's

Add caption

Eartha Kitt, '52...killing it


side show 40's

chicken and smoking boy

nyc subway

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August Sunshine Soap Porn

I have been so neglectful with giving you the good stuff, my little pretties, so here is a little eye candy for you to enjoy this weekend...

Poppy Soap Co.

M. Strand Soap

Bodhi Basics (etsy)

Soap For Your Soul (etsy)

Freedom Soap Co.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life Moves Fast....And Here I Go!

So if you've been following this blog, you have been with me through quite a bit.  A whirlwind of life changes and a couple of career changes.

I started this blog in August, 2007.  Woah.  Seven years ago.  So much has happened in the last seven years.  I knew nothing about making soap when I started this blog.  I only knew that I just loved handcrafted soap and I knew that it needed to be in the spotlight.  If you didn't read this blog then, you may be interested how it all began.  You can go back to the beginning.  My first post asked people if they made handcrafted soap and wanted me to review it, to send it to me.  That my interest was to spread the beauty across the internet through the photos I'd take and the reviews I'd write.

I had no horse in this race.  Starting this blog was a hobby I created for myself.  I couldn't find anything about handcrafted soap on the internet except on how to make it, not the plain beauty of it. Starting this blog opened a world for me.  Within a couple of months readers encouraged me to make soap myself and when I did and failed, people asked me what soap calculator I used.  "What calculator??"  I was completely clueless.  And so readers were so sweet and encouraged me further.  For me, I had never met a group of people so community-based, so encouraging.  I felt at home in my new soapy world.

Eventually I harnessed the soap beast and rode that sucker until I got it!  Then I added soap to my line of bath and body goodies.  This blog has been not only a hobby for me, but one of my inspirational pools, my community support system and my creative outlet.

So with some serious family situations and personal deflation over the last year, I pushed through major obstacles and started a new business with two partners, my family.  We started Mad Oils. I feel like this is where I belong.  I enjoy sourcing raw materials and finding things for people.  I enjoy behind the scenes work.   I think it suits me.  I still want to connect with the community, to help customers succeed.  I want my customers to succeed!  That is why we are getting the best possible products.  But I needed you all to know where my path is going and where this blog has taken me.

Thank you for the 7 years of listening to me ramble on about soap, life, me, this and that.  And as I've said a million times, I have never claimed to be a writer, so I know my posts aren't grammatically correct.  I write the way I think and it's who I am.

I'm not done.  I'm still here and I'm still going to write and post soap porn and all that.  And I WILL try to post more often.  But I have certainly gotten caught up in life.  But life just started getting better!  So perhaps you'll see more of me, even though I'm busier!!

Love you!  xox Joanna

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Exfoliate Exfoliate Exfoliate!

I've always loved the scrubby manliness of an exfoliating bar of soap.  Something so perfect about scrubbing the dirt off my skin that makes me feel extra clean and feeling refreshed.  I think the only scrubby soap I did not care for was luffah soap.  I felt like my skin was being scraped off with razor blades.  And I like my soap rough, too.  Ground coffee, sand, volcanic rock, whatever....but you can keep your whole loofah and razors.  It's just not for me, thank you.

SO I've been looking around at exfoliating soaps, loving the texture of seeing them, being that I don't really have them in my hands right now.  So I have to imagine.  SO my imagination brings me soap porn...which I share with you lovelies...

made with coffee grounds and oatmeal.  Nomm!

made with pumice, cornmeal, yerba mate and walnut shell powder

made with lavender buds, orange bits

made with pumice and poppy seeds

made with pink Himalayan salt, black Australian clay, aloe powder, activated charcoal

made with dandelion leaves grown in the soap makers garden!  A beautiful green!
(I think I need to buy this one)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's Been Too Long, Sporny Sporn ~ An Etsy Extraction

Sporn = Soap Porn

Allow me to Spoon Feed you now...


No. 204 Impetus Natural Wheatgrass Soap by Hart and Hawthorn

Dragon's Blood by mybeautye

Coconut Milk Lemongrass by Bubble Luxe

Rosemary Soap by The Little Ragamuffin

Vegan Lavender Soap by Westford Soaps

Hazelnut Cappuccino Coffee Soap by KM Elegant Creations

Just a few soapy images for all of you who have been patiently waiting while I have been so busy with my life stuffs.....

More coming soon, alog with an announcement of sorts coming this May!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Food Soap Challenge

One of the reasons I post challenges on Soaper's Retreat on facebook is to push your abilities to express yourselves and the photographs you take of the masterpieces you make.  In life and in work, I always feel like if I don't push the envelope or think outside the box, in my work, or anything else I do, will just be overlooked, be plain, "pedestrian"... and like everyone else's.  So this challenge, The Food Challenge, was to use a food item, never used BY YOU before in your soaps.  I was clear in my food challenge description, that failures (meaning that if the food item created a soap on a stick scenario or whatever) or ultimate messes, would all be considered. My hope was to open the idea to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and challenge you to add something unconventional that would, perhaps, open up a world of possibilities in your own mind in your soapmaking.

So after reviewing such amazing entries and photographs, I am only able to choose a few, but know that I was tickled pink to see the efforts and awesome envelope pushing I saw with this challenge.  I am really proud of the people who really left their "drawing within the lines" state of mind and took a chance with this challenge.  GOOD FOR YOU.

I hope you know that these challenges are not for this blog.  Not for any status symbol.  Not a popularity contest.  I do it FOR YOU.  To challenge you to not only think about your art and express it from YOU, but to also better photograph your art in new ways that you feel comfortable with and that show off the beauty of your artistic work.

Now, let's get to some photos.....

Food: Made with Budda's Hand (fruit), by Melinda Wimm Wolff Foster

Food:  Tahini + Honey with Acacia Gum sprinkles, made by Clara Lindberg

Food:  Sriracha Hot Sauce, mad by Debbie Thomas

Food:  Kale + Raspberries, Made by Katye Fredieu

Food:  Carrot Juice + Raw Noodle Topping, Made by Andrea Gerlach

Food: Dragonfruit, Made by Fransiska Tanadi

Like I mentioned, I couldn't list all of them, but these were some of the more unusual ingredients used in the challenge and I am proud of everyone who tried a new food in their soap.  Everyone!  Well done, people, well done.  Now hopefully, adding new things in your soap won't be as scary...O.o

xxxooo  Jo

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What To Bring To A Soap Conference - Guest Blog Post

There are soap conferences and gatherings all over the country, from the huge Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild Annual Conference to regional gatherings like Central Soapers Workshop, Alabama Soap & Candle Meeting, Tennessee Soap and Candle Social, Mid Atlantic Lights & Lather Artisans, and so many more!

For most of us, saving our pennies is the beginning and by the time we set sail for the conference, we're losing our wits! Plus, if you've never been to an industry conference, you might be totally baffled as to what to expect.
First things first, most soap conferences provide food (but double check with your specific conference!) You might want to pack a little snack, like a granola bar or trail mix to munch on if you get hungry in between meals. Add a bottle of water, trust me on that one.
While you might be sitting in on seminars and talks, there will be plenty of milling about and networking. So, wear and pack comfortable shoes that don't kill your feet. And clothing? Chances are casual clothing is the way to go. Wearing layers is a smart idea, as the conference location could be a little too chilly or a little steamy for your personal thermostat.
Speaking of networking, bring those business cards. The best part about soap conferences is meeting up with other like-minded folks. Bring some business cards to trade info! That last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to write down your info when talking shop.
It may seem like a no-brainer to remember medication, but I have to admit, I’ve forgotten! Also, make sure to bring your healthcare information, including an insurance card, just in case. The last thing you want is to get sick or hurt, but if you do, being prepared is important.
A little mini first-aid pack in your purse is a lifesaver: pack up a couple Band-Aids, a mini pack of Kleenex, a travel size bottle of hand lotion, and single dose packet of aspirin.
When you pack your bags, have a game plan for any swag you might pick up at the soap conference. Most gatherings have goodie bags or raffle prizes. Set aside money to ship anything home, if you need to.
Last, but certainly not least, pack a stellar attitude. Whichever soap gathering you are going to is a "once a year" opportunity to put your best foot forward and make connections. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by playing the shy guy.
Step out of your comfort zone and see how many new people you can meet. Scope out other attendees in advance and make preliminary connections on social media, if it puts you at ease. And while you might love seeing your soapy sisters (and brothers) that you already know inside and out, make sure to reach out and meet new peeps!
I'll be headed to Central Soapers Workshop, the HSCG Annual Conference, and the Alabama Soap & Candle Meeting this year. Will I be seeing you there? Make sure to stop and say, hi, okay?!
This post was written by Kenna of Modern Soapmaking, the soap maker’s best friend and go-to resource. 

(Thank you, Kenna, for this great post about soap conferences!  Great bits of info, and so true.... I had a 2 day migraine and forgot my migraine meds at the HSCG conference last year.  No bueno.  This year, I shall be prepared!)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soap Porn January 2014

I love handmade soap.  I make it myself, but I love to see and use soaps from around the world as well.  I have not been too good about posting Soap Porn on here for a while so here is a little eye candy I know I NEEDED.....maybe a little sexy.....  watch out.  ;)

Monica Vickers

Mianra Soaps

Gayle Butler

Gordana Micic

Amouri Amof

Stefanie Alsup

That's it for today.....

Get dirty..... Get clean.  Be good.

xo Jo

Monday, December 23, 2013

The North Street Bubble For Christmas

Marianne Rice of The North Street Bubble sent me an array of gorgeous soaps about a year ago to try and possibly review and I just loved them.  I loved the way each one looked and smelled.  They each had a distinct look about them, and were mindfully handcrafted and sent individually in paper bags ink stamped with the TNSB logo on them.

Sadly, I waited so very long to actually get into my shower with them.  Why did I wait so very long to use them??  Have I been so consumed with my own life that I could not muster unveiling one of those suckers for my own use?  Ugh, I kick myself!  You know why??  Because they were pretty darn stunning soaps, I say!

I am choosing one to talk about.  The prettiest one I had in the bunch.  Layered with red?? 
O h  y e a h .  Two thin red lines of perfection.  Absolutely stunning and that baby performed seamlessly.

This soap had huge bubbles and it felt smooth as silk on my wet skin.  And it wasn't like the huge bubbles cancelled out moisturizing qualities, either.  In the past, I've received soap bars that produce big, big bubbles and when I've gotten out of the shower, my skin feels like I've been shrink-wrapped in plastic and THEN, I bend and my skin feels like it cracks.  Not so with Marianne's soap.  I have no need for lotion afterwards, which is my telltale sign that a soap is well balanced.

Sadly after a year, her soap's scent faded and I didn't experience the BOMB smells that I initially got when I opened her package, but her soaps did not disappoint.  She is spot on with her recipe and graceful artistry.

Thank you, Marianne.  Sorry it took an ion to get to it.  Well worth the wait.  Peace out!

The North Street Bubble. (FB)    Web

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Naked Tops

I created a challenge on Soaper's Retreat to photograph their soaps in natural light (as I always do).  But this time the soaps needed to be naked: no sprinkles, glitter, seeds, nothing on top!  Colors were acceptable, but plain Jane - NO toppings. 

They were all stunning, and I just love all of the creativity these people have brewing inside of them.  It consistently amazes me.  Every. SINGLE. Time.

There were many more I wanted to include, but there were issues.  Some needed more light.  Some were not using natural light.  Focus is a big issue in a lot of entries.  Imagine as you are shooting your photo..... that there is nothing else that exists in the world than the screen that you see out of.  Move your position until what you see through the screen MEANS something, tells something, or makes you feel something.  Can a piece of soap make you feel something?  Absolutely.  A sense of peace, or solace....perhaps remind you of a moment in time.  A quiet second that once was.  It is possible to move people with your photos.

So I urge you to take these photo challenges more seriously, because your photos are going to make people want your soap, or at least treasure the look of them.  They become precious commodities, not just a surplus.  Even a chunk of very rustic looking soap can look gorgeous and precious.

Perhaps I will share some of my own series of soaps as an example of different ways to get across different emotions with a hunk of soap someday.  With different lighting, different backgrounds, etc....

Here was a photo I took years ago of a chocolate soap:

Here are some of my favorites from the challenge......

Michael Kitney

Jeannine Jonas

Lina Vilniskyte

Jennifer Jansen

Emma Frost

Kerry Sylvester

Kendra Cote