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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


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween Soap Porn

We love Halloween at our house!  Love it love it love it!

We haven't done any straight up soap porn lately so I thought we needed a little inspiration and good clean fun over on this here blog.  So we start with some yummo looking soap and end with some fun decorations just to get into the mood right before October.

Hangman Soap - Halloween 2013 by Sugar and Spite Bathery

Black Licorice by Daily Repose
Crystal Skull by Sky Rain Soap
Homebrewed Pumpkin Ale Beer Soap by Redbeard Brew Bars
Then there were some really cute NON-soap related Halloween cute things I found in the world that I thought I'd share - ALL HANDMADE.....
A Bat Garland:
Couture by Ayca

Orange Felt Light Garland:
Ursula Shop
Creepy Stickers: 
The Package House
Got in the mood?  I know I have!  Now I feel like going shopping for goodies.....
xoxoxox jo

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shampoo Bar Challenge

Last week we did a Shampoo Soap Challenge on Soaper's Retreat and there were some very lovely submissions.  I have decided, after many years of being disgruntled with my shampoo options and my aging hair situation, that I need to go au naturale.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  This makes it easier for me to browse options!  ;)

Here were just a few that were submitted..... They were all beautiful!!!

Nicole Sullivan

 Natalia Mijnzeep

Miranda Pollack-Raymond

Hayley Heke

New challenge will be posted by Friday...... :)

Please leave comments on what you would like to see more of on this blog!!!

xoxoxo jo

Friday, September 13, 2013

Petrified Wood Soap Challenge

On Soaper's Retreat last week, I asked the group to take a look at a picture of petrified wood from the Petrified Forest National Park, in Arizona.  Something I had never seen before. 

 photo credit:

I asked the group to create a soap INSPIRED by this photo. There were very few entries for this challenge as I had suspected there would be.  Everyone is very busy preparing for the upcoming holiday season, so we will stop having soaping challenges until after the first of the year.

Here were some of the soap inspirations created by some in the group.....

Louise Vargas
Aissa Ong Babinski
Jane Leebeck
Janet Schreiner
Paige Bowser
Robin Duncan Hasty
Linda Wisniewski Morris
Thank you to everyone who participated and gave this a "go".  You all have inspired me as well as others who look at this blog.  Enjoy your colorful soap!!!
xoxo JO

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Crab Challenge - Soap Inspiration

What a crazy month it has been!  I recently moved my home (just a few miles away) and had a Crohn's flare-up....both no fun at all.  I was MIA for quite a bit dealing with it all, but I am feeling fantastic now and slowly getting back into a routine.

Before I went missing, though, we had a soaping challenge on the Facebook Soaper's Retreat group.  I shared a photo from Bing of a gorgeous crab and asked everyone to capture the beauty in a batch of their own soaps. 

Here is Crabby, Mr. Inspiration:

We had some amazing results and I am so proud of everyone who attempted this challenge. Here are some of my favorites...

Charlene Simon of Bathhouse Soaps


Sarah Withnell


Amy Warden of Great Cakes

Tanya Rasley of Baby Duck Soaps

Michelle Rhoades of Mossy Creek

Mary Ann Forehand

Shelly Cleveland Morris

Tanya Chappell

New challenge coming soon!  So get over to the retreat and think outside the box!  ;)