Mad Oils

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Little Soap Porn, My Dear?

We haven't had soap porn in a really long time.  I've been missing it....

I know secretly you have too.  Here is a handful of new bright and cheerful photos of hand crafted soaps I have never seen:

Diane's Naturally -  Australia

Heavenly Bubbles Soap - UK

Pink Parchment Soaps - USA

Island Coconut Bar - SunyIslandBlu

Hibiscus - CoquetteBath USA

Ginger Grass and Lemon - the charming frog - USA

Lavender - Kirk Estate - USA

I just LOVE staring at handmade soap!  Isn't it just beautiful??

xoxo Joanna

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Intimate Garden Walk With Milo + Otis

There is something almost primal in getting down deep into the earth... an element of connection and reflection.

This challenge was meant to be an exercise for you to get in touch with a primal emotion and infusing that deep internal force into your art.  I call it the Emotion Transfer Technique.(ETT).

Art is complex and I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but through my own experience I have found that art takes on the Maker's feelings. Think about some of the artists you know of, and think of the art that is/was so obviously theirs. Personality comes through. So to not lose sight of your inner self and artist, ETT is an essential element to exercise regularly.  Terrible flops can occur from them, but that's why you should exercise ETT, because flopping is just a blip or bump in the works.  We must all trip and fall before we can stand up tall, and then there is more tripping throughout our lives.  If there isn't, my guess is that the person is either not an artist or they are a control addict and will not open themselves to FEELINGS.

On that note,  with coffee in hand, my garden walk begins.  Join me and we'll walk together:

I went on a short but deep journey through Milo + Otis' backyard Jungle.  The story of her garden was told in such a way that I felt present, walking beside her as she told the story of the overgrown and oh-so-loved maze of plants that she navigates through and absorbs it all in.  Well, the Creeping Charlie needs a flame throwing trim once in a while, but ...that's another story.

Milo AndOtis's photo.

You'll understand.  This is her own explanation of the Digging In The Dirt soap she made.  Read on.

"I love dirt. As a child, we would change into old T-shirts and crummy pants and go mud sliding after a rain. I could sit in a chair in an empty room doing nothing and come out dirty. I have a close and intimate relationship with dirt; it can't stay away from me. Nor I it.
Ever since I had my own yard, I have dug in the dirt, planting bulbs, growing flowers and vegetables alike. My current garden has been affectionately named The Jungle because my tomatoes grow to 7 or 8 feet tall and after planting sunflowers one year, they won't stop coming up. I don't have the heart to pull them up, so every year, I have towering sunflowers whose heads get so heavy they pull the thick sturdy stalks down, sometimes all the way to the ground. When I walk through it every summer, I get to know the obstacle course, when to step over, when to lift up and go under, and when to simply duck. I know when to step around all the volunteers of cleome that spring up in the paths that I can't cut down, either. When I go out late at night, I can walk it essentially blinded.
I was out yesterday, pulling up grasses and clearing the way for the day lillies, using my flame thrower to take out the creeping charlie (I'm sorry, Charlie, but you won't stop!). It was perfect day with mellow sunshine, fresh dirt, the green of the new shoots and the perfect blue sky. Getting on my knees and turning dirt with my bare hands, getting it stuck under my nails, finding last year's dead leaves in my hair, is energizing but relaxing and calming.

I made my soap after that, using yellows for the sun, greens for the new growth and blues for the sky and the water that make it all grow. Black of course is needed for the dirt and the night. I used a round and round hanger swirl to represent the continual change of the seasons. Honeysuckle is the scent as I love my fragrant flowers. I was hoping for a soap that would look interesting, with energy but ultimately gives a soothing feeling, just like dirt on my hands gives me." 
- Milo + Otis

I was not only touched by her story, I WENT there and felt it.  And the  soap interprets her story.  Just Beautiful!  In a short interpretation of Digging In The Dirt in words coupled with a thoughtfully made soap, I declare Milo + Otis the winner of this challenge.  A secret surprise  gift will go out from Mad Oils to Milo + Otis.  Congrats!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Digging In The Dirt

"Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time it's getting strong...

The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind ..."
- Peter Gabriel

All weekend I spent my time digging in the dirt and planting new plants into my front walkway. My husband and I ripped out a line of very "vanilla" hedge-like bushes along each side of the walkway.  It was boring and cold and didn't feel like home.  It was really hard work and took a number of sessions to complete.

Yesterday we finished one side and we're really tickled with how it looks now.  It's way more "US"; it has different heights, textures, colors, styles....with scattered potted plants taking up some of the nooks and crannies.  Digging in the dirt felt so good.  In fact, I was thinking to myself how much of a release it is to use my bare hands in the fresh dirt just as my husband asked me if the dirt on my hands made me crazy.  No, I love it.  There is something almost primal in getting down deep into the earth... an element of connection and reflection.

Cat Motor, stalking wild animals.  Picture's blurry, but colorful :)

I know not everyone experiences gardening in such a zen-like, philosophical way, and believe me, it doesn't always happen for me every time, but often, gardening brings a sense of peace.  Until I overheat and sweat so much I start attracting mosquitoes.  Then I'm done.  The spiritual side of me shuts down because I hate mosquitoes.

Bare hands in the cool, rich dirt.  Where does it bring you?  Does it bring emotions up or does it make you forget everything?  Or both at the same time?  Is your ultimate goal to make colors or textures or a place called home?  Creating something you may not have felt since you were a young child?

So you are probably wondering how all this dirt and gardening junk relates to the Soap Challenge.  As always, my words to you FOR YEARS has been:  Dig Deep.   Now it is literal.

If you are in a temperate climate, get into the dirt and plant something new that you have been wanting.  Even if it is small.  Really experience the planting.  If you currently live in a frozen tundra, use your IMAGINATION.....DIG!  Then let your dug up feelings and colors of your garden blend or co-exist and make your soap reflect those two things together. 

You may have to really think about this one.

It is April 6th.  I blew the April 1st target date for starting this new challenge, so I know I messed you up.  I will give you only until May 7th to complete this task.  Once you've completed your soap, please post in the Soap Challenge Gallery on Facebook.  I expect there won't be photos for awhile because the work here is in your head, BEFORE the challenge.

This soap challenge is called Digging In The Dirt.  Use the hashtag #digginginthedirt with your photo or I won't find it.  You also must explain your soap with your entry.  Describe your experience and description of what you did.  I can't judge just the soap.  It has to come with an explanation.

I occasionally will offer a small gift for the winner.  This time, it will be a secret surprise for just the winner of the challenge, sponsored by Mad Oils (my company).   Thank you all for the support and love.

xoxo Joanna

.....  dig deep .......


Saturday, April 4, 2015

It's April Already?!

I can't say enough wonderful things about the soaping industry and the people who I've been lucky to have met along this journey.

The next Soap Challenge may be a challenge for some of you.  I will be at the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild Conference in Indianapolis in mid-April, and some of you may be there as well.  Since that takes almost a week with travel and all that, it's important to plan the challenge out ahead of time.

I will post the new challenge by the end of this weekend.  I've got mad ideas bubbling and they need to settle on down before I can put them into words.

I am a visual person.  So imagine what my head looks like as an artist!  I tried to recreate it with a few graphic pieces I threw together.

My brain before the Soap Challenge:

I'll be back to challenge you!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Fun Egg Hunt!

Come to to find the eggs that we have hidden.  It is super fun. 
Have a good time looking!

xoxo Joanna

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Proud Of My Peeps

We are all busy with life.  I know it now more than any other time in my life.  Starting Mad Oils has been the hardest and most challenging life change I've ever made.  Busy, busy, busy.  I work way more than I should, but things need to get done and so hours fly by... and the great thing is: I love my job!  I DO know about time limitations and the fleeting moments in my life that I take to focus inward.  Everyone's life is filled, but you took the time and dug.

The idea for the latest Soap Challenge was memory based and certainly emotional.  It required you to dig deep, remembering experiences from the past and somehow translating your memories into a planned, colorful soap.  This type of challenge begins to extract parts of you that need to be tapped into.  It helps an artist translate a memory or feeling into something tangible; whatever the medium.  This challenge was for creating a "Colorful Memories" soap and the entries were posted on the Soap Challenge Gallery on Facebook.  The challenge was to take a fond memory and translate it into soap, whether literally or in an abstract way.

I'm very proud of you for trying this very difficult task.  I think this may have been the hardest one I've thrown at you, so kudos to you for attempting it!!  I'm also going to guess that you feel a bit proud of yourself as well.  And you should be.

The winner of this #colorfulmemories challenge is:  
Mandy Oian Davis, of Minnesoapah Handcrafted Soap

Well done, Mandy!  Your translation was spot on and I was transformed back to that night with you as you told the story.

Mandy explains her inspiration for this design:

"Every summer weekend of my childhood was spent at my great aunts cabin on a lake. Unless it was pouring rain, this meant bonfires on Friday and Saturday nights. We had two spots, one up by the field to the rear of the cabin, and one down on the lake shore. I remember so many nights of playing under the stars until exhaustion would take over myself and my many cousins and we would gravitate towards the bonfire and the adults. Great Auntie Bev always had a stack of quilts, and she would lay them on the ground, inviting us to crawl in and rest, then tell us stories and sing us songs while we stared at the fire. To this day, I am mesmerized by the dancing flames of a bonfire.

I used chunks of an old soap to make the "logs" and worked to do a hanger swirl only half way down to make the flames jump and dance. It is scented with Witching Hour, the combo of cinnamon, smoke, and the patchouli is so wonderful with the idea of the fire and the handmade quilts that were stored in a cedar chest. Thanks for this challenge, it was fun to come up with the idea and translate it into soap! "

Runner Up

 Curtis Hayden, of Haus of Hayden

Wow, Curtis, you put so much thought into this soap and your description sounds so fun.  What a special time in your life, now in tangible form for you to share, use, look at....  Way to go!

 Curtis says this about his soap creation:

"This soap had A LOT of thought put into it so forgive me for going into such depth. One of the BEST times of my life and the BEST memories came from my trip to Europe! I was able to explore so many different countries and do so much that I never thought I would be able to do! This soap represents my trip as a whole! The title is "The Edge of Germany" which is a reference to "The Edge of Glory" which was my song that played everywhere throughout Europe. I fell in LOVE with Germany which is why there is the German flag in the middle and also as a Mica top came from! The colors as a whole represent me having pride in the fact that I am German but also the fact that I went to gay pride in Germany!! Individually these colors also stand for things as well! The Red=London telephone booths/buses. Blue=Jumping into the Bay of Monaco. Green=The apartment we stayed in London had NEON green balconies. Yellow=The Eiffel tower lighting up at night. Purple=Regular trips to parliament and such (the chairs were purple). Pink=Going to the Nicki Minaj concert in Berlin. Orange= Sunsets in Switzerland. Also since I was going for a German themed soap of course it had to be beer based and have German Chamomile essential oil!! And the center smells like Spiced Ale while all the colors are super citrusy and uplifting because every time I think back on all the fun I had it makes me super happy! And I wanted all the colors to intertwine because in my mind the entire trips memories flowed one into another. I hope you enjoy my entry and thank you for taking the time to read all my crazy inspiration that went into this!!"

I enjoyed every single photo entry along with the amazing stories of your memories.  I feel blessed that you have decided to share with me and that you involve yourself with these challenges.  I want to thank ALL of you for participating and being a part of this piece of history.  Our history.

I hope you do this for you and not just for "the challenge".  These challenges are meant to open up your artistic passages so you can breathe again and see things you stopped seeing or never saw before.

I raise my coffee cup to all of you and, MAN (!!),  I am a proud challenge-giver-blogger-woman-soaper this month....


Love, Joanna


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Colorful Memories

It's easy to allow day to day stress to push our fondest memories out of our minds.

This past weekend, my daughter turned eighteen years old and my memories of our past came flooding back. The whole pregnancy was amazing, the birth was hard, and the first few years with her was the finest time of my life.

The idea for this soap challenge is definitely based on your individual experiences from many years ago, whether it be from your childhood or young adulthood.  Bring forth your fondest memories of a time that will always have a special spot in your mind.

"How can I do that in a soap?," you ask.

I imagine that you need to pluck out things, colors, feelings and whatever fits from your memories and show how you felt back then.  Express yourself.  You know that if you make soap, then you are an artist, so don't short change yourself.

Don't minimize your talent and abilities. 

I believe there is incredible talent that you haven't tapped into. 

Believe in yourself.

You have 3 weeks to complete this task.  This project can be expressed however you see fit, but you have to explain it.  Please do not post a soap you have already made.  These challenges are meant to open a piece of you and challenge your inner self as an artist.

I ask that you please take a picture of your soap in natural light and that it be in focus.  When you post it in The Soap Challenge Facebook Group, use the hashtag #colorfulmemories so I can do a search for it and your photo will be included in the judging.

Deadline:  March 27th (Friday), 2015

Good luck to everyone!

Dig deep...

xo  Joanna

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Location Is Everything - A Soap Challenge About Your Locale

You people never cease to amaze me with the beauty you create.  Some of the entries were downright amazing but I can only name one winner and one runner up.  Over the years, I have found more joy than you know, seeing your soap creations and what you take from the soap or photo challenges I have offered you.  It brings me such happiness when you stop for a few moments in the madness of your lives and really think of the challenge.  I know down deep, you know you can take on each challenge, because you will try new things and learn new things (scary things) through self discovery, whether or not your final piece comes out the way you want it or not.  Many of my major flops were my biggest learning experiences, which is unfortunate sometimes, but true nonetheless.

Many of you just lurk, but one day, perhaps you will share with us.  If you do play along but don't post your pictures, then I can only hope that this blog has inspired a piece of you to think outside the box and expand your artistic expression.

This challenge was to evaluate your physical surroundings, whether it was your street, neighborhood, city, rural landscape, anything and recreate it in a design through soap and explain it.

Mad Oils has sponsored this challenge.  Mad Oils is giving a $50 surprise gift set to the winner and a $25 surprise gift set to the runner up.  FUN!!

This is the hardest challenge I've had to choose a winner.  There are so many really thoughtful, planned out, gorgeous soaps that you all made.  There wasn't one bad one!  I am so proud of every one of you who tried this challenge.  I feel like you really did DIG DEEP.

UGH...This is seriously hard.

The Winner for this challenge is Kimberly MC with her NYC skyline at night!

"This is my first time doing a challenge and I'm happy it's this one. I grew up in New York City. Once in a while, if you're lucky and on the right side of the East River, you'll catch a beautiful cloudy, red sunset that reflects into the water. Those are the days that you find yourself seeing more than dirt stained concrete and man made towers. You realize that even in the concrete jungle, nature somehow finds a way to share her beauty. Scented with leather and colored with activated charcoal and blends of micas, this soap is my way of saying I Love New York."  - Kimberly

Kimberly:  As you know, I am also a NY girl, and this "scene" you created I've seen a million times.  It's very well executed, the colors are perfect and it is structured without being too unnatural and flows without being messy.  Great job.

The Runner Up for this challenge is Cin Dee Rella with her piece of South Dakota!

"GRASSLANDS OF SOUTH DAKOTA U.S.A. My entry is based on my overall description of S.D. I was born and raised in a big city in CT. so when my husband proposed moving to Lemmon S.D. I looked at the map and gasped they won't even have chocolate up there , I can't live like that. We moved, and I fell in love with the emptiness. At first nothing from my previous life was as scary as being out in the middle of NOWHERE with nothing, no house, tree, bird, dog, NOTHING for a 100 mile radius.  GRASSLAND dominates the state hence my entry which nearly ended up in the trash as my batch was too brittle to play with. It is colored with spinach powder & parsley, the dirt portion is coffee grounds."   - Cin Dee Rela

Cin Dee Rela:  This was a very unique interpretation of your locale.  Kudos to you for thinking outside of the box on this one.  It is not only very good, but a rare piece that shall remain on this blog for years to come.  :)

Kimberly will receive a $50 surprise gift and Cin Dee Rella will receive a $25 surprise gift from Mad Oils.  Please send me an email jo(at)madoils(dot)com to give me all of your information so we can send it your way!

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard for this challenge and every challenge we have done together.  I am proud of you! 

Here are a few other entries that didn't make the top two, but made it hard for me...

Carla Hughes of Smyrna Beach, FL

Curtis Hayden of Charleston, SC

Gorill Olsen who dreams of coming to the USA one day
Carma La of Minnesota

If you haven't been chosen, keep your chin up.  Don't let this get you down.  One of these challenges will be the one where you will shine.  Lots of love xoxo Joanna

Until the next Challenge!  If you have not joined our challenge gallery group on facebook and would like to, please join us:  SOAP CHALLENGE GALLERY

Love, JO

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Location Location Location!

This month's challenge is about your individual location in the world.  When I was making soap at Absolute Soap, we were asked by a local magazine, Palm Beach Illustrated, to create a bar of soap that represented Palm Beach, Florida, for their 60th Anniversary glossy magazine edition.  We gave it a lot of thought.  Palm Beach is known for some of the most expensive real estate in the country, Worth Avenue is Palm Beach's version of Hollywood's Rodeo Drive, there were cute narrow side streets with historical and tiny houses and then massive grand mansions with separate entrances for deliveries and separate buildings for the owner's staff to live.  Crazy wealth. We had plenty of ideas to represent wealth, but the idea that kept pulling at me was the beautiful blue-green ocean lining the island along beaches that are mostly untouched and pure.

Our creation for the magazine assignment turned out to be our top selling soap:  Palm Beach Illustrated soap.  Scented with a tropical sweet fruity and floral blend which matched perfectly.  This was our interpretation of Palm Beach's ocean.

I added ground oatmeal for my bottom layer (sand), apricot meal pencil line (crushed shells), white chopped soap embed layer (large shells and rocks), blue/green Peacock mica swirly layer (ocean) and topped with a sprinkle of Goldfinger mica (which represents the wealth all around the island).

So the challenge for you is to evaluate your surroundings, whether it's about the traffic or hustle and bustle of your city, or the scenery.  You can be as detail-oriented or as broad stroked as you want about the place you are living in right now.

When you post your pictures on the Facebook page: The Soap Challenge Group, please explain the design and how it fits with your location.  Also include #locationiseverything

The winner and runner up will be announced and posted here on this blog along with their photo, name and business name (if provided in their challenge post).

Thank you for being a part of the Soap Challenge group!  And if you haven't joined the Facebook Group, come and request to join and I will accept your request as soon as I see it!

Challenge due date:  FEBRUARY 7, 2015

I wish you all inspiration and fun on this project.  Dig deep, as I always say....

xoxo  Joanna


Sunday, January 4, 2015

More Than Meets The Eye Soap Challenge Winner

I try never judge my insides with other people's outsides.  Meaning: never compare how you feel on the inside to what others LOOK like they feel on the outside.

A few days ago, a friend of mine from college killed himself.  He just couldn't take the pain anymore. "He was in a black place for a long time... for years", our mutual friend told me.  I can't help but think that Facebook and other social media had something to do with multiplying the inner turmoil when he already suffered from the abyss of depression.  Social media spits out mini mouthfuls of people's lives that they choose to share.  Someone's happy selfie could be the mask behind a deeper, darker truth.

I believe this Soap Challenge came at the right time in more than one way.  The challenge was to create a soap where the outside represents how you believe you're perceived and inside how you actually feel.

I want to thank everyone who posted their photos for participating, but I'd like to remind you that this was a challenge about making your soap to reflect YOU.  Inside.  Outside.  I don't think a few of you understood the challenge.  It's okay, though.  Moving forward --------

More Than Meets The Eye Challenge Winner 

Bethany Petri of Infused

Bethany tells about her soap:  
"I am very quiet in person. Some even see me as cold/dark. But once I get to know you, and you me, and I let those barriers down, there is a world of endless discovery! I also love to reuse and re-purpose. So this soap is a complete re-batch of older batches that I had laying around. Not one new soap was used. And I always wanted to make a planetary soap and finally did!"


Tanya Rasley of Canard Labs

Tanya about her soap:
On the outside: Loud, Colorful, Somewhat Organized, Extraverted
But inside: Beautiful Organized Chaos. A secret introvert (blue) surrounded by creativity (green), with a touch of beauty (white), kindness (pink) and joy (yellow)

Thank you for putting your heart into this one.  It was a heartache for me, even though I didn't get to show you my soap.  I left it with family.  I will update.....

Peace.  And until the next time.... be yourself and don't forget to say "I love you"

Today, I dedicate everything to Greg.

All of the challenge entry photos were posted here (with the hashtag #morethanmeetstheeye )