Sunday, February 24, 2013

Me and Stuff

My journey in the soap world has been a wild roller coaster, to say the least.  As some of you know, I started this blog as a way to give soap makers of handmade soap exposure to the world.  I started reviews and it just took off.  At the time, there were no soap blogs doing this that I could find.  A whole world of soap opened up to me and shortly after I began, other soap blogs popped up and handcrafted soap seemed to be everywhere.  I am so happy I tapped into that world, because I soon became part of it. 

My readers...YOU.... encouraged me to try my hand at soaping and when I finally pulled the trigger, the addiction began for me.  I loved it!  Now my business is almost all soap and I'm so happy with the direction my company is taking.  I work tirelessly at making my soaps better, my designs unique and using some of the best ingredients to the table.  It took years before I could say I am truly proud of my final product.  In the beginning, I made good soap, but the years of trial and error and endless researching, I can say I have a solid bar that I am pleased with.

I guess I knew it would take years of learning, doing, failing, loving....

I have let my blog writing fall to the wayside for a while now and I apologize to you all.  I have been focusing my energies elsewhere and I am sorry I have let you down. I want to bring you soap porn, reviews, tutorials, new ideas and business musings.  I'm not sure if my experiences will help anyone else, but perhaps I just need to share them and let you all take what you need and fly with it. 

Please leave comments on this post about what you want to get out of this blog and I will try to address them.  I can not promise I will post all the time, but I can try to be much better about it.  I do need your help.  If you are interested in sharing something here that you think others may be interested in, please email me and let me know you'd be interested in guest blogging.  I am open to any ideas.  This blog gets about 10,000 unique visitors a month, and my guess is that a big percent of those visitors are soap makers looking for inspiration, learning tools and a feeling a sense of community.

I am looking forward to being a part of The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild annual conference this May in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I will get to meet a bunch of you.  Please seek me out and come introduce yourself.  I will be doing a demo on soap making with milks and I am nervous as heck.  I do not consider myself a public speaker and I loathe being the center of attention, but I want to do this and I know I will grow as a person having done it. 

Thank you for continuing to be a part of this blog, the active group on facebook, and general supporter of my vision.  Thank you.  Let's continue to grow together.  Here...hold my hand.

hugs, jo

Monday, February 11, 2013

Close-Up Challenge at Soaper's Retreat

This week, we had a challenge for the group members of Soaper's Retreat and it was all about getting close-up to the soap... the most recent soap made.  Of course, it was fantastic!  I am in love with close-up photography because instead of seeing the entire subject, we get a detailed and personal look at it.  I posted two of my own soaps as examples....

 DEJA VU by me!

RED HOUSE by me!

Here are some of my faves from the submissions:

ANIMAL INSTINCT by Renne Lillie 

BLOODY MARY  by Danielle Martin


LAVENDER & LIME by Hajni Kele

I LOVE YOU by Lina Vilniskyte

MARDI GRAS SOAP by Robin Blood

Thank you to everyone for participating!  Let's keep pushing the envelope and thinking outside of the box for our images.  You all make such amazing soaps!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Surprise Oops Challenge

As soap makers, we've all had at least one batch of soap that came out completely different from what we intended, but were pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  So this week's challenge on Soaper's Retreat (SR) was to post pictures of surprise soap.
Summer Rains, a member of SR, is responsible for this challenge idea.  "Fun!", I thought.  Thank you, Summer, for the suggestion!  
Here are a few that caught my eye:
Joy Barnes, "The Blob - Planned orange with a black swirl. I added all of the EO to the orange and by the time i got through my 2nd layer the orange had formed a large thick blob, with the black still very runny, so I grabbed my spatula and started slicing through the orange to break it up a little, to let some black run in...was sure it would be a horrible grey mess"  Looks like hot lava.  I think it came out great!
Nat Kinlay: "I made this one the other day. Its Rose Jelly. I rarely get air bubbles. Not sure why this one is positively filled with them but there's so many it kinda looked like it was meant to be. Perhaps I should call it Rose Jelly Soda Pop."  Looks like a fun cocktail! :)

Barbara Potter: 'I used nettle-infused oil in one part and charcoal in another for an in the pot swirl. I got a partial gel that created a very eery soap! Surprise!"  A Halloween full moon with branches.  That's what that reminds me of.

Marianne Rice: " was my most troublesome batch to date. Yuzu & Coconut . . . not sure if it was the coconut milk or the yuzu fragrance, but it seized up on me, I had to push the soap into the molds with a spatula, and bang it on the floor until I thought I would break my molds (also waking up the kids:), it had a few air bubbles, but all in all, the marbled look (caused because I didn't have the usual fluid movement of the batter) and tops turned out great! It was a total relief to see how it turned out . . . the downside, it was one of my favorites soaps and I'll never be able to recreate it!"  Absolutely love it!
I also want to thank everyone for being a part of the Soaper's Retreat on Facebook.  We opened the group 8 months ago and we just hit 1,000 members!  Woah!  Let us remember to always put ourselves in other people's shoes so that we can act respectfully to each other.  The group is meant to be a place for us to come for support and guidance.  Treat each other the way we want to be treated.
Much love,