Sunday, August 31, 2008

How To Make Soap-The Tyler Durden Way

One of my favorite movies is Fight Club. It's gory, it's grimy, but it's also funny. One of the funniest scenes is the scene where Tyler Durden (played by the delicious Brad Pitt) explains to the Narrator (played by the un-sexy, sexy Ed Norton) how to make soap. He renders tallow, er fat, by.....Well check this scene out for yourself.

If you have a weak stomach or no sense of humor, you may not want to watch this.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I try to keep my posts as "family friendly" as possible, but some crazy shyte happened to this soap, and I need some answers. I used what I thought was a really basic recipe-pomace olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, and Castor oil. It's a very small batch-only 32 oz total. When I added my lye solutions to the water, it almost immediately traced. I whizzed for about 30 seconds and my soap was the consistency of cake batter. It was really thick! Then it had these little white particles all throughout (lye, perhaps?) I proceeded anyway, and added about 2 oz of Pear Glace FO that I bought from Wholesale Supplies Plus. After I added the FO, the "batter" was basically set. I had to literally scrape it out of my bowl into my mold.

When I un-molded it today, it was rock-hard. When I cut the first slice, it literally crumbled as you can see in this pic. Can anyone tell me where did I go wrong, and is this soap salvageable?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Autumn Is Coming....

and I'm so overwhelmed!!!! When I officially started my business last summer, I didn't know you had to plan seasonally. Duh!! All the major retailers do it, but I never gave it much thought. I didn't change my product line to reflect that it was fall or winter or spring. I offered the same ol', same ol'. When Halloween came, I had no cute ghost soaps or pumpkin candles. When Thanksgiving came, there were no turkey soaps. When Christmas came, there were no trees or snowmen, and looking back on it, my sales really suffered. Speaking of sales, I had none. I just threw my stuff on a website, and basically said, "Here it is. Take it or leave it!" I wouldn't even consider starting a blog-more work!

Well it's a new year, and I've acquired a lot more business savvy, and I've grown as an artist. I've learned how to take better photos and offer more variety in my products. I'm going to really step up my game this holiday season. So, I put this out there: How do you prepare for the busy fall and holiday seasons?

Monday, August 25, 2008


I'm shaking from the withdrawal. I haven't made any soap in about three weeks? That last batch discouraged me greatly so I backed off (and I'm running low on soaping oils.) I did make a small batch yesterday that I call Summer's End. I wanted to give it a rainbow effect, but it didn't quite pan out that way. I used olive oil, coconut oil, and castor oil. While I'm not pleased with the aesthetics of it, I do like the way it smells. The FO I used is from Day Star Supplies, and it is a blend of pineapple, orange, guava, papaya, with a hint of vanilla and coconut. They claim there's no discoloration, so I'll be watching this one closely. Here's a pic, but again, I'm not thrilled with the "look" of it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All Chunked Up!

I'll admit, I'm a little slow sometimes. I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a creative way to use all these wax embeds I've made, and voila: Chunk Candles. I'm officially obsessed! Think I won't be posting these in my Etsy shop? You better ask somebody!!!!! These two candles are Snicker doodles and Banana Berry Shortcake. I have lots of others in the works. I just love how the embeds just burst through the candle. They smell so freakin good, and they will ship much better than the gel candles I make. I've had so many shipping disasters that I've spent more money replacing damaged candles than I have selling them.

For the next few days, I'll be chunking-yes, I've coined a new term (I could be slow again-maybe it's already been coined.) So, I'm off to the lab, er, kitchen, to make more embeds so that I can get my chunk on! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm Listing Like Crazy

I'm like a kid in a candy store when I get new molds. I've introduced two new MP soaps and one new CP soap on my Etsy shop in the last two days.

The first item is Spicy Dicey. I was inspired by my trip to Atlantic City to make these soaps. They really do look like dice at first glance. They're scented in a spicy combo of ginger and lime-hence the name Spicy Dicey. I gave a couple to some male co-workers and they thought they were really dice! No snake eyes with these though because there are no 1's on the die.

The next item is Vanilla Bourbon CP soap. This soap kinda scared me at first. It really turned brown quickly, but it's a beautiful soap. It's smells so warm and buttery-not heavy at all. I used rice bran, palm kernel, and coconut oil for this soap so it's a really hard bar. Nice!

The last item on the menu is Bag O' Yarn. I couldn't resist this one. I've met a lot of ladies who knit or crochet, and they inspired me to make these soaps. They're made with cocoa butter, so they're ultra creamy. I love em, if I do say so myself. I'm going to give a few to my good friend Pearl who crochets her *ss off! I'm trying to get her to open an Etsy shop. She could clean up!

More stuff on the horizon.....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Listings

Fresh from my mini vaycay in Atlantic City, I was inspired by all the exotic libations I'd consumed. As a result, I have two new soaps that I listed on Etsy: Fresh Squeezed Lemon and Strawberry Passion. Both are bursting with fruit juiciness and are lightly exfoliating. The lemon soap is sprinkled with poppy seeds and the strawberry has, well, strawberry seeds. They're made with my favorite all natural olive oil soap base-no foaming agents or preservatives-just soap. Oh, and notice the hearts-I heart hearts!

Fresh Squeezed Lemon is the perfect kitchen soap because it removes odors like fish and onions from your hands, and the olive oil makes it super moisturizing-BONUS!!!

Strawberry Passion is like a field of fresh strawberries with a touch of vanilla. It's very romantic.

Git on over to The Soap Seduction and git yours!!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mac and Cheese Anyone?

So I ended yesterday's post saying that I was going to try layering with my Banana Split soap. Well, this is what I ended up with instead. I really love this scent which I bought from DayStar Supplies. It's sweet and creamy and smells lightly of bananas. My goal was to layer this soap with yellow, plain, and red colored soap, but once I added the fragrance, it seized almost immediately. When I poured the soap into my three different containers, it was liquid, after I added the scent and stirred, it was thick like cake frosting. It still smelled like sweet, creamy bananas so I wasn't mad, I just had to work quickly. I did forget though, that red+yellow=orange, hence the mac and cheese appearance. The scent now even smells like mac and cheese (or is it my imagination?) It surely doesn't smell like banana split anymore. I'm going to let it cure and see what happens. If it regains its sweet banana smell, then I'll add it to my fugly soap collection and deep discount it. Hey, fuglies need love too.

On a more positive note, I got my pillar wax today from Candle Science, so I'm making flames! Check in with ya'll later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Making Lemonade

It's so funny how when I'm making candles, all I can think about is making soap, and when I'm making soap, all I think about is making candles. It's a sick obsession I tell you. I haven't made any CP soap in about two or three weeks, and I'm having serious withdrawal. I've been busy making soap favors for Rochelle's baby shower (I'll post on that next week) and I've been voraciously cleaning my apartment. I've promised to not do any more crafting in the kitchen-except to melt wax on the stove. Everything else will be done in my dining room/studio from this point on.

I've made two batches of soap this week, and neither has turned out like I want. I used the rest of my SoapQuick from Mission Peak Soap (Check out my older posts for the lowdown on SoapQuick.) I really like that this is a pre-blended mix of oils. It's a lifesaver for experimenting and/or cranking out mass quantities of soap. I'm a small-batch gal because I feel my skills are not yet to the level where I feel I can sell a lot of CP soap, but don't get it twisted, my soap is sell able, usable, and lovable:-). I just haven't mastered the art of the swirl or layering yet, but I'm working on it!

My first batch of soap was supposed to be Strawberry Jam with strawberry seeds added for light exfoliation. As you can see, the soap looks almost white. I don't know what I did wrong. I'm using red mica powder that I got from Go Planet Earth, but it appears as if I didn't use enough. Also, my fragrance is virtually undetectable. I don't think i used enough of it either. I usually use anywhere from 1.0-1.5 oz of FO per pound of oils, but I didn't measure this time (note to self: measure the damn FO's!) I think the bars are cute though. We'll have to wait and see what the verdict is once they fully cure.

My second batch is called Rain Water that I actually got from Candle Science (it is bath and body safe.) It's a very light and crisp floral. I'm not a big fan of florals but I really like this one. It's also got essential oils of grapefruit, tuberose, and lemon. It holds very nicely in CP soap. The one thing about this soap that didn't turn out right: the color. We all know that blue colorant (I used pearl blue mica again from Go Planet Earth) does not like lye (okay, now you know.) I used it anyway, and the soap turned out a mint green. I actually like it. My cutting leaves little to the imagination, but I'm excited to see how this turns out.

So in parting: When life gives you lemons, just make lemonade. Next up: Banana Split. I'm going to try layering. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Evening With Etsy-Follow Up

Here's the article highlighting my evening with the folks at Etsy. Wow, I really look fat in that dress. I went to the hotel straight from work which is why I look a little over-dressed. My hair is a mess too, but, whatever. I met some really nice people, and I had a great time. Check out the piece here:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm A Busy, Crafty Chick!

Hello Decadent Subjects,

I usually go through periods of extreme creativtiy and low crafter's block. So what's my latest obsession? It's pillar candles! I've always been intimidated by them for some reason, but as anyone who wants to learn how to do something, you study, and you study hard. One of my favorite candle suppliers, Cierra Candles, sadly closed shop a few months ago, and everything was going at rock bottom prices, so I scooped up a few pillar molds to test the waters. My one beef with aluminum pillar molds: the hard, metal edges. I've cut myself numerous times on those damn things, but they make gorgeous candles!

I made a few pillars today, and I don't think they look bad for a first effort. I love heart-shaped molds. I've sort of adopted hearts as my signature theme. Hearts mean so much to me for so many reasons (another day, another post.) Here are two that I've made-Pumpkin Mousse and Cherry Cola. I don't have any pillar wax right now (I've ordered some from Candle Science today) so I'm using palm wax that's actually formulated for containers. These didn't turn out too badly. I used a cool water bath to give them a shiny-like finish. Palm wax really holds scent nicely. It also gives a slightly mottled or crackled appearance which I really like. The two candles above are scented in Pumpkin Mousse and Cherry Cola (an actual mix of cherry and cola). I got those from Candles and Supplies. I'm going to give these to a couple of friends to test because they really aren't fit to sell.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A New Product? Hmmmm......

They don't call me crafty for nothin! I'm not bragging. I'm just such a true believer and supporter of being unique, original, and different, and I pride myself on being these things. I admit that I like to stand out in a crowd. I go against the grain. I'm a leader, not a follower. Okay, calm down woman!!!!

I'm saying all this to say that I have a very good friend of mine whose about to pop that bun out of the oven in about a month, and we're throwing her a surprise party at work. No, I'm not worried about her reading this blog because she knows nothing about this blog. Anyway, everyone will be getting her the traditional gifts that she registered for, and I picked up a few of those things, but I tell you, I am just in love with diaper cakes. I think they're unique, original, and different. I've been surfing the net looking for one to buy for her, but they are quite expensive in my opinion. The cheapest one I saw was about $35.00 not including shipping. These ladies do beautiful work, but I know I could make my own for a fraction of the cost, well less than $35.00 anyway. I went to Tar-jay this morning to get my supplies, and I spent probably about forty bucks, but it's my handmade creation so price is of no object:-). Here's a pretty good tutorial I found on YouTube:

Well here's a pic of my finished cake. Not a bad first effort. My teddy bear is way too big, and I really could have used more diapers, but I think she'll like it anyway. I'm going to wrap the whole thing in cellophane and I think I'll put a few of these soaps in there too. They're scented in Baby Bee Buttermilk from Wholesale Supplies Plus. Nice!

I'll Never Buy From This Supplier Again

You know, I hate to publicly dis another business owner, but I'm really pissed right now, and I've got to vent. I'm on a tight budget as I'm preparing for the fall and holiday seasons, and I was in desperate need of some CP soap friendly colorants. I can't even tell you how I found this site (online search? Link from another site?) Anyway, I was flipping through the pages of this site and saw some cute molds and some 1 oz Peacock dyes for $2.29. I quickly scoop up about 10 of those and a couple of the molds. They were well within my budget, and I love Peacock dyes but could never really spare the expense. Anyway, I ordered my stuff on 7/24/08 and I made the payment thru PayPal. I quickly get one of those automated "Thank you for your order" e-mails, and I'm thinking I'll be receiving a "Your order has been shipped" e-mail in 3-5 days tops. NOPE!!!! I happened to be on PayPal checking my recent activity when I see that my payment hadn't even been claimed! RED FLAG #1 !!! DO I cancel the order? Noooooo. I'm pressed! I want my stuff, so I send the chick an e-mail basically asking what the deal is. She doesn't even respond, but she quickly snatches the payment! RED FLAG #2!!! A week has passed by now, and still no contact. Not even a "Sorry for the delay, but I've had a family emergency...," so I send the broad another e-mail on 8/5. Mind you, it's been almost two weeks and still no product! This e-mail goes unanswered or unacknowledged. RED FLAG #3!!! Just as I'm about to dispute this transaction thru PayPal, I get one of those shipment notifications from them alerting me that my order is being shipped with the US Postal Service. That was on 8/8/08 people-exactly two weeks later!!!!

So I'm saying all this to say, I will not ever order anything from Soap Molds N More ever again! There, I've spoken my peace. I need a drink.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Evening With Etsy

I apologize in advance for this term paper of a post, but I had a very nice evening that I’d like to share with you. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I love Etsy. I have two Etsy shops, The Soap Seduction and The Decadent Flame. I am a member of We Love Etsy. I am a member of Etsy sellers who blog. If you have no clue what Etsy is, click here to learn and discover.

Last evening, I had the pleasure of meeting some fellow, local Etsians along with two of Etsy’s admin folks, (Beth and forgive me but your name escapes me, but you were very sweet) at the Washington Hilton in midtown D.C. I was only too excited when I received a convo last week inviting me to join them for a little fun and camaraderie. Our group was very diverse in terms of our craft. We had almost every major category covered: bath and beauty, candles, paper, jewelry, art/sculpture, knitting/crochet, glass, and beading.

Our discussion mainly focused on our experiences (good and/or bad) with Etsy, what we like or dislike about Etsy, and how the site could be improved. I immediately jumped in and said what I love about Etsy is that you have a built-in audience. There’s no need to drive people to your site because they’re already there-24/7. The downside to that is of course you’re competing with a thousand other artists who make the same or similar product as you, but that’s the glory of handmade-no two items are exactly the same! One of the artists said he could not stand the forums and he avoids them like the plague. Another artist commented about how user-friendly the site was. Another said she loved The Storque. You get the picture. There were also some interesting suggestions about how Etsy could be improved. Of course I had to jump in (again) and say that I’d like the option to change my shop’s name without having to close it altogether. By having to close your shop, you lose valuable marketing tools like your customer rating, your sales figures, and your client feedback. Another really good suggestion was having pre-made templates to list and store your product descriptions. I really love this one. It would be a time saver and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to include valuable information about your item. Another good suggestion was being auto-notified when you are featured in a Treasury or when you make the front page of Etsy. Two more really good suggestions were auto re-listing an item once it sells, and being able to program items for future listings. Trust me; the admins were vigorously writing down all of our thoughts and concerns.

Here’s my personal take on Etsy: It’s a great forum to showcase your handmade treasures and to meet and network with other artists, but as a soap and candle maker, I cannot depend on it to make me successful or financially independent. It’s difficult to make a presence or stand out because there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of soapers and chandlers on Etsy who make the same or similar item, use the same scents that you do, and oft times, the same ingredients you do. Unless you master the Etsy shuffle, you won’t make many sales. What’s the Etsy shuffle? It’s a term I just coined to describe the process and the time it takes to master the Etsy phenomenon and to be a successful Etsy seller. I came away with a lot of valuable information last night, and the one thing I learned is selling on Etsy is a science (this was not said, but implied to a degree.) This means studying who and where your buyers are from. Participating and posting on forums frequently, listing at certain hours or days of the week, attracting international clients, and pricing your products and shipping to sell. Sounds like anything a hardworking business person would do right? Sure. But when you’re competing with hundreds of others in the same field as you, it makes the process a little more challenging.

So I leave you with this: I still love Etsy. It’s a great community of crafters, and the buyers are truly lovers of everything handmade. They are excited to buy from you and they truly appreciate the time and effort that you put into your craft, but I personally cannot depend on Etsy to sell a lot of product. I just don’t have the time to put into reading all the forums and commenting on topics, etc. For those who “Etsy” full time, I salute you! Maybe I’ll get there one day. Please check out these local Washington, DC Etsy artists:

Shoo Fly
A Stitch To Wear

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Soap Seduction Is On Black Box Reviews!

I sent a few soaps to Black Box Reviews a few weeks ago, and I received some very nice feedback from Kim, the owner. I sent her a bar of Grapefruit Lily CP soap, and she said, and I quote:
"Citrus scents are important to me during the summer months because it revives me during my morning shower. I get that extra kick in my step and that's exactly what this particular soap did.
It came well packaged and I could tell a lot of love was poured into it."
I bought the scent at Southern Soapers, and I'm in love with it. The grapefruit and lily combo really does blend together nicely. Thanks Kim!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday To........

I just read that there are more birthdays celebrated in July and August than any other month of the year. Go figure! If you do the math, counting back nine months would be October and November. That means the weather is turning cooler, even cold, in some parts of the country or the world for that matter. That further means that a lot of people were gettin' BIZZY!

So I'm saying all this to say that I am an August baby, and in celebration of me and all the other beautiful babies born this month, I've created this candle called the Birthday Cake Candle. It's two round wax cakes scented in Birthday Cake. It's sweet and divine. I frost it with sweet, vanilla-scented wax and top it with scented blackberries and raspberries. I even sold one to my cheap uncle Lawrence!

I'm offering it on this blog for $12.00 and only $1.00 for shipping for the month of August only. Get one, or two, or more while this deal lasts!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cleanin' House-Some Anyway

My "studio" formerly known as my dining room is in total shambles! Frankly, it's a HAM (that's hot-ass mess) and it's starting to flow into my living room. I've got boxes, soap samples, shipping labels, soap molds everywhere! It's going to be an overwhelming task. I estimate it's going to take at least 3 days to get everything in order. Where do I begin?????

I always say that I'm going to start at one end of the room and just work my way around, but it never quite ends up that way, so I've decided to tackle one of my biggest hurdles yet: MY FRAGRANCE OILS!!!!! I've got dozens upon dozens ranging from 1 oz up to 16oz, and the saddest part is I only use about 12-15 of them in my product line. I'm always in search of something new and different which is where the 1 oz bottles come in, plus I sometimes get a few samples when I place a large order. I made the mistake of throwing out about $75.00 worth of FO's when I decided to switch my candle line to all food-inspired scents. I'm really kicking myself for that one because I could have used those to experiment and scent-blend.

Anyway, I'm taking a little break from my shops to get organized. It's such a draining task, but it has to be done. I'm on vacation in two weeks, and I really plan to use that time to regroup and plan my holiday products. Isn't that kinda sad? Spending your vaycay working? Hey, that's what determined people do. Until I reach Oprah status anyway.