Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween


I never dress up for Halloween, but this year, I did!!! I had a blast and hope you did too.
Now, I'm going to eat some candy to offset all the imbibing I've done. Tomorrow we start power blogging. Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lotsa New Stuff On The Horizon


It's beginning to look a lot like.....

Oh no, don't say it!!! Not....Christmas????? Yeah! Where did the year go? It seems like it was just the 4th of July, and Halloween is tomorrow! Okay, I'm jumping holidays now. The point is, it's almost Christmas, and I'm making soaps out the wazoo! I'm going to fill my Etsy shop and my website with all kinds of soap. Soap for men. Soap for women. Soap for kids. Soap for grandmas. Soap for teachers. Soap for EVERYBODY!!!!

First up is my holiday cold processed soap. I call it Merry Christmas, Baby! It smells of holly and red berries with a dash of cardamom and vanilla. I sprinkled a little gold glitter on it for a sparkly, festive touch. I wasn't crazy about it at first, but it's growing on me by the day. I'll be blogging much often about my latest creations. Stay tuned....

Monday, October 27, 2008

But Why Do You Charge So Much....

when I can buy a 5 pk of soap from Wal-Mart for $1.99?

I get this question all the time, and my reply goes a little something like this:

"I can understand why you think I am overcharging for a bar of soap, but let's really look at what you are getting for your money: The "soap" you're buying for $2.00 at Wal-Mart isn't soap, but a detergent bar. A detergent bar is just that: A bar of foaming agents and other additives mixed together with a bunch of heavy fragrance that's mass-produced and packaged very prettily. What I sell is real, handmade soap. It's primary ingredients are olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. My soaps retain their natural glycerin to deliver a naturally foaming, ultra-moisturizing cleansing experience. The stuff you buy at Wal-Mart is stripped of its glycerin and replaced with other non-pronounceable additives that rob your skin of its natural moisture. That's why your skin sometimes gets that dry, itchy feeling after you've showered or bathed. Using natural, handmade soap not only delivers moisture, but with continued use, can help your skin retain moisture...."

It sounds like a long monologue, but when you're engaging a potential client, you're not only selling your client on your goods, but you're educating them as well. Many people don't know what real soap is made of, how it's made, and the benefits of the ingredients that you use to make your soap. Nine times out of ten, I've won over the prospect and turned them into a paying customer, but you still will get that one who only speaks in dollars and cents. You can't win 'em all, but an educated consumer is truly your best customer (I took that right from Syms, but it's true!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crazy, Crafty, Cool For Change!!!

If Obama and McCain can campaign for change, then why can't I? Welcome to the new and improved Crazy, Crafty, Cool now known as The Soap Seduction.

Here is my campaign platform:
  • Branding The Soap Seduction, thus the reason for the name change
  • Incorporating my business colors into my blog layout-black, pink, and white
  • Sparking my creativity and dropping the dead weight (lots of new things on the horizon)

I'm still crazy, crafty, and cool, but change is good. Stay tuned....

PS-I'd like to give a big shout out to Candy at Divalicious Designs for the facelift. You go girl!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Still Love You Wax, But You're Killing Me

I haven't blogged about a candle in ages. When I become obsessed with something, I tend to neglect everything else. I had to step away from the candle making because I'm a little frustrated. I'm learning to make pillar candles, but I'm having the darnedest time evening out the bottom of the candle after my second pour hardens. The candle is gorgeous on the top, but lopsided and uneven on the bottom. They smell great, but they're not sell-able.

So, I've been reading and studying and stewing in my own frustrations trying to make this thing work! So, I'm back to the drawing board. I'll be in the lab (a/k/a my kitchen) making another batch of pillars. I'll post pics in my next post. Til then, it's happy soap making for me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Don't Toss That Soap!


It's almost always certain that when I make cold processed soap, I have a few scraps left after I slice and neaten up the soap. Sometimes there are a few pieces left over, sometimes there are enough pieces it seems to make a whole bar of soap. These scraps are often not pretty. They're wrinkled or buckled, perhaps slightly off-colored, etc. So what can ya do with them besides tossing them? Hand roll them to make soap balls! The soap is still pretty pliable because you've just unmolded it, and it can be shaped into just about anything. I like soap balls because they're quick and easy. You don't need any special equipment except maybe a pair of gloves because it is messy and it's still raw soap.

You can roll your soap in different sizes, but I like to make mine uniform. Remember it's still raw soap, so you will want to let them cure as you would a normal bar. Package them up prettily in jars or plastic bags with ribbon, then sell or gift them. It's just a thought.....

Monday, October 20, 2008

WTF????

(Pardon the flash-you don't need to see that part anyway!)

It's Monday, and I need a stiff drink! I was on a little vay-cay all last week, and I swear it aint worth it sometimes! I get back, and NONE of my work was even attempted to be completed. So much for teamwork (another day, a much longer post...)
We're having this major Halloween party at work, and everyone is expected to dress up in some type of buffoonery. Yay for making a total jackass of myself! Not to be outdone, I head on over to Target to pick up a little costumery, and there's nothing there that tickles my fancy. Being the crafty chick that I am, I decide to buy this little makeup kit. I'll do something with it. Goth girl? Gene Simmons? Draculina? The possibilities are endless. I spend ten bucks for the thing-no big deal. But...I get home and really read the packaging, and there's this warning sign:

"This product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm."
HOLY SHIT!!!! I'm gonna birth defective babies if I wear this stuff??? Oh, wait. I live in the state of Maryland, so I'm safe! WHEW!!!! Seriously, why would you market a product to people knowing it contains lead and can cause birth defects? Is it me, or are the makers of this crap on meth?


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beautiful Treasury


I love color! Here is a treasury showcasing the Etsy Artists of Color, and I've been fortunate enough to be featured.

Here's the link to capture the full experience: http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list_west.php?room_id=29647
















It's Official: I'm A Soap Addict

I've always said this lightheartedly in other posts and forums, but I really think I have a problem. I'm always thinking of the next batch before the current one is finished. I actually toss and turn sometimes because I'm thinking of a new color combo or name or something related to soap. What is it about soap that's so addictive? Everything! Selecting the oils I want to use. Choosing a scent. Picking a color combo. Lining my mold-yes, lining my mold. Pouring the lye solution into my oils. Whizzing the soap in my batter bowl. Mixing my colors. Okay, you get it!

With that being said, here's my latest batch. I call it Yum. It's citrus-y. I wanted it to be more orange than pink, but I can't complain. It smells the bomb! I used the basics-palm, coconut, and olive. This time I added a little jojoba oil for fun. I like jojoba oil. It's thick though, so I'm hoping this bar kicks some major ash. Well, I'm off making my next batch. I call that one Night, Night. More details when it's done and cut.....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twitter Helped Me Find George!

I've blogged about the greatness of Twitter before in a previous post. I talked about how I used it as a networking tool on the business side, but it didn't dawn on me that I could use it to re-connect with old friends-DUH!!!

With that being said, I found one of my oldest and dearest friends George last night. We don't have a steamy, jaded history (that would've been juicy). Our friendship was real. We met in high school. We attended the "nerdiest" public high school in Washington, DC at the time-Benjamin Banneker, and I could not STAND George in the beginning. He was a true nerd in every sense-the clothes, the glasses, the intellect....I was part of the beautiful crowd-clothes, hair, intellect...Yes, we were beautiful AND smart-go figure. I think George liked me. No, I know George liked me, but he was so not my type. I treated him pretty badly at times. Our friendship did not actually begin until after graduation, and we grew pretty close I think. He even came to my cousin's wedding with me. My uncles teased me mercilessly and referred to George as Malcolm X. Well, he did sorta look like him with the suit and the dark rimmed glasses.

Sadly, we grew apart. I don't know how and when, but we did. We found each other throughout the years online, but we never really re-connected. George moved to the Bay area on the West Coast, got married, and started his career as a writer. I stayed in the DC area, met and fell in love with the greatest guy on the planet, and blog about making soap. I'm hoping that George and I can reconnect through Twitter. Although we're on different coasts and our lifestyles are completely different, I miss my friend. He was a good listener, gave good advice, and was funny (in his own nerdy way.) Here's to you George. May the tweets be with you!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Strawberry Don't Like Me!


But I love you, strawberry. You're my favorite fruit, okay, you come a close second to cherries, but why won't you behave in my soap???? This is my second attempt at making a strawberry-themed soap, and there's nothing wrong with it technically. It just reminds me of a loaf of bologna. It smells pretty good too. I should have used my trusty crinkle cutter!

What's in this bologna? Let's see: A little pig's ear, foot, and rump. Oops, that's real bologna. I made this batch with olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil-the three basic soap oils. I had every intention of using my beloved log mold, but I must not have screwed a peg in tightly enough, because no sooner than I poured it, the damn thing started leaking all my "batter" out. FORTUNATELY, I had this oval loaf mold lined for another job. I was able to save 95% of it. That should have been my clue, but I am an optimist. I have a feeling that I'm going to end up using my crinkler to slice the smooth edges off. I just don't like the way this soap looks. Stay tuned for my next masterpiece.....

The Soap Seduction Is on Simply Designed....





That sounds weird, but I'm going with it! I've been meaning to blog about this fab chick for months since we've started working together, but now I must! Jen Stuart who does all my graphics for my Etsy shop is the bomb! I'm always changing something at the last minute and calling on her and she always comes thru like a pro. Last night, I needed a banner ad for Wickedly Chic, and of course, I had nothing that I wanted to use, so I call Jen at the 11th hour, and voila, she hooked me up in a matter of minutes-literally. Check out her shop and her blog. I love people who get me without having to explain every detail.


Okay, enough kissing up, here's the piece on moi. Jen, you're check's in the mail. I mean, I'll be sending you the money via PayPal (wink.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Few Hours Later....


I cut the soap! I cut the soap! I'm in love.....

Here she is: Honey Baby. I've gotta try hot press soap making. The curing time is killing me!

Honey Baby....


Sweetie, Sugar, Darling! That's how I feel about my latest soap, Honey Baby. It's a dreamy blend of nectarine, peach, lemon, black currant, green apple, jasmine, lily, musk, and oh yeah, honey. It sounds like the kitchen sink, but it smells like...rhapsody in bloom! I got the scent from Sweet Cakes who sells a lot of designer dupes (this being one of them.) Her interpretations are right on the money! Getting back to Honey Baby. It's made very simplistically-olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and a dash of sweet almond oil. I used three colors for this soap-yellow, magenta, and marigold. There was no technique. I just separated my mixture into three batter bowls (love those because it has a built-in spout) I wanted to try funneling, but duh, you kinda need a funnel for that. If you're scratching your head, check out this post on The Soap Bar.

I can't wait to personally use this soap. It smells so dang good. Do you have a favorite soap? If so, what is it, and what's it made of? Inquiring minds want to know.....


ps- I'll post cut pics later. I was just too excited to talk about my latest fave...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do You Sample?


I'm not talking about you throwing a few scraps in with an order, I'm talking about participating in sample boxes. They're a great way to get your name out there, and you don't have to spend a lot of money-if you plan wisely. I make a lot of soap. Sometimes I make batches to specifically give as samples with orders. Sometimes I cut up perfectly good bars that my not sell as well as others. The point is, I give the pubs a taste of my goodies with the hope and the expectation that they'll be back for more.

I'm participating in two sample box programs next month. The first is an up and coming program named Snowberry Creek. One of the owners is Julie who owns Candles and Woodcrafts. I bought my prized log soap mold from her about a year ago, and I can't live without it. We're also Divapreneur sisters.

The second sample box program I'm participating in is the very popular Little Black Boxes-the grand dame of the sample box. This is my second time participating with LBB. It was such an honor to be invited the first time around. This time, I sort of invited myself. LBB is well known on Etsy as well as You Tube. Folks actually vlog about their LBB and that can be priceless publicity for you. This go round, Kim, the owner of LBB, is hosting a contest for the participants. Whoever has the most clever packaging, wins a $100.00 pre-paid Visa gift card. Hell yeah! Do you know how much oil and butter I could buy with that? a lot! I would show a pic of my samples, but I don't want to give the competition any ideas.


Monday, October 13, 2008

New Family Additions



As a soap maker, I've always been conflicted when it comes to choosing fragrances to use. Do I pick only things that I like, do I pick things that I think the buyer will like, or do I pick fragrances that are the latest trend? I kinda do all three, but mostly I pick fragrances that I like (and hope that everyone else will like.) With that being said, I made two new batches of soap a few days ago. I call the first one, An Afternoon in Paris. It smells of black currant and Bulgarian roses. It's ultra-feminine, but not sickeningly sweet. It's fresh, crisp, and uplifting. The second soap is called Winter Blues. It's a warm blend of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and French vanilla. I didn't realize I had a French theme going on until I started writing this post. What I love about Winter Blues is the blue stayed blue. Usually my blue goes pink or green when I add it to my lye mixture. So here they are, Paris and Winter. Can't wait to put them in my shop!!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Few Soaping Tips

I never view other soapers as the competition (although technically they are) because what I've noticed is almost everyone has something different to offer, and no one's soaps look exactly the same. I've been seriously making cold processed soap for about 9 months now, and my technique has gotten better and better because I do my research, and I learn from and document my mistakes. So, I thought I'd share a few tips that I've picked up along the way. And, no, I'm not giving away classified secrets. I'm still a newbie here, but I think we can all learn from one another in some way.

Before you even make a batch of cp soap, write down your ingredients. This includes the oils you use, the amount of water and lye used, and any additives such as exfoliants, herbs, etc., and the fragrance you use.

Only used distilled water in your formula. This can be argued til the cows come home, but I've tried using regular tap water with several batches, and my soap always came out jacked up! I don't know if I have hard water or soft water, I just know that tap does not work for me. I've tried filtered drinking water and have had moderate success, but distilled is the way to go. Buy several gallons at once. It's something you never want to run out of.

Only use 100% lye in your formula. If it doesn't say 100%, then it's most likely cut with some other chemicals that I would not dare use in my soap. Remember, lye is corrosive. It can burn, and it can kill. Never have lye setting around especially where there are children and pets involved. When handling lye, make sure that you're in an open or well-ventilated space and that you're wearing long sleeves and long, rubber gloves. I've burned myself plenty of times with splashes while stirring my lye solution. Lye can be purchased online, but in 99% of the time, you will be required to sign and fax a waiver form before they will even ship it to you. I've been fortunate enough to find my lye at a small, local hardware store. I buy about 5-6 bottles at a time at about $5.00 each for a 16 oz bottle.

Please, please, please! You must use a lye calculator! You can't just throw a bunch of oils in a pot, and dump water and lye in it and think you have soap. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!! The amount of lye you use is based specifically on the type of oils you use. I learned this the hard way. You can't substitute one oil for another and think that the amount of lye you use will be the same. WRONG! Your soap will either come out lye heavy or lye deficient making the soap totally unusable. There are many lye calculators online that are available, but one that I really like is by Summer Bee Meadow. One caveat for those who use the metric system: It only calculates in oz, so you'd have to convert to grams.

Keep in mind that the combination of oils you use will determine how hard or soft your finish bars will be. The general philosophy is that a good bar of soap should possess the properties of being hard, lathering, and conditioning. It's a good rule of thumb, but it's not the only solution. If you do use mostly "soft" oils in your recipe, your bars will take longer to cure.

I like to add my FO or EO at light trace because I never know how the fragrance will react once I add it to my raw soap. It could have no reaction or it could seize and cause the soap to almost completely harden. Once I add my fragrance, I stir it by hand and not using a stick blender as it could facilitate trace.

Lastly, document your findings once your batch is complete. Was it successful or a complete failure? Did your fragrance oil seize in your soap? How does your soap smell? How did your coloring or additives fare? You get the picture...

In conclusion, this is just one of many ways to make soap. I've been successful using these tips. I welcome every one's input and tips. Happy soap making!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How I Make Soap-Final Reveal


Evening, Friends!

I decided against showing my vlog because there's no editing feature, and I made lots of boo-boos making it. So, here it is! What do you think? I've decided to call the soap Chocolate Fantasy-kinda like me (wink!) This soap was made with Castor, olive, palm kernel, coconut, and canola oils. I love the way it turned out! It's curing beautifully, I think.

With the holidays coming up, I am soaping ferociously! I've got my lye bath cooling for a batch I"m preparing just for the fellas. I shall reveal that one in another blog post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Crazy For Cupcakes



Cupcakes are all the rage, and I'm like, "Where have you people been?" I've been lovin' cupcakes before they became the "it" dessert. Cupcakes are everywhere-on clothes, on shoes, on greeting cards, on ribbons, EVERYWHERE!!!! My homage to the cupcake are these cool soaps that I posted in my Etsy shop last night. Love, love, love these soaps. Not only do they smell good, they look good, and they feel good. The lather is creamy and not overly foamy. The only drawback to making these soaps is waiting for the frosting to set. I've cut back on the added glycerin in hopes they firm up a lot sooner. It's so funny how I have all these cooking supplies and utensil, and they're all used to make soap. Soap making has actually inspired me to start cooking. I may just have to bake some cupcakes this weekend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Say Hello To My Lil' Friends


I'm gearing up for the holiday season with a vengeance! I've made three batches of soap this weekend, and here is the latest addition to the fam. I haven't named this batch yet, but it's a delectable blend of sweet orange and clove. It's the perfect alternative to pumpkin (I'm not knocking pumpkin by any means!) This one reminds me of sweet potato pie filling. I've never wanted to bite into a soap as I do this one. So what's in it? It's got olive oil, palm kernel oil, Castor oil, and canola oil. I did not swirl this soap (I suck at swirling). This is just how it turned out. Can't wait til this one's ready!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How I Make Soap-Part II

Okay, here's the reveal. I haven't figured out how to make one continuous video, so I'm attaching two videos. I'm handling the soap with clean, bare hands. Normally I'd put on disposable, latex gloves, but I forgot to put them on in my excitement to make this video. Enjoy!

video video

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How I Make Soap-Part I

I'm testing the video feature on my CoolPix, so I thought I'd shoot a little video on my latest soap making venture. I'll post part two later today, so stay tuned....

video

Here's the link to How To Line A Soap Mold.

Uninvited



"Like, anyone worthy, I am flattered by your fas-ci-na-tion with me...." That's what this arachnid is probably singing to me as I took this pic. I really need to clean my windows, but I don't do windows. This thing has nested between the screen and glass of my kitchen window. As long as it doesn't try to get inside, it can stay. Check out the "skeleton" of its shed skin. I've always been a science buff. Next I'll try to catch it attacking some prey or something....

Give Me Soap or Give Me Death!!!!


Unless you make soap for hobby or sale, you will never understand the addiction. For me it's relaxing, gratifying, and mystifying all it one. It's relaxing because it truly takes my mind off my troubles. When I'm soaping, that's all I'm thinking about-well you kinda have to because you're dealing with some dangerous materials (lye.) I find it gratifying because there is a community of people who appreciate the art form (yeah, I said art form) of soap making and will only use real soap and not those commercial bars that are marketed as soap. Lastly, I find soap making mystifying because you never know how the end product is going to turn out (at least I don't). You can follow a recipe to the tee, and your FO can seize in your lye/oil mixture, your swirl or color goes haywire, and BLAMMO, it's all gone to sh*t.

Here's my latest batch, called The Blacker The Berry....It's a sweet/tart blend of black raspberry and vanilla. It's made with about 75% olive oil, and the rest is coconut and castor oil. It's not supposed to darken, but I know it probably will. It smells so dang good, I want to use it now. Well, I'm off to make my next batch-something rich and chocolate-y. Happy soap making!