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Showing posts from October, 2013

Dandelion Zebra wrap-up

Oh, happy day!  I found out last night that I won the Dandelion Zebra swirl's soap challenge on the Great Cakes Soapworks blog . I'm thrilled!  This was my entry. Thanks heaps, Amy!  And Bramble Berry  for sponsoring!  Christmas craft shows and experimenting for a new retail location won't allow me time to enter this coming month's challenge, but I look forward to rejoining the fun soon!  If you have never joined a challenge, I highly recommend it. Just in case anyone thinks I'm some kind of pro now; here are the pictures of my first attempt at this technique, as I promised. It was a mess of a batch, albeit salvageable, because a lot of soap oozed out of the freezer paper liner and the texture is odd and spongy.  I still like the colors I chose and it had a lot of potential to be gorgeous, but all that aside...there is nothing Dandelion-esque about the swirl!  So I'm glad I gave it another try. However, it is hardening and doesn't zap.  So

Soap Challenge--Dandelion Swirl

This Great Cakes challenge started off, well, challenging for me.  I had internet problems (a lack of it) and something went rather tragic in my attempt to cobble together a recipe without access to my online lye calculator crutch or a good saponification chart.  Obviously, I need to work on this skill, since my first batch of soap is still not firm enough to cut.  I've seen firmer marshmallow cream.  I'm estimating that I'll be able to cut it in a week or two or maybe three. The top came out pretty, though, didn't it? Sigh.  I wonder what the inside looks like. On to batch number 2.  I went for a winter/snowy theme this time, scented with BB's Fresh Snow fragrance. I made a small 6-bar batch.  I kept noticing that my divider (a dollar store cutting mat) didn't stay in the center but kept migrating toward the edge with every pour.  I was concerned that it would ruin the design, but it held well enough. I know this challenge was all about the inside,

Teardrop Flop--sort of

I knew I was pushing my luck when I tried to squeeze in some time to make a batch of soap.  But if everything went exactly as I wanted, it would work just fine.  ....Does anything ever go absolutely perfectly? So why did I think it would this time?  I guess it's just the thrill of the challenge. I've long admired the teardrop effect in soap-- this is my very favorite example.  I thought I would try it out on a batch of caramel apple soap.  The fragrance I knew would discolor to a dark brown, so I left some unscented and used a merlot mica to give the top teardrop layer a deep red.  In my mind it would be caramel-y and gorgeous and look as good as it smelled. The problem was that the red portion was much thicker than the rest of the batch.  I had already poured the base color into the mold and was supposed to be out the door 5 minutes ago.  To put my own twist on the classic advice, "When in doubt, charge ahead."  So I just started pouring. I wasn't like I co

To Market, To Market

sharing my tent with another vendor, YarnThings So what makes a farmer's market unique? First, of course, are the customers, who want to be more educated about the products they buy than the typical shopper at a craft show.  They ask questions about ingredients, suggest local ingredient sources and over the course of the six month season, are very regular shoppers.  They are often a source of information, inspiration, and even friendship. Then there are my fellow vendors.  Without them, how would I have learned to make perfect raised doughnuts or thin crust vegetable pizza?  Learned what to do with a banana squash or discovered so many uses for kale?  Enjoyed my weekly brownie, courtesy of Karen, the bakery lady?  With whom would I swap jokes and stories during slow times?  It makes filling online orders at home seem very lonely indeed. And of course, the weather.  It can be a tricky thing, but oh! the suspense it brings to every market- -the wind, the rain, the

Some Soapy Highlights

So what have I been up to these past 9+ months?  It's been a whirlwind! But some highlights on the soapy side of things: I was elected manager of a farmer's market last winter.  With the responsibilities have come some unique opportunities.  In February I was included in a front page article on the market in my local newspaper, including a picture of me making soap.  I'm not used to soaping for an audience, much less for a photographer snapping pictures like I was a big deal.  But thanks to a reliable recipe (and no on-the-fly experimentation for once!) everything went perfectly. Not exactly typical of my soaping sessions.... I'm obsessive about wearing safety glasses.  And I'd like to think my hair usually looks better. ;) A few months later I was asked (or more specifically, told, prodded, cajoled, dang-near forced) to be on a local radio station's community events program.  I arrived feeling decently prepared, I thought, with a half dozen or so points