Wednesday, 7 November 2012

making balms and new things

eek, it's been a while since I've posted! super busy with lots of markets and making tons of stock gearing up for the festive rush! I've also been developing a few new things too. first up is my new lavender balm.
it has many uses:

headache balm

anti-stress balm

tattoo balm

heel balm

dry skin balm

& pulse point perfume balm  to name a few!
it is loaded with rich cocoa butter enriched with olive oil,  and I use 100% lavender essential oil, no artificial fragrance. it is calming and relaxing and is paraben and sls free too.

next, i've expanded my fragrance range for my bathing truffles and creamy sugar scrubs to include seaside spa!
this fragrance is fresh & lively, very seaside-y (is that a word?) and a great unisex fragrance. everyone loves this scent in my luxury handmade soaps, so I decided it was time to make it available in some of my other products! my creamy sugar scrubs are emuslified, so they are not greasy to use and shouldn't leave your shower or tub slippery, but do still take care! I use organic shea butter, rich cocoa butter and fairtrade unrefined sugar for all my scrubs.  they leave your skin silky smooth, gently moisturised and delicately fragranced. what more could you ask for?

now, back to the lab (kitchen!) with me, lots more to make and design. I have some wonderful bespoke gift boxes in the pipeline, as well as adding a trio of soaps gift box to the existing range, which will be a christmas themed box, containing one full size bar each of: three kings, victorian christmas and snow baby.

I am also dreaming up a peppermint and vanilla christmas soap, sort of candy cane I suppose! I can't wait to get making on this one! bye for now :)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

fresh new website!

just a quick post to let you lovely folk know that I have been hard at work building my new website! It is more sleek, more beautiful and infinitely more professional that my old site.
new products include my luxury facial serum with rose otto or lavender essential oils

to celebrate the launch of my new site, I am offering everyone 10% off everything for the next 2 weeks, yes you heard it here! offer closes 14th August.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

herbs that I soap with

I have an allotment. I've been working on it for nearly 20 years with my mum & dad. We grow food, flowers and lots of weeds (!)  soaping is comparitively new to me (4 years) but there is a solid connection between the two for me: botanicals.  I love to try and incorporate things that I have grown (on purpose as well as accidentally) into my soap recipes. I use freshly pressed organic cucumbers for my coolcumber soap, which are generally prolific, but a little slow this year due to the crappy weather. I also grow calendula petals, which I dry and infuse in olive oil for my cuticle balm, and my new pure lemon calendula soap.
calendula blooms that I picked today, ready for removing the petals for drying

 I infuse the petals in olive oil for a few weeks - you can speed this process up by using a crock pot or slow cooker.  the infused oil is strained, and used as part of the oils/butters portion of the soap recipe. I then blitz a good amount of the petals that remain after straining with a blender and add these to the soap batter for a beautiful speckled appearance.  the olive oil takes on some of the colour from the petals, making for a lovely buttery yellow soap.
 don't you just love the gorgeous orange hues of these beautiful petals?

I have also collected some fresh nettles, not necessarily grown on purpose, but useful all the same!  I am going to create a new soap for my pure naturals range: pure nettle mint soap, with spearmint essential oil to compliment the nettle infusion. I can't wait!
 fresh nettles picked today, for drying.

and just because I pure lemon calendula soap!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

pure lemon calendula

here you go my lovlies! my next pure natural soap: pure lemon calendula!
I infused calendual petals (that I grow at my allotment in Bushy Park, right next to Hampton Court Palace) in olive oil for about a month. The petals gave the oil a subtle yellow hue, which you can see in the finished bars. I also blitzed some of the petals into the warm soaping oils to give the soap some nice texture, and happily some lovely yellow speckles. I am very happy with how it looks!
it is scented with may chang essential oil, for a lemon fizz scent, which is just so pretty and fresh, and just makes me smile!

Friday, 18 May 2012

May is citrus bliss month!

May, and it's time for a special offer methinks! I am offering a few deals on all my citrus bliss range throughout the month of May!  Firstly, this week, I am offering a free bar of delicious citrus bliss handmade soap made with white tea infusion and french yellow clay, with each purchase of a citrus bliss creamy sugar scrub and double whipped citrus bliss organic shea btter cream.  to get your free bar of citrus bliss soap, just enter the code MAYCITRUS into the comments box as you checkout with paypal when your purchase a scrub and shea butter together.  This offer will be available until May 21st, and I'll be running a couple of other citrus based offers during the rest of the month.

white spring pure patchouli handmade soap

this is the second of my pure naturals range, after the beer naked ladies soap. This one is very special to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, patchouli has been, and always will be my favourite scent. I have loved it and worn it ever since I discovered it in the late eighties as a teenager. Secondly, the water part of this soap is White Spring water that I collected direct from the spring outlet at the base of Glastonbury Tor. I was there meeting up with some wonderful soap making ladies from a soaping forum, for a birthday weekend.
the white spring well house & entrance:

the white spring outlet:

we walked up to the top of the Tor and sat for a while, soaking up the energy.  Later, once we had returned to the bottom of the Tor, we found the White Spring outlet and drank some of the pure clean water. It was delicious. We vowed to return the next morning to collect some water. (I now wish I had collected more!)

The soap is very indulgent on my part, as I love patchouli so much, and it was clear in my mind that it was the perfect one to use the spring water I had collected. I wanted it to make it pure and simple, and it is just that, pure soap full of Glastonbury energy :)

the soap:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

my Li Ban Ireland giveaway haul!

hooray! I received a parcel stuffed full of wonderful treats from the equally wonderful Rose at Li Ban Ireland!

here's my haul: Fantasia soap (so glad i got this one!) peppermint lip balm, Mayan bath milk fizz (over the moon with this as Mayan is my fave scent from Li Ban), a natural scrunchie and wee scoop for the bath fizz.

I feel completely spoiled, and I can't wait to soak in the tub after my yoga class tomorrow night with a huge mug of hot chocolate :) Thankyou Rose! :)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

beer soap

I make what may be referred to as 'natural' soap. I use only plant, clay or mineral colours, and almost all my soaps are fragranced with essential oils. I would like this to be 100%, but right now, I have a few that I fragrance wih quality UK/EU accredited fragrance oils. I am working on getting to the 100%, but clever blending is required when the scent I am aiming for would normally be from either an endangered species (sandalwood for example) or prohibitively expensive for use in soap making (eg. rose).  My rose garden soap is now in the final blending stage using floral essential oils and rose wax (by product of manufacturing rose absolute) to get the fresh rose bloom scent I am aiming for.
this is my current range l-t-r: coolcumber, barenakedlady, kitchen garden, gingergrass, provence, dreamy, rose garden, lemon soul, herbal fusion, sweet contemplation, citrus bliss.

I have long been thinking of a simple, single note range of soaps to compliment my existing range, kind of plain and rustic, back to basics if you will. There would not be any swirls, textured tops or colour blends. I have no reason other than the desire to do this as my basis for a new range of uber simple soaps.

So begins my foray into beer soaps, herbal infusion soaps and plain, one scent (single note) soaps.  I have come up with so far: unscented beer soap, patchouli soap, sandalwood soap and calendula infused soap (I grow pot marigolds every year at my allotment, so I'll be able to make my own infusion) I will have to resist the urge to colour, to blend and to generally frou frou these soaps. They will be basic and wonderful. they will be super natural!
 calendula (pot marigolds)

first up: beer soap

I wanted to use locally brewed ale, and discovered, to my joy, that there is a small brewery based in Twickenham making delights such as sundancer, gothic dark and the one I picked to use this time, naked ladies. Having left to go flat in the fridge for a few days, then simmered the alcohol off gently, I pressed ahead with an unscented beer soap, made in the slow cooker (hot process) so that it will be ready to use almost right away, but I shall leave it to dry and mellow for a couple of weeks anyway.

the bars are flat and smooth, plain and simple. I love them. they smell faintly of hops, and are a gorgeous caramel colour. The lather (due to the sugars in the ale) is unbelievable, rich and creamy and I think you'll love it!

presenting: 'beer naked ladies handmade soap'

Thursday, 3 May 2012

I won!

Wow! I actually won a competition!
Remember the Li Ban Ireland competition I posted about a few days ago? Well, I was randomly selected, and I won first prize! Wooo Hooo! I can't wait to see what the goodie bag is, very exciting!

thank you to Rose at Li Ban ireland for running the giveaway! hurrah!

Friday, 27 April 2012

not for sale!

I've recently been taking part in some soap making challenges. You will have seen my soap piping experiment in a previous post, which went quite well, and I am happy with how it turned out, but I'd like to try again, and maybe incorporate piped toppings onto one of my existing lines ....'dreamy' perhaps? Anyway, I digress.....this week's challenge is to try a faux funnel swirl, which is a way of layering different colours into your soap, normally done with a funnel, but this way is freehand.

(pic borrowed from Daves wooden soap moulds) funnel swirl set up

With a real funnel swirl, you alternately pour your different colours of soap through a funnel into the mould.  This creates conscentric circles of the colours, and is very effective.  The faux funnel swirl is done freehand, by pouring each colour soap in a pool over the previous colour and so forth. The 'circles' are not so perfect, a little abstract, and also gives a very striking finish

here's my attempt:

I've scented this one with real amber resin, lavender & tangerine essential oils. It smells amazing, fresh & spicy and mysterious. I love it. As it has real amber resin infusion in it, I can't sell these bars*....what a shame, I'll just have to use them up all by myself!

*recipes for the resin are closely guarded by the manufacturers, so no MSDS are available, making it unsuitable for use in products for sale, but fine for personal use.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

competition at Li Ban Ireland!

Rose is having a wee giveaway at her blog here: Li Ban Ireland blog

visit Rose's blog to be entered into a giveaway of Li Ban's fabulous luxury skincare, including handmade soaps. body butters and lip balms. Good luck!

some of Rose's lovely creations!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

cheese soap? yes, really!

Ok, please don't run off feeling queasy at the thought, and take a look at my pictures and the logic behind cheese in soap! I have to thank Janie from Selkies for this idea,  a few of us soapy folk have been trying this out, and quite successfully too!

so, why would anyone in their right mind want to make soap with cheese in it?  Well, you can make soap with milk....goat's milk, cow's milk, coconut milk, almond milk. The list goes on. Cheese is made from milk, right? Janie from Selkies pondered the difference between using milk and  'a nice runny brie' as a soap additive. Milk gives the finished soap a wonderful creamy lather, thanks to the sugars and proteins. Cheese has the same constituents as milk, so why not?  It could go one of two ways. I'm hoping it doesn't go the stinky, pongy glutinous mass way, and more the wonderful creamy solid successful bar of soap way.

I have opted to try cottage cheese. Why? Why not. Other guinea pigs have chosen soft goats milk with herbs and a nice slab of Wensleydale and cox's apple juice (freshly pressed).  Both have come out of the moulds looking and smelling like soap, but as they are too fresh to test, we won't know what the cheese has added to the qualities of the soap for a few days yet.

  lovely creamy emulsion of soap plus cottage cheese in the crock pot

 poured into the mould, sort of caramel colour

cut block in half the next day, nice natural colour. smells great courtesy of tomato leaf fragrance
(cheese & tomato, right?)

A small test piece gives a really lovely creamy, bubbly lather, nice & fluffy & rich. I will be giving a few bits away in a cheese soap swap in the next week or so, so we can compare & contrast! I'm so glad I did this!

piped cold process soap challenge

I'm up for a challenge on the soap front, so I couldn't resist joining the folk at and try out piped soap. it is much the same as piping buttercream on cupcakes, but you have to work fast, as the soap mix will get thicker and start to set firm on you while you are piping, OR it won't be thick enough and you'll end up with a soap puddle (much like I did, including an expelled nozzle!!) on top of your base soap!
here's my little contribution. fragranced with frankincense and blood orange essential oils, coloured with titanium dioxide (frosting) and blue ultra marine (the base). I also dusted the top of the frosting with a little pearlescent mica.

in the mould, freshly piped.

cut slices (there's only 4 of them!)

Friday, 6 April 2012

my soap is on the soap bar blog!

thank you to Joanna for featuring my lemon soul handmade soap on the soap bar blog last week!  I am sharing the page with some extremely awesome soaps, so thank you so much! I am chuffed to little mint balls (as my dad would say) :)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

rose floral wax

i'd been trying to find some rose floral wax for a while in the UK, but it is almost impossible to get hold of. You see, at the moment I fragrance my rose garden soap with a beautiful fragrance oil, because rose essential oil is very, very expensive, and unsuitable for use in soap making for this reason. Rose wax is a by-product (*see below) of the making of rose Absolute (Rosa damascena - which is the dogs doohdahs of essential oils!)

Rosa x damascena

I'd love to add a true, natural rose scent to my rose garden soap, but it is really hard to get a good rosey scent without using genuine rose oil, so using a little rose wax in addition to some carefully selected floral essential oils is the perfect way to do this. You only need a little, so it is a much more cost effective way to get the real deal in your soap without using rose oil.

my rose floral wax

Rose floral wax is not quite as hard as beeswax, and can be coaxed into breaking up with a little encouragement from a kitchen knife. This must be done very carefully you don't want to slip when cutting (read: stabbing) the wax, you don't want to injure yourself.  It has a strange colour, sort of khaki green, and smells amazing, a really good strong rose fragrance which I could smell through the packaging whe the postie delivered it last week!

I ordered more than I needed, and for a small fee (!) I have shared it among my soaping friends. I look forward to seeing what they all make with it. I love being a mad scientist! :)

*what is rose wax exactly? well, I've found this snippet from a manufacturer, explaining how it is made:
   "the first stage in producing the rare and lovely (rose, jasmine etc) absolutes is a Concrete...a solid (or semisolid) mass containing all the plant waxes and all the aromatic chemicals. The Absolutes are later removed from the Concrete by washing with alcohol, leaving behind the solid and fragrant aromatic waxes"

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Richmond Duck Pond Artisan Market

just a few pictures of my market today. I have spent the last week endlessly designing & printing labels, packing soap and designing and printing new leaflets to hand out to customers. It was exhausting, but worth it, I love my new labels (designed by Kelly Flood) they looked perfect all set out on the stall today. I am a very happy bunny. takings were quite good too, considering the time of year, and the way things are right now. It was little chilly in the little courtyard the market was held in, next to the river Thames in Richmond, even though just outside the gates on the river bank it was absolutely beautiful, all kinds of people lunching, sunbathing and generally relaxing in the warm sun.  Wish I could have joined them for a chilled glass of pear cider!
my stall

new double whipped shea butter jars & labels

sugar scrub new labels

new soap labels!

Monday, 19 March 2012

my liquid soap experiment

last year, I read an awful lot about making liquid soap using the glycerine method.  I'd never made liquid soap before, mainly because it seems such a faff!  But this method sounded quick & fun, perfect for a busy girl like me, and I wanted to have a go.  I ordered some KOH and when it arrived, this is what happened:

weighed out the KOH

oils (olive & a bit of castor) in the crock pot

 adding the KOH to the HOT glycerine, on a small flame

This part was interesting (read: scary!) the KOH fizzes as you add it to the glycerine, so you have to add slowly and stir it down as you do so. which was fun one handed whilst holding the camera steady with the other hand!  Too much and it will volcano out of the pan!  Keep stirring until it is fully disolved.

fizz fizz whoosh!

add the lye slowly to the oils and stir with a whisk

it changes fast, from clear to golden to.......

dark rich copper with sticky toffee forming in the middle

it thickens very quickly and goes from caramel to this:

lovely thick custard.

Now it is time to stop stirring. I left it over night and the next day the consistency was very unexpected. I thought I'd get sticky taffy, but instead, it was rock solid like toffee.

I could not get any out of the pot, so I reaheated it, weighed some out and plopped into a jam jar.It was like very sticky runny honey at this stage when hot.  I added freshly boiled water to dilute, it is impossible to stir it in, you just have to leave it to dissolve for a few hours, then stir it gently to avoid bubbles!

undiluted in the jar

with the hot water added. you can see the water floating on the surface.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my liquid soap experiment part 2 will follow soon. I'll show you how it turned out, what happened when I added EO and how it feels on the skin 8 months later. see you soon x