Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For Cristel

Cause she doesn't go to my LJ....
Recent-ish wool sculptures

George 2


Olivia Grace (learning to land)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The dragon is scented with English Rose, the body of the bar is Dragon's Blood (what else)?

I want to do at least one more batch of these, but I'm torn on combo. I'll be going with either green dragons (in Moroccan Mint) on dark chocolate backgrounds (scented to match) or white dragons (in Jasmine Dreams) on bronze background (in Nag Champa.)

Of course, since I have more base on the way, I might do both... but I want to make sure I have homes for them first.

I need to go through my molds sometime soon and start figuring colors and scents.


Yep, got some more martians done too. This time, colored with green ultramarine/super pearly white mica and scented with Grass Stain (yes, it smells just like a freshly mowed lawn. YUM!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Martians are coming!


Scented with Lychee Red Tea FO, each ship has a mini martian who just wants to come out and play.

Biggest problem is that you can barely see the martians peaking out from the porthole on the rocket ships. I have a feeling that the two you see in the background are the only two who are going to be blasting off with crew. The saucer armada will be growing...indeed it will.

I just discovered that Organic Creations no longer carries my translucent base. Looks like I'll be moving to Bramble Berry's clear base and/or shaving soap base for that once I run through the last eight pounds of my translucent. And yes, I checked... as long as I don't get the bulk base, my glycerin soaps will still be SLS free.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shells, take two

No, really, don't take two...That won't leave me with many. :-P

Second attempt. Still have areas of improvement.Just so you have an idea of scale... and I do not have small hands. So, Krystalle, they are just a tad bigger than the Godiva chocolates. *grin*
Same scents as the first batch (which I really should have posted the first time):
Predominantly Sea Moss on the surface layer and main body.(Orchid, Jasmine and Violet with supporting notes of Ozone (air), Sandalwood, Musk and Moss.)

The brown layer is Spiced Mahogany (Italian Bergamot, Apple Wood and Tonka Bean, Patchouli, Cedarwood, and Oakmoss, Cardamom, Vanilla Bourbon and allspice.) Ann-Marie's instructions (Actually I think they are PJ's, but they were on Soap Queen) called for the Sensuous Sandalwood, which I don't have. This was a recommended substitution. (I really really really hope the amount of Cedarwood is minimal enough not to cause Carl problems. Otherwise, he's going to have to stay hands off. Allergic reactions are NOT welcome. Have to cut a sliver of the left over soap in this scent and have him do a skin test.)

The white streaks (and layer) are Gardenia.

I still have enough scented base for the first three layers (which is one of each scent) to do at least another batch. Trying to figure out what will blend with them for the main bulk of the bars. Maybe Vanilla?

This will teach me not to try a new technique in the wee hours of the morning when I'm struggling with sleep dep.

They came out nice, but they coulda been better.

I miss my regular camera. Still "stuck" with pictures on the cell phone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We weathered Fay with only minimal damage. Some branches down and other minor things.

Except for one.

Seems we had a leak by the bedroom AC unit. Didn't notice it until tonight since the floor (and stuff on the floor) around it was dry. Went to clean off the table underneath it so we could set up a new fan and...

The bin I had on the table was full of water. Soapy water at that. You see, that bin was full of glycerin soaps, a couple of bath bombs, and batch or two of massage bars. Lucky for me, the batch of CP rose soap that was "in" the bin was actually in a plastic bag and mostly supported out of the water. The couple of bars that got a touch wet are back up on the drying rack with little (if any) damage.

Due to the glycerin dew and water damage, the dozen or so 4oz glycerin soaps are totally unsellable. So, we now have them all in the shower, along with the other three bars we already had going. Everything else in the bin just got chucked into the trash. The massage bars were probably still good but, well, oil + water = petri dish. Safer just to toss them.

As much as I love Bramble Berry's Winter Grapefruit and Sleigh Ride fragrances, I'm going to be really really sick of both before too long. If it gets too bad, I might just end up throwing most of the bars out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh my, time flies. 2 months since my last post! My sincere apologies to the folks who still check in here once and a while...

The corporate world has left me so stressed and exhausted that I've really fallen behind on my soap making. I must get that corrected since my inventory of both Dragon's Blood and Lavender soaps are almost depleted. I've also got at least 15-20 fragrances that I haven't done anything other than sniff and drool over. On the plus side, stress levels took a major nose-dive this afternoon.

My Body Butter is now limited to Vanilla Bean, Lavender, and Dragon's Blood since they are the ones that sell on a regular basis. I may make the occasional special batch of something else but since my minimum batch is a pound, I don't see many special requests being done.

On the other hand, I'm now testing "Body Kisses". Mini (think the size of peppermint hard candies) massage/lotion bars that are packed 6 to a tin that is the perfect size to tuck into a purse. A single kiss is more than enough for two people to swap back rubs. I can do these as custom orders and am trying out a shea butter based as well as a cocoa butter based recipe. So far, the cocoa butter ones seem to be better for massages since they melt on skin contact a tad quicker and may end up being the finalist...except for the occasional custom shea butter batch for a WoW guild buddy who is allergic to all things cocoa. (No chocolate... EVER... poor woman, how can she survive? Allergies are bad enough that someone using a cocoa butter based lotion in the cubical next to her meant they had to call an ambulance to rush her to the ER.)

In other news, I received an order of soaps and shampoos from Little Shadow Creations today. Everything smells absolutely lovely and the post card she included is going to be framed and hung over my computer until my soaping studio is set up. I want to use the soaps now! I'm making myself wait until later this evening.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Problems with soaping

The one and only problem with soapmaking (other than finding time and room) is that it, well, just isn't portable.

And I had alllllll that wool for wet felting soaps on hand, as well as some felting needles (which were purchased as an attempt to tack the edges of different colors of wool before felting.)

First needle felted wool sculpture was a lady bug, using the instructions here. (When working on the body, Carl squished it and commented on how soft it was... he was expecting a bar of soap in the middle! Mom squished it too and then, when she realized it wasn't a felted soap, rubbed it on her arm while asking if it was a bath scrubbie. Considering that I've been doing soap stuff for a year now, I guess it was a logical assumption. *grin*)

Then I started thinking "How hard could something like a teddy bear or a face be, anyway?"

Forgive the bad pictures; the camera on my cellphone can only do so much.

"Lookkit Mah Bahr!" Not bad for my second project...


"Gru" The cranberry and black weren't my first choice for the first time doing a face, but they were all I had with me at the office that day and I was bored during lunch. Yes, he's missing, he isn't getting any. Something tells me that trying to go beyond this point will ruin him and I really like him the way he is right now.

Both sculptures are 100% wool. No wire frame on the bear, no fillers in either. All sculpted with felting needles, one poke at a time.

I signed up for a introduction to needle felting course as well as a intermediate needlefelting course (yay baby dragons!) through Joggles.Com. We'll see how they go.

As for soap? Got a batch of beer shampoo bars (with yucca root and comfrey leaf) that didn't turn out so great as shampoo... or at least not for me. They leave my hair feeling really weighed down. On the other hand, they work fantastic for Carl. So, he uses it for his hair, I use it for body and we both win. Not going to label them as shampoo bars, though.

I'm planning on making either a new batch of Lavender or Dragon's Blood soap this weekend...hopefully, I'll actually get one of each done since I'm running low on inventory on both. I'm also building up quite an inventory of Bramble Berry fragrances and really really need to start diving into the new ones. Got my Matcha Tea and my Lychee Red Tea FO's last night. Mom and I both like the Lychee and the Matcha actually got a "WOW" from Carl. (His usual comment when I wave a new bottle of FO in front of his nose is "yeah, it's smelly alright." *grin*)

What really blew all of us away was the sample of the Nag Champa that I had requested. I had purchased some Nag Champa fragrance oil from The Chemistry Store (since I was placing an order with them anyway because they had some molds I wanted on sale for 99 cents each) and, while it smells good, it in no way smells like Nag Champa (I'm going to have to figure out another name for it. :-( ) The sample from Bramble Berry? INCREDIBLE! It's as dead on true to scent as their Dragon's Blood and just as sensual. If I didn't already have at least a dozen oils that I haven't used in soap yet, I'd be ordering a pound of it today.

I'm going to be hunting for the charger cord for my camera tonight (last seen when we came back from Tallahassee in January) and, if needed, just pop in some regular batteries so I can get caught up with soaping pictures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Customer Service Rant

Ok, so I strayed away from my tried and true vendors for fragrances...but only because Bramble Berry doesn't have a rosewood FO. *Nudges Anne-Marie**Aims pleading looks towards Bellingham* (Can she resist puppy dog eyes? Hrm....)

The prices were decent, their suggested usage rate was a smidgen higher than I'm used to but not by much, and they had test notes (accelerates trace, discolors, doesn't do either, etc) so I thought I'd give them a shot.

Oils came in today, and most of them smell like I expected. So far so good, right?

Soooo....why will I NEVER order from this company again?

Because I placed the order on March 14th. That's right, over a month ago.

After two weeks of getting nothing but the automated email saying my order was processed (along with the comment that that was the only invoice that I would be getting from them) I went to their site to check the order status. There was a notice on the site saying that they were going to be closed from the 21st to the 28th but any orders placed before 3 pm (no timezone provided) on the 21st would be processed before closing. No warning bells at that time, because my order had been placed a week before they were closed and my invoice stated "Please allow up to 3 business days for your order to ship during normal business days. This excludes sales, weekends and holidays" (I had factored in weekends and hadn't ordered any sale items.)

I popped in my order number in the field provided for checking status and.... my order "could not be located." Ok... so I could have mistyped it...

I copied and pasted from my invoice email. Nada.

I chose the option for "forgot/lost order number". I got an automated email saying I'd receive the information within 24 hours. Three days later I tried again and got the same email. At that point, I tried emailing directly from the invoice I had received and.... got...

I searched the website; no customer service number anywhere. Only an email address...but a different one than I had tried before. So, I tried it.

You guessed it. Same email response.

I'll admit it. I started spamming the boxes. One email as close to 24 hours and a minute after the last response as I could.

I never did get any acknowledgement from their staff, only the automated email response.

My package was sent via 2 day delivery (I had only requested standard ground) so I guess they got tired of me and did their best to shut me up.

Funny.... all they had to do was to let me know that my order was received and was being processed, or delayed because of XYZ, or... well, just give some acknowledgement of my existence from a frigging human being!

Oh, and the email I received over and over?

"Thank you for your order with Soap Silly! If there are any problems with your order, we will contact you within 24 hours.

Have a great day!

Soap Silly Staff

We appreciate your business and hope you will shop with us again soon! Please tell your friends about us!

At least I'm honoring half their request.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yes, I know it's been forever and a day since I updated.

I'd be telling part of the truth if I blamed it on my camera being out of commission. I can't find the cable for the charger so I don't have any new pictures. The ones I get from my camera phone are pitiful.

April's Art Walk was fantastic! We had a great crowd, new artists, and (as usual) the folks Cafe 331 went above and beyond. Each month gets better and better and I'm really looking forward to May's show on the 7th.

Playing with new packaging ideas. I'm dropping the boxes and moving to shrink-wrap so I can display the full bar and still have them protected. Ingredient list and contact info can fit on a business card which will be under the wrap, and I'm planning new labels. (Which will be done, again, after I hunt down Tim regarding logo designs! But once that's done, I'll be getting fancy, pre-printed ones I think.)

A while back I had a batch of English Rose scented soap come out not quite right. The scent and the soap itself meets my usual high standards... but the color was a bit off. That gave me the excuse to play with felting soap, which I've been wanting to try for a while. I got some gorgeous wool rovings have started wrapping the bars with various colors. Felt the wool wrapped around the soap and, voila! Built in washcloth. Even better: built in artsy, exfoliating washcloth that is kinder to skin than the usual nylon scrubby. (Hubby was pouting because he has to avoid the test bar due to wool allergies...otherwise, I think he'd be asking me to felt "his" batch of fir needle soap.) I might have to do some "ugly" batches just as an excuse to do more. :-)

Also, last week I worked out a shampoo bar recipe using beer and adding powdered yucca root and powdered comfrey leaf. While I try to wait a minimum of 2 weeks before testing a new batch (and don't sell or give out anything until it's cured for the full 4 weeks), I couldn't resist. I broke one of my partial bars in half and carried it into the shower with me last night. Even at only a week of curing; I got lovely, mild, creamy lather. It was very soft (due to lack of curing time) but that will fix itself over the next few weeks. Since soap gets better with age, I'm really looking forward to trying it after the full curing time.

Pictures will be up as soon as I can find that blasted cable...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Art Walk, the third... Tonight!

For some reason, they still don't have me listed...

I'm going to be there anyway. Come check out SingingWolf Soaps at 331 West Forsyth (on the block between Julia and Pearl). I'll be set up in the bar half of Cafe 331.

For more information on Art Walk, please visit this link.

Hope to see my Jacksonville buddies there! (Non Jacksonville buddies are more than welcome too, of course. I just doubt that folks from other states will make it in on such short notice. No excuse for next month though. ;-) )

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February Art Walk

A better crowd than last month. Quite a few questions tossed at me about the benefits of handmade soap, quite a few "ooohs and ahhs" over both the Artisan Bars and the Limited Edition Glycerin soaps,and quite a few folks who didn't buy anything this time walked off with information sheets.

My favorite comment of evening came from a young lady who very happily walked off with a bar of the Honey and Oats and a bar of Lavender soap towards the end of the night. "I came round the corner to get alcohol [we set up in the 'bar half' of Cafe 331] and I end up buying soap first! *HUGE GRIN* I'm so excited!"

These two are actually from January's Art Walk:

With the addition of the glycerin soaps and extra documentation this month; I had to move to a slightly different layout. Also, I wanted to keep the matching Body Butters and Artisan Bars together. Since my current packaging, documentation, and pricing information was all black and white I decided to drop the green background and just go with the dark tablecloths used at the cafe. I thought it looked very striking and will probably stick with this going forward.

Now for a few close ups (still having trouble with the focus on close up shots, and the set up pictures, above, show the actual shades better for the pinks on the love birds and the candy hearts.) Oh yeah, the background is my work table which got quite a few soap dribbles on it last weekend...

Rich Dark Chocolate Hearts:

English Rose "Candy" Hearts

English Rose Love Birds (The pink in the picture is pretty accurate on my monitor. The Candy Hearts were the exact same shade.)

The Cupid Hearts were a bit more complex...mostly as a result of having made just a smidgen to much soap from the ones above and because I wanted to see how the scents blended (beautifully, that is.) The hearts are English Rose, the arrow is Rich Dark Chocolate, and the base is Jasmine Dreams. I really wish the opalescent of the base showed in the picture. The red in the opal picks up the pink of the hearts quite well.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Disasters happen....Kudos on Customer Service

I'm very rarely one to throw a fit because something came in damaged during shipping because...well.. $#@% happens. The fit usually comes when I report the issue and it takes forever to either receive a response, a replacement, or a credit.

This time there is no hint of a fit.

I've bragged on Bramble Berry many times in the past. Their FOs are phenomenal (I swear, I'm a BB FO junkie!), the order turn around time is fantastic (except when I do something stupid like placing an order when they are doing year end inventory... my own fault since I remember reading about it over on AM's blog) and the prices are definitely in a good range.

I need to brag on them again. This time, focusing on a very recent experience.

[Excerpt from my email to them last night]

My package was waiting on my doorstep when I got home this evening. It smelled luscious which, when still boxed, taped up, and a few feet away on my front porch, is never a good sign...


Basically, the cap of one of my new FO's and the FO sample they sent me were slightly loose (which could have happened during shipping). Not enough for the entire bottle of the Sea Moss to drip out (I'm guess-timating I lost about 1/4 bottle) but enough of the sample to only leave a few drops of the very luscious Wasabi FO. Huge mess of "melted" packing peanuts and a very sticky and soaked corner of a new soap beveler. (The rest of the order came through in tip top shape)

Less than a full business day later I have an email thanking me for my feedback, notice that replacement for the Sea Moss and the beveler as well as a new Wasabi sample will be in the mail today, and advice (asked for) on how to cut the scent (A few undiluted drops spilled is enough to scent the living room) and do a proper clean up of the spilled FO's.

Along with the fantastic turn around time on the response and the product replacement promise, I obviously did not receive a standard form letter. It was personable and friendly while still addressing my concerns. (With many companies I've dealt with, getting a response in less than three business days is a miracle...and then it's usually a very generic response. Organic Creations also has a very quick response time with personal response, so that comment doesn't apply there...)

All in all, pretty damn fantastic in a cyber world where I've seen vendors forget that there is a real person who is being impacted by what they may consider a minor "oops, *shrug* shit happens" incident.

Come to think of it, pretty damn fantastic for any company.

If I weren't already a fan because of the products, this would have won me over completely. AM knows how to hire the right folks and her team deserves some major kudos.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I know, I've got to post more often. They now have Blogger blocked at the office so...


I rolled my performance bonus and my year end gift from management (both in the form of a VIP gift card that I can "cash in" on their website) into a pre-paid Visa, which came in today. Of course, I headed over to Bramble Berry to get my Fragrance Oil fix.

I have a rather odd way of figuring out my orders. Or I'm guessing it's a bit odd, since I've gotten funny looks from both my mother and my husband. I go through the site and get my "must have, no matter what" items (restocking standard scents, tools, etc). Then I start adding anything that catches my eye or makes me go "OHHHH!" (Which, unfortunately for me, is most of Bramble Berry's FO line up! Darn you Anna Marie! *shakes fist* *sniffs at the bottle of Basmati Rice FO sitting at the computer desk and forgives completely*) Then I start paring down my shopping cart, since I'm waaay over budget (more so, this time since I have a set amount on the card.)

Doesn't match seasonal theme? If the description doesn't make me absolutely drool, out it goes.

Too close to another scent? Compare prices and the least expensive stays...this time.

Look at total. Still too high by a few hundred.

Do I really need those colors? I've got some that are similar that I can darken or lighten as needed, out they go.

Do I really need the herbs? Well..... ok, some stay, some get moved to my next order.

Total is still just over double the budget.

Since the husband tends to go "sounds good" to just about every FO description, I've learned not to call him in for help. I pull out the big guns and call Mom. I pull up my wish list, and the FO description list and let her pare things down. Two or three passes later, I'm right where I was targeting.

With a huge wish list for later. (Common income tax return!)

Valentines Day line up -

New: Pepper Berry and Berry Wine Artisan Bars.
Glycerin soaps in English Rose, Champagne, Dark Chocolate, Rosehip Jasmine, and Jasmine Dreams.

General Spring line up: The florals listed above in Artisan Bars, Grass Stain.

Summer Line up: Tropical Vacation, Sea Moss, Rise and Shine, Energy, and Cucumber Mellon.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Art Walk, the first...

My first show, and it's dead enough (no one in the two hours we've been set up) that I could borrow the hubby's laptop to write this post.

Some major strikes against tonight. 1) It's the first hard freeze of the winter. 2) The cafe didn't make it into the Art Walk flyer. 3) It's the first hard freeze of the winter.... LOL

I'm going to take this as a "dry-run" for next month's show. I have a pretty good (if ultra basic) set up(I'll have pictures soon)and an idea of how I'll add an extra table next month for the Valentine themed glycerin soaps.

It also doesn't hurt that our sponsors are very cool folks! (If anyone in Jacksonville, FL reads this.... you need to check out Cafe 331 at 331 W Forsythe...Art Walk or not. *grin*) I think I'm going to have Carl score us some dinner while I man the table...