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...