Monday, 21 December 2009

take a leap....

A while ago, this was printed in one of the Howies catalogues...
Seems some of my nearest and dearest & friends need a booster right now.
So...take a read...feel better...and be brave....

You know that dream you carry around with you each day?
It’s kinda important.
Wasn’t it what you were put on planet earth to do?
They say everyone has a calling, can your still hear it?
Doesn’t it eat away at you?
That treadmill you are on, did it ever get too much?
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to do your thing?
Did you ever feel time was passing you by?
Just how many days have you left before your last?
Did you ever wonder about stuff like that?
Did you ask yourself ‘what was stopping you?’
There is never a right time.
You will be too old.
Too young.
Too something or other.
When was last time you took a risk?
Did you remember how alive it made you feel?
There are no guarantees of success.
It’s not called a leap of faith for nothing.
It’s not too late, honest.


You might fall.

You might fly.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

He's coming....

Blue Skies by Lush

Luxury Macarons by Laduree

Ojon restorative hair treatment - available at QVC

Eau de Sisley no. 2 available at space nk
Elm Design dress available at blue, cheltenham

Louise Buchan tea set brooch from blue, cheltenham

If I had a million pounds...

Some of these beauties is what i would spend my money on...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Well! I've never been asked THAT before....

I did my craft fair on Saturday in Cheltenham, and have to say I had a very good day.
I met some really lovely people (other stall holders...and customers) and came away happy with my sales. I even sold out of the ever popular 'Geranium & Patchouli Slice'.
Now...when I do craft shows I'm ready for the questions.
We have to gear ourselves up for them don't we?
It's no good just being happy to make soap in our homes if we want to make a living out of gotta learn some people skills and get ready for some really strange know they're coming.
So really strange questions came almost at the end of my working day. Now bear in mind, this particular craft show was held in the gardens and upstairs rooms of a pub.

Here's what happened (two incidents)...
Lady no.1: Hello. Arent' these magnificent. (continues to browse - gets low to sniff the soap rather than pick it up (why!) ).
'Thank you very much', came my reply.
'So...I can eat the ones in the middle' (she meant the 4 soaps scented with fragrance oils).
'EAT THEM', I exclaimed! 'NO, you can't eat them...they're soap'.
'Oh, I thought I could eat those ones but not the others'....!!!!
'No, honestly', I said. 'It's soap, You can't eat any of it!'
Lady grabs my arm and says 'Do you know? I've come all the way from the tip of Cornwall and I've never seen anything like this. I've never been to a craft fair, all my life consists of is milking the cows & feeding the chickens. This is all so new to me and quite overwhelming'.
'I should say it is', I said!
Bless she went to the next stand, to explain to the other ladies that she was all the way from the tip of Cornwall and that she'd never experienced the like before...

Lady no.2: 'Hiya'. How's it going?'
'Yes, very well thanks, I said. I'm having a lovely day. How are you?'
'Well', she said. 'This is gonna sound like a really strange question, but have you got anything that could help me and my liver?'
My face contorted I'm sure.
I said 'Sorry, I'm a soapmaker, not a bloody doctor' (she had a large glass of red in her hand so I knew she'd take a bit of mockery')!
She said 'Sorry, I'll explain. I've been to the doctor as I have a problem with my liver. Oops, I know I shouldn't be drinking...but I have been given these salts and I have to put 4 scoops into my bath and sit in it for 20 minutes, and whatever is in the salts seeps through my skin to help with my problem. After I get out of the bath, I feel all woozy and really really tired'. this point I'm totally baffled.
I said 'I'd really love to be able to help, but I don't think I could help you, as I think that maybe you're not supposed to use anything other than the salts'.
I mean, how the hell could I 'prescribe' a soap? Most of mine contain essential oils, which we all know can have adverse side effects in some people. So with a person with some kind of liver problem (she didn't explain what it was), I daren't reccommend anything'.
Don't think my public liability insurance would cover me...!
Just WOT do you say to these people? I thought I'd heard it all...but the buying public never cease to amaze me. They're all so talented at asking these truly wicked questions!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Cheltenham Connect Craft Fair

I shall be here with my soap on Saturday...
Well...not exactly in the scene of 'It's A Wonderful Life'!
But at the Chelt. Connect Christmas Craft Event on Bath Road, Cheltenham.
Please come along if you're a yocal local!
It would be lovely to meet some of my come along for a chat and a glass of mulled wine.
It's cold out at the mo, so this will be a welcome relief...and whatsmore it's being held in a pub!
What more could one want?! Soap, wine, warmth and fun fun fun...

Click here to view the details

Monday, 30 November 2009

I want...everything. just like any normal girl.

Macaron soaps by Naiad
though I can't find them in her shop at present....she's gotta make more!

pin tuck dress by modaspia $150 (£91.47)

red pocket skirt by idea2lifestyle $40 (£24.39)
I really want this skirt! what a bargain too.

layered dress by idea2lifestyle $79 (£48.17)

2 in 1 dress by Emily Ryan $325 (£198.18)

red messenger bag by Thongbai Tatong $75 (£45.73)

Yep, that about covers it....anybody fancy being nicer than they've ever been can buy me any one of the above!
aren't they all just so lovely.
My sunday evening was spent searching etsy for some of the nicest 'me' gifts..and these are just a few.
Etsy is great isn't it. So many influential people. So many people making the best quality goods.
I love it.
If you want to drop by etsy shop address is: here
Happy Monday peeps

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

craft fairs..oh and the importance of etsy feedback

new batch of 'Lagoon' - a dreamy airy scent with Lavender, Geranium & Patchouli essential oils, French green clay and cocoa butter. coloured with TD and chromium green oxide with a smidge of charcoal and ultramarine blue.

close up of the painting by mum

A beautiful box painted by my mummy.

Matt and I on our stand at Leamington (yes, it does look like a jumble!)

Yes, i know it's been a while.
been a little hectic lately...getting soaps ready for up coming craft events.
I don't have many to do, which is stupid as i have hundreds of soaps available!
Oh least i know what i gotta do next year and i don't have to rush at the mo to make soap..which is just as well as i've run out of most of the ingredients.
So, last weekend matt and I did a craft fair in Leamington, Warks. I was looking forward to it and thought i would come away having made a few quid.
The recession really did hit bad didn't it.
I made £2 more than i put in to do the fair.
I think it just fell at the wrong time of the month. if it was december and maybe 2 weeks before xmas folks may have been inclined to spend..but not at the end of november. n learn people. Christmas fairs are best right near to christmas eve.
I think many of us soapers are dismayed this year with poor sales, but things will get better (i'm forever the optimist) as they have to. Things won't stay down forever. Just put it all down to a bad year. topic:
I have sold a few soaps via my etsy over the past however long...and it's as important to me to leave feedback on etsy as it is to leave it on ebay.
But...I've had 36 sales and only have 14 feedbacks. Some of the people who have purchased my soap have been friends...and unfortunately it's them who haven't left me feedback...!
When I shop on handmade sites or ebay the feedback is almost as important as the item I'm about to buy.
Surely others think this please people, in future, do leave me feedback. I need my customers to know if my product is good. I have an insatiable need to know what people think. Afterall, without those necessary typed lines how I am supposed to progress?
I believe that I make good soap - I know that each ingredient used is sourced from the best supply I can find. I use my own soap every day. It makes a difference to my skin. My family believe I make good soap and they use it every day and tell me what they think of it....but then they are bound to tell me the truth...
Now...customers, I need to know what you think....

Next topic: a new etsy shop find....
Have you seen this? Head on down to Ibrodar's shop on Etsy and marvel at what they've got on offer. Love the packaging. Love the product. Will be buying some when I've sold more soap!
The link I've put is for the girls shop...but the first one I came across was their shop, which is solely for me. check out Portland General Store - proper good vintage style mens grooming.
Now..must tell 'em I blogged 'em!
Ain't it great when a handmade crafter blows your mind with their product....

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Organic Soap

This little lot are 97.3% organic!

When I did my calculation, I thought I was supposed to include each and every ingredient to determine the organic percentage of my soap...

I'm not silly. I know that a combination of sodium hydroxide & water is mixed with fats & oils to create a chemical reaction known as saponification....
What I didn't realise is that when doing my organic content calculation I do not have to include the water or the sodium hydroxide weights...
So...after thinking and believing my organic range to be just 65% organic, I came to the realisation (after re-calculating) that they are in fact 97.3%! YES!

For those who don't quite get's the thing.
Sodium Hydroxide and water are mixed together (and referred to as lye) and poured into fats and oils to make what we call 'soap'.
As soon as you pour your lye solution into the fats & oils, a process called 'saponification' starts to take place. The mix is now on its way to becoming soap.
After the soap has rested in its mold for 24 hours, and has cured (for up to 6 weeks), the sodium hydroxide and 99% of the water has evaporated, which means these ingredients are no longer components of the finished batch.(the water is latent).
So...what you're left with are your hard, cured bars of wonderful, skin-loving soap.
So....basically, the lye mix is only used to make the soap...the soap does not contain it, so it is not necessary to include the sodium hydroxide or the water content when doing an organic calculation.
Easy peasy!

Hope that makes sense to you all.

After contacting the Soil Association, this is the info they gave to me so it's only right and proper that I pass it on.

Now then...the next step is to get my soaps certified as organic.
No problem...well.....just a little cash flow issue.
It costs £250 + VAT to get them assessed.
Then...a futher £580 per year to keep the certification.

More sales needed!

I will endeavour to get this sorted, but in the meantime....I'M SO HAPPY!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Etsy Discounts..and your feedback please...

Click my etsy shop on the left (the soap one). I have discounted every item by just gotta tap 20% in the comments box at checkout...and I'll refund you back into your paypal account.

Now xmas is approaching, I'd like to offer a little discount to tempt you into trying them.

I don't get many sales via etsy for soap (spose cuz so many others are on there), but would love for a few more people to try them.

Though times are tough at the moment, I've not had one bad bit of feedback about them, which is so nice.
Most of the sales come from local buyers in the shops I have them in, or from website sales through futureprimitive.
I have had some amazing customer comments so far, which is really very heartwarming and spurs me on to make more and more.

Here are a few of them:

'The soaps are just sooo creamy'.

'We usually buy our soap from provence every year when on holiday..but not this time...we like your soaps so much more'.

'Your Lagoon is absolutely amazing. So soft and the scent is heaven'.

'Don't ever stop making Geranium &'s scent and lather have me squealing with delight!'.

I could put a few more but don't want to blow me trumpet too much!
There are an awful lot of people making soap out there, and the market is a tough one to conquer, but I do feel like I'm on my way. Just a few more wholesale customers would be nice, so I'm on a mission at the moment to find 'em. Hence why I've been a tad quiet on the blog of late.
Busy times ahead.

And now...I'm preparing my 2010 catalogue. So, I may be really quiet. Don't fear, I'm still looking at all of your blogs and tweets.
So...keep up the good all make amazing goodies.

In the meantime, I've been learning adobe InDesign.
I made these flyers (pics above) for my wholesale customers.
However, a friend of mine said that they're too scrolly. He said "You're selling soap!, You don't need all that fancy stuff. Make the pictures bigger, and don't put in so many fancy scrolls...I nearly rang you to tell you before you sent them out".

He may be right..but I could really do with your comments. So....PLEASE TELL ME HONESTLY WHAT YOU THINK...I really need to know.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

on a roll....

'Cyclone' Botanical Soap 

an essential oil blend of Juniper, Petitgrain, Geranium,
Clary Sage & Bergamot. swirls created using violet
ultramarine, charcoal & TD.

'Spruce' - a soap for the christmas season

 a fragrant blend of Cranberry Fig, Moroccan Fig
and 'Santa's Spruce'. YUM. smells just like
xmas eve.

 'The Organic Collection'. now available at FuturePrimitive
A box of all 5 organic soaps from my range including:

'No. 11' - essential oils of Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver
& Patchlouli

'Humbug' - essential oils of Spearmint, Peppermint &
Madagascan Vanilla absolute.

'Lemon Citron' - essential oils of Sicilian Lemon,
Grapefruit & Wild Chamomile.

'Potters Bar' - essential oils of Lavender, Eucalyptus
& Lemon. with wheatbran to exfoliate.

'Floral Marquee' - essential oils of Boubon Geranium,
Rose Geranium, Ylang Ylang & Lemon.

Still got to make more!  I am soooo enjoying my soaping at the moment.
That ultramarine violet has been sat in my soap cupboard for nigh on a year...and I only just got round to using it.  Wot a fool.  It turned out so much better than I expected.
Weirdly, the scent of the soap smells purple....if anybody would like to try a teeny freebie slice, drop me an email and I'll send some to you when it's curing time is over.
Or...the Spruce one if you'd rather...or if you're a greedy guts..both.
Anyways, I'm off now as I've been sat on this 'ere pooter for far too long.
Been reading the book 'this is new york' today...the book of pics of 9/11.  That'll stick with me all night now.
Bit random I know but it's what i've been there.
Sincerely hope you're all well.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Free UK Post on my Weebly site


If you look to the left of my blog, you will see my FP ARTISAN SOAP SHOP.

All postage to the UK is free if you order via my weebly site.

I have loads of amazing soaps available at the mo, so take a browse and bag some goodness.

Happy Shopping !

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Two New Soaps

'Elijah's Comfort' - made for the memory of Matt's Great Great Grandfather, Elijah Comfort who was a potter.  In this soap I have included some Australian red clay, some rose petals, and the fragrance is a light, lemony tea rose. 

'Angela's Orchard' - perfect for this time of the year, this has been made with an apple walnut fragrance. I don't sense much walnut in it, but it does smell like warm, tangy apple pie. On the top I (well my sister) sprinkled some demerera sugar and some ground cinnamon.  After we'd covered it up for it's sap. period it decided to get mega hot and melt the sugar on the top. Not the result I was hoping for, but it's actually improved it. The topping is like a crunchy crumble topping.
The name..? We sat down for a little think, and I came up with Angela's Orchard. I used to work as a gardener and at the back of the house were orchards of plums etc, which gave off an amazing aroma of deep fruity you have it..the scent in the bottle reminded me of those orchards and the ever so lovely lady who owned them.

And now...for something a little different.  I've been thinking about offering gift boxes for a while, and am tweaking things here and there.  For Xmas, we are all giving handmade presents, and so I'm having to put my creative head on - rather than just hand over the usual bars of soap, I want to make something a little more gift like.

Inside the 'Botanical Collection' box. 6 soaps scented with essential oils. 
We have 'Sundown' with petitgrain, orange, geranium & lemon. 
'Walkabout' with tea trea, eucalyptus, pine, geranium & clary sage.
 'Lagoon' with lavender, patchouli & geranium.
'Geranium & Patchouli Slice' with...well use your noodle.
'Herbaceous' with thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram & lemon myrtle.
'The Orangery' with sicilian orange, cardamon, ylang ylang & cedarwood.

And finally...a wall of all 16 soaps in my little range.  I aim to have 8 soaps in each section. 8 botanical, 8 fragrant, and 8 organic.
So...back to the pad 'n pen to think up some more new dreamy soaps.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

My Mum - the painter

My mum has painted reclaimed items for years.
The detail in her painting is quite unbelievable.
She notices every tiny vein in leaves, each hair on every flower stem.
She has been a nature lover from the day she was born and sees things in nature that most of us don't ever notice.
She is a true country artisan.
She doesn't think her items are worth much....she just enjoys the peace and solitude she gains when painting. I tell her she's nuts.
We all have some amazing pieces dotted around our homes.  Some that she painted up to 10 years ago have stood the test of time and still look as good now as they did when she first did them.
Nothing she paints ever seems to date.
So....when she and my pops started to make these birdboxes, I said 'hey, i'll try and sell a few of those for you if you like'....
'nah, don't be daft' came the reply!
Finally we convinced her, so I took pics last weekend ready to upload into Etsy.
If you click here you can see them all for sale on my etsy garden shop.
They will make gorgeous handmade xmas presents. And, they're reasonably priced too...especially considering the work that has gone into them.

These are just a few. More can be found on Etsy. And...more are being made and painted.
Great ain't she!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

tweaking packaging again....!

i've been playing again!  i'm absolutely never satisfied with my packaging.  trouble is that the soap is so decorative that it speaks for itself...but when i'm selling to retailers for stocking in their shops it must have some kind of packaging so as not to gather too much dust (hopefully they're not sitting around long enough), I use a cello bag, tied with organic jute gardeners twine to keep in with the gardening theme.
i then include a card inside each soap to give the buyer a brief description, the full ingredients list (which in the UK you MUST PUT ACCORDING TO LAW), my address (also law), and the website details and the weight (also law).
So, as you can imagine fitting all the blurb onto a card, which only measures 8cm x 6cm is pretty tough going., I have designed the label above.  I now have the ingredients listed on the back of the card (duh - why didn't I think of that before?) and a purdy picture on the front with the brief description.
No doubt I'll change them a little more...just to get 'em to my liking, but I'm quite chuffed with these after 2 hours sitting with photoshop etc...

If you have time, I would like your thoughts and feedback.
If you were a consumer (who actually bought soap instead of made it yourself) would you buy my soap with a packaging card that looked like this?
Obviously I need to do all the other soap cards too but since my 'Floral Marquee' has just finished its curing time I thought I'd start at the beginning.  I can be wise at times see....!

Friday, 25 September 2009

soap spirals and movie stills

spiralling soaps

close ups...

Not feeling good today, but here's a little post for you.
You can see i've obviously had time on my hands - look at my spiral!
Oh, and an insight into one of my all time favourite movies, which I've seen more times than is normal.
In a soaping afternoon on so I may well put it on for a little background noise.
On the agenda for soapmaking:
humbug - sold out
lagoon - only 1 left
sundown - 2 left
potters bar - sold out
the orangery - 2 left
snowdrift - 3 left

I'm sure you really needed to know that!  Never mind. My head is full of cold, so you'll just have to put up with my delirious dopey speak.
Not a lot going on really. Autumn is well upon us...though the days have been soooo warm lately.  Conkers are all over the shop.  Walnuts are ready ( i gathered some at Cotswold Garden Flowers yesterday where I was working again for Bob).
The Malvern Autumn Spring Show is on this weekend too....and then next week is our annual MOP.
The MOP is a fair, which has ran in this town ever since i've been alive and way before that.
Shame they don't have the old style helter skelter with the rush matts anymore.  I'd have chucked myself down it!  Now it's all new-fangled 'super rides', which are just cheap and nasty.
Anyhooo, I could rant all afternoon, but I shant. I'll be off now for a coffee to sustain me and I may 'tweet' a bit later.
See ya