Friday, 17 May 2013

Summer Release 2013


I am pretty much all set to go for our release on Sunday.
We have some new scents this year and a whopping 14 different soap varieties (some test batches in that number) on offer.
There are 7 main scents, which include the following:

Black Sands - The purest, darkest Black Patchouli oil. An essence to completely wash away all negativity & stress, leaving you feeling refreshed and renewed.

Cold Pillow - A cold pillow filled with Cotswold Lavender buds,  Geranium leaves & Indian Vetiver grass roots sits on top of a feather bed, ready for you to rest your weary head.
NB: The name Cold Pillow came from my nephew, Ethan, who as a small child always carried a cold pillow with him for comfort.

Rolling Hills - A patchwork of rolling hills, little copses and secret hideaways. The scent of dark green Juniper bushes, Cedar & Pine trees, Lavender rows and hints of plump, green Limes.

St. Ives Bay - Softly lapping waves of azure blue, A warm, salty sea breeze, Mineral-rich seaweed and a hint of Mediterranean Orange Zest.

Urban Jungle - The old favourite is back again.  We have been producing this soap for about the past 3 years.  A fresh, aquatic blend of wet jungle notes. Freshly cut Bamboo canes, Indonesian Patchouli, Frankincense resin & plump Lemons ripe for the picking.

The Warrior - A salty, briny, wooden war ship misted with sea spray.  The scent of tarred rigging ropes, crates of Israeli figs, citrus fruits & rich, luscious spices warmed by the sun and finally the rarest and most pure Frankincense & Amber resins wrapped in sail cloth.

Here's a few pics from the shelves...

Packaged soaps

 St. Ives Bay waiting to be packaged....

 Black Sands Product shot 
(taken outside on a rainy day)
  I find that sunlight can cast too many shadows on pictures so I always choose a dull, cloudy day to take mine as I feel I can capture the colours and contrasts much better this way.

 Jars of Sugar Buff

 Urban Jungle soap waiting to be packaged....

This afternoon (Friday) I have a new batch of Black Honey soap to cut up, and the above soaps to package.
My back has been very painful this week, and to top that off I came down with a really horrid head cold again...seems I just keep getting ill whenever I stop production after working on release soaps.
I guess when I get time to chill, this is what happens.  My old boss from the nursery, Bob Brown used to say the same thing. You go hell for leather with work, and when you come to stop and get a bit of rest illness kicks in! So odd, and so annoying and maybe a reminder to ones self to take more breathers during production. Gah!

Anyway, I'm all good today and looking forward to the weekend.  I gotta rest up as next week will more than likely be a bit mad.

Thanks for reading 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hues of Blues

Above - from the left 'Inches Lane, St. Ives Bay, Ethereal Seas

I've been playing with colour and am on a new journey to explore once again the beauty of natural colourants.  First up are the blues.  I just acquired a small jar of the real deal - Lapis Lazuli (pron: Lap-iss-Laz-zew-ly/lee) powder.  I have been a user of Ultramarine blue for a number of years and have always been impressed with the results, but not with the sulphur aroma, which wafts out of newly un-moulded soap.
Kudos goes first and foremost to Heidi from Bodygoodies, an incredible soaper and soaping friend and somebody who inspires me to always do better and to make better and to strive to only ever offer my customers the absolute best.  She is the only other soaper I have seen use it successfully.  Many others claim to be using it but from what I've read, they are 
mis-guided in their knowledge of what Ultramarine 
blue actually is.
Off the top of my head (and after just reading about it once more to refresh the old brain), synthetic Ultramarine blue is not made from Lapis.  It is made out of a combination of several different ingredients (kaolin/china clay, coal or wood, charcoal, soda ash, silica & sulphur), which are then fired in a kiln until red hot (literally glowing red), the resultant mix is then washed to remove any sodium sulfate and is then ground to the fine powder that soapers know and love.
Lapis on the other hand is made by mixing the ground stone with wax and a diluted lye solution.  If memory serves, this makes a kind of paste/dough, which is kneaded in water until the resultant blue crystals are washed out and collected ready to be ground up again into a fine powder, which tends to be used more by artists than soapers.
Whilst both practices for obtaining these powders are a tad confusing, I am intrigued by the science of it all and will continue on with my research on this subject.
I believe that no one is better than the other in terms of results in soap.  I basically like both.  In terms of which one is better and safer for skin, then Lapis wins hands down.  For a brief example, Lapis used to be used as eyeshadow, whereas Ultramarine blue is certainly not safe for eye or lip use.  The amount used in soap, however is so minimal that chances of ever having a soap made with it upset the skin is very, very slim, hence why it is deemed safe by the powers that be. On the other hand, if you were to snort the stuff, I think you may experience a few health problems! In a wash-off product we basically have no need for alarm here but it is good to address the issue no?
The process to make the powder I have in my hands is a long, tedious one, which in turn makes for an ingredient with a rather large price tag, especially when compared to the price of synthetic Ultramarine.
The main goal in my soap making is to create a safe, natural product with no nastiness.
Natural of course doesn't always mean safe as we know so research, research, research....

Below are some pictures of 3 soaps.  I will explain what I have used in each under each pic.

This is Ethereal Seas soap.  Picture taken outside in the shade to show the colour correctly.
The base of the soap is coloured with the Lapis, the drizzles are coloured with Kaolin clay.

Same as above.

This is Inches Lane soap.  Coloured with Ultramarine blue and Charcoal to give a darker, more navy blue like colour.

Same as above.

This is St.Ives Bay soap.  Coloured with Ultramarine blue and Titanium Dioxide.
As you can see, the blue here is vibrant and more deep than any of the others.
In this batch I use a few grams of Ultra blue to give that seaside blue colour.

St.Ives Bay again.

As I say, I do like all of the colours but am more drawn (at the moment) to the Lapis Lazuli colour.  Probably down to the fact that summer has just arrived here in the UK and I have longed for long, hot days for many months since we just came through one of the coldest winters in history.  
In summer, my mind is drawn to soothing, soft hues and pastels.  As we venture into late summer and autumn I tend to go for more powerful colours that pack a punch.  Weird.

So, as I experiment more I will post my findings and conclusions.
Next up I will be working (a little more with the lapis!) with greens and my first one will be ground parsley leaf, which I'm informed goes a very nice colour in CP soap.  We shall see.
Exciting huh?