Posted on Leave a comment

Shaving soap

Wet shave bowl

Normality is gradually returning, the kids will soon be back at school, and I can get busy making soap again. January is normally quiet, and I’m looking forward to testing new recipes, fragrances, and trying new products.

That strange twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, when you have no clue what day it is, and you’re subsisting on bizarre combinations of snack foods, actually ended up being quite productive, for me. In a sitting-down-and-not-moving-much sort of way. I started reading about shaving soap, and found an absolute goldmine of information, so spent a huge amount of time researching different ingredients, and the qualities they bring.

Old Spice Mug
Vintage Old Spice shaving mug

My experience of mens’ shaving accoutrements was quite limited. My dad used to have an Old Spice shaving mug like this one, and a brush, but mostly used an electric shaver. My grandad liked a wet shave every day, I remember him answering the door fully lathered up, but I don’t recall what else he used. Other shavers in my life over the years have used a can of shave gel and whatever branded multi-blade razor was available from the supermarket. My husband just lathers up whatever soap is in the bathroom, and shaves with that – currently my Enchanted Isle soap. Not really connoiseurs, any of them.

I knew that there are people out there who are really serious about the whole thing, collecting favourite brushes, bowls, mugs, etc, but really, I had absolutely no idea of the true scale of the thing, and how much time, effort, and consideration goes into it! Vintage razors, blade preferences, Silvertip badger hair brushes, straight razors… I’d never heard of a kamisori – a Japanese razor not intended for use by oneself but designed to be used by a barber to shave someone else. (It looks terrifying.)

Shaving brush and scuttle

Some like to lather up the soap in their hands, some directly on the face, others like to collect some soap on a brush and then lather it up in a scuttle: a special bowl or mug which keeps the lather warm, ready for multiple passes with the razor.  Of course, if you regularly shave your face, you’ll probably know all this, and have your own preferred tools and techniques, but to me, it’s all new, and quite fascinating!

I bought my husband some “fancy” shaving soap a while back, and I thought I’d go and lather it up, and see what it looked and felt like. I did that, and to be honest, I was underwhelmed, considering what I’d paid for it! So I went on YouTube, to see if I could find some reviews for this particular soap. Seriously, I never anticipated that one day I’d be searching for YouTube videos of men shaving. But I did find one, and the man got a really good lather from the same soap, but he spent aaaaaages swirling the brush round, lathering it up. I realised I’d been doing it wrong. I’m not sure I’d have the patience, to be honest. But then I used it to shave my legs, and, I can’t lie, they felt amazing afterwards!

Anyway, after my somewhat sedentary period of reading and researching (and finishing up the remaining snackery), I can’t wait to get started making shaving soap! I’ll be trialling a couple of recipes, and will take pics and compare when they’re ready.

Tell me about your shaving preferences? Extra points if you include pics of your favourite tools! Comment below, or head over to facebook and comment on the thread there.

Posted on Leave a comment

“You must have a machine to do that…”

Neatly wrapped soap bars

…is something I hear fairly often when I’m out at fairs and markets. Unfortunately, no, I don’t have a machine to do that. I wrap every bar myself, by hand. “But it’s so neat!” they say. Well, that’s because I’m weirdly obsessive about some things. I wish the rest of my life was this orderly.

Soap wrapping in progress

In all seriousness though, I wish I did have a machine to do this. Wrapping is one of the most boring and time-consuming parts of the job. But it’s arguably one of the most important, too. Because if it doesn’t look good, people won’t stop to look, and smell, and browse what’s available, and ask questions

But, boring as it is, it doesn’t take an awful lot of brain power, so I can listen to a podcast or something interesting or funny, and that passes the time quite nicely.

Incidentally, this is Manannan, my sea breeze scented soap – available to purchase HERE

Posted on Leave a comment

Royal Show 2019 and Other Soggy Adventures

Well, it’s Summer, apparently, but the weather has not been kind. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some lovely hot, sunny days, but just not when I’ve been trading outdoors.

During TT I traded at three outdoor events – it poured down at two of them. The third was so windy that I couldn’t put my canopy up, and traded just from a table top. A seagull swooped down and stole a bar of soap, and flew off with it.

I had a good day at the Southern Show, but when we went back for the second day, the wind had been busy overnight, and had blown the canopies over. We got it all back in order, and thankfully there was no damage, but I was soaked through to my skin by 9.30am. I went home.

Which brings me to the Royal Show, which was scheduled for Friday and Saturday (yesterday). The rain was very heavy and set in for the day, so the show was cancelled on Friday, but had improved enough that Saturday went ahead. It was lovely to see how many people got their wellies on and came out to support the event – and even a few who had come out without wellies! The field did get pretty muddy, but it wasn’t quite up to Glastonbury levels, and people just got on with it and enjoyed the day. As did the many dogs I saw – there were some spectacularly filthy ones!

I must offer my thanks to the show organisers, it can’t be easy putting on an event of that scale, even when everything runs smoothly, so I can’t begin to imagine what it must take to manage when the weather is so…. Uncooperative. (I won’t say “bad” – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.) Thanks also to my fellow traders, both in the Isle of Man Farmers Market area, and further out in the field – there’s a real camaraderie that develops when you get to know the other traders, and it’s so nice to have friends nearby who’ll keep an eye o your stall when you have to leave to nip to the loo, or get a bacon bap. Thank you to my customers, lovely to see some familiar faces, and chat to some new ones. And finally, thanks to the volunteers helping direct the traffic leaving the field at the end of the day. They literally kept the vehicles moving when one after another (including me) got stuck in the mud. The two lads dived behind any vehicle that looked like it might be struggling, and gave it a good shove to keep it going.

Well done guys, awesome job.

Posted on Leave a comment

Guess how many?

This is going to be a quick one, as I’m exhausted, but just wanted to quickly jump on and let you know I’m running a little competition on my facebook page. Guess how many bars of soap I made in March, and the person who guesses closest will win a free bar. Comment on the facebook post, here:
https://www.facebook.com/SnaefellSoaps/photos/a.498423143827353/869607650042232/?type=3&theater

I’ll give this a couple of days for people to enter, and I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday. Again, comment on the Fb post, not here!

Laters, potaters!

Posted on Leave a comment

Wedding Favours

Wedding Favours

I’m so happy that I can finally share these with you, as I’m delighted with how they came out! One of the things keeping me busy in January was an order of wedding favours. The wedding was to have a strong Manx theme, and the names of the soaps were reflected in the table names at the wedding reception, so all the guests who were seated at the Manannan table received the Manannan (sea breeze scented) soap, and so on.

Small triskele soap
Small triskele soap wedding favours

The small triskele shape is fitting, as it’s reminiscent of the Triskelion (the three legs) that appears on the Isle of Man flag. It’s also a nod to the Celtic heritage of the island, and in addition to all of that, it’s just a really pretty shape.

I’m so honoured to have been a tiny part of the couple’s day, it was a privilege to have been involved.